List of prefixes and suffixes with their meanings

a tan and mint green background. one side says "prefix," and the other says "suffix."

Ever wonder what those prefixes and suffixes we link up to words actually mean? Native English speakers use these letters that go before and after words all day long, usually without a thought to their definitions. But we do use them for a reason: they alter the meaning of the word.

For instance, if someone is being careless, a native English speaker would be quick to say, “Hey, stop acting carelessly,” without hesitating to recall that the suffix –ly means “in the matter of.”

But, oh those poor English learners. It takes time to memorize all of our prefixes and suffixes and learn which to attach to what word. (A unicycle is quite different from a tricycle, you know.) It also doesn’t help that English, being that it is the bastard child of multiple European languages, adopted its prefixes and suffixes from Latin, Greek, and Old French.

But, alas, here we are.

To brush up on your skills, below is a collection of prefixes and suffixes and their meanings.

Prefix Meaning Example
a- not atypical
anti- against antifascist
bi- two biannual
counter- against, opposite counterfeit
de- remove, reverse deregulate
dis- opposite, reverse, not disagree
extra- beyond, outside extraterrestrial
fore- before forefather
in- not invisible
inter- between intermingle
mal- bad maltreatment
mis- not, wrong miscomprehend
neo- new neoconservative
non- not nonstarter
over- excessive overspend
post- after postscript
pre- before precolonial
proto- first, primitive prototype
re- repeat reread
sub- under submarine
tele- distant teleport
trans- across transcontinental
tri- three tricycle
un- remove, reverse untie
uni- one unilateral

 

Suffix Meaning Example
-able capable of inflatable
-ant type of person assistant
-athon long-lasting marathon
-cide killing infanticide
-dom state of being freedom
-er doer of an action worker
-ery type of work bakery
-ess female of heiress
-esque reminiscent of picturesque
-ette small version of kitchenette
-fest indulgence in chatfest
-fy to make electrify
-hood state, quality childhood
-ible ability reliable
-ish a little squeamish
-ism condition or doctrine feminism
-ist type of person florist
-less without penniless
-ly in a manner of quickly
-ous full of joyous
-wash changing the appearance of whitewash

 

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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What Is a Modal Verb?

The words "modal verbs" at the top. Then below are the following words set in white circles against a pink background: may, should, will, must, can, would, might.

These are examples of modal verbs.

Modal verbs are verbs used to express ability, obligation, permission, or possibility. Common modal verbs include can, might, may, must, will, would, and should. They are a type of auxiliary verb (otherwise known as a “helping verb”), which means they have to be paired with a main verb to work. For example, in the sentence “I can park the car here,” park is the main verb and can is the modal verb paired with it. Here are some examples of modal verbs in action:

  • Can can mean either to express ability or to ask permission.
    • I can go to the store later.
    • Can I use the car today?
  • May can mean either to express possibility or to ask permission.
    • I may talk to him tomorrow.
    • May I go to the bathroom?
  • Must can mean either to express obligation or to express strong belief.
    • She must tell the truth.
    • He must be almost finished with the project by now.
  • Should means to give advice.
    • He should buy the red sweater.
  • Would means to request or offer, and it can also be used in if sentences.
    • Would you mind getting the door for me?
    • If I were her, I would.
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Modal verbs don’t change their form, and they have no infinitive (the verb with the word “to” in front of it, as in to sleep or to walk) or participle (a form of a verb similar to an adjective or adverb that functions as an adjective, as in swimming or sitting).

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Gray vs. Grey

Gray and grey are both correct spellings for that almost-black color, but choosing which to use depends on where you live.

If you are in the United States, gray is more common. If you are in another English-speaking country, grey is preferred.

You can remember this by noting the A and the E in the words:

In America, use grAy.
In England, use grEy.

(But, of course, don’t forget Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and Canada. They use grey too.)

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of book editing, author coaching, and social media packages.

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Difference Between Synonym and Antonym

Today’s post is about synonyms and antonyms. Synonyms are words that have the same meaning. Antonyms are words that have opposite meanings.

Here are synonyms for the word happy: cheerful, delighted, ecstatic, glad, jolly.
Here are antonyms for the word happy: sad, depressed, morose, miserable.

Note that in the first list, all of the words have the same meaning as happy. In the second list, all the words have the opposite meaning as happy.

If a word is a synonym, we can plug it into a sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. Let’s remove the word happy from the sentence below and replace it with glad.

Sentence 1: Fritz was happy that he ate three hot dogs.
Sentence 2: Fritz was glad that he ate three hot dogs.

Sentence 2 has the same meaning as sentence 1 because we replaced happy with its synonym glad.

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Now let’s remove the word happy and replace it with its antonym depressed.

Sentence 1: Fritz was happy that he ate three hot dogs.
Sentence 2: Fritz was depressed that he ate three hot dogs.

This time, sentence 2 has the opposite meaning as sentence 1 because we replaced happy with an antonym.

A trick to remembering the definitions of synonym and antonym is this: Synonym means same. And both words start with the letter S. So think synonym = same. Then you’ll remember automatically that antonym is the opposite.

Quiz
Below are lists of words. Decide if each is a list of synonyms or antonyms.

1. sick: diseased, ill, unwell, queasy, unhealthy, ailing
2. teach: explain, demonstrate, instruct, train, tutor, show
3. hungry: full, satisfied, stuffed, satiated
4: finish: start, commence, begin, initiate
5: smart: astute, brainy, clever, wise, bright

Answers: 1) synonyms 2) synonyms 3) antonyms 4) antonyms 5) synonyms

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of book editing, author coaching, and social media packages.

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