Unit 23 - Prefixes

Teaching point Look again at some of the words from this Unit:
unlucky rebuild disagree incorrect submerge

If you take off the prefix from each of the above, you will be left with a root word that you can recognize as a word in itself:

lucky build agree correct merge

This is not always the case. Sometimes it is not clear that a word has a prefix because the root word is not a word in itself:

predict expect interlude refer reject

Looking at the origin of words can help to improve your spelling. The table below gives some examples. For more on this subject, see Unit 35 - History of the English Language.

Whole word Prefix:
origin and meaning
Root word:
origin and meaning
predict prae - before (Latin) dicere - say (Latin)
expect ex - out of (Greek) specere - see (Latin)
interlude inter - between (Latin) ludus - play (Latin)
refer re - again, or back (Latin) ferre - bring (Latin)
reject re - again, or back (Latin) jacere - throw (Latin)

Teaching point These prefixes are sometimes confused:
pre and per ante and anti dis and de

Learning Tip for English spelling To help you remember them:


Use pre for the meaning before, for example:
precook prepare preview predict

Use per for the meaning by or through, for example:

perchance percolate
(L. colare - strain)
(L. forare - pierce)
It is easy to pick the right prefix here if you take care to listen to the sound :


Use anti for the meaning opposed to, opposite, for example:
anticlockwise anticlimax antidote
(Gk. doton - give)

Use ante for the meaning before for example:

anteroom antenatal antecedent (L. cedere - go)
These words are sometimes spelled with a hyphen, for example:
anti-clockwise ante-natal

These prefixes can be confused when de comes before a root word beginning with s.



The prefix de has more than one meaning:
1. make the opposite of
2. down
3. completely
Some examples:
despair (L. sperare - hope) descend (L. scandere - climb)
describe (L. Scribere - write) destroy (L. struere - build)

Use dis for the meaning not, or the opposite, for example:

disarm disqualify disconnect disobey
If you add the prefix dis to a root word beginning in s, you will have ss:
dissatisfy dissimilar dissect (L. secare - cut)

next part of the spelling course Go to the next page: Choose the best prefix
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Unit 23: Prefixes

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