Any letter or a group of letters that you place before some words are ‘prefixes’, that help add or change the meaning of that word. The confusing part is not just adding the prefixes, but to make sure you are using the right one, whether it requires hyphenation, or if it just doesn’t need one!
Let’s take a look at the fifteen most common English prefixes that you must know, lest you err!
Prefixes and their use
One of the most common ones, ‘co’ usually used a hyphen to attach with existing words. For example, a pilot, and a co-pilot. Other examples of adding co are: co-curricular, co-worker, co-exist, etc.
You’ve heard and used this word several times before, mostly to exaggerate or add more intensity to a particular sentence. Some examples are- hyperventilate, hyperactive, hypersensitive, hypercritical, etc.
It’s not a surprise that the prefix ‘pre’ is on this list; words like precede, premature, preview explain more than before, owing to this addition.
No, this isn’t the preposition ‘up’. This prefix does a lot of supplementing to the word in question; for example, updo, upgrade, upload, upscale, upstage, etc. See how the meaning changes by adding ‘up’?
No hyphen needed, the prefix ‘dis’ could form the antonym word- disoriented, discord, disadvantage, dissect, disbar, etc.
‘Anti’ is also amongst those prefixes which could offer the opposite meaning of a particular word. Antiseptic, antibody, anticlimax are all examples of the same.
Several words take on the prefix ‘sub’ to add to the existing word’s definition. Some such words are submarine, subsect, substandard, subway, etc. The words before- marine, sect, standard and way bifurcate further in their definition.
Usually, adding the prefix ‘tri’ means to signify the number three, but that is subject to the reference. For example- trimester, triangle, trilogy, tricycle, etc.
‘Un’ also mostly hints at opposites of a particular word, but not in all cases. Some words as such are unfinished, ungrateful, unprofessional, etc. Mostly, it hints at the opposite kind of person/attribute.
No sooner do we hear ‘tele’, than we think about ‘telephone’. That, and many other words use this prefix mostly when referring about something at a distance. Like, telecommunication, telepathy, telegram, etc.
If you want to convey that the word in reference is in singular unit, then precede the word with ‘uni’. Such as unicycle, unicellular, unicorn, etc.
‘Post’ is a very ironic prefix; even though we use it before a word, it refers to something that happens/happened after or behind. For example, postpone, postoperative, postpartum, etc. Quite intriguing an addition, isn’t it?
There are a lot of things that are present everywhere, or includes everything such as omnivorous, which eats both plants and animals. Similarly, omnipresent, omniscient, omnidirectional, etc. are also such words that speak about things that fall in the defined category.
All that is different, use hetero; examples of the same are heterosexual, heterogeneous, heterodox, etc.
To describe something that needs putting into or that needs covering uses the prefix ‘en’. It is like when we say words like enclose, entangle, encase, etc.
These are just a few of the common prefixes, but there are many more that the language uses. Can you think of any more? Mention them in the comment section below!