A prefix is a vowel or a syllable placed at the beginning of a word to change the meaning of the word.
English is a language made up of many other languages. Its three most common sources are Anglo-Saxon (less than 1%), Greek (11%) and Latin (55%)*. Words are made up of prefixes, suffixes and roots. Knowing the meanings of each will aid in decoding and spelling.
֎ Anglo-Saxon words with Germanic roots we use every day:
Man, wife, child, brother, fight, love, drink, sleep, eat, house, to, for, but, and, in, on
֎ “Of almost 3,000 prefix words found in textbooks, grades 3-9, words beginning with un-, re-, in-(meaning not), and dis- occur in more than 58% of the prefix words. (Source: White, Sowell & Yanagihara, 1989.)
֎ Roots are the main part of a word. Prefixes and suffixes are added to give meaning to the root word.
֎ Another word for “root” word is “base” word.
֎ There are a group of prefixes called Chameleon or Family Prefixes. These prefixes change to match the root word to make them easier to say and more pleasant to hear.
Example: ad (to, toward) + pear = appear
● The ad- changes to match the p in appear, making the word appear.
● Being aware these types of prefixes exist makes words easier to spell.
● Deeper explanation: it means the prefix is always ad-, but the family of this prefix will match the next letter of the root word. Other examples are: ad + fix = affix, ad + tract = attract
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*Source: Unlocking the Power of Print, Dorothy Whitehead, 1993