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Prefixes: Definition and Formation with Examples

Grade 5
Aug 4, 2023

Take a look at the following instance:

In ordinary speech, the adjective disoriented is a little less common. Although the terms disoriented and confused have similar connotations, disoriented may be less familiar to others. When confronted with scary vocabulary, English language learners typically panic. A quick study of prefixes and suffixes, commonly known as affixes, will benefit both native English speakers and others who are just beginning to learn the language. These simple language building blocks can assist you in decoding nearly any difficult word.

Let us learn more about prefixes with examples.


Prefixes appear at the start of a term. They’re usually one to three letters long, and adding them to a word changes the meaning of the term. Prefixes can also be combined with additional prefixes to form terms like unpremeditated (un+ pre+ meditated).

To put it simply, prefixes are word pieces that connect to the beginning of a word and change its meaning.


Let us take a look at some of the most commonly used prefixes in English:

The Negative Nellies:

Un- The prefix un means “not.” It’s a common prefix that can be found in terms like unstoppable, unconquered, and unfettered.


  • Our team was unstoppable in the tournament.
  • The fort remained unconquered.

Mis- and mal- are negative prefixes that signify “wrong” or “bad.” These prefixes also introduce the phrases misaligned, misfit, malformed, and malfunction, in addition to the usual blunder.


  • His brother is a misfit in our team.
  • Johnny Depp was terribly miscast in the movie.

Im-, in-, dis-, etc. are other prefixes that carry negatives meanings along with them, like:

  • Everyone is imperfect.
  • I discontinued my studies after the accident.
  • Mark is incapable of doing any work.

The Overachievers:

Extra- isn’t only a chewing gum brand. It signifies “beyond” as a prefix. Extraterrestrials exist beyond our solar system. Extrasensory perception refers to getting information that isn’t ordinarily detectable by your senses.

Superman perfectly exemplifies the prefix super-. Isn’t it true that he went beyond and above to rescue lives?


  • Melissa is an extraordinarily talented kid.

Other commonly used prefixes in English are: micro-, macro-, equi-, under-, over-, bi-, sub-, trans-, pre-, post-, etc.

Some examples:

  • You are such an underachiever.
  • The incident you mentioned took place during the pre-independence era.


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