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Prefixes and suffixes

Prefixes and suffixes are sets of letters that are added to the beginning or end of another word. They are not words in their own right and cannot stand on their own in a sentence: if they are printed on their own they have a hyphen before or after them.

 
Prefixes
 
Prefixes are added to the beginning of an existing word in order to create a new word with a different meaning. For example:
 
word
prefix
new word
happy
un-
unhappy
cultural
multi-
multicultural
work
over-
overwork
space
cyber-
cyberspace
market
super-
supermarket
 
 
Suffixes
 
Suffixes are added to the end of an existing word. For example:
 
word
suffix
new word
child
-ish
childish
work
-er
worker
taste
-less
tasteless
idol
-ize
idolize
bend
-able
bendable
 
 
The addition of a suffix often changes a word from one word class to another. In the table above, the verb bend becomes the adjective bendable, the noun idol becomes the verb idolize, and the noun child becomes the adjective childish.
 

Word creation with prefixes and suffixes

 
Some prefixes and suffixes are part of our living language, in that people regularly use them to create new words for modern products, concepts, or situations. For example:
 
word
prefix or suffix
new word
security
bio-
biosecurity
clutter
de-
declutter
media
multi-
multimedia
e-mail
-er
e-mailer
 
 
E-mail is an example of a word that was itself formed from a new prefix, e-, which stands for electronic. This modern prefix has formed a wide variety of other Internet-related words, including e-book, e-cash, e-commerce, and e-tailer.
 

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Grammar and usage