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    Types of English Affixes: Derivational and Inflectional Prefixes and Suffixes

    Types of English Affixes: Derivational and Inflectional Prefixes and Suffixes

    An affix is a bound morpheme that attaches to the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word.

    The two types of affixes in English are prefixes and suffixes.

    Affixes may be derivational or inflectional. Derivational affixes create new words. Inflectional affixes create new forms of the same word.

    Derivational

    Derivational is an adjective that refers to the formation of a new word from another word through derivational affixes.

    In English, both prefixes and suffixes are derivational.

    Inflectional

    Inflectional is an adjective that refers to the formation of a new form of the same word through inflectional affixes.

    In English, only suffixes are inflectional.

    Prefixes

    A prefix is a bound morpheme that attaches to the beginning of the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word.

    Prefixes are types of affixes.

    All prefixes in English are derivational, meaning the affixes create new words.

    PrefixMeaningExample
    a-predicative adjective with progressive aspectawake, afloat, atremble
    a-/an-not, withoutacyclic, asexual, atonal, atheist, anemic
    Afro-relating to AfricaAfro-American, Afro-Caribbean
    after-following after, behindafterglow, afterlife, aftermath
    ambi-bothambidextrous, ambitendency
    amphi-around, two, both, on both sidesamphiaster, amphitheatre, amphibian
    an-/ana-up, againstanacardiaceous, anode, analog
    Anglo-relating to EnglandAnglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American
    ante-beforeantenatal, antechamber, antedate
    anti-against, oppositeanticlimax, anti-freeze, antiviral, antagonist, antivenom
    ap-/apo-away from, detachedaphelion, apogee, apomorphine
    arch-ruling, dominating, most extremearchangel, archaen, archconservative
    astro-starastrobiology, astrology, astronomy
    auto-selfautobiography, automatic, autonomy
    back-behindbackporch, backhoe, backfire
    be-equipped with, covered with, beset withbedeviled, becalm, bedazzle, bewitch
    bi-twobicycle, biped
    bio-life, biologicalbiology, biotic
    by-near to, next tobyway, bypass, byproduct
    circum-around, surroundingcircumlocution, circumnavigate
    cis-on this side ofcislunar, cisgender
    co-, col-, com-, con-, cor-together, with, jointco-worker, coordinator, cooperation, cohabit, colleague, commingle, confederation, correlation
    contra/o-oppositecontradict, contraindication
    counter-against, in opposition tocounteract, counterpart
    cryo-icecryogenics
    crypto-hidden, secretcryptocurrency, cryptography
    de-reverse action, get rid ofdebug, de-emphasize
    de-downdepress, descend
    demi-halfdemigod
    demo-peopledemocracy, demography
    deuter-seconddeuteragonist, deuterogamy
    di-twodicotyledon, digamy, dioxide
    dia-throughdialysis, diameter
    di-/dif-/dis-apartdiffer, dissect, divide
    dis-not, opposite of, reverse actiondisagree, disloyal, disconnect, disinformation
    down-from higher/greater to lower/lesserdownload, downright, downbeat
    du-/duo-twodual, duet
    eco-ecologicalecosystem
    electro-electric, electricityelectro-analysis, electromagnetic
    el-/em-/en-inellipsis, emphasis, energetic
    em-/en-to make into, to put into, to get intoempower, enmesh
    ep-/epi-upon, at, close upon, in additionephemeron, epicentre, epidermis
    Euro-EuropeanEurocentric
    ex-formerex-wife, ex-husband, ex-boss, ex-colleague, ex-friend
    ex-out ofexit, expel, explode, exploit, explore, export
    extra-outsideextracurricular
    fore-before, in frontforearm, forerunner, forebode
    Franco-French, FranceFrancophile, Franco-British, Franco-German
    geo-relating to the earth or its surfacegeography, geology, geometry
    gyro-spinning on an axisgyrocopter, gyroscope, gyrosphere
    hetero-differentheterosexual
    hemi-halfhemimorphic, hemisphere
    hind-afterhindsight, hindquarters
    homo-samehomogenous, homologous
    hydro-relating to water, or using waterhydroelectricity, hydrant
    hyper-excess, above, overhyperthermia
    hypo-deficient, under or below something, lowhypothermia, hypotonia, hyponatremia, hypothermia
    ideo-image, ideaideograph, ideology
    idio-individual, personal, uniqueidiolect, idiopathic
    il-/im-/in-/ir-not, opposite ofillicit, impossible, inexact, irregular
    in-in, intoinsert, include
    Indo-relating to the Indian subcontinentIndo-European
    infra-below, beneathinfrared
    inter-among, betweeninternet, intercede, international
    intra-inside, withinintravenous
    iso-equalisochromatic, isotherm
    macr-longmacrobiotic
    mal-badlymalnourish, maladjusted
    maxi-very long, very largemaxi-skirt
    mega-/megalo-great, largemegastar, megalopolis
    meta-after, along with, beyond, among, behindmetabolism, metaphysics
    micro-smallmicrobacillus, microcephalus
    mid-middlemidstream, midlife
    mini-smallminimarket, mini-room, minivan
    midi-medium-sizedmidi-length, Midibus
    mis-wrong, astraymisinformation, misguide, misfortune
    mono-, mon-sole, onlymonogamy, monotone, monosyllabic
    multi-, mult-manymulticultural, multi-storey, multitude
    neo-newneolithic, neoether
    non-notnonexistent, noncompete
    off-non-standard, awayoff-color, offish, offset
    omni-allomnipotent, omnipresent, omnivore
    on-immediate proximity, locativeonset, onlook, ongoing, oncoming
    ortho-correcting or straighteningorthodontics, orthotropic
    out-better, faster, longer, fartheroutreach, outcome, outlier
    over-excessive, aboveoverreact, overact, overbearing
    paleo-oldpaleolithic
    pan-all, worldwidepan-African, pandemic, panorama
    para-beside, beyondparallel, paraplegic, parasail
    ped-footpedal, pedestrian
    per-through, completely, wrongly, exceedinglypermeate, permute
    peri-around, near or adjacentperihelion, periphrase
    photo-lightphotoelectric, photography
    pleo-morepleonasm, pleroma
    pod-footpodiatrist
    poly-manypolygon, polyhedron
    post-after, behindpostposition, post-election, post-graduation, post-war, postfix, postpone, postscript
    pre-beforepreposition, prevent, previous, pre-election, pre-enter, pre-select, predict, prepare, preview
    preter-beyond, past, more thanpreternatural
    pro-for, forward, in favor ofpropulsion, propound, proponent
    pro-for, substitute, deputyproconsul, pronoun
    pro-beforeprocambium
    pros-towardprosthesis, prostrate, prose
    proto-first, originalprotoplasm, prototype
    pseudo-false, imitationpseudonym
    pyro-firepyrokinetic, pyrotechnic
    quasi-partly, almost, appearing to be but not reallyquasi-religious
    re-again, backredo, revisit, rerun, reorganize
    retro-backwardsretrograde
    self-selfself-explanatory, self-sufficient
    semi-halfsemicircle
    socio-relating to societysociopath, social, sociological
    step-family relation by remarriagestepbrother, stepfather, stepmother, stepsister
    sub-/sup-below, undersubmarine, subterranean, suburban, support
    super-above, oversupervisor, superintendent
    supra-above, oversuprarenal
    sur-above, oversurreal, surrender, surplus
    sy-/syl-/sym-/syn-together, withsyllable, symbol, synthesis, system
    tele-at a distancetelegraph, telephone, telescope, television
    trans-across, overtransatlantic, transverse, transform
    tri-threetricycle, tripartite
    twi-twotwibill, twilight
    uber-a lot, greatuberchic, ubergeek, ubersexual, uberwealthy
    ultra-beyondultramagnetic, ultrasonic, ultraviolet
    un-not, against, opposite of, reverse action, deprive of, release fromundesirable, undo, unequal, unexpected, unhappy, unlock, unnecessary, untie
    under-below, beneath, lower in grade or dignity, lesser, insufficientunderachieve, underpass, understand, undergo
    uni-one, consisting of only oneunicycle, universal
    up-greater, higher, betterupgrade, uplift, upright
    vice-deputyvice-president, vice-principal, vice-admiral
    with-against, back, away fromwithstand, withhold

     

    Suffixes

    A suffix is a bound morpheme that attaches to the end of the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word.

    Suffixes are types of affixes.

    Suffixes in English may be derivational, meaning the suffixes create new words, or inflectional, meaning the suffixes create new forms of the same word.

    Inflectional SuffixMeaningExample
    -s/-esthird person singular presenteats, washes
    -edsimple past, regular past participlecalled, smiled
    -enirregular past participleeaten, written
    -ingpresent participlemarking, arguing, writing
    -s/-espluralcats, dogs, watches, axes
    -‘s/-s’possessiveHeather’s, daughters’
    -ercomparativefaster, prettier
    -estsuperlativefastest, prettiest

     

    Derivational SuffixMeaningExample
    -ableable to beexcitable, portable, preventable
    -acpertaining tocardiac, hemophiliac, maniac
    -acity/-ocityquality ofperspicacity, sagacity, velocity
    -adeact, action or process, productblockade, cavalcade, promenade
    -ageaction or processpassage, pilgrimage, voyage
    -aholic/-oholicone with an obsession forworkaholic, shopaholic, alcoholic
    -alrelating tobacterial, theatrical, natural
    -algiapainneuralgia, nostalgia
    -an/-ianrelating to, belonging toItalian, urban, African
    -ancestate or quality ofbrilliance, defiance, annoyance
    -anta person whoapplicant, immigrant, servant
    -antinclined to, tending tobrilliant, defiant, vigilant
    -arof or relating to, beinglunar, molecular, solar
    -ara person whobeggar, burglar, liar
    -arda person who does an actioncoward, sluggard, wizard
    -ariana person whodisciplinarian, vegetarian, librarian
    -arium/oriuma place forterrarium, aquarium, solarium
    -aryof or relating toliterary, military, budgetary
    -atestate or quality ofaffectionate, desolate, obstinate
    -atemakes the word a verbactivate, evaporate, medicate
    -ationaction or processcreation, narration, emancipation
    -ativetending tocreative, preservative, talkative
    -cideact of killinghomicide, suicide, genocide
    -cracyrule, government, powerbureaucracy, aristocracy, theocracy
    -cratsomeone who has poweraristocrat, bureaucrat, technocrat
    -culediminutive, making something smallmolecule, ridicule
    -cystate, condition or qualityefficiency, privacy, belligerency
    -cyclecircle, wheelbicycle, recycle, tricycle
    -domcondition of, state, realmboredom, freedom, wisdom
    -doxbelief, praiseorthodox, paradox
    -ectomysurgical removal ofappendectomy, hysterectomy
    -eereceiver, performernominee, employee, devotee
    -eerassociated with/engaged inengineer, volunteer
    -emiablood conditionanemia, hypoglycemia, leukemia
    -encestate or condition, actionabsence, dependence, negligence
    -encycondition or qualityclemency, dependency, efficiency
    -entinclined to performing/causing, or one who performs/causescompetent, correspondent, absorbent
    -eraction or processflutter, ponder, stutter
    -era person who does an actionannouncer, barber, teacher
    -ernstate or quality ofeastern, northern, western
    -escencestate or processadolescence, convalescence
    -eserelating to a placeChinese, Congolese, Vietnamese
    -esquein the style ofKafkaesque, grotesque, burlesque
    -essfemaleactress, heiress, lioness
    -eticrelating toathletic, energetic, poetic
    -ettediminutive, make something smallercigarette, diskette, kitchenette
    -fulfull ofhelpful, thankful, cheerful
    -fymake, cause makes the word a verbamplify, falsify, terrify
    -gam/gamymarriage, unionmonogam, polygamy
    -gon/gonicanglehexagon, polygonic, pentagon
    -hoodstate, condition, or qualitychildhood, neighborhood, motherhood
    -ialrelating tocelestial, editorial, martial
    -ianrelating toMartian, utopian, pediatrician
    -iasisdiseased conditionelephantiasis, psoriasis
    -iatrichealing practicepediatric, psychiatric
    -ibleable to beaudible, plausible, legible
    -ic/icalrelating to, characterized byanalytic/al, comic/al, organic
    -ilerelating to, capable ofagile, docile, volatile
    -ilyin what mannersloppily, steadily, zanily
    -inerelating tocanine, feminine, masculine
    -ingmaterialsbedding, frosting, roofing
    -ionaction or processcelebration, completion, navigation
    -(s/t)ionstate or qualityattention, caution, confusion, fascination
    -ioushaving the qualities of, full ofambitious, cautious, gracious
    -ishrelating to, characteristicapish, brutish, childish
    -ismstate or qualityaltruism, despotism, heroism
    -ista person, one who does an actionartist, linguist, pianist
    -iteresident of, follower, product ofsuburbanite, luddite, dynamite
    -itisinflammationappendicitis, tonsillitis
    -itystate, condition, or qualityabnormality, civility, necessity
    -iveinclined to, quality of, that whichattractive, expensive, repulsive
    -izationact or process of makingcolonization, fertilization, modernization
    -izecause, treat, becomeantagonize, authorize, popularize
    -lesswithoutfearless, helpless, homeless
    -letversion ofbooklet, droplet, inlet
    -likeresembling, characteristicchildlike, homelike, lifelike
    -lingyounger or inferiorduckling, underling
    -loger/logistone who doesastrologer, cardiologist, chronologer
    -logspeechdialog, monolog
    -lyin what mannerbadly, courageously, happily
    -mentaction, resultmovement, placement, shipment
    -nessstate or qualitykindness, shyness, weakness
    -oidresemblinghumanoid, tabloid, hemorrhoid
    -ologystudy of, science ofanthropology, archaeology, biology
    -omatumor, swellingcarcinoma, osteoma, hematoma
    -onymname, wordsynonym, antonym, homonym, heteronym, oronym
    -opiaeye defectmyopia, nyctalopia, hyperopia
    -opsyexaminationbiopsy, autopsy, necropsy
    -ora person whoinventor, legislator, translator
    -oryrelating toarmory, dormitory, laboratory
    -osisprocess, diseased conditiondiagnosis, prognosis, neurosis, psychosis
    -ostomy/otomysurgicalcolostomy, lobotomy, craniotomy
    -ousfull ofhazardous, humorous, wondrous
    -pathone who engages inhomeopath, naturopath, psychopath
    -pathyfeeling, diseasedsympathy, apathy, neuropathy
    -phileone who lovesbibliophile, audiophile, pyrophile
    -phobiaabnormal fear ofacrophobia, claustrophobia, xenophobia
    -phonesoundhomophone, telephone, microphone
    -phyteplant, to growzoophyte, cryptophyte, epiphyte
    -plegiaparalysisparaplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia
    -plegicone who is paralyzedparaplegic, technoplegic, quadriplegic
    -pneaair, spiritapnea, hyperpnea, orthopnea
    -scopy/scopevisual examarthroscopy, gastroscopy, microscope
    -scribe/scriptto writetranscript, describe, manuscript
    -sectto cutdissect, insect, bisect
    -shipstate or condition of, skill ofauthorship, citizenship, friendship
    -somecharacterized by, group ofcumbersome, quarrelsome, foursome
    -sophy/sophicwisdom, knowledgephilosophy, theosophy, anthroposophic
    -thstate or qualitydepth, length, strength
    -tome/tomyto cuthysterectomy, epitome, tonsillotome
    -trophynourishment, growthatrophy, hypertrophy, dystrophy
    -tudestate, condition or qualityfortitude, gratitude, magnitude
    -tystate, condition or qualityability, honesty, loyalty
    -ularrelating to or resemblingcellular, circular, muscular
    -uousstate or quality ofarduous, tumultuous, virtuous
    -ureaction, conditionclosure, erasure, failure
    -wardspecifies directionbackward, eastward, homeward
    -warethings of the same type or materialhardware, software, kitchenware
    -wisein what manner or directionclockwise, lengthwise, otherwise
    -ymade up of, characterizedbrainy, fruity, gooey

     

    Affixes are bound morphemes that attach to the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word. Prefixes and suffixes are the two types of affixes in the English language.

    References

    Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
    Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
    Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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