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Types of English Affixes: Derivational and Inflectional Prefixes and Suffixes

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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

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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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Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, daughter, son, dogs, and cat. She writes The Parenting Patch, which is a parenting blog, information, and news plus reviews, recipes, crafts, homeschooling, and more.

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