System of Affixation in English
In English, fixing a group of letters to a word to change its meaning, number, state or form is known as the
System of Affixation.
Base word Affixation Word determined pre + determined predetermined play play + er player weekly bi + weekly biweekly follow follow + ing following
There are two primary types of affixation:
A prefix is a small group of letters which are affixed at the beginning of the word.
Subsidiary Nonviolence Intolerance They perform the following functions:
Indicate presence or absence
amoral without morals injected put into congenital present from birth
hypodermic under the skin circumnavigate to sail around antechamber a chamber before another Interstellar between stars
Indicate qualities, size or number
thermometer heat measuring instrument macrocosm big world or universe polyglot someone who speaks many languages
Indicates time, frequency or order
post dated later thanthe stipulated date redo do again primary first Types of Prefixes
Prefix Meaning Usage un- not uncomfortable, unbearable, unforgivable in- not incomplete, indecisive, independent dis- opposite of disinterested, disproportionate, displeasure ir- not irresponsive, irresponsible, irrevocable il- not illogical, illegitimate, illegible im- not improbable, impossible, impenetrable non- not nonviolent, nonchalant, non-invasive mis- wrong/wrongly misinterpret, misunderstand, miscalculation mis- hate misogynist, misogamist, misanthrope mal- bad/ badly malfunction, malevolent, malediction, malnutrition anti- against antinational, antibacterial, antibiotics de- down, reduce descend, decry, deject, demote, decline a- without, not asocial, amorphous, abiotic, atrophy dis- apart, off, away disband, disturb, disburse, dismiss dys- bad dystopia, dysfunctional, dyslexia Prefixes of Size
Prefix Meaning Usage semi- half semicircle, semiconductor, semi-active, semicolon equi- equal equidistant, equivalent, equisonant micro- small, tiny microscope, microorganism, microcosm, micromanage macro- big macroeconomics, macrocosm, macrolevel mega- big megalomaniac, megapolis, megapixel mini- small minimum, minicomputer, miniature maxi big maximum, maximal, maxim hemi- half hemisphere Prefixes of Position or Location
Prefix Meaning Usage inter- between interstellar, intermediate, interval, intervene super- over, above superfluous, supersede, superintendent, supervisor trans- across transfer, transport, transgress, transmit ex- out exterior, external, extraneous, extract in-/ im- inside internal, induce, imbibe, impregnate, influence sub-, suc-, sus under subterranean, susceptible, submit, submarine sur- over surface, surfeit, surrender, survive, surcharge circum- around circumspect, circumnavigate, circumscribe, circumvent peri- around perimeter, periscope, perimortem per- through percolate, pervade, perfect, perforated, perceive infra- below infrared, infravision, infrarealism ab- away abduct, abstain, abjure, abdicate contra- against contravene, contradict, contralto, contrast de- down descend, decline, demote, decrease dia- across diagonal, diaphanous, diachronical, diagnosis hyper- over hypertrophy, hyperactivity, hyperbole, hypertension hypo- under hypothermia, hypothyroid ob- against obloquy, obnoxious, object, obfuscate pro- for prologue, provide, protect, project, procreate syn-, sym- together synthesis, syndicate, sympathy ultra- beyond ultraviolet, ultramodern, ultra-royalist, ultrasonic under- under underground, underachiever, underestimate meta- beyond metastasis, metabolise, metamorphic, metaphysics mid- between midterm, middle, midday by- near bypass, bygone, by-product epi- upon epidermis, epilogue, epitaph post- back postern, posterior Prefixes of time and sequence
Prefix Meaning Usage pre- before prevent, prepare, predict, premonition, prelude ante- before antediluvian, antebellum prime- first primary, primordial, prima donna, primate, primeval post- after posterity, posthumous, postlude, post marital retro- before retrogression, retroflex, retrospect pro- before progenitor, proceed, prologue, prophecy, prophylactic re- again recur, recount, rethink fore- before foretell, forestall, foresight after- after after-effects, afterthought chron- time chronology, chronicle Prefixes of numbers and amount
Prefix Meaning Usage mono- one monotheism, monologue, monochromatic, monarch uni- one universe, unitary, union, unanimous, unity bi- two bicentennial, biannual, bicycle, bigamous, bipolar du-, di- two duo, dual, dicotyledon, dichromatic tri- three trident, tricolour, triumvirate, trifecta, trilogy, tripod quad- four quadruple, quadruplets, quadrilateral, tetra- four tetrapods, tetrameter, penta- five pentagram, pentacle, pentagon quint- five quintuplets, quintal hex- six hexagon, hexadecimal, hexameter sex- six sextuplets, sextet sept- seven septuagenarian, septuplets hept- seven heptagonal, heptathlon octa- eight octagon, October, octopus, octuplets nov- nine novena, November dec- ten decade, decimal, decathlon hendeca- eleven hendecacolic, hendecagonal dodeca- twelve dodecahedron, dodecaphony triskaideka- thirteen triskaidekaphobia cent- hundred century, century, centipede hector- thousand hector, hectogram kilo- thousand kilogram mega- million megaton, megahertz giga- billion gigabyte multi- many multimillionaire, multipurpose poly- many polynomial, polygon, polymath Miscellaneous Prefixes
Prefix Meaning Usage alb- white albino, albinism ambi- both ambidextrous, ambivalent, ambiguous amphi- both amphibian, amphitheatre bio- life biology, biohazard, biosphere auto- self automated, autonomous, autocrat co-, com-, con- together, joint co-dependent, companion, congregation en-, em- make, become engender, empower, endanger eu- good euthanasia, eulogy, euphemism cario- heart cardiovascular, cardiogram hydr- water hydrogen, hydraulic, hydrophobia ig- bad ignominy, ignoble, ignorant bene- good benevolent, benediction, benign bon- good bon voyage, bonhomie, bonafide homo- same homonym, homophone, homeopathy pan- all panacea, pan Asiatic, panorama pseudo- fake pseudonym neo-, nov- new neologism, novelty amo-, ami- love amorous, amicable, amiable aqua- water aqueduct, aquatic Suffix
A suffix is a group of letters which are fixed to the end of a root word or a base word.
They perform the following functions:
Change the part of speech of the word
mean ing (n) meaning ful (adj) beauti ful (adj) beautiful ly (adv) subject (n) subject ing (v)
Indicate whether the number is singular or plural
girl (singular noun) girl s (plural noun) strat um (singular noun ) strat a (plural noun) lifts (singular verb) lift (plural verb)
Indicate the tense of the verb
hopp ed (past) hopp ing (continuous) steal (past) stolen (past participle)
Indicate the gender of a noun
host (masculine) host ess (feminine) steward (masculine) steward ess (feminine) execut or (masculine) execut rix (feminine) Types of Suffixes
Suffix Usage Example -al state refusal, betrayal, perusal -ance, -ence, -ancy, -ency quality or state militancy, performance -tion condition condition, relation -ice condition malice, novice, justice -er/-or doer painter, trainer, actor -graph record telegraph, phonograph, polygraph -ism belief Hinduism, communism, fascism -ist doer pacifist, pianist, altruist -ian someone who does Gandhian, guardian, politician -ing name of an activity reading, gardening, sleeping -ity state continuity, annuity, -logy the study geology, neurology -ship state of friendship, kinship, sportsmanship -sion, -tion process of expansion, determination, connection -ory place dormitory, reformatory, laboratory -orium, -arium place sanitarium, aquarium, crematorium -mania madness monomania, bibliomania, egomania -phobia fear hydrophobia, cynophobia, mysophobia -ure state composure, exposure, leisure -ment state abandonment, refinement, entertainment -ness state happiness, completeness, fullness Suffixes of Verbs
Suffix Usage Example -able to make enable, disable -ate Latin origin verbs recreate, abate, mediate -ed simple past or participle form killed, toyed, booked -en verbs formed from adjectives broken, frozen, sunken -er actions that have repetitive quality blabber, snicker, mutter -fy do magnify, specify, rectify -ing action in continuation hearing, yearning, making -ise to make/do revolutionise, apologise, despise -ish become or do flourish, banish, demolish -nt to do prevent, augment, content -s, -es simple present tense form criticises, runs, laughs Suffixes of Adjectives
Suffix Meaning Usage -able, -ible having the quality of flexible, available, eatable -al related to ventral, global, musical -ant doing dependent, buoyant, resilient -ic having the quality terrific, generic, specific -esque like, having the quality statuesque, picturesque -er, -est comparative and superlative qualities fatter, tallest -ose full of verbose, grandiose -ful full of beautiful, boastful, grateful -ing participle form of adjective interesting, frustrating, sleeping -istic having the quality realistic, artistic, surrealistic -ive having the nature of pensive, aggressive, massive -ous, -ious full of gaseous, spacious, gracious Suffixes of Adverbs
Suffix Meaning Usage -ably with a quality comfortably, admirably, disagreeably -ibly with a quality audibly, horribly, negligibly -s shows time or place backwards, always, forwards -wise shows manner or position clockwise, otherwise, lengthwise Root Words and Base Words
The root word and the base words are the parts which contain the primary meaning of the word.
Prefixes and suffixes are added to root and base words to create new words and ideas.
A root word cannot stand on its own as an independent word. It needs the addition of the prefix or the suffix for the completion of its meaning. For example, let us consider the words amphibian, regeneration and subtraction.
amphi- -bi- -an prefix root suffix re- -generat- -ion prefix root suffix sub- -tract- -ion prefix root suffix
In the above cases, the roots -bi-, -generat- and -tract- cannot stand alone as individual words. They are therefore known as root words. Base Word
A base word, unlike a root word, can stand on its own like an independent word. It does not need the addition of the prefix or suffix in order to function as a stand-alone word. For example, let us consider the words redone, nonviolent and unmoved.
re- done prefix base word non- violent prefix base word un- moved prefix base word
In the above examples, done, violent and moved can function as independent words. Common Root Words
-acr-, -ac- sharp, tip, bitter acropolis, acronym, acrid, acerbic, acid, acne, acme -ami-, -amo- love, friendship amity, amicable, amiable, amorous, paramour, enamoured -anim- life, mind animate, animal, unanimous, equanimous, pusillanimous -anthrop- man, mankind anthropology, misanthrope, anthropomorphic -agog- lead demagogy, pedagogy, synagogue -alt- high altitude, altar, altiloquent -alter- other alter ego, alternative -apt-, -ept- ability aptitude, apt, adept, inept -arch- rule monarch, oligarch , autarchy, anarchy -avi- fly, bird avian, aviation -bell- war, fight rebel, bellicose, belligerent -burs- purse, money reimburse, disburse, bursary -cap-, – cept- seize capture, intercept -cap- head capital, decapitate -carn- flesh carnal, carnage, carnivorous -cede-, -cess- go incessant, accede, recede -cide- kill suicide, homicide, regicide, parricide, insecticide, pesticide -clin-, -cliv- slope incline, recline, acclivity, declivity -corp- body corpuscles, corporation, incorporation -crat-, -cracy- ruler democrat, bureaucrat, theocracy -cred- belief credibility, credit, credulous -culp- fault, guilt culpable, culprit -dic- speak dictation, dictator, dictionary -doc- teach document, doctrine -dol- sadness dolour, condolence, doleful -duc- lead abduct, induct, ductile -ego- self egocentric, egoist, egomaniac -equ- equal equal, equality, equity -fac-, -fic- to do factory, factory, fiction, manufacture -fal- false fallacy, fallible, false -fid-, -fed- faith fidelity, confederation, infidel -flu-, -flux- flow fluvial, fluent, influx -fort- luck fortuity, fortune -fort- strength fort, fortitude, fortify -gen- birth generation, genre, generate, genome, genetic -grad- step gradual, grade -graph- write graphic, graphology, biography -grat- please grateful, gratitude -grav-, -griev- serious, sad grave, grieve, aggravate -greg- crowd gregarious, congregation, segregation -gress- go progress, ingress, egress, congress
Root Word Usage -helio-, -heli- sun helium, heliocentric -hol- whole holistic, holocaust -ject-, -jet- throw jettison, eject, inject -journ- day journal, journey, adjourn -jud-, -jur- law judge, judicial, jury, abjure -loc-, -loq- speak elocution, colloquial, loquacious -log-, -logy- study, word, sign biology, zoology, neologism, logo -luc- light translucent, lucid, pellucid -man- hand manual, manufacture, manuscript -magn- large magnanimous, magnificent, magnum -mit-, -mis- let, allow admit, permission, intermittent -med-, -mid- middle medieval, Mediterranean, middle, midday -nom-, -nym- name anonymous, pseudonym -nox-, -noc- night, harmful equinox, nocturnal, noxious, obnoxious, innocuous -path- feel sympathy, empathy, antipathy -phil- love philosopher, bibliophile -photo- light photograph, photosynthesis -scribe-, -script- write script, scribe, scribble, scripture -sent-, -sense- feel sentimental, sensational, sensible -soph- wisdom sophisticated, philosophy -terr- land territory, territorial, terrestrial, terrain, terracotta -vis-, -vid- sight visual, video -vac- empty vacuum, vacation, vacant -vol- fly volatile, volley -zoo- animal zoology, zoophile, zoo How to Use the Affixation System
Thorough knowledge of the English affixation system helps us in guessing the meaning of the word purely by the means of its Prefix– Root– Suffix structure. Because of the limitations of our memory, it is not easy to mug up a large number of words at a time. We may find it difficult to associate the meaning of the word with its structure.
Word Meaning innocuous harmless unanimous together in agreement translucent allowing light to pass
With the knowledge of the affixation system, we can guess the meaning of the given word.
Prefix Root Suffix Meaning in- noc- -uous not harmful (not) (harmful) (having the quality of) uni- -anim- -ous with a single mind (unitedly) (one) (war) (belonging to) trans – luc -ent light passing across (talk) (light) (quality of)
In this manner, we can guess the meanings of the words solely by the virtue of their roots. Thus, in order to have a rich vocabulary, students should learn the
It is an interesting way to expand your vocabulary with a little effort. Students who are well-versed with the affixation system find it easier to tackle difficult words and are more confident about their word usage.
It will definitely give you an edge over the others when it comes to vocabulary.