Building your vocabulary is important to speak English. Adding affixes to root words is an easy and interesting way to develop your vocabulary quickly.

Many new words are formed by adding an affix to the beginning or end of a root word. Let us see the meaning of root words, prefix and suffix. A root word is a word in its simplest form. A root word has nothing added to it. Root words are also called base words. For eg: do/ heat/ write/ happy/ pack, etc. If you add an affix to a root or base word, you change the meaning of the word. For Example: Cook is a base word. Affixes are word that are added before or after the root word and change the meaning of a root or base word.

Prefixes and Suffixes are both Affixes. Prefixes are word parts that come at the beginning of the root wood. Suffixes are word parts that come at the end of the root or base words.

Un+ Cook+ ed = UnCookEd

Un —- Prefix / Cook —– Root or Base Word / Ed —– Suffix

Let us look at few more examples to understand root words, prefixes and suffixes.

Let us take the letter “A”.  By adding a as prefix to a word, its meaning changes. The meaning derived by adding a as prefix is “Not or without”. Examples are Amoral/ Apolitical/ Asocial. What we observe here is by just adding ‘a’ before these words we mean that they don’t have moral standards, they are not interested in political affairs and they are not social.

Let us take another example where we add “Ab” as prefix we mean “Away from”. Examples are “Abduction, Abstain, Abnormal. By just adding “a” before these words they become negative. They mean to kidnap, to stop from doing something and someone who does not behave normally.

In a similar way when we add certain words at the end of a root word as a suffix, we change the meaning of the word. Let us learn through some examples. When we add “cide” as a suffix to the root word it means “kill (ing). Examples are Suicide, Pesticide, and Infanticide. By just adding a “cide” at the end of a base word we give a new meaning to the words. They mean to take your own life, to kill the pests in the fields and to kill an infant.

The second example we learn is to add “ed” at the end to the root words. By adding ‘”ed” the words it means past tense verbs are formed. Examples are walked, jumped and bathed. By adding ‘ed’ at the end of the words we can convert them into past tense.

Let us learn through one more examples. Let us add “ing” at the end of the root word as a suffix. Examples are sleeping, walking, jumping and bathing. By just adding ‘ing’ at the end of the words we can convert them into present participles called as continuous form.

We can also learn some examples where we have prefix and suffix attached to a root word:

Uncomfortable == Un – prefix, Comfort – root word, able – suffix.

Irregularly — Ir == prefix, Regular – root word and arly is the suffix

Disorganised – dis – prefix , organize – root word and ed is the suffix.

They are all opposite of the words comfortable, regularly and organized.

In the same way latin words and greek root words are formed by adding affixes to it. An example of a latin word would be ‘cent’ means one hundred. We can form two words by adding cent as a prefix – century meaning 100 years and suffix — percent meaning out of hunderd. A greek root would be ‘graph’ means writing. We can form two words by adding graph as a prefix — graphology meaning the study of handwriting and as a suffix – autograph meaning a signature of someone you admire.

To learn more such ways to improve your vocabulary, join our Speakwell class and develop your Spoken English skills.


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