Languages are enriched by the addition of letters or syllables to the primary words. These letters are called affixes, which may be placed either before or after the primary word to modify its meaning.

An affix added to the beginning of a word is called a Prefix. Thus we get ‘unhorse’, ‘befriend’ and ‘endear’ from the words ‘horse’, ‘friend’, and ‘dear’.

Here un-, be-, and en- are prefixes.

An affix added to at the end of a word is called a Suffix.

Thus we get darken, childish, and treeless from the word dark, child, and tree.

Here -en, -ish, and -less are suffixes.

A letter or a group of letters added before or after the root word is an affix. Letters added before the root words are called the prefixes; letters added after the root words are called the suffixes. (‘morphemes’ in Linguistic terminology)


(a) Positive prefixes: Prefixes such as em, en, pro which tend to qualify the root words may be referred to as positive prefixes.

Examples: empower, enable, endear. proactive

(b) Negative prefixes: When prefixes like un, in, im and be affect the meaning of the root words, they may be referred to as negative prefixes.

Examples: unable, invalid, impolite, berate

(c) Prefixes of number: Prefixes like mono, bi, uni, tri that indicate the number of the root words may be referred to as prefixes of number.

Examples: unidirectional, bilingual, tricolours

(d) Reversative Prefixes: When prefixes such as un, dis indicate reversal of action in the root words, they may be referred to as reversative prefixes.

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Examples: Undo, disappear

(e) Derogatory prefixes: Prefixes like mal, mis that diminish the meaning of the root words may be referred to as derogatory prefixes.

Examples: misleading, malfunction

(f) Prefixes of time and order: Prefixes such as pre, post that indicate the time or period are referred to as prefixes of time and order. Examples: pre-university, forenoon, afternoon, post-graduation

(g) Prefixes of place: Prefixes such as sub, inter that indicate place or position are prefixes of place. Examples: Subway, international

Some of the other prefixes are de, re, co, auto, pseudo, vice, il, ir, non, ex, anti, etc.

Add the appropriate prefixes to the words given in the brackets and fill in the blanks:

  1. Sharada’s hard work will __________ her to pass with flying colours (able).
  2. The committee members were __________ to their chief. (cooperative).

  3. Students must participate in __________ activities (curricular).

  4. Simran was __________and was issued a warning (qualified).

  5. Bhuvan was found to be involved in __________ activities (legal).


Suffixes fixed to words which belong to different parts of speech such as noun, verb adjective and adverb are referred to as noun suffixes, verb suffixes, adjective suffixes and adverb suffixes respectively.

(a) Noun Suffixes: tion, ity, ness, ship, age, ery, ism are some of the suffixes fixed to the nouns.

Operation, nationality, happiness, friendship, shortage, imagery, idealism

(b) Verb Suffixes: ize, ify, en

Commercialize, codify, and strengthen

(c) Adjective Suffixes: ful, less, ish, able, al

Beautiful, harmless, foolish, dependable, ethical

(d) Adverb Suffixes: ily, ly, Steadily, Slowly

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Fill in the blanks with appropriate words derived from the words given in the brackets:

  1. The accused refused to reveal his ___________ (nation).
  2. Mr. Ravi Basu felt as _________ as a child (help).

  3. Shwetha’s friends entered her house_____ in her absence


  1. Traders must adhere to ________ standards (ethics).
  2. Prince William has fallen in love with a _________ princess (beauty).

Add prefixes or suffixes to the given words and construct sentences of your own:

Nature, power, use, home, quick, moral, ordinary, dimension, responsible, different


Prefixes and suffixes together are called affixes

• New words are formed using prefixes and suffixes

• Attachment added before the root word is a prefix

• Attachment added after the root word is a suffix

• A root word can sometimes take only one prefix but more than one suffixes.

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