English Grammar: Affixes



A prefix modifies or auguments the core meaning.


A prefix is a group of letters (or an affix) that’s added to the beginning of a word. Prefixes modify the meaning of a word. They can make a word negative, show repetition, or indicate opinion. When you add a prefix to a word, you shouldn’t change the spelling of the original word or the prefix.

Common Prefixes

Prefix Meaning Examples
a-, an- without, lack of, not amoral, acellular, abyss, achromatic, anhydrous
ante- before, earlier, in front of antecedent, antedate, antemeridian, anterior
anti- against, opposite of anticlimax, antiaircraft, antiseptic, antibody
auto- self, same autopilot, autobiography, automobile, autofocus
circum- around, about circumvent, circumnavigate, circumscribe
co- with, together co-pilot, co-worker, co-exist, co-author
com-, con- together, with companion, commingle, contact, concentrate
contra-, contro- against, opposite contradict, contrast, contrary, controversy
de- down, off, away from devalue, deactivate, debug, degrade, deduce
dis- not, apart, away disappear, disagreeable, disbar, dissect
en- put into, cover with enclose, entangle, enslave, encase
ex- out of, from, former extract, exhale, excavate, ex-president
extra- beyond, outside, more than extracurricular, extramarital, extravagant
hetero- different, other heterosexual, heterodox, heterogeneous
homo-, homeo- same, alike homonym, homophone, homeostasis
hyper- over, more, beyond hyperactive, hypersensitive, hypercritical
il-, im-, in-, ir- not, without illegal, immoral, inconsiderate, irresponsible
in- in, into insert, inspection, infiltrate
inter- between, among intersect, interstellar, intervene, interpenetrate
intra-, intro- within, inside intravenous, intragalactic, introvert
macro- large, prominent macroeconomics, macrostructure, macrocosm
micro- very small microscope, microcosm, microbe
mono- one, single, alone monocle, monologue, monogamy, monotony
non- not, without nonentity, nonaggressive, nonessential, nonfiction
omni- all, every omniscient, omnivorous, omniscient, omnidirectional
post- after, behind postmortem, posterior, postscript, postoperative
pre-, pro- before, forward precede, predict, project, prologue
re- again reelect, readmit, resubmit
sub- under, lower submarine, subsidiary, substandard
sym-, syn- same time, together symmetry, symposium, synchronize, synapse
tele- from or over a distance telecommunications, telemedicine, television, telephone
trans- across, beyond, through transmit, transaction, translation, transfer
tri- three, every third tricycle, trimester, triangle, triathlon
un- not, lacking, opposite of unfinished, unskilled, ungraceful, unfriendly
uni- one, single unicorn, unicellular, unicycle, unilateral
up- to the top or north, higher/better upbeat, updo, upgrade, upload, uphill, upstage, upscale, up-tempo
endo- within, inner, absorbing, or containing Endobiotic
exo- “outside,” “outer,” “external,” exocentric
ad- 加强 adept
ep/epi on/upon


Suffixes often determine the part of speech of a word. 后缀决定词性。

A suffix is a letter or a group of letters attached to the end of a word to form a new word or to change the grammatical function (or part of speech) of the word.

From: A List of 26 Common Suffixes in English

Noun Suffixes:

Suffix Meaning Example
-acy state or quality privacy, fallacy, delicacy
-al act or process of refusal, recital, rebuttal
-ance, -ence state or quality of maintenance, eminence, assurance
-dom place or state of being freedom, kingdom, boredom
-er, -or one who trainer, protector, narrator
-ism doctrine, belief communism, narcissism, skepticism
-ist one who chemist, narcissist, plagiarist
-ity, -ty quality of inactivity, veracity, parity, serenity
-ment condition of argument, endorsement, punishment
-ness state of being heaviness, sadness, rudeness, testiness
-ship position held fellowship, ownership, kinship, internship
-sion, -tion state of being concession, transition, abbreviation

Verb Suffixes:

Suffix Meaning Example
-ate become regulate, eradicate, enunciate, repudiate
-en become enlighten, awaken, strengthen
-ify, -fy make or become terrify, satisfy, rectify, exemplify
-ize, -ise* become civilize, humanize, socialize, valorize

Adjective Suffixes:

Suffix Meaning Example
-able, -ible capable of being edible, presentable, abominable, credible
-al pertaining to regional, grammatical, emotional, coastal
-esque reminiscent of,It’s simply added to the end of the name picturesque, statuesque, burlesque
-ful notable for fanciful, resentful, woeful, doubtful
-ic, -ical pertaining to musical, mythic, domestic, chiastic
-ious, -ous characterized by nutritious, portentous, studious
-ish having the quality of fiendish, childish, snobbish
-ive having the nature of creative, punitive, divisive, decisive
-less without endless, ageless, lawless, effortless
-y characterized by sleazy, hasty, greasy, nerdy, smelly