English uses prefixes and suffixes
English, like many other languages, uses prefixes and suffixes to alter the meaning of a root word. Some languages do this a lot more. Some do it less. Some languages even have infixes. But we aren’t concerned with THOSE languages! We are Americans! We learn foreign languages in high school, and forget them over summer vacation. La pluma azul es en el mesa blanca! Right! Blue pens! White tables! WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?
oops, I got distracted.
Anyway, back to English. If you ask any English teacher, anywhere, how to increase your vocabulary he or she is likely to say “learn about prefixes and suffixes” (OK they might say something about reading books, but … well, that’s too much work).
Some examples of using prefixes and suffixes
Example 1 of using prefixes and suffixes: Uniform. OK, There’s a clear prefix here. UN. That means NOT. Unbelievable. Unreal. Unusual. And FORM isn’t a common suffix, but using it can transform your speech. Or reform it. Or something. FORM means shape.
So…. Uniform means – not shaped like an I!
“After eating too much and exercising too little for years, many people become uniform.”
Example 2 of using prefixes and suffixes: Preposterous
Another clear prefix: PRE. Pre means before. Premature. Pre-owned (they’ve done the owning for you! Preposterous!). And OUS is a suffix used to turn nouns into adjectives. How heinous! Maybe even poisonous. A poster, of course, is a thing you hang on a wall.
So…. Preposterous means: The quality of being before a poster!
“I was walking down the street, and there were so many billboards! I was preposterous.”
Example 3 of using prefixes and suffixes: Infatuate
IN is a prefix that reverses the meaning of what follows. Inconceivable (I do not think that means what you think it means). And -ATE is a suffix meaning something like “having the specified thing”. And fat, of course, means fat.
So …. Infatuate = not having fat. That is, skinny.
Many people in America want to be infatuate.
Example 4 of using prefixes and suffixes: Pandemic
PAN- is a prefix meaning “all”. And -IC is a suffix meaning “of, or pertaining to” And DEM is short for Democratic.
So….. Pandemic means “pertaining to all Democrats”.
“Although voting for health care reform was highly partisan, it was not quite pandemic”.
See how easy it is?