Teaching English Prefixes

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Children need to be encouraged to use their knowledge of word parts, specifically prefixes, suffixes to pull an unknown word apart and determine its meaning. And just as you don’t try to teach your child every unfamiliar word in a story, it is helpful to focus on learning only the most important of the hundreds of affixes and roots. If your child comes to know these really well, he will be able to add substantially to his reading vocabulary. Fortunately, only a relative few of these word parts occur with any real frequency: Just twenty prefixes account for 97 percent of all words with prefixes found in English schoolbooks, and nine of these prefixes account for 75 percent of all prefixed words. Here are the most common ones:


Percentage of all prefixed words

Un-(not) 26
Re-(again) 14
In-,im-,il-,ir-(not) 11
Dis-(not) 7
En-,em-(put into) 4
Non-(not) 4
In,im-(in) 3
Over-(excessive) 3
Mis-(bad) 3
Sub-(below) 3
Pre-(before) 3
Inter-(between) 3
Fore-(earlier) 3
De-(reverse) 2
Trans-(across) 2


dis- im-or in- mis- pre- re- un-
(not) (not) (bad) (before) (again) (not)
disagree impatient misbehave prearrange reappear unable
disappear imperfect mislay precook rearm unbend
disarm impolite mislead prepaid rearrange uncover
disconnect impossible misplace preschool recount undo
dishonest impure mispronounce pretest redo unequal
dislike inactive misread preview reenter unfair
dislike incomplete misspell refill unhappy
dismount independent mistreat refresh unkind
disobey invisible misuse reheat unlock
disorder renumber unwrap
disown replay
distrust retell



-able -ful -less -ly -ment -ness
(is,can be) (full of) (without) (resembling) (action/process) (state/quality of)
admirable careful ageless bravely agreement cleverness
agreeable cheerful beardless brotherly amazement darkness
breakable colorful bottomless cleverly arrangement fairness
curable delightful careless fatherly development fullness
desirable fearful fearless foolishly entertainment goodness
enjoyable forgetful jobless freely experiment happiness
excitable helpful painless honestly government kindness
laughable joyful sleepless loudly payment loudness
moveable painful worthless neatly punishment sadness

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Carlee   •  

    I am totally wowed and prepraed to take the next step now.

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