Parts of a "Word"
You use prefixes, suffixes, and word roots every day, whether you realize it or not.
The three parts of a word.
You use prefixes, suffixes, and word roots every day, whether you realize it or not. These parts of words make up almost all of the words we use in the English language and you will find that the meanings of many unfamiliar words become much more clear when you understand the meanings of the most common of these word parts.
A prefix is the word part placed at the beginning of a word. It is usually only one syllable, but sometimes it is more. Its job is to change or add to the meaning of a word. For example, you probably use the word review on a regular basis. What does it mean? Let’s break it down. First, we can break it down into syllables: re-view. View means to look at, and the prefix, re- adds to the meaning of the word. Re- means back or again, so by putting together what you already know, you can figure out that the word review means to look back at, or to look at again. Other common prefixes include, in-, anti-, pre-, post-, un-, non-, con-, and dis-.
A suffix is a word part placed at the end of a word that signals how a word is being used in a sentence and identifies its part of speech. When you attach different suffixes onto the base of a word, they change the word’s part of speech. For example, the word sterilize is a verb meaning to sanitize. As an adjective, it takes the suffix, -ile and becomes sterile. As a noun, it takes the suffix -tion and becomes sterilization. The suffix changes the word’s job in a sentence and it also helps give you a clue as to the meaning of an unfamiliar word.
The pieces of words that carry direct meaning are called roots. Many English words stem from ancient Greek and Latin words, and because so many English words have their source in certain recurring root words, knowing some of the most commonly used roots gives you access to many words at once. Thus, when you combine your knowledge of prefixes and suffixes with your knowledge of roots, you can figure out the meaning of many unfamiliar words. For example, the word root cogn- means to know. Words that include this root are recognize, meaning to identify as known, incognito, meaning unknown, and cognition, meaning knowledge. You can see how knowing the base of these three words, in addition to having knowledge of prefixes and suffixes, can really help you work out the meanings of unfamiliar words.