Prefix–a set of letters you add to the beginning of a word to alter its meaning (such as: un, re, de, dis, mis, in, im, il, im, non, pre, extra, mid, co, cor, com)
Suffix- a set of letters you add to the end of a word to alter its meaning (such as: ness, able, ible, er, or, ar, ly, ment, ion, tion, ous, ious, en, ish, like, ful, less)
Contraction- is a word made up of two words with some of the letters being replaced by an apostrophe
Adding suffixes sometimes changes the spelling of a word (meaning you drop or change letters that were already there), and it sometimes doesn’t. You have to study many of them to get a feel for it. The good news it that there are patterns you can look for.
Whenever you add a suffix or verb-tense ending which starts with a vowel to words ending in ue, remove the e .
blue + er = bluer (not blueer)
argue + ed = argued (not argueed)
issue + ing = issuing (not issueing)
When you add the suffix –or, you don’t need to drop any letters.
govern + or = governor
sail + or = sailor
act + or = actor
Watch Out Words Ending with “y”s
Adding a suffix may or may not change the spelling of the root word. Look out when the root ends with a “y”—these words often have changes.
When you add the suffix –ness, you don’t need to drop any letters, but if y was the last letter, it changes to an i.
kind + ness = kindness
dark + ness = darkness
happy + ness = happiness (not happyness)
lonely + ness = loneliness (not lonelyness)
When you add the suffix -ly, you don’t need to drop any letters, but you might have to add –ily.
honest + ly = honestly
speed + ly = speedily (not speedly)
angry + ly = angrily (not angryly)
happy + ly = happily (not happyly)
When you add the suffix –ful, you don’t need to drop any letters, but if the root word ends in y, that y changes to an i.
skill + full = skillful
plenty + full = plentiful
The following are prefixes: un, il, de, dis, mis, in, im, non, pre, extra, mid, co, cor, com, re
Adding a prefix never changes the spelling of a word, even when the word starts with a vowel.
dis + appear = disappear (not disppear)
un + edible = unedible (not undible)
Only One Makes Sense
Not all prefixes go with all words. For example, unremarkable is a word, while ilremarkable and disremarkable are not.
In general, a word will only make sense with ONE of the negative prefixes: un, dis, mis, il, in, im, non, de
So if you know that imperfect is a word, then you know that these are NOT words:
The same goes for the suffixes, such as ible and able. If you know that comfortable is a word, then you know that ible isn’t going to work to make comfortible (not a word!).
The suffixes or, ar, and er are very similar. If you know the word actor is correct, then acter and actar are incorrect.