English Prefixes and Suffixes (Over 50 of the Most Common Examples)

A lot of people say that English is a complicated language that doesn’t follow its own rules. In many ways, this is very true. For this reason, it is important to take any advantage that you can. English prefixes and suffixes can help make English learning far easier by teaching you the little codes we have in our everyday words.

As well, although there are many suffixes and prefixes in English, the vast majority of words that use them share the most common prefixes and suffixes. Learn these most common examples, and it’ll help you make your English reading a lot easier. 

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What is a Prefix and Suffix?

Prefixes and suffixes come at the beginning or endings of words to help you change their meanings. Prefixes are put at the beginning of words, while suffixes come at the ends of words.

Sometimes it can be easier to understand what we mean by seeing some common words with prefixes and suffixes. 

One common prefix is re-, which means again. A common word where we use re- is with the verb do. When combined, they make the word redo, meaning to do again. We can add re- to other verbs like read (reread, to read again), try (retry, to try again), or adjust (readjust, to adjust again) to make other common English words 

A common English suffix is -ly. It is added to adjectives to make adverbs. So adjectives like quick, intelligent, or angry can be changed into quickly, intelligently, or angrily. Learning this suffix can help you identify adverbs and understand their meanings easily. 

The Most Common English Prefixes and Suffixes

The vast majority of words that have prefixes and suffixes in English use just a couple of common ones. If you want to move into advanced English, you can look beyond these common prefixes and suffixes, but these eight should be okay most of the time. 

The Four Most Common Prefixes

According to Scholastic, 97% of school English words with a prefix will use one of these four categories of prefixes. 

Prefix Dis Words

Dis- means not or the opposite of. For example, to be disabled means to not be able to do something. Here is a full list of dis- words.  

Disable

Disappear

Disarm

Disagree

Disapprove

Discard

Disconnect

Discredit

Discontinue

Dislike

Disrespect

Disproportionate

Disservice

Prefixes In-, im-, il-, ir-

 These prefixes all mean not. For example, illegal is something that is not legal. Click for a full list of these words.

Inactive

Inauthentic

Inconceivable

Indecent

Indigestion

Indiscriminate

Indoctrinate

Ineffective

Informal

Inevitable

Impolite

Imprecise

Impractical

Impertinent

Impermissible

Imprecision

Irresistible

Irresponsive

Irreversible

Irremovable

Illegitimate

Illegal

Illiterate

Illogical

Prefix Re Words

Re- means again. For example, redo means to do again. Click for a full Re- list.

Redo

Readjust

Retry

Refill

Reinstall

Repatriate

Refry

Refreeze

Rerun

Restest

Prefix Un Words

 Un- means to reverse something that has already been done. It can also mean not. So, for example, you can zip your bag to close it and unzip it to open it again. Click for your full Un- list.

Undo

Unzip

Untie

Unclip

Unclog

Undead

Unreal

Unimpressed

The Four Most Common Suffixes

These four suffixes make up 97% of English school words with suffixes according to Scholastic.  

Suffix -ed Words

Any regular verb will have an -ed form when in the past tense. We won’t list all of those here. You can check out our post on the simple past tense if you are looking for more information on that.

Played

Passed

Rated

Pushed

Pulled

Suffix -ing Words 

When conjugating into a progressive or continuous tense regardless of past, present, or future, you will get the -ing ending to verbs. Again, we won’t go over too many examples of these.

Running 

Swimming

Jumping

Laughing

Suffix -ly Words 

An adjective with an -ly ending is usually an adverb. They share the same meaning as their adjective roots but are used to describe actions instead of people, places, or things. 

Quick – Quickly 

Smart – Smartly

Cute – Cutely

Passionate – Passionately

Suffix -s/-es Words

For most nouns, when we turn them into their plural forms, we add an s or es

Cat – Cats

Dog – Dogs

House – Houses

Window – Windows

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Suffix and Prefix Words List

In this section, we are going to address common words that fall under prefixes or suffixes that weren’t addressed in the above sections. Our suffix and prefix word list is going to be ordered first by suffixes, then prefixes, all of which will be done alphabetically.

Words with the Suffix able / ible

This means that something is possible or can be done. For example, something that is affordable is an item that you are able to afford.

Possible

Acceptable

Avoidable

Applicable

Affordable

Flammable

Regrettable

Accessible

Incredible

Responsible

Words with the Suffix al /ial

It means to have the characteristic of the word that it is paired with. So, glacial means to have the characteristics of a glacier (usually cold or slow). 

Professional

Denial

Nuptial

Memorial

Spinal

Global

International

Glacial

Words with the Suffix en

This suffix means to be made up of something. For example, something that is silken is something that is made of silk.

Silken

Wooden

Golden

Flaxen

Earthen

Words with the Suffix er

Used to show a comparison. I am tall, but he is taller.

Higher

Lower

Faster

Stronger

Quicker

Smarter

Words with the Suffix est

Used to show that something is the most of a certain quality. I am fast, but he is the fastest.

Highest

Lowest

Fastest

Strongest

Quickest

Smartest 

Words with the Suffix ful

Means to be full of. It is used with emotions and not physical things. For example, someone who is careful is full of care when they do something.

Careful

Fearful

Wistful

Hopeful

Wrathful

Delightful

Words with the Suffix ic

It means to have characteristics of. Something described as comedic has the characteristics of comedy.

Atomic

Tragic

Comedic

Aquatic

Hygienic

Acoustic

Economic

Academic

Specific

Athletic

Artistic

Catholic

Words with the Suffix ion / tion / ation /ition

This suffix indicates an act or process. So imitation is the act of imitating.

Imitation

Creation

Destruction

Fusion

Translation

Persuasion

Presentation

Competition

Words with the Suffix ity / ty

This suffix indicates a state, referring to the word that it comes after. Reality means a state of being real.

Reality

Agility

Probability

Ability

Atrocity

Civility

Sweaty

Safety

Sporty

Obesity

Words with the Suffix ive / ative / itive

We use this suffix to turn a word into an adjective. An example of this is creation/create, which turns into creative.

Creative

Talkative

Authoritative

Imaginative

Conservative

Active

Initiative

Passive

Corrosive

Positive

Competitive

Words with the Suffix less

This means without. For example, endless means to have no end.

Endless

Fearless

Aimless

Loveless

Hopeless

Selfless

Homeless

Useless

Words with the Suffix ment

This suffix means an action, resulting state, product, or process. Enjoyment is a state of enjoying. 

Statement

Engagement

Enjoyment

Judgment

Movement

Payment

Amusement

Words with the Suffix ness

This word describes a state or condition. Happiness is the state of being happy.

Happiness

Sadness

Fairness

Weakness

Madness

Words with the Suffix ous / eous / ious

It means to have the quality of something. Outrageous means to have the quality of outrage.

Gaseous

Precious

Glorious

Curious

Courageous

Outrageous

Various

Enormous

Words with the Suffix y

Words ending in y mean to have the quality of something. When someone is worthy, they have the quality of worth.

Worthy

Guilty

Luxury

Wealthy

Lengthy

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Words with the Prefix anti-

Anti- means against. We often use anti- in constructions that are not technically words. You may see examples of this in advertisements.

Antivirus

Antihero

Anticlimactic

Words with the Prefix de-

The prefix de- means opposite or the reverse of. To deactivate is the opposite of to activate.

Demoralize

Declassify

Deactivate

Degenerate

Decentralized

Words with the Prefix en-/em-

Means to cause to. To empower someone is to cause them to feel powerful or to give them power.

Empower

Embolden

Enable

Engage

Enjoy

Enlist

Endear

Words with the Prefix fore-

Fore- means before. A forefather is a father that came before your own (an ancestor).

Forefather

Forecast

Forethought

Foretell

Foreword

Forewarn 

Words with the Prefix in- / im-

These words mean in. Notice that in- and im- can also mean not. You can find those in our common prefixes section.

Infield

Infighting

Inseam

Inbound

Imperil

Immigrate

Words with the Prefix inter-

Inter- means between. International describes something between nations.

International

Interaction

Interface

Internet

Interlock

Words with the Prefix mid-

Mid- means middle. Midday is the time that comes in the middle of the day.

Midday

Midback

Midair

Midtown

Midterm

Words with the Prefix mis-

Mis- means that something has been done incorrectly. If you misfire a weapon it means you accidentally fired it.

Mistake

Misfire

Misplay

Misled

Misuse

Words with the Prefix non-

Non- means not. Nonsense describes something that makes no sense.

Nonsense

Nonstop

Nonissue

Nonfat

Nonhuman

Words with the Prefix over-

Over- just means over. An overlook is a place that looks over a view.

Overlook

Overeasy

Oversleep

Overdo

Overjoy

Oversee

Overall

Words with the Prefix pre-

Pre- means before. Preschool is the education that comes before you start grade school.

Preschool

Preempt

Preplan

Presuppose

Prepay

Pretext

Predict

Words with the Prefix semi-

Semi- means half. So, semisweet chocolate is chocolate with only half the sweetness of regular chocolate.

Semicircle

Semisweet

Semifinal

Semiannual

Semicolon

Words with the Prefix sub-

Sub- means under. A submarine is a vehicle that goes beneath the water.

Submarine

Suboptimal

Subtext

Subway

Words with the Prefix super-

Super means more than. It often isn’t in the physical sense. A star is someone famous, but a superstar is someone who is really famous. 

Superstar

Supernatural

Supermodel

Superhuman

Superglue

Superhero

Words with the Prefix trans-

Trans- means across. A transatlantic flight is a flight that takes you across the Atlantic ocean.

Transatlantic

Transient

Transgender

Translate

Transplant

Words with the Prefix under-

Under- simply means under. This can be in the physical sense (underground) or have more to do with numbers or quality (underperform).

Underground

Underage

Underperform

Undercook

Underarm

Undergraduate

Understaffed

Final Thoughts

We’ve done our best to give you an introduction to the most common English prefixes and suffixes. If you have any questions about the meanings of a particular suffix, prefix, or individual word, we would be happy to answer them. Just comment on this post with your question. Good luck with your studies, and we at the Learner’s Nook hope to hear from you soon.

Click here to ask your questions.

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