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Word Classes, Prefixes and Suffixes

Word Classes

All words belong to categories referred to as word classes (or parts of speech) according to the part they play in a sentence. There are nine word classes in English (Lexico by Oxford, n.d.):
1-) Nouns designate people, things, and ideas (e.g., boy, tree, happiness).
2-) Verbs describe actions, events, situations, and changes (e.g., run, rain, be, become).
3-) Adjectives qualify and/or classify nouns (e.g., a sweet perfume, an Italian woman).
4-) Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs (e.g., walk slowly, be very pretty, sing really well).
5-) Pronouns substitute nouns in a sentence (e.g., he, us, mine, herself).
6-) Prepositions show connection between words in a sentence (e.g., to meet after school; to travel by train).
7-) Conjunctions connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences (e.g., a red and white flag; I went to my friend’s house because it was her birthday).
8-) Determiners are words that introduce nouns in a sentence (e.g., a student, the student, this student, those students, every student, many students).
9-) Exclamations are words or phrases that express strong emotion (e.g., Cool! How nice!).

Prefixes and Suffixes

Prefixes are a letter or group of letters attached to the beginning of a word to make a new word, and suffixes are a letter or group of letters attached to the end of a word to make a new word by changing the word class of the word to which they are attached (Cambridge Dictionary Online). Be sure that you are using the correct prefix or suffix in academic writing to ensure you do not make up words.
Below are some of the most frequently used prefixes and suffixes in English.

Prefixes (Cambridge Dictionary Online):

Prefix

Meaning

Examples

anti-

against

antibiotic, antisocial

auto-

of or by oneself

autobiography, auto-pilot

be-

thoroughly, completely; 

to make, cause, seem; 

to provide with; at, on, tofor

befriend, belittle

bi-

two, twice

bicycle, bilingual

co-

with

cooperate, coworker

counter-

contrary to

counterargument, counterproductive

de-

privation, descent

decaf, degrade

dis-

not

disagree, disloyal

ex-

former

ex-student, ex-wife

ex-

out of

exhale, export

fore-

before, superior

forecast, forehead

il-/im-/in-/ir-

 

not

 

illegal, impossible, inconvenient, irresponsible

in-

inside

insert, internal

inter-

among, mutually

interdepartmental, interpersonal

intra-

inside, within

intracranial, intramural

mal-

badly, wrongly

maladjusted, malfunction

micro-

small

micro-computer, microwave

mis-

badly/wrongly

mistranslate, misunderstand

mono-

one/single

monologue, monotonous

multi-

many

multi-national, multi-purpose

non-

not

non-alcoholic, non-stop

out-

more or better than

outgrow, outnumber

over-

too much

overdo, overtired

post-

after

postgraduate, postwar

pre-

prior to

prepay, preschool

pro-

in favour of

pro-government, pro-revolutionary

pseudo-

false

pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-scientific

re-

again or back

reread, retype

semi-

half

semicircular, semi-final

sub-

under

submarine, subway

trans-

across, changing

transformation, transatlantic

un-

not

lacking

the opposite of

undo, unsupervised

 

 

under-

not enough

undercooked, under-used

Suffixes:

Some common noun suffixes are (Cambridge Dictionary Online):

Suffixes

Examples

-age

baggage, package, storage

-ance/-ence

existence, intelligence, resistance

-ant/-ent

consultant, intelligent, resistant

-cy

efficiency, emergency, frequency

-dom

free, kingdom, wisdom

-er/-or

 

People: teacher, worker, actor, supervisor

Things: bottle-opener, pencil-sharpener, connector, projector

-er x –ee

employee, payee, trainee

-hood

childhood, brotherhood, motherhood

-ity

flexibility, productivity, scarcity

-ion/-sion/-tion/-xion

complication, admission, complexion

-ism (activity or ideology) and -ist (person) and

Activity / ideology: Buddhism, journalism, Marxism

Person: anarchist, journalist, physicist

-ment

enjoyment, excitement, replacement

-ness

happiness, sadness, weakness

-ry/-ery

bakery, misery, robbery

-ship

friendship, membership, partnership

 Some common adjective suffixes are (Cambridge Dictionary Online):

Suffixes

Examples

-able/-ible

drinkable, recognizable, flexible

-al

brutal, legal

-en

golden, wooden

-ese

Chinese, Japanese

-ful

forgetful, hopeful, useful

-ian

Brazilian, Canadian

-i

Iraqi, Pakistani

-ic

classic, poetic

-ish

British (nationality), reddish (kind of red), thirtyish  (around thirty)

-ive

active, passive, productive

-less

cloudless, harmless, useless

-ous

delicious, furious, outrageous

-y

cloudy, rainy, sunny

 Some common adverb suffixes are (Cambridge Dictionary Online):

Suffixes

Examples

-ly

frequently, rapidly, shortly

-ward

backward, downward, upward

-wise

clockwise, edge-wise, otherwise

 Some common verb suffixes are (Cambridge Dictionary Online):

Suffixes

Examples

-ate

communicate, demonstrate, irritate

-en

enlighten, shorten, straighten

-ify

beautify, purify, terrify

- ise/-ize

 

commercialise/commercialize

industrialise/industrialize

modernise/modernize

References

English Grammar Today. Word classes and phrase classes. Retrieved from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/pt/gramatica/gramatica-britanica/word-classes-and-phrase-classes
Mccarthy, M.; & O’Dell, F. (1994). English vocabulary in use: intermediate & advanced. Cambridge University Press.
Prefixes. In Cambridge Dictionary Online. Available at https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/prefixes
Suffixes. In Cambridge Dictionary Online. Available at https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/suffixes
TESOL. Word classes in English grammar. Retrieved from: https://www.tesol-direct.com/tesol-resources/english-grammar-guide/word-classes/