Difference between Prefix and Suffix

Key Difference: Prefix is a part of a word that is added to another word, in order to change the meaning of it. Like prefix, a suffix is also a word that is added to another word, in order to change the meaning of it. The main difference between the two is that while a prefix is added to the front of the word, the suffix is added to the end of it.

Language is tough, and getting a handle on grammar is even tougher. Grammar is a thing that can gut punch even native speakers, so what chance do learners have? In the case of grammar, everyone needs help sometimes. One of these cases is prefix vs. suffix. Both are similar, which is even worse, because they make it harder to differentiate them.

Prefix is a part of a word that is added to another word, in order to change the meaning of it. For example: un- is added to the word happy to make unhappy. In this case, the meaning of the new word is the complete opposite of the previous word. However, that is not always the case. Instead of making the word an opposite, at times, the word is just changed to meaning something similar yet different. For example, aside adds the prefix a- to the word side to lead to a word that means off to the side, which is not an opposite of the word side.

Suffix is quite similar to a prefix. Like prefix, a suffix is also a word that is added to another word, in order to change the meaning of it. However, instead of adding it to the front of the word, it is added to the end of the word. For example: adding –ing to a word such as help to make helping.

Suffixes are divided into two main groups: Inflectional suffixes, and Derivational suffixes. The main difference between the two is that inflectional suffixes do not change the meaning of the word, for example adding –ed to a word such as bond to make bonded. The meaning of the word does not change, only the tense of it does.

Derivational suffixes are suffixes that have an impact on the meaning of the word, it changes it. However, commonly the meaning of the new word is similar or linked in some way to the old word. It may even be a different part of speech. For example: adding –y to a word such as hand to make handy. Here the meaning of the word has changed. Also, while hand is a noun, handy is an adjective.

At times, a single word may include both a prefix and a suffix. For example: untidiness, which is made up of the prefix un-, the root word tidy, and the suffix –ness, all of which change the meaning of the original word tidy to untidiness, which is what was needed. Some common prefixes that are used include un-, dis-, mal-, non-, mid-, and mini-, while some common suffixes are –ed, -s, -es, -ing. Yet there are so many more.

Prefix and Suffix are also called modifiers or affixes as they are affixed to a word in order to modify their meaning. The word that the prefix or the suffix is added to is called the root word or the stem word. In this case, the root word or the stem of the word that the prefixes are added to would be happy or side. Similarly, the root word or the stem of the word that the suffixes are added to would be bond, help, tidy, etc.

The terms prefix and suffix are also used in the context of names. Here the similar basic principle applies: prefix is what goes before the name, while the suffix is what goes after. For example: The Honorable Mr. John Smith III. Here the prefix would be ‘The Honorable’ and ‘Mr.’, as they come before the name. They are also often called as titles. On the other hand, the suffix is ‘III’, as it comes after the name.

Comparison between Prefix and Suffix:

 

Prefix

Suffix

Definition (Oxford Dictionaries)

A word, letter, or number placed before another

An element placed at the beginning of a word to adjust or qualify its meaning (e.g. ex-, non-, re-) or (in some languages) as an inflection.

A title placed before a name (e.g. Mr).

A morpheme added at the end of a word to form a derivative (e.g. –ation, -fy, -ing, -itis)

Mathematics – another term for subscript.

Description

Comes before the root word

Goes after the root word

Types

-

Inflectional suffixes: do not change the meaning of the word

Derivational suffixes: change the meaning of the word.

Function

To change the meaning of the root word, or add more information

To change the meaning of the root word, or add more information

Example

Non-: non-smoker, non-alcoholic

-ed: changed, bored, helped

-ing: changing, boring, helping

-ly: boringly, helpingly

Image Courtesy: meanmygang.blogspot.com, tes.com

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Comments

request for more examples of prefix-roots and suffixes thanks

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