More about Prefixes & Suffixes

Attaching Affixes to Base Words and Word Stems

What are Prefixes and Suffixes?

Prefixes and suffixes are grammatical and lingual "affixes." Prefixes are affixed before and suffixes after a base word or word stem to add information.  For example, with the word "prehistoric," the prefix is "pre-" meaning "before," the base word is "history" meaning "recorded events and knowledge", and the suffix is "-ic" meaning "relating to the science of."

In other words, "prefix" simply refers to an attachment before or in front of, in this case, a shorter word or stem. In lingual terms, a "stem" is the main part of a word to which prefixes and suffixes can be added and may not necessarily be a word itself, such as "dod" in "doddle."

Similarly, "suffix" refers to an attachment after the end of an existing word or stem, serving to form a new word or functioning as an inflectional ending, for example, “s” or “es” to make for plurality.

Is an Affix a Single Syllable?

No, a prefix or suffix can be one or more syllables, depending on the root word from Latin or Greek or from any one of a host of other English lingual influences.

Inflectional Suffixes

Are Endings such as "-ed," "-ing," and "-s" Suffixes?

Yes, endings that are create different forms of the same word are called "inflectional suffixes." There are very few inflectional suffixes but they occur rather frequently. They are:

-s, -es, -iesplural
-s3rd person singular present
-edpast tense
-enpast participle
-enplural (irregular)
-n'tnegative (contraction)

Derivational Suffixes

Are Endings such as "-ism," "-ful," and "-fy" Suffixes?

Endings that change the meaning of the word are called "derivational suffixes." Some are:

-ismforms a noun
-ise, -izeverb

Derivational suffixes can combine, providing flexibility in creating other words, but such activity can lead to spelling complications. For example, "-ity" can combine with "-able," but the result is "-ability" (desirability, predictability), and when "-ly" is added to a word ending in "-ic" to make an adverb, the result is usually "-ically" (historically, mechanically).

Go on to more about syllables.

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