Learn English with Teacher Joe!

Advice for Learning English

Return to
Joe's Home

Joe's Jokes

Learn English
in context!

How to
Learn English

Learn English Prefixes


We have learned English root words in our previous four articles. (See Learn English Word Roots, Part 1, Learn English Word Roots, Part 2, Learn English Word Roots, Part 3 and Learn English Word Roots, Part 4.) In our next three articles, we will learn many common English prefixes, which are combined with roots to make new words. When you are reading, look for the prefixes that begin English words. These prefixes, together with the roots we learned earlier, will give you a clue to that word's meaning.

1. "anti" means "against". An "antisocial" person is someone who is not friendly to anyone. Such a person seems to be against all of society. The "antislavery" movement is the fight people put up to end slavery. Someone who is "antiwar" is against all wars.

2. "bi", "bin", "di" or "du" all mean "two". A "bicycle", of course, has two wheels. "Binoculars" are a kind of "glasses" that you can use to see far into the distance. The word "dioxide" is used to describe any chemical element that includes two oxygen atoms. To "duplicate" means "to copy" something, in other words, to make a second one.

3. "tri" means "three". Before children can ride a bicycle, they can ride a three-wheeler called a "tricycle". A "triangle" is a shape that has three corners or angles (compared to a square which has four corners). Twins are two babies that are born to the same mother at the same time, but "triplets" are when a mother has three children at the same time.

4. "mono", "un" or "uni" all mean "one". We saw "monologue" in our previous article - it is a talk by just one person, as we often can see on television. A "university" is one place where we can learn almost anything. The word "unique" means something is so special that there is only one in the whole world. A "unit" of a book is one section of that book.

5. "demi", "semi" or "hemi" all mean "half". A "demigod" is someone who is so famous or so loved that he or she is almost like a god. A "semicircle" is half of a circle. "Semiannual" means an event that happens one time every six months (half a year). Our world can be divided into two parts - the northern "hemisphere" and the southern "hemisphere".

6. "pre" and "pro" mean "before" or "forward". Of course, a "prefix" is the part of a word before the root! A "precaution" is something you do now to try to avoid something bad in the future. For example, taking Vitamin C now can help stop a cold in the future, so we can say that "we take Vitamin C as a precaution". A "prejudice" is a judgment we make before we really know someone. "Progress" is to make something better, in other words, to "move forward".

7. "a" means "on". The prefix "a" can be used with a word like "top" to make "atop" which means "on top of". For example, "atop a mountain" means "on top of a mountain". If you are going to get on a ship, we can say you are "going aboard". When you get off of a ship and go onto the land, you are "going ashore".

8. "as" mean "to". The word "ascend" means to "go up". To "aspire" means to reach to something, such as a person who goes to Hollywood and "aspires to be an actor".

Kung Fu Kitty!

Do you like this page?
Click to tell a friend!

Learn English Idioms Listen to English Language Exchange
Learn English Grammar Learn English Vocabulary Learn Business English

Copyright 2005, Learn English with Teacher Joe