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Learn English Prefixes, Part 3


In our last two articles, we learned some basic prefixes (See Learn English Prefixes, Part 1 and Learn English Prefixes, Part 2). This final article will help you learn more English prefixes. Use these prefixes together with the English roots we learned earlier (See How to Learn English Well for a complete list of Teacher Joe's advice for English learners.) so that you can guess word meanings as you read.

17. "syl", "sym" or "syn" mean "together" or "the same". A word is made up of parts called "syllables". Two words that have the same meaning (such as "tall" and "high") are "synonyms". A "symbol" is a sign that can represent another thing, such as a country's flag which is a kind of symbol of that country. The word "synthesis" means to make something new, which we do by putting two or more things together.

18. "a" or "an" mean "not". The word "apathy" can mean "without feeling" or to "not care". "Atypical" is something that is not ordinary. If you are sick and must have an operation, the doctor will give you an "anesthesia" before cutting you open, so that you will not feel any pain.

19. "de" or "dis" mean "go down" or "go against something". To "disagree" means to go against another opinion. To "descend" means to go down a hill. Something that is a mess and not well organized is "disorganized". To "deny" someone is to go against them by saying "no" to them.

20. "il", "im", "in" and "ir" all mean "not". If something is against the law, it is "illegal". Someone who is too young can be called "immature". Someone or something that is not moving or not doing anything at all can be called "inactive". If someone does not think but makes bad, emotional decisions, then we can say that person is "irrational".

21. "bene" means "good". A "benefit" is a good point that can be received from something, for example, from a job. Pay is one benefit, but so are paid vacation days, free coffee during breaks, or health insurance. A leader who is "benevolent" is a leader who is good to the people he or she leads.

22. "contra" means "against". To "contradict" means to say something against someone else, especially to say the exact opposite of what someone else is saying. A "contrary" opinion is also a different opinion.

23. "dys", "mal" and "mis" all mean "bad". A "dysfunctional" group is a group that cannot work together - they function badly! A "malfunction" describes a machine that has a problem so that it works badly. The word "misfortune" means bad luck or a bad thing that happens.

24. "eu" means "very good". A very wonderful feeling of great happiness is "euphoria". To try to make better human beings by controlling our genes, or choosing our best genes, is a process called "eugenics".

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