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Word Parts: Prefixes, Suffixes,and Roots

Prefixes and Suffixes

A prefix is a word part that comes at the beginning of a word. The meaning of the prefix, combined with the with the meaning of the root, make up a new meaning. For instance, the prefix in-, meaning "not", combined with the word "direct" makes the word "indirect" meaning "not direct."

Suffixes come at the end of a word and combine with the root word to redefine it. Most suffixes also determine a word's part of speech. For instance, the suffix -ment added to the root "amuse" becomes "amusement" or the act or process of being amused. Thus, a verb becomes a noun.

Prefix and Suffix Meanings


It's usually pretty easy to find a root word. For instance, in the word, "amusement" the root word is amuse. Sometimes, though, the root word is not a full word, or may not be a word that we recognize.

For instance, what is the root for the word "enumerate"?

Well, if you say it aloud, you might hear "numer" which sounds a little like number, or numeral. We can guess then, that enumerate has something to do with numbers and counting. We also know that the suffix -ate means to do something. So enumerate may mean to count, or to number. If you look in the dictionary, you will see that enumerate means "to count one by one; to determine the number of, or to list." So we were pretty close!

Root Word Meanings