Lesson 13: Prefixes

Read the diagram below out loud with your tutor.



Practice by reading the dialogue with your tutor. After you are done, switch roles and do it again.

  • Kevin: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? There are more impolite people than polite people.
  • Dorothy: In my opinion, some people are unkind and impolite, but most people are pleasant and respectful.
  • Kevin: That’s an interesting view. Sometimes I meet unfriendly, impolite people who make me disagree with that idea.
  • Dorothy: Oh, that’s a shame. It’s unfair to let a few bad eggs to ruin your impression of everyone else!




Using prefixes


Read the diagram below out loud with your tutor.

Screenshot 2017-01-06 12.08.22.png



Here’s a more complete list of prefixes. Review them out loud with your tutor. Try to come up with more examples of prefixed words as you go along.

prefix meaning examples
anti- against/opposed to anti-government, anti-racist, anti-war
auto- self autobiography, automobile
de- reverse or change de-classify, decontaminate, demotivate
dis- reverse or remove disagree, displeasure, disqualify
down- reduce or lower downgrade, downhearted
extra- beyond extraordinary, extraterrestrial
hyper- extreme hyperactive, hypertension
il-, im-, in-, ir- not illegal, impossible, insecure, irregular
inter- between interactive, international
mega- very big, important megabyte, mega-deal, megaton
mid- middle midday, midnight, mid-October
mis- incorrectly, badly misaligned, mislead, misspelled
non- not non-payment, non-smoking
over- too much overcook, overcharge, overrate
out- go beyond outdo, out-perform, outrun
post- after post-election, post-war
pre- before prehistoric, pre-war
pro- in favor of pro-communist, pro-democracy
re- again reconsider, redo, rewrite
semi- half semicircle, semi-retired
sub- under, below submarine, sub-Saharan
super- above, beyond super-hero, supermodel
tele- at a distance television, telepathic
trans- across transatlantic, transfer
ultra- extremely ultra-compact, ultrasound
un- remove, reverse, not undo, unpack, unhappy
under- less than, beneath undercook, underestimate
up- make or move higher upgrade, uphill




Identify the 5 words with prefixes in the following paragraph.

I need to buy a new bicycle because my current one constantly needs repairs. The other day, I saw that the local bike shop is having a presale on bikes. They are advertising 10% off on the new models coming out soon. I went inside to ask the salesperson if the ad misrepresented the discount. She said it was true and that I could prepay and pick the bike up at a later date. Unfortunately, I was short on cash at the time, but the sale will continue until next week.

(1) bicycle

(2) _____________

(3) _____________

(4) _____________

(5) _____________



Fill the blanks in with one of the following words: undercooked, uphill, outperform, non-stop, multicultural

  • After my car accident, I had an uphill battle to a full recovery.
  • A lot of big cities are (6) _________________ because more people are moving from different countries.
  • You need to (7) ______________ your previous IELTS exam if you want to improve your chance of success.
  • It has been raining (8) _______________ for the past three days.
  • Eating (9) _____________ meat could cause food poisoning.




Write a sentence using the word with a prefix.

  • improper –  It’s improper to wear shorts and a t-shirt for a job interview.
  • midnight – ________________________________________________.
  • reconsider – _______________________________________________.
  • unpack – __________________________________________________.
  • discourage – _______________________________________________.



Discussion Questions

  1. Who is your favorite superhero? What is his/her superpower?
  2. What’s worse: impolite or impractical people? Why?
  3. Do you prefer understated fashion or overstated fashion? Why?




(Sources: 1. http://www.treetopdisplays.co.uk/writing_and_grammar1.php, 2. http://www.slideshare.net/met4457/prefixes-and-suffixes-macu. 3. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/word-formation/prefixes, 4. http://englishgrammarviii.blogspot.com/2015/07/prefixes.html)


Answer Key:

(1) bicycle

(2) presale

(3) misrepresented

(4) prepay

(5) Unfortunately

(6) multi-cultural

(7) outperform

(8) non-stop

(9) undercooked

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