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12 Common Prefixes and What They Mean

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Learn English: Prefixes

If you’ve studied the English language, then there’s a good chance that you have heard about prefixes. A prefix is a group of letters which can be added to the beginning of a word. A prefix cannot be used alone, and using one will change the meaning of the word it is attached to. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • I’m uncomfortable with speaking Italian. I need to study and practise more often. [Un- + comfortable = not comfortable]
  • The boy felt demotivated after he failed his test. He thought he would get a better grade. [de- + motivated = opposite of motivated]
  • Have you watched the new ‘Mission Impossible’ film? Tom Cruise does his own stunts! [Im– + possible = not possible]

There are many prefixes in the English language, but today we’re going to take a look at 12 of the most common ones.


1.       Anti-AgainstAntisocial
2.       De-OppositeDemotivated
3.       Un-NotUnhappy
4.       Dis-Not, opposite ofDisagree
5.       Im-NotImpolite
6.       Mid-MiddleMidday
7.       Mis-WronglyMisunderstand
8.       Over-OverOverenthusiastic
9.       Pre-BeforePrehistoric
10.   Re-AgainRewrite
11.   Super-Above, beyondSuperhuman
12.   UnderUnderUnderestimate


Want to check how well you know your prefixes, and perhaps discover a few more? Check out these 5 free English lessons to get started.

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