What are prefixes?

Prefixes are groups of letters that we add to the start of a word to make a new word. 

The prefix 'un'

For example, when we add 'un' to the start of the word 'happy', it changes its meaning so that it means the opposite. For example:

happy - unhappy 

The prefix 'un' does the same to a lot of words, making them mean 'not' or the opposite of their initial meaning. For example:

lit - unlit

packed - unpacked

well - unwell

Lots of words change their meaning when you add 'un' to the start - but you can't add un to every single word. For example, we don't say unsit, unfall, or unwalk!

Here's a riddle to try with kids once they get to grips with the 'un' prefix:

Which word doesn't change meaning when you add the prefix 'un'?

Drop us a line if you can figure it out (or if you get stuck!)

The prefixes dis, mis and in

The prefixes dis, mis and in act in a very similar way to un. They all change the word so that it means the opposite of its original meaning. 

For example: 

Connect becomes disconnect 

Behave becomes misbehave

Visible becomes invisible

Sometimes, we notice these prefixes before words that we don't use any more. For example:




The key thing to remember is that these prefixes make something negative. So even though kids might never have come across the word 'disgruntled' before, they will see the dis prefix and have a good guess that it doesn't mean something good! 

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Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at maths and literacy – you can even try Komodo for free. 

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