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A prefix is an
affix In linguistics, an affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word or word form. Affixes may be derivational, like English ''-ness'' and ''pre-'', or inflectional, like English plural ''-s'' and past tense ''-ed''. They ar ...
which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy'', it creates the word ''unhappy''. Particularly in the study of languages, a prefix is also called a preformative, because it alters the form of the words to which it is affixed. Prefixes, like other affixes, can be either
inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, mood, animacy, and defini ...
al, creating a new form of the word with the same basic meaning and same
lexical category In grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech (abbreviated as POS or PoS, also known as word class or grammatical category) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammatical properties. Words that are assi ...
(but playing a different role in the sentence), or derivational, creating a new word with a new
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference, meaning, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics and comput ...
meaning and sometimes also a different
lexical category In grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech (abbreviated as POS or PoS, also known as word class or grammatical category) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammatical properties. Words that are assi ...
. Prefixes, like all other affixes, are usually
bound morpheme In linguistics, a bound morpheme is a morpheme (the elementary unit of morphosyntax) that can appear only as part of a larger expression; a free morpheme (or unbound morpheme) is one that can stand alone. A bound morpheme is a type of bound form ...
s. In English, there are no inflectional prefixes; English uses
suffix In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns, adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs. Suffixes can carry ...
es instead for that purpose. The word ''prefix'' is itself made up of the stem ''fix'' (meaning "attach", in this case), and the prefix ''pre-'' (meaning "before"), both of which are derived from Latin
root In vascular plants, the roots are the organs of a plant that are modified to provide anchorage for the plant and take in water and nutrients into the plant body, which allows plants to grow taller and faster. They are most often below the sur ...
s.


English language


List of English derivational prefixes

This is a fairly comprehensive, although not exhaustive, list of derivational prefixes in English. Depending on precisely how one defines a derivational prefix, some of the neoclassical combining forms may or may not qualify for inclusion in such a list. This list takes the broad view that ''acro-'' and ''auto-'' count as English derivational prefixes because they function the same way that prefixes such as ''over-'' and ''self-'' do. As for
numeral prefix Numeral or number prefixes are prefixes derived from numerals or occasionally other numbers. In English and many other languages, they are used to coin numerous series of words. For example: * unicycle, bicycle, tricycle (1-cycle, 2-cycle, 3-cyc ...
es, only the most common members of that class are included here. There is a large separate table covering them all at Numeral prefix > Table of number prefixes in English.


Hyphenation

The choice between hyphenation or solid styling for prefixes in English is covered at Hyphen > Prefixes and suffixes.


Japanese language

Commonly used prefixes in
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan, an island country in East Asia * Japanese language, spoken mainly in Japan * Japanese people, the ethnic group that identifies with Japan through ancestry or culture ** Japanese diaspo ...
include and . They are used as part of the honorific system of speech, and are used as markers for politeness, showing respect for the person or thing they are affixed to, notably also being used euphemistically.


Bantu languages

In the
Bantu languages The Bantu languages (English: , Proto-Bantu: *bantʊ̀) are a large family of languages spoken by the Bantu people of Central, Southern, Eastern africa and Southeast Africa. They form the largest branch of the Southern Bantoid languages. The t ...
of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
, which are agglutinating, the
noun class In linguistics, a noun class is a particular category of nouns. A noun may belong to a given class because of the characteristic features of its referent, such as gender, animacy, shape, but such designations are often clearly conventional. Some ...
is conveyed through prefixes, which is declined and agrees with all of its arguments accordingly.


Example from

Luganda The Ganda language or Luganda (, , ) is a Bantu language spoken in the African Great Lakes region. It is one of the major languages in Uganda and is spoken by more than 10 million Baganda and other people principally in central Uganda including ...


Navajo

Verbs in the
Navajo language Navajo or Navaho (; Navajo: or ) is a Southern Athabaskan language of the Na-Dené family, through which it is related to languages spoken across the western areas of North America. Navajo is spoken primarily in the Southwestern United State ...
are formed from a
word stem In linguistics, a word stem is a part of a word responsible for its lexical meaning. The term is used with slightly different meanings depending on the morphology of the language in question. In Athabaskan linguistics, for example, a verb ste ...
and multiple affixes. For example, each verb requires one of four
non-syllabic In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel, glide or semiconsonant is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary, rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. Examples of semivowels in English are th ...
prefixes (∅, ł, d, l) to create a verb theme.


Sunwar

In the
Sunwar language Sunuwar, Sunuwar, or Kõinch (; ; other spellings are Koinch and Koincha), is a Kiranti language spoken in Nepal and India by the Sunuwar people. It was first comprehensively attested by the Himalayan Languages Project. It is also known as K ...
of Eastern Nepal, the prefix ma- म is used to create
negative verb Dryer defined three different types of negative markers in language. Beside negative particles and negative affixes, negative verbs play a role in various languages. The negative verb is used to implement a clausal negation. The negative predica ...
s. It is the only verbal prefix in the language.


Russian

As a part of the formation of nouns, prefixes are less common in Russian than suffixes, but alter the meaning of a word. :


German

In German,
derivatives The derivative of a function is the rate of change of the function's output relative to its input value. Derivative may also refer to: In mathematics and economics * Brzozowski derivative in the theory of formal languages * Formal derivative, an ...
formed with prefixes may be classified in two categories: those used with substantives and adjectives, and those used with verbs. For derivative substantives and adjectives, only two
productive Productivity is the efficiency of production of goods or services expressed by some measure. Measurements of productivity are often expressed as a ratio of an aggregate output to a single input or an aggregate input used in a production proces ...
prefixes are generally addable to any substantive or adjective as of 1970: ''un-'', which expresses negation (as in ''ungesund'', from ''gesund''), and ''ur-'', which means "original, primitive" in substantives, and has an emphatic function in adjectives. ''ge-'', on the other hand, expresses union or togetherness, but only in a closed group of words—it cannot simply be added to any noun or adjective.Cf. Chambers, W. Walker and Wilkie, John R. (1970) ''A Short History of the German Language'', London: Methuen & Company, Ltd.
p. 63
/ref> Verbal prefixes commonly in use are ''be-'', ''ent-'', ''er-'', ''ge-'', ''miss-'', ''ver-'', and ''zer-'' (see also
Separable verb A separable verb is a verb that is composed of a lexical core and a separable particle. In some sentence positions, the core verb and the particle appear in one word, whilst in others the core verb and the particle are separated. The particle canno ...
). ''be-'' expresses strengthening or generalization. ''ent-'' expresses negation. ''ge-'' indicates the completion of an action, which is why its most common use has become the forming of the
past participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a word derived fro ...
of verbs; ''ver-'' has an emphatic function, or it is used to turn a substantive or an adjective into a verb. In some cases, the prefix particle ''ent-'' (negation) can be considered the opposite of particle ''be-'', while ''er-'' can be considered the opposite of ''ver-''. The prefix ''er-'' usually indicates the successful completion of an action, and sometimes the conclusion means death. With fewer verbs, it indicates the beginning of an action. The prefix ''er-'' is also used to form verbs from adjectives (e.g. ''erkalten'' is equivalent to ''kalt werden'' which means "to get cold").


See also

*
Affix In linguistics, an affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word or word form. Affixes may be derivational, like English ''-ness'' and ''pre-'', or inflectional, like English plural ''-s'' and past tense ''-ed''. They ar ...
*
Suffix In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns, adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs. Suffixes can carry ...
* Privative * Bound and unbound morphemes * English prefix * List of Greek and Latin roots in English * substring#Prefix *
Metric prefix A metric prefix is a unit prefix that precedes a basic unit of measure to indicate a multiple or submultiple of the unit. All metric prefixes used today are decadic. Each prefix has a unique symbol that is prepended to any unit symbol. The pre ...


References


Works cited

* {{Commons, Prefixes Affixes Lexical units Linguistics terminology *