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A prefix is an
affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
which is placed before the
stem Stem or STEM may refer to: Plant structures * Plant stem, a plant's aboveground axis, made of vascular tissue, off which leaves and flowers hang * Stipe (botany), a stalk to support some other structure * Stipe (mycology), the stem of a mushro ...
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 A number is a mathemat ...
al, creating a new form of the word with the same basic meaning and same
lexical category In grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of suc ...
(but playing a different role in the sentence), or derivational, creating a new word with a new
semantic Semantics (from grc, wikt:σημαντικός, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference, Meaning (philosophy), meaning, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct discipline ...
meaning and sometimes also a different
lexical category In grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of suc ...
. 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 (linguistics), stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns, adjectives, and verb endings, which form the Grammatical conjugation ...
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 Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
root In vascular plants, the roots are the plant organ, 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 b ...
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 Numeral (linguistics), 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 ...
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 Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea ...
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 Language family, family of languages spoken by the Bantu peoples, Bantu people of Central Africa, Central, Southern Africa, Southern, Eastern africa and Southeast Africa, Southea ...
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 An agglutinative language is a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection or agglutination to express Syntax, syntactic relationships within a sentence. Inflection is the addition of morphemes to a root word that assigns g ...
, the
noun class In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and s ...
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 Ganda people, Baganda and other people principally in central Uga ...


Navajo

Verbs in the
Navajo language Navajo or Navaho (; Navajo: or ) is a Southern Athabaskan languages, Southern Athabaskan language of the Na-Dene languages, Na-Dené family, through which it is related to languages spoken across the western areas of North America. Navajo is s ...
are formed from a
word stem In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and s ...
and multiple affixes. For example, each verb requires one of four non-syllabic 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 languages, Kiranti language spoken in Nepal and India by the Sunuwar people. It was first comprehensively attested by the Himalayan Languages Project. It i ...
of Eastern Nepal, the prefix ma- म is used to create negative verbs. 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 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 (economics), production of goods or services expressed by some measure. Measurements of productivity are often expressed as a ratio of an aggregate output (economics), output to a single input (econom ...
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). ''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, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
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 Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
*
Suffix In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the Stem (linguistics), stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns, adjectives, and verb endings, which form the Grammatical conjugation ...
*
Privative A privative, named from Latin language, Latin ''wikt:privare, privare'', "to deprive", is a particle (grammar), particle that negates or inverts the semantics, value of the root word, stem of the word. In Indo-European languages many privatives are ...
* Bound and unbound morphemes *
English prefix English prefixes are affixes (i.e., bound morphemes that provide lexical meaning) that are added before either simple Root (linguistics), roots or complex ''bases'' (or ''operands'') consisting of (a) a root and other affixes, (b) multiple roots, ...
*
List of Greek and Latin roots in English The English language uses many Greek language, Greek and Latin Root (linguistics), roots, Word stem, stems, and prefixes. These roots are listed alphabetically on three pages: * List of Greek and Latin roots in English/A–G, Greek and Latin roots ...
* 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 pr ...


References


Works cited

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