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ICSE Class 9 Grammar Revision Notes for Prefixes and Suffixes

Prefixes and Suffixes


System of Affixation in English
In English, fixing a group of letters to a word to change its meaning, number, state or form is known as the System of Affixation. 

There are two primary types of affixation:

  • Prefix
  • Suffix


A prefix is a small group of letters which are affixed at the beginning of the word. 

  • Subsidiary 
  • Nonviolence 
  • Intolerance 

They perform the following functions:

  • Indicate presence or absence
  • Indicate position
  • Indicate qualities, size or number
  • Indicates time, frequency or order
Types of Prefixes
Negative Prefixes
Prefixes of Size
Prefixes of Position or Location
Prefixes of time and sequence
Prefixes of numbers and amount
Miscellaneous Prefixes
A suffix is a group of letters which are fixed to the end of a root word or a base word.
They perform the following functions:
  • Change the part of speech of the word
  • Indicate whether the number is singular or plural
  • Indicate the tense of the verb
  • Indicate the gender of a noun
Types of Suffixes 
Noun Suffixes
Suffixes of Verbs
Suffixes of Adjectives 
Suffixes of Adverbs

 Root Words and Base Words 

  • The root word and the base words are the parts which contain the primary meaning of the word.
  • Prefixes and suffixes are added to root and base words to create new words and ideas. 

Root Word 

  • A root word cannot stand on its own as an independent word.
  • It needs the addition of the prefix or the suffix for the completion of its meaning. 
  • For example, let us consider the words amphibian, regeneration and subtraction.
  • In the above cases, the roots -bi-, -generat- and -tract- cannot stand alone as individual words.
  • They are therefore known as root words. 
Base Word
  • A base word, unlike a root word, can stand on its own like an independent word.
  • It does not need the addition of the prefix or suffix in order to function as a stand-alone word. 
  • For example, let us consider the words redone, nonviolent and unmoved.
  • In the above examples, done, violent and moved can function as independent words.

Common Root Words

How to Use the Affixation System

  • Thorough knowledge of the English affixation system helps us in guessing the meaning of the word purely by the means of its Prefix-Root-Suffix structure.
  • Because of the limitations of our memory, it is not easy to mug up a large number of words at a time.
  • We may find it difficult to associate the meaning of the word with its structure
  • With the knowledge of the affixation system, we can guess the meaning of the given word.

In this manner, we can guess the meanings of the words solely by the virtue of their roots.
Thus, in order to have a rich vocabulary, students should learn the Prefix-Root-Suffix method. It is an interesting way to expand your vocabulary with a little effort. Students who are well-versed with the affixation system find it easier to tackle difficult words and are more confident about their word usage. It will definitely give you an edge over the others when it comes to vocabulary. 

Grammar Chapters for Revision Notes

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