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Friday, May 22, 2009

Hokudai/Cast 111: What is Retrospect?

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Perhaps you have heard of prefixes, roots, and suffixes before. Here is a quick refresher. Many words in English have two or three parts: a root (the base) and a prefix or a suffix (or both). The prefix comes in front of the root. (Pre means 'before') and the suffix comes after the root.

Here is an example:
  • dict - this is a root; it means 'say' and we find it in words like dictation, dictator and diction.
  • pre - this is a prefix and it means 'before.' We can see it in preview and previous.

If we put these two parts together we get predict. 'Predict' means 'say before something happens.' In a sentence: "A fortune teller claims he can predict when I will fall in love."

We can add a suffix to predict to make a new word.
  • able - this is a suffix and it means 'can' or 'able to.'
If we add it to predict, we get the word Predictable which means 'able to say before something happens.' In a sentence: "She told him she wanted a divorce. His reaction was predictable."

Finally, we can add another prefix to make a completely opposite word.
  • un - this is a prefix and it means 'not.' We can see it in words like unlikeable, unsure, and, from Alice in Wonderland: unbirthday.
We can add 'un' to 'predictable' and we get Unpredictable. 'Unpredictable' means 'can not say before something happens.' In a sentence: "You should stay away from crazy dogs because their actions are unpredictable."

Knowing the parts of words helps you build your vocabulary easily. If you know what the parts mean, you can make a good guess as to what a new word means. Knowing the parts of words also helps you learn to spell new words easily.

Many prefixes, roots, and suffixes in English come from Greek or Latin.

Check out some of these sites for lists of prefixes, roots, and suffixes.

Good luck.

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Mirai Sozo is the School of Future Learning at Hokuriku University. The primary focus is on language (English and Chinese) and management (hospital administration, sports, and business).
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