Types of English Affixes: Derivational and Inflectional Prefixes and Suffixes

Types of English Affixes: Derivational and Inflectional Prefixes and Suffixes

An affix is a bound morpheme that attaches to the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word.

The two types of affixes in English are prefixes and suffixes.

Affixes may be derivational or inflectional. Derivational affixes create new words. Inflectional affixes create new forms of the same word.


Derivational is an adjective that refers to the formation of a new word from another word through derivational affixes.

In English, both prefixes and suffixes are derivational.


Inflectional is an adjective that refers to the formation of a new form of the same word through inflectional affixes.

In English, only suffixes are inflectional.


A prefix is a bound morpheme that attaches to the beginning of the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word.

Prefixes are types of affixes.

All prefixes in English are derivational, meaning the affixes create new words.

Prefix Meaning Example
a- predicative adjective with progressive aspect awake, afloat, atremble
a-/an- not, without acyclic, asexual, atonal, atheist, anemic
Afro- relating to Africa Afro-American, Afro-Caribbean
after- following after, behind afterglow, afterlife, aftermath
ambi- both ambidextrous, ambitendency
amphi- around, two, both, on both sides amphiaster, amphitheatre, amphibian
an-/ana- up, against anacardiaceous, anode, analog
Anglo- relating to England Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American
ante- before antenatal, antechamber, antedate
anti- against, opposite anticlimax, anti-freeze, antiviral, antagonist, antivenom
ap-/apo- away from, detached aphelion, apogee, apomorphine
arch- ruling, dominating, most extreme archangel, archaen, archconservative
astro- star astrobiology, astrology, astronomy
auto- self autobiography, automatic, autonomy
back- behind backporch, backhoe, backfire
be- equipped with, covered with, beset with bedeviled, becalm, bedazzle, bewitch
bi- two bicycle, biped
bio- life, biological biology, biotic
by- near to, next to byway, bypass, byproduct
circum- around, surrounding circumlocution, circumnavigate
cis- on this side of cislunar, cisgender
co-, col-, com-, con-, cor- together, with, joint co-worker, coordinator, cooperation, cohabit, colleague, commingle, confederation, correlation
contra/o- opposite contradict, contraindication
counter- against, in opposition to counteract, counterpart
cryo- ice cryogenics
crypto- hidden, secret cryptocurrency, cryptography
de- reverse action, get rid of debug, de-emphasize
de- down depress, descend
demi- half demigod
demo- people democracy, demography
deuter- second deuteragonist, deuterogamy
di- two dicotyledon, digamy, dioxide
dia- through dialysis, diameter
di-/dif-/dis- apart differ, dissect, divide
dis- not, opposite of, reverse action disagree, disloyal, disconnect, disinformation
down- from higher/greater to lower/lesser download, downright, downbeat
du-/duo- two dual, duet
eco- ecological ecosystem
electro- electric, electricity electro-analysis, electromagnetic
el-/em-/en- in ellipsis, emphasis, energetic
em-/en- to make into, to put into, to get into empower, enmesh
ep-/epi- upon, at, close upon, in addition ephemeron, epicentre, epidermis
Euro- European Eurocentric
ex- former ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-boss, ex-colleague, ex-friend
ex- out of exit, expel, explode, exploit, explore, export
extra- outside extracurricular
fore- before, in front forearm, forerunner, forebode
Franco- French, France Francophile, Franco-British, Franco-German
geo- relating to the earth or its surface geography, geology, geometry
gyro- spinning on an axis gyrocopter, gyroscope, gyrosphere
hetero- different heterosexual
hemi- half hemimorphic, hemisphere
hind- after hindsight, hindquarters
homo- same homogenous, homologous
hydro- relating to water, or using water hydroelectricity, hydrant
hyper- excess, above, over hyperthermia
hypo- deficient, under or below something, low hypothermia, hypotonia, hyponatremia, hypothermia
ideo- image, idea ideograph, ideology
idio- individual, personal, unique idiolect, idiopathic
il-/im-/in-/ir- not, opposite of illicit, impossible, inexact, irregular
in- in, into insert, include
Indo- relating to the Indian subcontinent Indo-European
infra- below, beneath infrared
inter- among, between internet, intercede, international
intra- inside, within intravenous
iso- equal isochromatic, isotherm
macr- long macrobiotic
mal- badly malnourish, maladjusted
maxi- very long, very large maxi-skirt
mega-/megalo- great, large megastar, megalopolis
meta- after, along with, beyond, among, behind metabolism, metaphysics
micro- small microbacillus, microcephalus
mid- middle midstream, midlife
mini- small minimarket, mini-room, minivan
midi- medium-sized midi-length, Midibus
mis- wrong, astray misinformation, misguide, misfortune
mono-, mon- sole, only monogamy, monotone, monosyllabic
multi-, mult- many multicultural, multi-storey, multitude
neo- new neolithic, neoether
non- not nonexistent, noncompete
off- non-standard, away off-color, offish, offset
omni- all omnipotent, omnipresent, omnivore
on- immediate proximity, locative onset, onlook, ongoing, oncoming
ortho- correcting or straightening orthodontics, orthotropic
out- better, faster, longer, farther outreach, outcome, outlier
over- excessive, above overreact, overact, overbearing
paleo- old paleolithic
pan- all, worldwide pan-African, pandemic, panorama
para- beside, beyond parallel, paraplegic, parasail
ped- foot pedal, pedestrian
per- through, completely, wrongly, exceedingly permeate, permute
peri- around, near or adjacent perihelion, periphrase
photo- light photoelectric, photography
pleo- more pleonasm, pleroma
pod- foot podiatrist
poly- many polygon, polyhedron
post- after, behind postposition, post-election, post-graduation, post-war, postfix, postpone, postscript
pre- before preposition, prevent, previous, pre-election, pre-enter, pre-select, predict, prepare, preview
preter- beyond, past, more than preternatural
pro- for, forward, in favor of propulsion, propound, proponent
pro- for, substitute, deputy proconsul, pronoun
pro- before procambium
pros- toward prosthesis, prostrate, prose
proto- first, original protoplasm, prototype
pseudo- false, imitation pseudonym
pyro- fire pyrokinetic, pyrotechnic
quasi- partly, almost, appearing to be but not really quasi-religious
re- again, back redo, revisit, rerun, reorganize
retro- backwards retrograde
self- self self-explanatory, self-sufficient
semi- half semicircle
socio- relating to society sociopath, social, sociological
step- family relation by remarriage stepbrother, stepfather, stepmother, stepsister
sub-/sup- below, under submarine, subterranean, suburban, support
super- above, over supervisor, superintendent
supra- above, over suprarenal
sur- above, over surreal, surrender, surplus
sy-/syl-/sym-/syn- together, with syllable, symbol, synthesis, system
tele- at a distance telegraph, telephone, telescope, television
trans- across, over transatlantic, transverse, transform
tri- three tricycle, tripartite
twi- two twibill, twilight
uber- a lot, great uberchic, ubergeek, ubersexual, uberwealthy
ultra- beyond ultramagnetic, ultrasonic, ultraviolet
un- not, against, opposite of, reverse action, deprive of, release from undesirable, undo, unequal, unexpected, unhappy, unlock, unnecessary, untie
under- below, beneath, lower in grade or dignity, lesser, insufficient underachieve, underpass, understand, undergo
uni- one, consisting of only one unicycle, universal
up- greater, higher, better upgrade, uplift, upright
vice- deputy vice-president, vice-principal, vice-admiral
with- against, back, away from withstand, withhold



A suffix is a bound morpheme that attaches to the end of the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word.

Suffixes are types of affixes.

Suffixes in English may be derivational, meaning the suffixes create new words, or inflectional, meaning the suffixes create new forms of the same word.

Inflectional Suffix Meaning Example
-s/-es third person singular present eats, washes
-ed simple past, regular past participle called, smiled
-en irregular past participle eaten, written
-ing present participle marking, arguing, writing
-s/-es plural cats, dogs, watches, axes
-‘s/-s’ possessive Heather’s, daughters’
-er comparative faster, prettier
-est superlative fastest, prettiest


Derivational Suffix Meaning Example
-able able to be excitable, portable, preventable
-ac pertaining to cardiac, hemophiliac, maniac
-acity/-ocity quality of perspicacity, sagacity, velocity
-ade act, action or process, product blockade, cavalcade, promenade
-age action or process passage, pilgrimage, voyage
-aholic/-oholic one with an obsession for workaholic, shopaholic, alcoholic
-al relating to bacterial, theatrical, natural
-algia pain neuralgia, nostalgia
-an/-ian relating to, belonging to Italian, urban, African
-ance state or quality of brilliance, defiance, annoyance
-ant a person who applicant, immigrant, servant
-ant inclined to, tending to brilliant, defiant, vigilant
-ar of or relating to, being lunar, molecular, solar
-ar a person who beggar, burglar, liar
-ard a person who does an action coward, sluggard, wizard
-arian a person who disciplinarian, vegetarian, librarian
-arium/orium a place for terrarium, aquarium, solarium
-ary of or relating to literary, military, budgetary
-ate state or quality of affectionate, desolate, obstinate
-ate makes the word a verb activate, evaporate, medicate
-ation action or process creation, narration, emancipation
-ative tending to creative, preservative, talkative
-cide act of killing homicide, suicide, genocide
-cracy rule, government, power bureaucracy, aristocracy, theocracy
-crat someone who has power aristocrat, bureaucrat, technocrat
-cule diminutive, making something small molecule, ridicule
-cy state, condition or quality efficiency, privacy, belligerency
-cycle circle, wheel bicycle, recycle, tricycle
-dom condition of, state, realm boredom, freedom, wisdom
-dox belief, praise orthodox, paradox
-ectomy surgical removal of appendectomy, hysterectomy
-ee receiver, performer nominee, employee, devotee
-eer associated with/engaged in engineer, volunteer
-emia blood condition anemia, hypoglycemia, leukemia
-ence state or condition, action absence, dependence, negligence
-ency condition or quality clemency, dependency, efficiency
-ent inclined to performing/causing, or one who performs/causes competent, correspondent, absorbent
-er action or process flutter, ponder, stutter
-er a person who does an action announcer, barber, teacher
-ern state or quality of eastern, northern, western
-escence state or process adolescence, convalescence
-ese relating to a place Chinese, Congolese, Vietnamese
-esque in the style of Kafkaesque, grotesque, burlesque
-ess female actress, heiress, lioness
-etic relating to athletic, energetic, poetic
-ette diminutive, make something smaller cigarette, diskette, kitchenette
-ful full of helpful, thankful, cheerful
-fy make, cause makes the word a verb amplify, falsify, terrify
-gam/gamy marriage, union monogam, polygamy
-gon/gonic angle hexagon, polygonic, pentagon
-hood state, condition, or quality childhood, neighborhood, motherhood
-ial relating to celestial, editorial, martial
-ian relating to Martian, utopian, pediatrician
-iasis diseased condition elephantiasis, psoriasis
-iatric healing practice pediatric, psychiatric
-ible able to be audible, plausible, legible
-ic/ical relating to, characterized by analytic/al, comic/al, organic
-ile relating to, capable of agile, docile, volatile
-ily in what manner sloppily, steadily, zanily
-ine relating to canine, feminine, masculine
-ing materials bedding, frosting, roofing
-ion action or process celebration, completion, navigation
-(s/t)ion state or quality attention, caution, confusion, fascination
-ious having the qualities of, full of ambitious, cautious, gracious
-ish relating to, characteristic apish, brutish, childish
-ism state or quality altruism, despotism, heroism
-ist a person, one who does an action artist, linguist, pianist
-ite resident of, follower, product of suburbanite, luddite, dynamite
-itis inflammation appendicitis, tonsillitis
-ity state, condition, or quality abnormality, civility, necessity
-ive inclined to, quality of, that which attractive, expensive, repulsive
-ization act or process of making colonization, fertilization, modernization
-ize cause, treat, become antagonize, authorize, popularize
-less without fearless, helpless, homeless
-let version of booklet, droplet, inlet
-like resembling, characteristic childlike, homelike, lifelike
-ling younger or inferior duckling, underling
-loger/logist one who does astrologer, cardiologist, chronologer
-log speech dialog, monolog
-ly in what manner badly, courageously, happily
-ment action, result movement, placement, shipment
-ness state or quality kindness, shyness, weakness
-oid resembling humanoid, tabloid, hemorrhoid
-ology study of, science of anthropology, archaeology, biology
-oma tumor, swelling carcinoma, osteoma, hematoma
-onym name, word synonym, antonym, homonym, heteronym, oronym
-opia eye defect myopia, nyctalopia, hyperopia
-opsy examination biopsy, autopsy, necropsy
-or a person who inventor, legislator, translator
-ory relating to armory, dormitory, laboratory
-osis process, diseased condition diagnosis, prognosis, neurosis, psychosis
-ostomy/otomy surgical colostomy, lobotomy, craniotomy
-ous full of hazardous, humorous, wondrous
-path one who engages in homeopath, naturopath, psychopath
-pathy feeling, diseased sympathy, apathy, neuropathy
-phile one who loves bibliophile, audiophile, pyrophile
-phobia abnormal fear of acrophobia, claustrophobia, xenophobia
-phone sound homophone, telephone, microphone
-phyte plant, to grow zoophyte, cryptophyte, epiphyte
-plegia paralysis paraplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia
-plegic one who is paralyzed paraplegic, technoplegic, quadriplegic
-pnea air, spirit apnea, hyperpnea, orthopnea
-scopy/scope visual exam arthroscopy, gastroscopy, microscope
-scribe/script to write transcript, describe, manuscript
-sect to cut dissect, insect, bisect
-ship state or condition of, skill of authorship, citizenship, friendship
-some characterized by, group of cumbersome, quarrelsome, foursome
-sophy/sophic wisdom, knowledge philosophy, theosophy, anthroposophic
-th state or quality depth, length, strength
-tome/tomy to cut hysterectomy, epitome, tonsillotome
-trophy nourishment, growth atrophy, hypertrophy, dystrophy
-tude state, condition or quality fortitude, gratitude, magnitude
-ty state, condition or quality ability, honesty, loyalty
-ular relating to or resembling cellular, circular, muscular
-uous state or quality of arduous, tumultuous, virtuous
-ure action, condition closure, erasure, failure
-ward specifies direction backward, eastward, homeward
-ware things of the same type or material hardware, software, kitchenware
-wise in what manner or direction clockwise, lengthwise, otherwise
-y made up of, characterized brainy, fruity, gooey


Affixes are bound morphemes that attach to the stem of a word to form either a new word or a new form of the same word. Prefixes and suffixes are the two types of affixes in the English language.


Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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