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Prefixes and Suffixes

Today's topic is prefixes and suffixes, those little things you add to the front or back of words. 

By
Bonnie Mills, read by Mignon Fogarty,
August 6, 2015
Episode #476

Page 3 of 3

In certain formations, however, a hyphen will be necessary. (14) For example, some prefixed words could be confused with words of similar spelling, as in resigned and re-signed. In the latter case, adding a hyphen after the prefix re- will greatly help readers. Sometimes, a word with a prefix might look odd or be hard to read if you don't use a hyphen. Take coworker. Without a hyphen after the prefix co-, coworker might seem to have something to do with cows. Another time you should use a hyphen is to avoid double letters that might be confusing. When you're using the suffix -like with the word shell, for example, three L’s in a row would look odd, and so you should hyphenate: shell-like.

Using Prefixes or Suffixes Alone

By definition, prefixes and suffixes are added to words to make other words. So is it allowed to use a prefix or suffix alone? Well, you can't say, “Pre the wedding, I ordered invitations.” That's just wrong. But we did see someone try to sound fancy by writing “Post the meeting...” That sentence was quickly edited to use the word after instead. In colloquial speech, however, you will find some prefixes that can stand alone. You might hear someone ask, “What ism do you believe in?” or “Are you anti that?” Maybe you'll find yourself referring to a big truck as a semi, short for semitrailer. (15) For the most part, though, you should stick to using prefixes and suffixes with base words.

This article was written by Bonnie Mills, author of The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier, who blogs at sentencesleuth.blogspot.com.

References

1. Dictionary.com, “Affix,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/affix. Accessed July 6, 2015.

2. Dictionary.com, “Suffix,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/suffix. Accessed July 6, 2015.

3. Garner, Bryan. Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 563.

4. Garner, Bryan. Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 563.

5. Garner, Bryan. Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 563.

6. Stilman, A. Grammatically Correct, Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1997, pp. 48-52.

7. Dictionary.com, “-ity,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/-ity. Accessed July 6, 2015.

8. Dictionary.com, “Able,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/able. Accessed July 6, 2015.

9. Dictionary.com, “-ile,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/-ile. Accessed July 6, 2015.

10. Garner, Bryan. Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 563.

11. American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, p. 371.

12. Stilman, A. Grammatically Correct, Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1997, pp. 28-30.

13. Garner, Bryan. Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 563.

14. Stilman, A. Grammatically Correct, Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1997, pp. 28-30.

15. Dictionary.com, “Semi,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/semi. Accessed July 6, 2015.

 

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