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Wizzadry or Know-how?!

To get to the point, let’s roll our sleeves!

Today’s activities follow the TLT technique – Think-learn-test. Rather than providing you with the key word of this entry, I am inviting you to do three activities that will help you be right on the money! 

Classify the adjectives

Think and classify the words!

There are seven categories of adjectives. Try and classify the adjectives.

LEGITIMATE, MATURE, ALIGNED, REGULAR, AFFORDABLE, PARTIAL, ORGANISED*, CONVENIENT, RESPECTFUL, RELEVANT, LOGICAL, NATURAL, LEGIBLE, TOLERABLE, POSSIBLE, LEADING, EXPERIENCED, LITERATE, APPEALING, SATISFIED*, SENSITIVE, RATIONAL, SIMILAR, REVERSIBLE, CORRECT, TRUSTFUL, HONEST, INTERESTING, PERFECT, RELIABLE, LEGAL, SPELT, CONCEIVED, REPLACEABLE, PATIENT

“UN”

UNAFFORDABLE, UNNATURAL, UNAPPEALING, UNINTERESTING, UNRELIABLE, UNSATISFIED (feeling that something is not enough), UNORGANIZED (something that has never been organized)

“IN”

INCONVENIENT, INTOLERABLE, INEXPERIENCED, INSENSITIVE, INCORRECT

“DIS”

DISRESPECTFUL, DISSATISFIED (not pleased with something) DISSIMILAR, DISHONEST, DISORGANISED (something that was organized but isn’t any longer) 

“MIS”

MISTRUSTFUL, MISALIGNED, MISSPELT, MISLEADING, MISCONCEIVED

“IR”

IRREGULAR, IRRATIONAL, IRREPLACEABLE, IRRELEVANT, IRREVERSIBLE, 

“IM”

IMPARTIAL, IMPOSSIBLE, IMPERFECT, IMMATURE, IMPATIENT

“IL”

ILLITERATE, ILLEGAL, ILLOGICAL, ILLEGIBLE, ILLEGITIMATE

 

 

How have you initially classified these adjectives? Following which criteria? Feeling and emotions? Personality? Opinion? Describing things? As you have already seen once you unveiled the answers, the way I have grouped them is given their prefix.

This is what we are going to deal with today – PREFIXES, which are affixes (groups of letters) added to the beginning of a word. Prefixes change the meaning of the word when added to its root. And the meaning each one carries varies, for instance:

  • UN-, IN-, DIS-, IR-, IM-, IL-: negative meaning, e.g. UNCLEAR, INSECURE, DISRESPECT, IRRATIONAL, IMMORAL, ILLEGAL
  • MIS-: wrongly, badly, e.g. MISBEHAVE
  • PRE-, POST-: when something happens, e.g. PREMATURE, POSTGRADUATE
  • PRO-, ANTI-: attitude, e.g. PRO-EUROPEAN, ANTI-SOCIAL
  • RE-: again, e.g. REDEVELOP
  • INTER-: among, between, e.g. INTERACTIVE
  • OVER-: above, too much, e.g. OVERVIEW, OVERSPEND
  • UNDER-: below, not enough, e.g. UNDERGROUND, UNDERPAID

The prefixes we will brush up on today are the ones that give the word the reverse, negative meaning, and the ones that mean “wrongly”/”badly”. 

Shall we start?!

Word formation prefix

Learn to know!

Prefixes UN- & IN-

To add an UN- or an IN-, this is the question! 

It is necessary to know the language the word comes from so that we use the right prefix. 

Rule

Those adjectives in English whose root word is of Germanic origin take the prefix UN-; the adjectives that come into the English language from Latin take IN-. 

So, if your native language is a Latin (Romance) one, like Romanian, Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, it’s not going to be too difficult to identify the origin of a word. Still, you must be skilled at identifying whether a word is of English or Latin origin.

Example:

Check out what the meanings of the words CONVENIENCE and EXPERIENCED are in the above-mentioned Latin languages.

English

convenience

experienced

French

convenance

expérimenté/-ée

Spanish

conveniencia

experimentat  

Italian

convenienza

experto

In this case, the two words will get the prefix IN-: INCONVENIENT, INEXPERIENCED

Prefixes DIS- & MIS-

The prefix DIS– added to the adjective means the reverse/the opposite, e.g. DISRESPECTFUL – not respectful. This prefix also comes from Latin. 

The prefix MIS-, when added to the words, means ´mistaken’, ‘wrong´, ‘wrongly´, ‘incorrectly´, or simply negating, e.g. MISSPELT – incorrectly spelt

Rule

Those words in English whose root word is of Germanic origin take the prefix MIS-; the words that come into the English language from Latin take DIS-. 

Example:

English

obedient

advantageous 

French

obéissant/-ante

avantageux

Spanish

obediente

ventajoso

Italian

ubbidiente

vantaggioso 

So, the two words will get the prefix DIS-: DISOBEDIENT, DISADVANTAGEOUS.

Prefixes IR-, IM- & IL-

The meaning of the prefixes IR, IM– and IL-, when added to the word, refers to not, e.g. IRREFUTABLE – not refutable, IMMEASURABLE – not measurable, ILLEGIBLE – not legible. These prefixes are added to Latin stemmed words, since they are all variations from IN-. Which one to choose, is only determined by the beginning of the word they are added to.

Rules:

  • Those words that begin with the consonant R, get the prefix IR-.

Example: IRREPLACEABLE 

  • If the words begin with the consonants M, P and B (few cases, e.g. IMBALANCE) get the prefix IM-.

Example: IMMATURE, IMPERFECT

  • Words that start with the consonant L, get the prefix IL-.

Example: ILLEGIBLE

Intricacies

All the words we are working on this time are adjectives, aren’t they? So, the rules above can be applied in most of the cases. Still, there are some problematic cases.

One example is when the noun and its correspondent adjective get different prefixes.

Examples

Noun

IMBALANCE

INCIVILITY

MISFORTUNE

Adjective

UNBALANCED

UNCIVIL

UNFORTUNATE

For such cases, like the one above, when prefixes for word families get mixed up, the only solution for a learner is to remember them. Any exception to the rule is worth noting down in a remember-me list! So, cheer up when you’ve made a mistake! The more exceptions to the general rule you come across while you are preparing yourself for the Cambridge B2 First, C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency official examinations, the merrier you must be! 

To brighten up your day, you must know that the prefix UN– is far more common than IN-! Hooray!!! 

Word formation test

Test your prefix know-how

Read the sentences below (1-12). They are all taken from the Cambridge sample tests, B2 First and C1 Advanced, Reading and Use of English paper, Part 3 tasks. Build the word given in capitals in the correct form and add the right prefix. Beware of the exceptions! Good luck!

In exam tasks, precisely Part 3 in the Reading and Use of English paper, in both B2 First and C1 Advanced exam, at least one word given at the end of the line will have to be transformed into any other part of speech and add to this the right prefix. Few are the cases when none of the words require a prefix. So, knowing the prefix rules that we have covered today won’t go amiss, and more than that, it is a must :). 

If you want to learn more about and practise with word formation, check these out:

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!

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