Did you know the 4 most common prefixes in English are ‘re’, ‘un’, ‘dis’, and ‘in- im- il- ir’ ( these last ones are in a group as they have the same ‘meaning’ when added to a word in English).

The common prefix ‘re’ can sometimes pose an English pronunciation difficulty because it can say ‘ree’ /ri/ or ‘re’ /rɛ/. You need to listen actively to which vowel is used and just remember which word uses which sound. For example, in the word ‘representation’ the ‘re’ says ‘re’, whereas in the word ‘reinterpret’ the common prefix says ‘ree’. Luckily the other 4 most common prefixes don’t change the way they are pronounced.

Use this audio training to practise aloud, and remember to listen for and mimic, the correct stress pattern when you copy the longer multisyllabic words.

Common Prefixes in English

Common Prefixes 1 ‘re’ – means: again

Said ‘re’ – return; residential; representation.

Said ‘ree’- reinterpretation; recent; reincarnation.

Common Prefixes 2 ‘un’- means: not

undo; unconscious; uncontrollable; unsophisticated; unlucky.

Common Prefixes 3 ‘dis’- means: not, opposite of

disagree; disturb; disown; disarm; disorganise.

Common Prefixes 4 ‘in-im-il-ir’ -means: not

injustice; intangible; international.

impossible; impersonal; impose; imprecise.

illegal; illiterate; illegitimate.

irregular; irresponsible; irregular; irritated.

Common Prefixes 5 ‘trans’ -means: across

transport; transatlantic; transpire.

Common Prefixes 6 ‘de’ – means: opposite

defrost; decide; delight.

Common Prefixes 7 ‘en- em’ – means: cause to

encode; engage.

embrace; embarrassing 

Common Prefixes 8 ‘mis’ – means: wrongly

misunderstand; misdemeanour; misfire.

Common Prefixes 9 ‘pre’ – means: before

prefix; prepare; presuppose.

Common Prefixes 10 ‘super’ – means: above

superstar; superman; superannuation.

Common Prefixes 11 ‘sub’ – means: under

submarine; substandard; subsequent.

Common Prefixes 12 ‘semi’ – means: half

semicircle; semiconscious.

Common Prefixes 13 ‘non’ – means: not

nonsense; nonaligned.

Now you have a list of common prefixes and what they mean and how to say them, you can also find many more multisyllabic words in sentences in our accent reduction courses, so have a look here.

Best wishes, Esther

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