Morphology - Unit Three - Lesson No. 15

Prefixes and Suffixes

Affix is a grammatical element which cannot form a word by itself. Affixes are formative morphemes added to roots. Affixes are bound morphemes, in the sense that they are meaningful units (morphemes) which cannot exist independently of another morpheme to which they must be attached (Trask 2007: 8). In the word international , for example, nation is the root and inter - and –al are affixes. Likewise, in the word historians , history is a root and – ian and –s are affixes.

In addition to being bound morphemes, affixes are limited in number and can be exhaustively listed. From the point of view of the positions they occupy in a word in relation to its root morpheme, affixes can be divided into five types known as prefixes, suffixes, infixes, superfixes and circumfixes .

1. Prefix

A prefix is a word-element (i.e. affix) that is added to the beginning of a word to form another word. For example,

  1. unhappy
  2. impossible
  3. enlarge
  4. rewrite


2. Suffix


A suffix is a word-element that is added to the end of a word to form another word or to obtain another form of the same word. For instance, the following words contain derivational suffixes, i.e. adding them to the words resulted in new words (The derivational suffixes are typed in bold font):

  1. readable
  2. hearing
  3. performance
  4. whiteness
  5. darken
  6. seeker


The following words contain inflexional suffixes, i.e. adding of which results in different forms of the same words (The inflexional suffixes are typed in bold font):


  1. played
  2. goes
  3. john’s
  4. dogs
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