Wednesday 2 August 2017

Grammar: Latin Prefixes and Suffixes

Et tu, Boris?

Nobody speaks Latin any more, apart from a few Conservative politicians. But a little knowledge helps when it comes to distinguishing word pairs like affect and effect; emigrant and immigrant; accept and except. Here's a quick guide.

PREFIXES (pre: before)

to (affect)
ex: from, out (effect)

anti: against (antipathy, antibiotic)
co: together (costar, co-operate)
contra: against (contradict, contraception)
de: away (defrost, debunk)
dis: not, none (disbelief, disabled)

 same, equivalent (equilibrium, equidistant)
extra: outside (extravagant, extramural)
in: in
inter: between, among (international, interfere, interweave)
non: not (nonviolence, nonstop)
per: through (permeate, pervasive)
post: after (postdate, postwar)
pre: before (prepay, predict)
pro: for (project, propose)

again, or backward (rearrange, rebuild, recall)
retro: backward (retrospectively)
sub: under (submarine, subway, substandard)
super: over, above (superfluous, supersonic)
trans: across, beyond, through (transatlantic, transalpine)

SUFFIXES (sub: under)

-ject: throw (reject, project)
-cept: taken (concept, inception)
-dict: say (contradict, dictate)
-duc: lead, bring, take (deduce, produce, reduce)
-gress: walk (digress, progress)

throw (eject, inject, project)
-pel: drive (compel, repel)
-pend: hang (depend, pendant)
-port: carry (transport, deport, export, import)

-scrib, -script: 
write (describe, prescribe)
-struct: build (construct, instruct)
-tract: pull, drag, draw (attract, contract, extract)
-vert: turn (convert, divert)

Or you can always pick an Anglo-Saxon twin.

predict: foretell
contradict: gainsay
reduce: shrink
deduce: work out
progress: growth, headway
dispel: scatter
attract: charm


  1. Always worth considering the word consider. Latin should help but doesn't really, because it means 'with the stars'. (according to Chambers - others vary)

  2. You think you've got a plain Latin word - and it turns out to be a metaphor, dammit!