Word Parts/Lesson 1

What are word parts?Edit

First, try to answer these questions by filling in the blanks:

1. To 'redo' means: to do ____ (Answer)
2. The word which starts the same as 'careful', but means its opposite is: ____ (Answer)
3. If John is 2 metres tall and Harry is 1.8 metres tall, then John is tall__ than Harry. (Answer)

If you answered these questions right, then this shows that you already know a bit about word parts.

Knowing what they mean and how they work is a very powerful tool.

What types of word parts are there?Edit


Look at these words:

rename, restart, redesign
1. Where does 're-' go in these words and what does it mean? (Answer)

A word part which always features at the front of a word is called a prefix (pronounced: PREE-fikz).

Place a possible prefix before these words and start to think about how it changes the meaning of the word (the first one has been done for you):

2. kind
The prefix is: un- (make sure you remember the dash after a prefix)
3. polite
The prefix is: (Answer)
4. fire
The prefix is: (Answer)
5. come
The prefix is: (Answer)
6. mature
The prefix is: (Answer)


Now look at these words:

fearless, careless, hatless
1. Where does '-less' go in these words and what does it mean? (Answer)

A word part which always features at the end of a word is called a suffix (pronounced: SUFF-ikz).

Test your suffix knowledge and continue thinking about how it changes the meaning of the word (the first one has been done for you):

2. If Alex is heavier than everyone, then he is the: heaviest
The suffix is: -est (make sure you remember to write the dash "-" before a suffix)
3. The process of attracting is called: ______
The suffix is: _____ (Answer)
4. If someone takes a lot of care, then they are described as: ________
The suffix is: _____ (Answer)
5. If someone is without fear, then they are: ________
The suffix is: _____ (Answer)
6. If someone is kind, they they usually show: ________
The suffix is: _____ (Answer)


Finally, there are the main parts of words called roots.

Roots usually appear in the middle of words, but that's NOT a good way to think about them.

Look at these examples to see why:

  • -dict- is the root of: predict, dictate, and diction
    • In these examples, -dict- is at the front and end of words.
  • -port- is the root of: imports, exported, and transportation
    • In these examples, -port- is in the middle of words.

(Notice how when we write a root, we put a dash "-" on both sides. Beware that some authors don't and would just write 'port', though.)

Here are two key points to help you tell if a word part is a root:


First, notice how prefixes and suffixes can never stand on their own.

We don't say: un-, re-, -ness, or -tion

On the other hand, roots might stand on their own.

We do say: kind, fear, and come.
We don't say: dict

(We do say over- as 'over' and '-less' as 'less', but this is an example of a prefix and suffix which have the same spelling as a root. Now you see a reason why we ALWAYS put the dashes with them.)


Second, notice how roots carry the main meaning of a word and are what we attach the prefixes and suffixes to.

Try to identify the roots in these words (the first one has been done for you):

1. For antimatter, the root is -matter-
2. For misfire, the root is: ______ (Answer)
3. For transport, export, and support, the root of all of them is: ______ (Answer)
4. For talk, talked, and talking, the root of all of them is: ______ (Answer)
5. For success, access, and recession, the root of all of them is: ______ (Answer)

So, remind yourself that the three types of parts of words are:

6. ______, ______, and ____ (Answer)

Watch out for rules!Edit

You may have been thinking about rules which tell you how prefixes, suffixes, and roots work.

Remember that English has no rules that work in ALL cases.

For instance, we get the plural of egg, tree, and hand by putting the suffix -s on the end:

eggs, trees, hands

But, we DON'T get the plural of goose that way (after all, it's geese).

Here are 5 key points for you to remember about making and applying rules concerning word parts.

Make sure you think of other cases where they apply.

Rule 1: Use sense and not just spellingEdit

re- is a prefix that means 'again', right?

So, what about 'red', 'reck', and 'really?'

Well, spelling doesn't tell you everything!

You can look for clues in pronunciation.

For instance, we usually say re- as "REE"; but this isn't foolproof either, because of how we say 'really.'

Start thinking about things to do with the sense of a word such as whether or not you can replace re- with other prefixes (like how 'redo' could be changed to 'undo').

Is it like this for suffixes, too?

Absolutely. Just think about how -ing is a suffix, but how it clearly isn't a suffix for the words 'sing' and 'thing.'

Rule 2: You cannot add prefixes and suffixes to everythingEdit

For the root -do-, we can attach prefixes and get:

redo, undo, overdo

Think for a moment about some prefixes we can't attach to it (and look in the answer key for some possible answers):

1. _________ (Answer)

Is it like this for suffixes, too?

Just consider the word 'fun.'

If an activity is more fun than every other activity, do we say it is the 'funnest' activity? No.

Rule 3: You cannot take prefixes and suffixes off everythingEdit

Which one can you NOT take the prefix anti- off?

antimatter, anticipate, antisocial
1. __________ (Answer)

Which one can you NOT take the prefix re- off?

redesign, resend, receive
2. __________ (Answer)

So, we cannot always take prefixes off words and be left with words.

Suffixes are a bit more complicated, because there are two types; one which you can nearly always take off, and one which you nearly always can't.

We will talk more about this later; but for now, just don't assume that you can always take a suffix off a word.

(Okay, that's three helpful rules learned. I hope you are remembering to think of your own examples or this stuff won't stick!)

Rule 4: Word parts can have more than one meaningEdit

The 'un-' in 'unhappy' has a different meaning to the un- in 'undress'.

In the first case, 'un-' means 'not.'

In the second case, it just means 'reversal.'

So, don't make the mistake of believing that you will know the meaning of a word part after meeting it just once.

Rule 5: A word part can be spelled in more than one wayEdit

For prefixes, look at 'in-', which means 'not', as in 'injustice.'

1. What do we put before 'possible' to mean 'not possible?' (Answer)

For roots, look at '-vis-', which means 'see', as in 'visual.'

Now consider that it can also be spelled '-vid-', as in 'video.'

For suffixes, look at '-s', which makes plurals, as in 'eggs.'

2. But, what do we put at the end of 'box' to make it plural? (Answer)

So, remember that a word part can be spelled in more than one way.

Go over these five rules again before moving onto the next subsection.

In summary:

Be careful, because word parts CAN have multiple meanings, multiple spellings, and CAN'T be swapped, chopped off, or attached haphazardly.

The parts of speechEdit

Sentences are made up of different types of words and each type has its own job to do in the sentence.

We call these types 'parts of speech.'

There are lots of different ones, but we will look at the four main types.


A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea.

A common noun names a general item (like 'dog' or 'happiness').

A proper noun names a particular item (a particular person, particular place, particular thing,...) and always begins with a capital letter (like 'Josh' or 'London').

Anna is going to Germany on Friday and will take her bicycle on the journey.

The common nouns in this sentence are:

1. __________ (Answer)

The proper nouns in this sentence are:

2. __________ (Answer)

Nouns have a singular form (like: egg, hand, goose) and a plural form (like: eggs, hands, geese).

Finally, a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun (so we don't have to repeat it).

Examples include: she, he, they, it

When she goes to Germany, she will take her bike, because it has excellent cycling roads.

The pronouns in this sentence are:

3. __________ (Answer)


An adjective is a word that describes a noun.

When it is cold and snowy, wear thick, black clothes.

The adjectives in this sentence are:

1. __________ (Answer)

Adjectives can be modified to make comparisons:

The comparative (pronounced: kom-PAH-ruh-tiv) of:

  • tall is taller
  • red is redder
  • fun is more fun
  • difficult is more difficult

The superlative (pronounced: soo-PURR-luh-tiv) of:

  • tall is tallest
  • red is reddest
  • fun is most fun
  • difficult is most difficult


A verb is a doing or action word.

Jack always runs to school while Anna eats her breakfast.
1. What are the verbs in this sentence? (Answer)

Verbs are quite complicated.

What is most important to us is learning the FORMS of a verb, because this is where suffixes feature.

As an example, the forms of 'initiate' are: initiate, initiates, initiated, initiating

We will look further into this in lesson 2.


An adverb is a word that that modifies a verb, adjective, or even another adverb.

An adverb answers how, when, where, or to what extent.

I always do my work extremely carefully.

The adverbs in this sentence are:

1. __________ (Answer)

Notice how they often end in the suffix '-ly'.

Here are some more examples of adverbs: daily, completely, almost, often, never, soon, cleverly

Lesson 1 QuizEdit

If there was anything you didn't understand, read it once more, because here's a quiz (that you should try to get perfect before lesson 2):

1. What are the three main types of word parts?
2. What is the common root of 'audio', 'audible', and 'audience', and what do you think it means?
3. Deconstruct the word 'prefixes' into its word parts.
4. Which prefix can be found in the opposite to 'increase?'
5. 'non-believer' features the prefix 'non-' but keeps the dash. Are there examples where id doesn't?
6. Does 'over-' just mean 'physically above', as in 'overhang'?
7. How else can you spell the suffix '-y' (as in mess -> messy)?
8. What are the four main types of parts of speech?
9. Think of examples of adverbs that don't end in '-ly.'
10. Think of three words that have more than one type of part of speech.


Answer KeyEdit

What are word parts? (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. again

2. careless

3. er (making the word 'taller')

What types of word parts are there? (Answers)Edit

Prefixes (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. At the front and it means 'again'.

2. (Already done as an example)

3. impolite; the prefix is: im-

4. misfire; the prefix is: mis-

5. overcome; the prefix is: over-

6. premature; the prefix is: pre-

Suffixes (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. At the end.

2. (Already done as an example)

3. attraction; the suffix is: -tion

4. careful; the suffix is: -ful

5. fearless; the suffix is: -less

6. kindness; the suffix is: -ness

Roots (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. (Already done as an example)

2. -fire-

3. -port-

4. -talk-

5. -cess-

6. prefix, suffix, and root

Watch out for rules! (Answers)Edit

Rule 2: You cannot add prefixes and suffixes to everything (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. subdo, interdo, predo

Rule 3: You cannot take prefixes and suffixes off everything (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. anticipate

2. receive

Rule 5: A word part can be spelled in more than one way (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. im-, as in 'impossible'

2. -es, as in 'boxes'

The parts of speech (Answers)Edit

Noun (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. bicycle, journey

2. Anna, Germany, Friday

3. she, it

Adjective (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. cold, snowy, thick, black

Adverb (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. extremely, carefully

Lesson 1 Quiz (Answers)Edit

(Go back to questions)

1. prefix, root, suffix

2. -audi-, it means 'hearing' or 'listening'

3. 'pre-' is the prefix; '-fix-' is the root; '-es' is the suffix

4. 'de-' is the suffix, as in 'decrease'

5. 'nonprofit' (if your example was different, check a dictionary)

6. No. It may also mean 'excess', as in 'overambitious', or 'outer', as in 'overcoat.'

7. '-ey', as in 'clayey.'

8. noun, verb, adjective, adverb

9. often, soon

10. 'abstract' can be a noun or adjective. 'fool' can be a noun or verb. 'set' can be a noun, adjective, or verb.