Difference Between Suffix and Prefix

Suffix vs Prefix

Suffix and prefix are modifiers that when attached to a word, change its meaning. While prefix is attached at the start of the word, suffix gets attached at the end of the word. Combined together, prefixes and suffixes are called affixes, or simply additions to a root word. What is important to note is that both suffixes and prefixes cannot stand alone and are totally reliant on the root word they are attached to. Some times, addition of a word to the root word only modifies the meaning, but many a times, the meaning of the root word is totally changed and it becomes its own antonym. For example, un- prefixed to the word tidy makes it untidy, which is its antonym.

Suffixes tend to change the tense of the word. This happens when –ed is added at the end of the word. For example when –ed is added to bond, it becomes bonded which is a past tense of the word bond. Basically, prefixes and suffixes come from Latin language and those who understand Latin find it easy to understand the mechanism of these affixes. Many a times, these affixes give us a clue to the meaning of the word. For example, the word preview is made up of prefix pre and root word view, and preview refers to seeing something before the actual event takes place. Previews of movies are held before actual screening of the movie. Similarly, pretest refers to a test before the test. This makes it clear than addition of pre at the beginning of a word is indicative of before the event.

There is another prefix that totally changes the word. When you add de before a word, it becomes its own antonym as in decompose and destabilize. Same is the effect with un. When added before comfortable, a person feeling uncomfortable means he is not comfortable.

In brief:

• Suffixes and prefixes are commonly called affixes

• Prefix comes at the start of a word whereas suffix comes at the end of the word

• Both suffixes and prefixes modify or totally change the meaning of the root word.