Prefixes – What are they, function, types, examples, suffixes

We explain what prefixes are, their classification by their effect, their types and which are the main ones. Also, what are suffixes.

sub prefixes
A prefix produces a variation of the meaning of the root, such as “submarine.”

What are prefixes?

It is known as prefixes to a type of morphological particle that, when joined with a word (or lexical root), adds or alters its meaning, providing it with its own load of meaning. Like suffixes and infixes, prefixes are a type of affix, that is, a particle that intervenes in the formation of words and words.

The procedure of adding prefixes to a word, known as prefixation, is relatively common among world languages. It allows the creation of new terms (neologisms) or divergent meanings quickly and expeditiously. The prefix always precedes the lexical stem.

In the case of Spanish, the prefixes consist of words that come mostly from Latin and Greek. When added to a word they never change its accentuation, nor do they produce very radical departures from the original meaning of the word, but rather variations of it.

Thus, for example, having the word “fixed”, we can get “pre-fixed” by adding this particle, which simply indicates that the fixed thing must come before; but if we add “su-fixed”, we indicate that the fixed particle should come after. In no case do we alter the lexical meaning (the one that appears in the dictionary) of the word “fixed”, we simply contextualize it.

In very general terms, prefixes can be classified according to the effect they have on the word to which they adhere:

  • Derivative prefixes. Those who alter the lexical meaning of a word, that is, turn it into another word with another meaning.
  • Inflectional prefixes. Those who, when joining a word, change its grammatical category, that is, they convert one type of word into another: nouns into verbs, etc.

But in the case of the Spanish language, all prefixes are always of the derivative type. In other languages ​​there is the possibility of inflectional prefixes, although they are always the least frequent.

Types of prefixes in Spanish

Spanish prefixes are classified according to the type of meaning they contain and that they add to the word, as follows:

  • Negative prefixes. They deny or contradict the meaning of the lexical root.
  • Locative prefixes. They indicate a location or location within the original sense of the word.
  • Time prefixes. They denote a relationship of time or cause-effect with respect to the original meaning of the word.
  • Quantity and size prefixes. They indicate a number or a proportion within the original sense of the word.
  • Intensity prefixes. They determine a relationship of power or intensity of what the word is meaning.
  • Noun prefixes. They determine other types of conditions of being, of the thing itself, of what the word means.

In the list below we will see examples of each of these prefixes.

List of prefixes

prefixes in
Negation prefixes produce the opposite meaning, such as “invisible.”

Next, we present a list of the main prefixes of Spanish, whose spelling is always fixed and unique, since, as we explained, they constitute inheritances of dead languages ​​prior to the existence of Spanish. Note that prefixes should not be hyphenated: we will do so in the list just to highlight it.

anti-Denial (against)anti-biotic, anti-hygienic
to-Denial (lacking in)to-moral, to-symptomatic
against-Denial (against)against-attack, against-ception
in-Denial (lacking in)in-maculate, in-visible
former-Denial (lacking in)former-President, former-temporary
post-Temporary (after)post-operative, post-Birth
pre-Temporary (prior to)pre-surgical, pre-history
in view of-Temporary (prior to)in view of-diluvian, in view of-meridiam (AM)
in view of-Locative (before)in view of-eyes, in view of-arm
Come in-Locative (in the middle of)Come in-leg, Come in– curtains
sub-Locative (below)sub-earth, sub-Marine
infra-Locative (below)infra-Red, infra-gifted
trans-Locative (beyond)tran-sexual, trans-carrier
TV-Locative (at a distance from)TV-communications, TV-vision
upon-Locative (above)upon-outgoing, upon-everything
vice-Locative (instead of)vice-Minister, vice-President
ultra-Location (at the end of)ultra-Violet, ultra-grave
proto-Location (the first of)proto-kind, proto-plasma
extra-Location (outside)extra-land, extra-walls
hyper-Of intensity (a lot)hyper-active, hyper-baric
Super-Intensity (higher)Super-man, Super-sonic
re-Of intensity (again)re-to live, re-to write
bi-Of quantity (two)bi-polar, bi-tonal
multi-Of quantity (many)multi-factorial, multi-disciplinary
monkey-Of quantity (one)monkey-neuronal, monkey-corde
cop-Quantity (various)cop-morph, cop-technical
semi-In size (half)semi-God, semi-circle
maxi-Size (maximum)maxi-process, maxi-price
zoo-Noun (animal)zoo-philia, zoo-logical
phyto-Noun (plants)phyto-plankton, phyto-graphy
Photo-Noun (light)Photo-phobia, Photo-graphy
biblio-Noun (book)biblio-graphy, biblio-philia
chrono-Noun (time)chrono-logical, chrono-subway
aero-Noun (air)aero-flat, aero-port

Prefixes and suffixes

Suffixes and prefixes are the main types of affixes that exist. As we already saw, they differ from each other in the place they occupy with respect to the lexical root: prefixes before and suffixes after.

On the other hand, prefixes have a greater lexical load, that is, a greater share of their own meaning, while suffixes lack it and only have grammatical meaning, that is, they acquire meaning within the context of the language. For example, the suffix “-ción”, by itself, does not mean anything, it only confers noun rank to the stem with which it is joined.