Prefix, Suffix and Root Word
The dishes flew off the shelf!

Prefix, Suffix and Root Word

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A root word with a prefix and suffix means added letters before and/or after.

A root word is a word that can stand alone on its own. For example, let’s look at the word “export.”

The root word here is “port” as it can stand on its own as a separate word. When you remove the root word, the “ex” is left over. In this word, “ex” is a prefix.

A prefix is a group of letters that, on their own, are not a complete word. Rather, the letters come before a root word. For example, look at the letters “pre.” Alone, “pre” does not say anything. Now let’s add the root word “view” and this gives us the word “preview.”

A suffix is a group of letters that, on their own, generally are not a complete word. Rather, the letters come after a root word. For example, look at the letters “ment.” Alone, “ment” does not say anything. Now let’s add the root word “govern” before the suffix and we get “government.”

Now, if we were to take the word “exporting” the “ex” would be the prefix, “port” would be the root word and “ing” would be the suffix.

For each sentence below, determine which root word, prefix or suffix should be placed in the blank to complete the sentence.
1.
No matter what he tried, he couldn’t ___vent the car from failing its emissions test.
e
re
pre
in
In this sentence we are looking for the missing prefix. Adding “e” to the root word gives us “event” but for this sentence, it does not describe the meaning intended by the sentence. Adding the letters “re” to get “revent” is not a word. By adding “in” to get the word “invent” means to create something but it, too, is not the prefix we are looking for. Adding “pre” to the root word gives us “prevent” and describes the attempt to keep something from happening. In this case the car from failing its emissions test. Answer (c) is the correct prefix we need here.
2.
Is the chair comfort____ enough for you?
ed
er
ing
able
In this sentence we are looking for the missing suffix. Adding “ed” or “ing” to the root word “comfort” makes the root an action verb. We are not looking for an action verb in this sentence so neither of those answers is right. Adding an “er” makes the root word a noun, i.e., comforter which is a covering on a bed and, again, is not the suffix we are looking for. Adding “able” to the root word makes the word “comfortable” which is an adjective that describes the chair and it is the correct suffix that will make this sentence work. Answer (d) is correct.
3.
The museum was dis____ing artifacts from the Titanic all week long.
guise
play
troy
mantle
In this sentence we are looking for the missing root word that falls between both a prefix (dis) and a suffix (ing). Adding the root word “guise” here we would drop the “e” and get the word “disguising.” It, however, does not give us the word that will work in this sentence. Adding the root word “troy” would give us “destroying” and we certainly hope that was not happening so it is not our root word. The root word “mantle” would drop the “e” and give us the word “dismantling.” Again, it is not the root word that will fit in here. The root word “play” will give us the word “displaying” and it fits in perfectly. The correct root word is, therefore, Answer (b).
4.
The dishes suddenly flying off of the shelf was __explainable.
pre
un
ultra
hyper
In this sentence we are looking for the missing prefix. Adding “pre,” “ultra” or “hyper” to the root word “explain” do not make complete words. Adding the prefix “un” makes the word read as “unexplainable” and, therefore, Answer (b) is the correct prefix.
5.
Joining the Navy, he hoped to one day serve on a sub______.
merge
marine
lime
stance
In this sentence we are looking for the missing root word. Adding “merge” to the prefix sub gives us the word “submerge” but this word does not fit in this sentence. Adding “lime” to the prefix gives us “sublime” and it, too, does not provide us with the correct word. Adding “stance” to our prefix gives us “substance” but this word does not fit the sentence. That leaves us with “marine.” Added to the prefix we get the word “submarine” and it is exactly what the sentence calls far. Answer (b) is correct.
6.
Did you ___place your car keys again?
mis
re
ex
dis
In this sentence we are looking for the missing prefix. Adding “re” to the root word gives us “replace” but for this sentence, it does not describe the meaning intended by the sentence. Adding the letters “ex” to get “explace” is not a word. By adding “dis” to get the word “displace” means to use a force to move objects and this word does not fit the sentence. Adding “mis” to the root word to get “misplace” describes what happened to the keys and is the prefix the root word needs. Answer (a) is correct.
7.
She sorted all of the donations into several different contain____.
ed
ment
ers
ing
In this sentence we are looking for the missing suffix. Adding the letters “ed” or “ing” to the root word “contain” makes the root word an action verb. We are not looking for an action verb in this sentence so neither of those answers is right. Adding “ment” makes the root word containment but it does not fit into this sentence. Adding “ers” to the root word makes the word “containers” and it fits perfectly into the sentence. Therefore, Answer (c) is correct.
8.
His actions were il_____ and he could go to jail for them.
legal
logical
lustrate
legible
In this sentence we are looking for the missing root word. Adding “logical” to the prefix “il” gives us the word “illogical” which means that something does not make any sense. It does not fit in this sentence. Adding “lustrate” to the prefix gives us “illustrate” and it, too, does not provide us with the correct word as it means to show or present. Adding “legible” to our prefix gives us “illegible” which is an adjective meaning not clear enough to be read. That leaves us with “legal.” Added to the prefix we get the word “illegal” and it is exactly what the sentence calls far. Answer (a) is correct.
9.
In order to earn our next badge we have to spend three days in the wilder____.
ly
ing
ment
ness
In this sentence we are looking for the missing suffix. Adding the letters “ly” does not create a correct word. Adding the suffix “ing” to the root word gives us “wildering” which is the process of a plant growing in nature and is clearly not the word our sentence needs. Adding “ment” makes the root word wilderment but it does not fit into this sentence. Adding “ness” to the root word makes the word “wilderness” and it fits perfectly into the sentence. Therefore, Answer (d) is correct.
10.
The story the class is reading is __fiction__ but it does include some inaccurate historical facts.
un -- able
pre -- ary
non -- al
bi -- ative
In this sentence, our root word “fiction” needs both a prefix and a suffix. “unfictionable,” “prefictionary” and “bifictionative” are not words so none of these answers are correct. However, “nonfictional” refers to literature that includes facts and reality. It is the correct word needed for this sentence so Answer (c) is correct.
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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