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Prefixes and Suffixes of Common SAT Words

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Last time we began talking about the process of using morphemes, the basic parts of words, to figure out the meaning of difficult SAT words. By breaking a word down into its root, prefix, and suffix, you can make an educated guess about what that word means as a whole.


In order to use morphemes effectively, you need to have a solid understanding of what the different components of words mean. In this lesson, we’ll cover the prefixes and suffixes found in some of the most common SAT words. Use these in conjunction with the word roots we covered in the previous lesson and you’ll be able to figure out the meanings of some of the trickiest SAT words.




A, ab, abs: from, away. Examples: avert (prevent or look away), abjure (renounce), and absent (not present).


Ad: to. Example: adhere (obey, stick to). [Ad can take the forms of a, ac, af, al, an, ap, as, and at. Examples: aspire, accord, affect, allude, annex, appeal, assume, and attract.]


Ante, anti: before. Examples: antedate ([occur at] an earlier date) and anticipate (expect or look forward to).


Bi: two. Examples: bilateral (two-sided) and bisect (split in two).


Circum: around. Examples circumnavigate (go around) and circumvent (avoid).


Com, con, col, cor, co: together. Examples: commit (entrust, obligate, do), concord (an agreement or treaty), collect (bring together), correct (fix), and coworker (colleague or associate).


Contra, contro, counter: against. Examples: contradict (disagree with or cancel out), controvert (dispute or show to be false), and counteract (lessen the effect of or work against).


De: down, away, from, about. Examples: descend (go down), depart (leave), and describe (explain, depict, illustrate).


Dis, di, dif: apart, not. Examples: dissension (disagreement or opposition), division (separation, split, department), and diffident (shy or timid).


Equi: equal. Examples: equinox (time of equal day and night) and equivalent (equal to or comparable with).


Ex, ej, ef: out of, from. Examples: extract (remove or pull out), eject (throw out or expel), and efface (wipe out).


Hyper: too much. Examples: hypercritical (excessively critical) and hypersensitive (overly sensitive or easily upset).


In, il, im, ir: into, in, on. Examples: invade (attack or overrun), illustrate (exemplify), immerse (submerge or engross), and irritate (annoy or inflame).


Mal, mis: bad. Examples: malevolent (malicious) and mistreat (abuse).


Non: not. Examples: nonentity (insignificant person) and nonconformist (an unconventional person or a rebel).


Ob, of, op: against. Examples: obviate (prevent), offend (hurt someone’s feelings or break the law), and oppose (be against or disagree with).


Omni: all. Examples: omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (always present everywhere).


Peri: around. Examples: perimeter (border) and periscope (tubular optical instrument that allows a viewer to see objects not in a direct line of sight).


Poly: many. Examples: polygon (a many-sided figure) and polygamy (having multiple spouses).


Post: after. Examples: postpone (delay) and postmortem (after death).


Pre: before. Examples: predict (forecast) and precursory (at an initial stage).


Pro: forward, before. Examples: proceed (begin or continue a course of action) and provide (give or supply).


Re: back, again. Examples: recur (happen again) and recede (go back).


Sub: under. Examples: submarine (underwater boat) and subversive (dissident).


Super: above, beyond. Examples: superpose (place one object on top of another) and supernatural (paranormal).


Trans: across. Examples: transcontinental (across a continent) and transmit (broadcast or send).


Un: not. Examples: unaware (not aware or not knowledgeable) and uninformed (not knowing about something).


Uni: one. Examples: unanimous (agreed upon or undisputed) and uniform (consistent, unchanging, a distinctive set of clothes).




Able, ible: able. Examples: pliable (flexible), returnable (capable of being taken back), and comestible (food or edible).


Ance, ence: state of. Examples: abundance (large amount) and indulgence (luxury, lenience, permission).


Ate, ent, ant, ante: one who. Examples: candidate (applicant), advocate (supporter), resident (somebody living in a place), tenant (renter of property), and debutante (young woman who is introduced into society).


Cy: state, position of. Examples: adequacy (having enough) and presidency (position of president of a nation).


Ence: state of. Examples: presence (existence in a place or attendance) and credence (acceptance or trustworthiness).


Escent: becoming. Examples: adolescent (teenager) and putrescent (decaying).


Fy: make. Examples: beautify (make beautiful) and sanctify (make holy, bless).


Il, ile: capable of being. Examples: evil (morally bad, wicked) and servile (too obedient).


Ion: act of. Examples: desperation (act of being desperate) and perspiration (act of sweating).


Ious: characterized by. Examples: spacious (roomy) and illustrious (memorable, well-known).


Ish: like. Examples: boyish (like a boy) and foolish (stupid, unwise).


 Ive: relating to. Examples: abusive (harmful, violent) and plaintive (mournful).


Ness: quality of. Examples: willingness (readiness to do something) and shrewdness (good at judging people and situations).


Ous, ose: full of. Examples: ponderous (heavy, dull, tedious) and verbose (wordy).


Some: characteristic of. Examples: loathsome (hateful, despicable, repulsive) and fearsome (formidable, frightening).


Y: full of. Examples: unruly (difficult to control) and showy (flashy, ostentatious).

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