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The Best Prefix List

Learn 100 New Words in Less Than Ten Minutes

May 6, 2017 2 comments

“That’s it?”

“Only five?”

“I thought this was supposed to be the best prefix list.”

I agree, that this isn’t a lot of prefixes.

But wait…

Do you know you just learned over 100 new words?


Those five little prefixes just helped expand your vocabulary by over 100 words.


That’s what I am going to talk about in this post.

You probably want to find the best prefix list because you think it’s going to help you expand your vocabulary.

And, you’re right.

Prefixes can help boost your vocabulary by thousands of words in just a fraction of the time.

However, prefixes are only useful if you know how to use them. Unfortunately, there aren’t any resources on the web designed to identify the most important prefixes and then show you how to apply that knowledge to expand your vocabulary.

I’m going to take you step-by-step through the process and show you what prefixes are, where they are located and how to use them to improve your English vocabulary.

By the end, you will have a complete list of 100 new words that you now know because of these five little prefixes. The best list of prefixes will not have many prefixes, but only a small number of the most useful ones that you can apply in the future.

If you still want a big list of prefixes that you won’t know how to use, you can see one here.

What are prefixes?

“A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word.” Wikipedia

Prefixes are little combinations of letters that go in the beginning of many words.

That’s it.

Not every word has a prefix, but many do.

Take the word:


No prefix.


This word has a prefix, un. Easy, right?

You can probably think of a lot of other words that begin with un:


I’m sure you can think of many others that begin with the prefix un. Actually, un is one of the most popular prefixes in English because it’s an easy way to make a word negative.

Why should I study prefixes?

Studying prefixes is powerful because if you know the meaning of one prefix, you can apply that knowledge to other words that you see.

If you know just one prefix, you unlock the meaning of dozens, maybe hundreds of other words. 

Let’s go back to un.

You know that un is negative, so, every time you see a word with un in front of it, whether you know what the word means or not, you automatically assume that the word is probably negative.

uncomplicated – not complicated
unconscionable – not conscionable

Even if you don’t know what the rest of the word means, you know that the meaning has something to do with not.

This is powerful.

Think about it.

You know the part of the meaning of hundreds of words without looking in the dictionary!

Teachers in the States have also recognized the importance of teaching prefixes. According to Mark Pacheo and Amanda Goodin in their article in The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy,

“Middle school students regularly encounter morphologically complex words in their reading, making understanding how they use these strategies of prime importance when designing morphological instruction.”

The term morphological instruction is a fancy way of saying prefixes. According to Mark Pacheo, Amanda Goodin, and dozens of other researchers in the field of reading comprehension and language acquisition agree that teaching students word parts is crucial in improving their vocabulary and reading.

When you study prefixes, you no longer need to look in a dictionary every minute to look up a new word that you don’t understand. When you know enough prefixes, you understand the general idea of the meaning of a word and you can apply this knowledge over and over again every time you see a new word with the same prefix.

There are hundreds of prefixes you can learn, but many of them aren’t useful.

You want to focus your attention on knowing a couple of prefixes very well.

The quality of the prefixes you learn is going to help you improve your vocabulary. Out of hundreds of prefixes, I’ve handpicked 54 of the most useful prefixes you can use to expand your vocabulary by thousands.

Not only is teaching prefixes important, but it’s now considered crucial since there are so many words in the English language that it would be impossible to study each one individually.

Again, researchers in the field of education and adult literacy agree that we must start teaching prefixes not only to English language learners, but to students born and raised in the States.

“For those who need vocabulary support, teachers cannot possibly teach all these words directly, so they must give students tools and strategies for learning words on their own. Morphology is one such tool.” Michael Kieffer and Nonie K. Lesaux from The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy

So, we agree, prefixes are important if you’re going to improve your reading comprehension and your vocabulary.

The Best Prefix List 

Remember, I shared with you five prefixes in the beginning.

Now, I want to go through each of these prefixes one by one and share with you 100 new words you just learned because you now know these five prefixes better.

The reason why this list is so small is because you don’t need to know a lot of prefixes to expand your vocabulary.

The best prefix list includes only the most useful prefixes.

Are you ready to expand your vocabulary by hundred words in just minutes?

Let’s do it!

forein front of, before

How can you use fore?

Well, if you’re like me, when you wake up in the morning, the foremost thing in your mind is the weather. So, I turn on the TV to check the forecast. The forecast forewarns me if there’s a storm approaching.  I don’t like surprises, so I like to be forewarned whenever possible. Today, after I took a shower and brushed my teeth, I looked in the mirror and noticed a huge pimple on my forehead. “I hope this doesn’t foreshadow the rest of my day,” I thought. Before I left for work, I kissed my wife and hugged my children. I gave the same little speech I always give to them before I leave. “Now, you all know what’s going to happen when I come home tonight? You can foresee it, right? I’m going to ask you, not what you learned today, but..” “What challenges did we overcome.” “That’s right my loves, so keep that in the forefront of your thoughts and I’ll see you tonight.”

An easy way to remember fore is to think of the word foresee. If you foresee the future, you can predict what events are in front of you.

Here are 20 words that just entered your passive vocabulary:

Amazing, right? Ready for the next one?

subbelow, under

How can you use sub?

When you live in a big city you probably have access to a subway. A subway is a cheap and efficient way to get around. However, you have to submit to some rules of social etiquette. For example, many people subscribe to the idea that it’s impolite to eat on the train, particularly hot and smelly food. Of course, we all need some form of subsistence, but there are plenty of other places to eat. But prepared to encounter people who break social norms and act subversively. This subterranean form of transportation attracts all types of people, so it’s important to keep an open mind, but never feel like you must act like a subordinate. If someone is too aggressive or rude, don’t let yourself become subjugated to their will. Stand up for what you believe, speak out and let them know that you will not sit idly in the face of their subterfuge. Remember, if you feel like you’re in danger, always contact the police. They can subdue the situation.

For me, the best way to remember sub is to think of a subway or submarine. These two modes of transportation operate under the ground and under the water.

Here are 20 words that just entered your passive vocabulary: 

One of the most useful prefixes is…

overtoo much

How can you use over?

It might be overkill, but I think this job is going to be the death of me. I work 70 hours a week. I wake up at 6am, get to work at 7 and I don’t punch out until 9 pm. I told my boss that I feel overworked, but he’s an overachiever. He wants to prove to his bosses that he can produce more product than any other regional manager. It’s not just me, but my entire team feels overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility placed on us. He has severely overestimated how much we can accomplish. Projects that used to take us two months to complete are now expected to be finished in two weeks. He really has gone overboard. On our last project there was some gross oversight that headquarters noticed, but instead of accepting responsibility, our manager blamed us. John, a coworker, overslept the other day and he was warned that next time would lead to his termination. After that, John started bringing in a secret camera to work to record everything that’s happening in our office. Overall, I think I can stick with this schedule for a few more weeks until John sends the tape to HQ, which should hopefully lead to our manager getting the ax.

If you look out to the sky and see that it’s overcast, it means there are too many clouds in the sky.

Here are twenty words that just entered your passive vocabulary:

Oh, I forgot to mention, you can also watch me teach this stuff on video too 😉

Only two more, but you have already netted over 60 vocabulary words into your passive vocabulary.


How can you use co?

It’s scary to move abroad. When you do, you are suddenly cut off from all of your friends and family. However, the Internet has made it easier than ever to connect with loved ones. Right now, I live in Japan and I communicate with friends through a combination of Skype, Line, and Facebook. There’s a collection of other means of communication, but these three are the most convenient. However, because of the time difference, we must carefully coordinate a proper time to talk. It was easy to find time at first, but after I started working at a company, I had less free time to communicate with loved ones. Recently, I informed my colleagues that I would like a more flexible schedule and they were nice enough to accommodate my need. So, I usually talk with friends in the morning, before 9 am, and then I commute to work.

An easy way to remember co is to think of your colleagues at the company because you all work together.

Here are 20 words that just entered your passive vocabulary:

Still here? Well, consider yourself lucky.

I saved the best for last.


How can you use ex?

After careful examination of our options, the best man at my wedding decided that a typical excursion to Las Vegas would be the best way to celebrate my final days of bachelorhood. He organized and arranged everything. I think he might have gone a little overboard. Before we arrived, he contacted the hotel manager and, for over an hour, extracted every possible detail of the hotel and the surrounding area. He had carefully mapped out the entire weekend, but made one huge oversight, he excluded our friend Frank from the trip. Now, this actually wasn’t an oversight. He explained that he didn’t invite Frank because he has a bad attitude. He exaggerated a bit while he explained his position, but Jack, my best man, had many reasons to exclude Frank. In the end, I agreed. The trip to Vegas was a blast. I think we were exposed to all of the typical Vegas stuff that I won’t go into detail about here because, well, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, However, when we got back, we saw Jack, waiting for us at the airport, his arms extended up and out into the air, his hands clutching a sign that read, “Bad friends.”

An easy way to remember ex is to think of an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. If they’re your ex, then you’re probably relieved that they’re out of your life.

Here are 20 words that just entered your passive vocabulary:

Do you know any other prefixes that you find useful? Please comment below and let me know if I missed anything.

I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Channing Akinrinade says:

    Where can I buy the vocabulary ninja handbook?

    1. macpherson13 says:

      Thanks for the question Channing. I’m currently reworking a few passages and it will be available in the next month or so. I really appreciate your interest. Thanks!

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