Perfect Prefixes

Contributor: Ryann Maginn. Lesson ID: 12346

Sad things don't make you happy, and you don't cover buried treasure! So, how do you make those words say what you want? Learn to use little groups of letters that make a big difference in meaning!


Grammar, Phonics

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Small things can be powerful: Rudders change a ship's direction, matches can start forest fires, and words, like in the Declaration of Independence, can change history. Just a few letters can be powerful enough to change the meaning of a bigger word! Find out how!

Prefixes are units added to the beginning of words.

Once these are connected, the newly-created word has a completely different meaning than the root word. In this lesson, you will learn about the prefixes "un," "dis," "pre," and "re," and how they combine with different root words.

For example:

  • The original definition of happy = to feel glad or pleased.
  • The prefix "un" = "not."
  • The prefix “un” + “happy” = unhappy.
  • The new definition for "unhappy" = not pleased or satisfied.

Each of the four prefixes described above changes words in specific ways. Take a moment to understand the definition of each one:

  1. Un-
    • meaning "not"
    • Un- + motivated = unmotivated
    • "Unmotivated" means not having interest in something.
  2. Dis-
    • meaning "opposite of" or "not"
    • dis- + obey = disobey
    • "Disobey" means to not follow the rules.
  3. Pre-
    • meaning "before"
    • pre + mix = premix
    • "Premix" means to mix or combine something beforehand.
  4. Re-
    • meaning "again"
    • re + absorb = reabsorb
    • "Reabsorb" means to absorb or take up again.

Now that you've had the opportunity to learn the definition of each of these prefixes and see examples of each, consider other words you're familiar with that have these prefixes.

One way to help you brainstorm is to think of action words.

  1. Consider something you enjoy doing or something you really do not like doing.
  2. Once you think of a word, see if it would be appropriate to add one of the prefixes to the word.
  3. Check with your teacher or parent to see if your word is accurate.

After you've had the opportunity to study and brainstorm your own words with prefixes, move on to the Got It? section for additional practice!

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