Practice with Negative Prefixes

Some practice with negative prefixes is always useful. The list below can be used for individual practice, or the teacher could say a word from the list below to a student, and ask him or her to say the opposite (ie. using the negative prefix). In other words, the teacher says "Anna, employed", and she says (all being well) "Unemployed". Students could use the list to test each other in pairs, or in small groups. The list also lends itself to various games.

accurate (inaccurate)
able (unable)
responsible (irresponsible)
wise (unwise)
convenient (inconvenient)
employed (unemployed)
efficient (inefficient)
conscious (unconscious)
complete (incomplete)
tidy (untidy)
sure (unsure)
sincere (insincere)
service (n.) (disservice)
satisfactory (unsatisfactory)
safe (unsafe)
ripe (unripe)
reversible (irreversible)
respect (n.) (disrespect)
pure (impure)
prove (vb.) (disprove)
believable (unbelievable)
available (unavailable)
perfect (imperfect)
legal (illegal)
patient (impatient)
official (unofficial)
important (unimportant)
honest (dishonest)
healthy (unhealthy)
approve (vb.) (disapprove)
probable (improbable)
certain (uncertain)
married (unmarried)
capable (incapable)
related (unrelated)
prepared (unprepared)
polite (impolite)
sensitive (insensitive)
satisfied (dissatisfied)
pleasure (n.) (displeasure)
pleasant (unpleasant)
obedient (disobedient)
necessary (unnecessary)
real (unreal)
rational (irrational)
qualify (vb.) (disqualify)
musical (unmusical)
moral (immoral)
successful (unsuccessful)
sociable (unsociable)
mature (immature)
lucky (unlucky)
logical (illogical)
possible (impossible)
popular (unpopular)
common (uncommon)
fertile (infertile)
likely (unlikely)
like (vb.) (dislike)
kind (unkind)
interesting (uninteresting)
inclined (disinclined)
literate (illiterate)
happy (unhappy)
friendly (unfriendly)
like (adv.) (unlike)
legitimate (illegitimate)
fortunate (unfortunate)
finished (unfinished)
relevant (irrelevant)
compatible (incompatible)
familiar (unfamiliar)
fair (unfair)
experienced (inexperienced)
convenient (inconvenient)
resistible (irresistible)
legible (illegible)
known (unknown)
expected (unexpected)
direct (indirect)
correct (incorrect)
replaceable (irreplaceable)
reliable (unreliable)
comfortable (uncomfortable)
comfort (n.) (discomfort)
regular (irregular)
reasonable (unreasonable)
breakable (unbreakable)
appropriate (inappropriate)
predictable (unpredictable)
practical (impractical)
willing (unwilling)
visible (invisible)
trust (vb.) (distrust)
tolerant (intolerant)
agree (vb.) (disagree)
personal (impersonal)
obey (vb.) (disobey)
advantage (n.) (disadvantage)
religious (irreligious)

Language Note

It might be useful to notice how the "i-" prefixes follow a pattern that relates to pronunciation (it is of course the same in most European Romance languages). Words of Latinate origin that start with "r" (without the prefix) add "ir"; words that start with closed-lip sounds ("m", "b", "p") add "im"; words that start with "l" add "il". The rest of this group take "in". Words of Germanic stock frequently add "un", but there are many Latinate words that also take "un" (these Latinate words were generally absorbed into English relatively early and were given the Germanic prefix). The "dis" prefix is often (but not always) used with verbs (also quite frequently with nouns, and not so often with adjectives).

© Nigel J. Ross, 2002




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