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Prefixes and combining forms—P

Want to expand your vocabulary? Figure out the meaning of an unknown word? If so, learning to identify prefixes and understanding their meaning will help you do just that.

What's a prefix? It's a word form that attaches itself to the beginning of another word (the base word) to change the word's meaning. For example, the prefix ex means "former." Connect it to the base word friend, and you're no longer on friendly terms—you're an ex-friend. Big difference.

But what about ex in the word exclude? Is that a prefix, too? No, it isn't. It's a combining form meaning "out," and it attaches itself to a root word, not a base word. Remove the ex, and you're left with the root clude, which makes no sense by itself.

Have fun increasing your word knowledge with these common English prefixes and combining forms.

P

paleo

Meaning:ancient

Example:Paleontologists study fossils.

pan

Meaning:all

Example:This pan-Canadian project will benefit educational institutions.

para

Meaning 1:additional, supplementary, secondary

Example:Civilians fought alongside soldiers in a paramilitary capacity.

Meaning 2:outside of

Example:Usually, what science cannot explain is considered paranormal.

Meaning 3:having to do with parachutes

Example:Paragliding can make you feel like a bird in flight.

Meaning 4:protect

Example:Sit under a parasol to protect yourself from the sun.

patho

Meaning:disease

Example:Pathologists study diseases.

patri

Meaning:father

Example:The family's patriarch, a respected elder, led the group.

ped

child

Example:A pediatrician is a doctor who treats children.

pedi, pedo

Meaning:foot

Examples:Pamper your feet with a pedicure.

 Count the number of steps you take in a day with a pedometer.

penta

Meaning:five

Example:A pentagon has five sides.

per

Meaning:through, throughout

Example:His cologne permeated the room.

peri

Meaning:around

Example:We jogged the perimeter of the field.

petr, petri

Meaning:stone

Examples:Petra is a city carved in stone.

 Petrified wood, or fossilized wood, is the provincial stone of Alberta.

phleb

Meaning:vein

Example:Phlebitis is inflammation in the veins of the legs.

photo

Meaning 1:light

Example:Plants create fuel from light through photosynthesis.

Meaning 2:photograph

Example:Our store offers photofinishing services.

physio

Meaning:physical

Example:I do physiotherapy exercises to correct my knee problems.

phyto

Meaning:plant

Example:Krill feed on phytoplankton, microscopic plants that live in the ocean.

picto

Meaning:picture

Example:The pictographs on Agawa Rock depict canoes and animals.

pluri

Meaning:many

Example:The pluridisciplinary program involves courses from several disciplines.

pneumo

Meaning:lung

Example:The flu shot may reduce the risk of catching pneumonia.

poly

Meaning:many

Example:A polyglot speaks many languages.

post

Meaning:after

Example:Enrolling in postsecondary education can lead to a brighter future.

pre

Meaning:before

Example:Families travelling with children can pre-board the flight.

pro

Meaning 1:promoting

Example:Pro-government supporters gathered in the square.

Meaning 2:acting for

Example:The pro-chairperson replaces the chair during holidays.

Meaning 3:before

Example:The prototype served as a pattern for later models.

pseudo

Meaning:false

Example:"Grey Owl" was the pseudonym of Archibald Belaney.

psycho

Meaning:mind

Example:A psychologist can help you manage your anger.

pyro

Meaning:fire

Example:The pyrotechnic show combined music with fireworks.