10x Your Vocabulary in 5 Minutes. How to Use Prefixes and Suffixes to Form Words

English For IT
English For IT
Published in
3 min readApr 21


Chances are (=probably) your vocabulary is much larger than you think. Remember that it’s all about studying smart, not hard and you can apply this principle to learning vocabulary too.

All you need to do to increase your vocabulary in a matter of minutes is to learn how to use prefixes and suffixes.

Best part: this does not require you to learn new words. You can use the common words you already know.

Prefixes are small word-forming parts we add before the word. For example: disagree, preview, etc.

Suffixes work the same way except we add them after the word. For instance: developer, improvement, etc.

Here is how you can leverage prefixes and suffixes to create new words.

Let’s start with prefixes:

1. Un = not (use this prefix to create opposites)

Happy — unhappy

Productive — unproductive

Creative — uncreative

Responsible — unressponsible (?)

Wait no, that’s wrong, you can’t say “unresponsible” — the correct word is “irresponsible”. So, be careful — this prefix doesn’t work with all of the words in the English language but you can still use it to create many new words.

2. Re = do something again

Repeat this, please? Even the word “repeat” (= say something again) has the “re” part in it.

More examples:

I need to re-read this book.

I want to rewatch that movie.

I am going to rework the presentation / I am going to redo the presentation.

3. Mis = do something wrong / not in a correct way

If you didn’t understand someone correctly, you can say “I’m sorry, I misunderstood you”.

How about this word — “miscommunicate”? (= not communicate correctly).

More examples:

His name is Alex, not Alan? I’m sorry, I misheard you.

I misplaced my keys and now I can’t find them.

Her child misbehaves all the time.

There are so many more words you can make with this prefix.

Now, let’s get into the suffixes.

1. -Able = this literally means “be able” to do something.

If your name is “Google-able” that means you can google your name and get results.

More examples:

The text is too small, it’s unreadable.

This task is totally doable.

Don’t be afraid to drink tap water in this country. It’s drinkable.

However, you can not say “eatable” if you want to talk about something that can be eaten. You need to use the word “edible” — it’s an exception.

2. -Ness = this suffix is used to create nous.

For example:

Kind — kindness

Fair — fairness

Aware — awareness

3. -Ish = around / about / approximately

This is a super versatile (=flexible) suffix that can be added to any pretty much any word — noun, adjective, you name it!


Should we meet at 5pm-ish? (=at around 5 pm)?

I will finish the project in March-ish.

He is wearing a greenish shirt. (= kind of green)

Another way to 10x your vocabulary and boost speaking and grammar is to join the English for Tech 2.0 course. Check it out!



English For IT
English For IT

English and soft skills for tech professionals: www.english4it.online