Have you noticed repeated beginnings or endings in French words? French tutor Tyler S. breaks down the most common French prefixes and suffixes you need to know…
Whether you are just starting out on your French language journey or you’re looking to expand your current knowledge of this romance language, you will eventually come across the wonderful world of French suffixes and prefixes at one point or another.
But what exactly are suffixes and prefixes? Why must we use them? And most importantly, how do we properly use them in a sentence? Read on to learn more, and don’t miss our handy list of French prefixes and suffixes to help you with your studies.
Why Prefixes and Suffixes?
Have you ever wondered why languages have historically developed what grammarians call “prefixes” and “suffixes”? Why do almost all languages demonstrate these two types of word alteration when there are other ways to express the same changes of meaning? The answer is simple: prefixes and suffixes save us time and energy when using language.
Although you may know someone who possesses the super human power of relentlessly babbling on for hours, people typically aim to be informative and concise in language. By adapting over time to use prefixes and suffixes instead of multi-word phrases, language has evolved to conserve time and energy when used as a communicative tool. This is helpful both in both spoken and written communication because you can use fewer words to make your point. In this case, less is more.
For example, it takes far less brainpower to attach the prefix “a-“ to the beginning of “typical” to form the word “atypical” than it does to express the equivalent meaning in the multi-word phrase “the opposite of typical”. You’ll find plenty of examples of these French opposite adjectives as you dive into this language. After all, why use more words when simply adding an extra letter or two will do the trick?
French is a great example of a language that is rich with prefixes and suffixes that are derived primarily from Latin and Greek. If you are at all familiar with these ancient languages, you will begin to recognize French words with Latin roots and Greek ones, too.
If you want to learn how to speak French with precision and save yourself time and energy when speaking, learning to use prefixes and suffixes is a must! This article will provide you with a quick reference for the most commonly used French prefixes and suffixes so that you can continue to master French à l’aise (with ease). Once you get comfortable with using these French elements, you’ll be unstoppable when it comes to speaking and writing in this language.
The Basic Rule: Categorize Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs
In all languages around the world, words are composed of individual “building blocks” that combine to modify and create meaningful expressions. The first step is to be able to identify if a given French word falls into the noun category, the adjective category, or the verb category. This is vital to learn because in French vocabulary words have rules for which suffixes or prefixes can combine with each of the three categories. In simpler terms, think of it as a math equation or formula. You need to add certain words from each category to equal a proper sentence. If one aspect is missing, or if you use one incorrectly, it will not equate to the correct meaning.
For example, the suffix -able in English may only attach to some verbs such as the verb “do”. We combine the two to get do + able = doable. You cannot merely attach -able to any word in English, and the same rule applies in French. In many ways, English and French are close relatives because their usage of prefixes and suffixes are historically linked. Because of this, you may have an easier time understanding French suffixes and prefixes if you are already fluent in English.
Common French Prefixes
Now that you understand how word formation in French plays by the rules of a word’s grammatical category (noun, adjective, or verb), here are some concrete examples to study. Below are two tables that include a list of French prefixes or suffixes in the far left column. The next column listed as “Root Type” provides the type of word the prefix/suffix can combine with (noun, adjective, or verb). The middle white column is the approximate English meaning that the prefix/suffix attributes to the root word, and this column is then followed by examples in French that include the given suffix/prefix. Seeing examples broken down in these charts should help you deconstruct these words and better understand their meaning.
Common French Suffixes
By studying these two tables, you will greatly improve your vocabulary skills and your fluency for the French language. For a more exhaustive list of prefixes and suffixes, please reference the following links:
Merci pour votre temps! Bonne chance la pratique! Thank you for your time! Good luck studying!
For more help learning French, try studying with a private tutor. Tutors are available to work with you online or in-person depending on locations and availability.
With one-on-one instruction, you can focus on whatever aspect of the language you need the most practice, whether that’s French affixes, prefixes, or anything in between. When you sign up for online French lessons, you can learn wherever is most convenient for you, as long as you have an internet connection. Find your French tutor now to further your understanding of this beautiful language.
Tyler S. teaches in-person Spanish and French lessons in Minneapolis, MN. He received his Bachelor’s degree in German and linguistics from the University of Minnesota, and has experience working as a teaching assistant and private tutor with TakeLessons since 2008. What’s more? He can speak 7 different languages! Learn more about Tyler here!
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