37 Chapter 17. Making Vocabulary Study Easy With so many words in the English language, we need an easy method for taming the task of learning new vocabulary. Fortunately, word-lovers before us have eased the way. Through their studies they discovered that words break naturally into separate elements. Like a good story, words have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We have learned from lexicographers (people who study words) to create and change words by simply adding or subtracting a few letters from the basic word ele- ment called a root word. For example, the root word wise becomes unwise by adding un- to the beginning of the word. It changes again by adding -ly to the end of the word: unwisely . When we add letters to the front of a root word to change its meaning, we are adding a prefix. When letters are added to the end of a root word to change its meaning, we are adding a suffix. In the word unwise, un- is a prefix meaning "not." The prefix changes the meaning of the word wise to "not wise." The suffix -ly means "like" or "in that manner." So, unwisely means "not in a wise manner." Prefixes, suffixes, and roots are valuable because they keep their same meanings even when used with different words. Therefore, un- means "not," when used with other root words as well: unhappy, unskilled, untried, unstable .