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Prefixes Meaning Not

Some prefixes change the meaning of a word to its opposite. We call these prefixes of negation because they negate (make negative) the meaning. Some prefixes of negation are non-, un-, in-, dis-, de-, and a-. Understanding such words is not a difficult matter when you know the base word, or root. Knowing which prefix to use is a more complex problem. Following a few guidelines, listening and watching for words with prefixes in different contexts, and practicing will help you understand these words and use them properly.

non- and un-

  • The machinery is unusable because it is nonoperative.

  • The firm was penalized for noncompliance with safety regulations.

  • That is a job for which Vera is unqualified.

    Each italicized word in these statements can be restated using the word not with the base word. The machinery is not usable because it does not operate. The firm did not comply with the regulations. Vera is not qualified for the job.


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