The Importance of Teaching Meaningful Word Parts

Teaching meaningful word parts is a wonderful way to help students tackle multi-syllabic words. Similarly to teaching automaticity with high-frequency words, teaching automaticity around prefixes and suffixes is a concrete way you can help build your child’s fluency and confidence when reading out loud.

The following prefixes account for nearly two-thirds of all prefixed words! Below is a process you can use to introduce and practice common prefixes and suffixes with your child:

For the prefix dis, you can write it, pronounce it and define it.

Dis means not. Repeat dis. Now, let’s add dis to the front of the word agree. What do we have now? Read the prefix, dis, and read the base word, agree. Put it together: disagree. Notice how putting “not” in front of agree changes the meaning to “not agree”. Let’s put disagree into a sentence to make sure we understand what it means.”

You can make a game out of this, searching for words that contain the prefix dis.

Most Common Prefixes (taken from “Overcoming Dyslexia” by Sally Shaywitz)

dis- (not): disagree, disappear, disarm, disconnect, dishonest, dislike, disloyal, dismount, disobey, disorder, disown, distrust

im- or in- (not): impatient, imperfect, impolite, impossible, impure, inactive, incomplete, independent, invisible

mis- (bad): misbehave, mislay, mislead, misplace, mispronounce, misread, *misspell, mistreat, misuse

*misspell is one of the most misspelled words because of the double ss. HOWEVER, once students think about it as mis+spell, it’s easier to remember that double ss.

pre- (before): prearrange, precook, prepaid, preschool, pretest, preview

re- (again): reappear, rearm, rearrange, recount, redo, reenter, refill, refresh, reheat, renumber, replay, retell

un- (not): unable, unbend, uncover, undo, unequal, unfair, unhappy, unkind, unlock, unwrap

Most Common Suffixes (taken from “Overcoming Dyslexia” by Sally Shaywitz)

-able (is, can be): admirable, agreeable, breakable, curable, desirable, enjoyable, excitable, laughable, moveable

-ful (full of): careful, cheerful, colorful, delightful, fearful, forgetful, helpful, joyful, painful

-less (without): ageless, beardless, bottomless, careless, fearless, jobless, painless, sleepless, worthless

-ly (resembling): bravely, brotherly, cleverly, fatherly, foolishly, freely, honestly, loudly, neatly

-ment (action/process): agreement, amazement, arrangement, development, entertainment, experiment, government, payment, punishment

-ness (state/quality of): cleverness, darkness, fairness, fullness, goodness, happiness, kindness, loudness, sadness