Affixes in English Grammar

In English grammar, affix refers to a grammatical element which is combined with a word or phrase to create derived and inflected forms. Affix is broadly categorized into three different types including prefix, infix and suffix. A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word so as to alter or change its meaning (for example, ‘Disadvantage’, here ‘dis’ is used as a prefix). A suffix is placed at the end of a word in order to create a new word (for example, ‘Careful’, here ‘full’ is used as a suffix). Further, an infix is placed in the middle of the word. However, the English language has no infixes, but they are mostly found in Greek or American Indian Languages.

The process of adding a morpheme (affix) to a word to produce a different form of that word or to create a new word with different meaning is known as affixation. Some example words are mentioned below:

•    Start- Restart
•    Appear- Disappear
•    Dark- Darkness
•    Fond- Fondness
•    Car- Cars
•    Act- Action

Definition of Affix

A word element (a prefix, suffix or infix), which can be joined to a base or root to create a new word is known as an affix.  An affix can be added at the beginning of the root or it can be placed at the end of a root so as to form a new form of the word.

There are different kinds of affixes

  1. Prefix
  2. Suffix
  3. Infix
  4. Circumfix
  5. Simulfix
  6. Suprafix

Some prefix words are mentioned below:

•    Market - Supermarket
•    Work - Overwork
•    Load - Overload
•    Happy - Unhappy
•    Developed - Underdeveloped    
•    Convenient – Inconvenient
•    Marine – Submarine

Some suffix words are mentioned below:

•    Comfort - Comfortable 
•    Gold - Golden
•    Fear - Fearless
•    Enjoy - Enjoyment
•    Child - Childish
•    Friend - Friendship
•    Meaning- Meaningless

Some words containing both prefix and suffix are mentioned below:

•    Inconsolable  (in – prefix) (able – suffix)
•    Unlikely  (un- prefix) (ly- suffix)
•    Immeasurable (im- prefix) (able- suffix)
•    Unpredictable (un- prefix) (able- suffix)
•    Disrespectful  (dis- prefix) (ful-suffix)
•    Multicultural (multi- prefix) (al -suffix)
•    Unconsciousness (un- prefix) (ness- suffix)

What are Clauses?

A clause is a group of words that encompasses a subject and a verb. Clauses are instrumental in expressing the thoughts and ideas of an individual. In other words, clauses allow us to express ourselves and convey our expression to others. For instance, ‘I love pizza, especially with cold drinks’. Clauses are entirely different from phrases. A phrase is a collection of related words that does not contain a subject-verb agreement. For example, ‘A small, white kitten’. Here, the phrase contains a subject, but it does not have a verb. There are two types of clauses, including independent clause and a dependent clause.

1. Independent Clause: An independent clause is also known as a main clause. It can stand on its own therefore it is called as an independent clause. An independent clause has all information to complete a sentence. In an independent clause, a subject gives a better idea about the sentence and the verb explains what the subject is doing. In simple words, an independent clause describes a complete thought. 

For example:

•    Nancy is playing with a dog at the park. (Here, ‘Nancy’ is the subject and ‘Playing’ is the verb. It expresses a complete thought) 
•    The pizza burned because I forgot to take it out of the oven on time. (Here, ‘Pizza’ is the subject and ‘Burned’ is the verb. Hence, the clause explains a complete thought and stand on its own)

2. Dependent Clause:

A dependent clause is recognized as a subordinate clause. It contains a subject or a verb, but it does not express a complete thought. A dependent clause cannot stand on its own. It is combined with one or more independent clauses to form a sentence. It is dependent because it begins with dependent words such as although, since, before, after, though, in order to, because, if, what, when, who, which, why, etc.

For example:

•    Does anyone know where we are going tonight? (Here, ‘We’ is the subject and ‘Going’ is the verb, but the clause does not express a complete thought)
•    I forgot where I put the house keys. (Here, ‘I’ is the subject and ‘Put’ is the verb, but the clause does not explain a complete thought and cannot stand on its own as a sentence)

•    The Adjective Clause
•    The Adverbial Clause
•    The Noun Clause

What are Phrases?

A phrase is two or more words, which are related to each other. It does not express a complete thought like a clause as it does not contain a subject or a verb. For instance, Broken into thousands of pieces. (Here, the phrase does not explain a complete thought)

To express a word in a specific way is also called a phrase. A phrase can be short and can be long and it appears within a clause. However, a phrase can be a clause or it contains a clause within it. In a sentence, phrases can have several functions as these can be used as subjects, objects, modifiers, complements or adverbials. Depending on the words, a phrase can be recognized as a noun, adjective, verb, adverb or preposition in a sentence.

Types of Phrases

1. Noun Phrase: A noun phrase contains a place, person or thing and the modifiers that explain it. The head word in the noun will be either a noun or pronoun.

For example:

•    I consider him my favorite actor
•    He gave the small child a candy. 

2. Verb Phrase: A verb phrase refers to a predicate of a sentence. In the verb phrase, the head word is the verb, which expresses action or link subject and complement.

For example:

•    The writer is writing a new story.
•    Those girls are not dancing properly.

3. Adjective Phrase: An adjective phrase refers to a group of adjectives. It describes the noun with the help of adjectives.

For example:

•    The cost of the dress was too high.
•    My little pet makes me very happy.

4. Adverb Phrase: When two or more words, act as an adverb, it is called as adverb phrase. It can change or modify a verb, adverb or adjective.

For example:

•    She will sit quietly.
•    I will finish my work in a minute.

5. Prepositional Phrase: In prepositional phrase, a preposition is the head word, which acts as a noun, adjective or an adverb in a sentence.

For example:

•    The gift inside the big box is mine.
•    The house beside the church is the one I want to purchase.

More detailed explanation on Types of Phrases

English Grammar