Prefixes Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

Have you ever unbuttoned your coat, retied your shoes or told your friend how impossible the math test was? If so, then you've used words with prefixes. In this lesson, you will learn what prefixes are and what they can do to a word.

What are Prefixes?

Many words have pairs or groups of letters added to either the beginning or end of their base word. These letters are used to change the meaning of the word. A base word is the smallest part of a word that has meaning.

For example, if you take the word replay, you can take off the re-, and you are still left with the word play. Play is the base word because you can't take away any more parts and still have meaning.

A prefix is a pair or group of letters added to the front of a base word. Think about how previews come before a movie starts, and remember that prefixes come before a base word.

Impossible is a word that uses the prefix im-.

How do Prefixes Change a Word's Meaning?

There are many different kinds of prefixes, and each one changes the base word in a certain way. If you take the base word tie, you can add the common prefix un- to the front of the word to make untie. If you think about what tie and untie mean, you will see that adding un- changes the word to the opposite meaning.

Now take the word view. If we add the prefix pre- to the front of that word, we change it to the word preview. Since previewing comes before viewing, the prefix of pre- means before.

It's important to know that you can't just add any prefix to any word you want. The prefix must make an actual word. For example, taking the word desk and adding the prefix un- doesn't make a real word.

Examples of Prefixes

What are Some Common Prefixes?

Some prefixes fall into groups with others of the same meaning. There are a lot of prefixes that make the opposite word of the base word, while some simply mean 'not' the base word. Below are some common prefixes with some example words:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account