Prefixes and suffixes

A lot of spelling programs emphasise spelling prefixes and suffixes.

However, prefixes and suffixes aren't really very hard to spell, because from a sound-letter relationships point of view, most of them are spelt in fairly unremarkable ways.

Well, OK, there's the "ed" in "hopped", which sounds like a "t" and often needs a doubled "p" before it, but even that doesn't phase quite early learners if it's presented in an orderly way:

  • first "buzz-buzzed" and "fill-filled" ("ed" sounds like "d"),
  • then "back-backed" and "fish-fished" ("ed" sounds like "t" after a soft or voiceless consonant),
  • then "can-canned" and "fib-fibbed" (double the consonant so you don't get caned and fined)
  • then "hop-hopped" and "grip-gripped" (which you can then distinguish from "hoped" and "griped").

Once you can handle basic letter-sound relationships, and know how to tackle two-syllable words and tame the unstressed vowel, spelling prefixes and suffixes like "un", "con", "non", "dis", "post", "en", "able", "ible", "bound", "ence", "ward" and "pathy" should present no problem.

Prefixes like "anti" and "mini", "multi", "omni" and "demi" aren't difficult for anyone with a grasp of the "i" spelling in "taxi", 'kiwi" and "visa".

Prefixes like "cryo", "gyro", "hydro" and "pyro" won't worry learners who know about "my", "by" and "cry", "go, so and no", and know to tackle two-syllable words one mouthful at a time.

The "ph" in "photo" and "amphi"  can be studied in a group with "phone" and "graph", and the "ps" in "pseudo" goes with psychologist, psalm and psoriasis.

The suffix "ceous" shares its "ce" spelling with "ocean" and "cetacean", and the spelling of the suffix "logue" can be covered when you study the "gue" in "league" and "morgue".

It's still important to learn about the meaning and use of prefixes and suffixes in English as a language/vocabulary activity, but ticking the spelling box for prefixes and suffixes shouldn't be a big issue, if learners have been taught sound-letter relationships in an orderly, digestible way.

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