If you are a parent of a child in primary school, you will probably be becoming aware of the increased focus on grammar and punctuation contained in the new National Curriculum. Your child’s school may have provided information about the new English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which Year 2 and Year 6 children will be taking next summer. Depending upon when and where you went to school, you may find the information coming from school (and the terminology being used by your child) challenging. Whether you are bewildered by the terminology used or just want to know a little more to support your child, I hope you will find this blog useful. You can click on the Parent’s Start Page to link to information about different areas of grammar and punctuation. Alternatively, enter a term in the search bar or click on a word in the cloud of labels. If you have further queries, get in touch and I will try to help where I can.

Monday, 16 May 2016


A prefix is a small unit of meaning which is added at the beginning of a word to make a new word with a different meaning.  Understanding what the prefix means can often help us work out what the new word means.  For example, the prefix un- has the meaning ‘not’, so we can work out that it will change the meaning of any word to a negative: kind/unkind, happy/unhappy.

Some prefixes have a similar meaning and are used with words spelt in particular ways.  For example the following prefixes also have a meaning of not:
il- used with words beginning with ‘l’ – illegal, illogical,
im- used with words beginning with ‘p’ – impatient, impossible, impractical
ir- used with words beginning with ‘r’ – irretrievable, irrational, irregular
dis- used with a variety of words and is not particularly related to the way the word is spelt – disappoint, discover, distaste

Other common prefixes include:

See how many new words you and your child can make with these prefixes.  Discuss how the meaning of the original word has changed by adding the prefix.  Can you make a rule for what the prefix means and test it by adding it to other words?  Encourage your child to use a dictionary to help unpick the meanings.

For example:

Take the root word ‘press’.  Can you add any of the prefixes?
  • depress
  • repress
  • compress

What do these words mean and how do they differ from the original word ‘press’?

You can extend this activity by seeing if you can add any suffixes to the word as well.  For example, impressed, compressing, suppression.

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