This week’s 6 Minute Vocabulary, all about prefixes. We can put prefixes at the beginning of some words to change their meaning. They are usually only a few letters long like these:
unhappy – not happy: The football fans were very unhappy when their team lost.
uncooked – not cooked: You can’t eat these uncooked apples. They are very sour.
unclean – not clean: That water is unclean. You shouldn’t drink it.
intolerable – cannot be tolerated or accepted: This heat is intolerable. It’s making me feel ill.
inexpensive – not expensive; cheap: The shop sells inexpensive second-hand computers.
inactive – not active: He’s put on weight because he is so inactive. He should join a gym!
disagree – to not agree: I disagree with my sister about everything.
disgrace – something to be ashamed of: Your table manners are a disgrace.
disgusting – so horrible that you feel sick: There’s a disgusting smell in the bathroom – open a window, quickly!
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary – if you’re serious about vocabulary, we’ll show you how to learn it. I’m Finn…
And I’m Alice. In today’s show we’re going to look at a very interesting area of vocabulary – prefixes.
We’ll look at what they are, what they mean and how to use them.
There’ll be a quiz…
And we’ll leave you with a top tip for learning vocabulary.
But before all that, we’re going to hear from Dave. He’s just got back from lunch, but he isn’t happy.
Now, a question to think about while you listen: what was the problem with Dave’s food?
What was the problem with Dave’s food? Let’s find out.
I just tried the new seafood restaurant, and I wish I hadn’t. It was intolerable! To start with, my seat was really uncomfortable. I had no room to move. And the menu was very misleading. The photos looked nothing like the actual food. When my food came it was uncooked. I told the waiter, but he disagreed. He said it was fine. He said he’d eat it himself! And I looked in the kitchen – it was really unhygienic. There was food all over the floor. It was a disgrace!
So Dave’s pretty unhappy. And what was wrong with his food?
He said that it was uncooked. It was cold and raw because it hadn’t been cooked.
Not very nice! Well done if you got that right at home. Now, uncooked is an example of the vocabulary area we’re looking at today – prefixes.
Yes: prefixes – or as some people say: prefixes. Prefixes, prefixes. A prefix is a small part of a word, usually just a couple of letters, that we put at the front of a base word to change its meaning. For example, the prefix un, spelt u-n, is added to happy, to make unhappy, which means not happy.
And Dave was unhappy about the restaurant.
Yes. He said the seats were uncomfortable – meaning not comfortable, and the kitchen was unhygienic, meaning unclean – not clean.
So that’s un, meaning ‘not’ – and all today’s prefixes have the meaning of not. So, Dave said the meal was intolerable. Intolerable. In – spelt i-n – is another prefix that can mean not – and poor Dave couldn’t tolerate the meal. Now, let’s listen to a bit more of Dave.
… I told the waiter, but he disagreed. He said it was fine.
The waiter disagreed with him about the food. The prefix dis, spelt d-i-s, means not, or ‘to do the opposite’, like disagree – to not agree.
Yes: and Dave said it was a disgrace – they should be ashamed of it.
Let’s hear today’s prefixes again.
The first one was: un
unhappy, uncooked, unhygienic, unclean
You’re listening to bbclearningenglish.com
And it’s time for a quiz. Try to work out the word that finishes the sentence. Ready? Number 1. The advert said that the phone was £5 a month, but it didn’t say anything about the £50 set up fee. It was very… a) unhappy b) inexpensive c) misleading.
The advert made people believe something that isn’t true, so it was very… c) misleading.
Now number 2. This letter has come to the wrong house. There’s been a… a) mistake b) disgrace c) disagreement
It’s not correct so… a) mistake.
Well done if you got those right.
And that brings us almost to the end of today’s programme.
But before we go, here’s today’s top tip for learning vocabulary: if you look up some of today’s words in a dictionary, you’ll find lots more words starting with the same prefixes. Many of them may be words that you already knew without the prefix, so: when you add a prefix, you get two words for the price of one!
That’s brilliant. Sounds like a good way to quickly double your vocabulary. There’s more about this at BBC bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.
6 Minute Vocabulary: Prefixes Transcript Video
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