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Building Vocabulary from Word Roots. Unit 1: Lesson 3 Greek Negating Prefixes: a -, an -. a-, an-. The Greek Prefixes a-, an mean “not, without.” They usually attach to Greek bases an generate vocabulary that is scientific, technical, or medical in nature. alpha privative.

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Building vocabulary from word roots
Building Vocabulary from Word Roots

Unit 1: Lesson 3

Greek Negating Prefixes: a-, an-


Building vocabulary from word roots
a-, an-

The Greek Prefixes a-, an mean “not, without.”

They usually attach to Greek bases an generate vocabulary that is scientific, technical, or medical in nature.


Alpha privative
alpha privative

  • a-, an- are called alpha privative because the initial a- (alpha: the first letter of the Greek alphabet) deprives the base of its meaning. All words beginning with an alpha privative have a strongly negative meaning.


Building vocabulary from word roots
a-

  • This prefix consistently appears as a- when it attaches to a base beginning with a consonant.

    a + pol, polis, polit (city, citizen) = apolitical

    (“no” interest in politics)

    a + morph (shape, form) = amorphous

    (shapeless or “without” shape)


Building vocabulary from word roots
an-

  • If the base of the word begins with a vowel or the letter h, we add an n to the alpha privative a- to make the word easier to pronounce.

    an + archien (to rule) = anarchy

    (“no” ruler)

    an + onym (word, name) = anonymous

    (nameless or “not” named)

    • Without the n, these words would be too hard to pronounce (a-archy, a-onymous)


Synonyms with the suffix less
Synonyms with the suffix -less

  • Some apha privative words can be defined by a synonym that ends in the suffix –less (“without”).

    anhydrous = waterless

    anonymous = nameless

    amorphous = shapeless


Do now prefixes a an
Do Now! Prefixes a-, an

  • Explain what it means to be an anonymous donor? How does anonymous mean “not” or “without”?

  • What is amnesia? How does amnesia mean “Not” or “without”?

  • Would an atheist declare a belief in God? How does atheist mean “not” or “without”?

  • Why do doctors give patients anesthesia before an operation? How does anesthesia mean “not” or “without”?


Do now prefixes a an1
Do Now! Prefixes a-, an

Use the context clues to determine what each of these a-, an- words has to do with “not” or “without”.

  • Even though he was asymptomatic, the little boy had chicken pox.

  • Since he was usually so quiet, his loud response was atypical of him.

  • People with too few red blood cells are anemic and often tired.

  • Muscles will atrophy if they are not exercised.

  • Saying, I don’t care” may indicate an apathetic attitude.


Greek bases
Greek Bases

  • aesthet- feeling, sensation

  • mnes- memory

  • theism- belief in God, or gods

  • onym- word, name

  • (h)em - blood

  • troph- feed, grow

  • path- feel, hurt

  • tom- cut

  • arch- rule

  • byss- bottom

  • morph- shape

  • alges- feeling of pain


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