Prefixes and Suffixes: Re, Verbs, and Patterns of Affixation

Overview: 

This lesson guides students to discover that certain affixes (prefixes and suffixes) attach to certain parts of speech, and that this knowledge is largely unconscious knowledge. The focus is on the prefix re- but can easily extend to many other affixes. When we pause to discover the patterns, we can then apply that knowledge to understanding unfamiliar words. It also encourages breaking down words in general to better understand subtleties of meaning.

Grade Level: 
Grades 3-5
Grades 6-8
Class Time Needed: 
1 hour
Lesson Plan: 

1. What kinds of words are these? (What parts of speech?)
sharpsweetblackredshort
What kinds of words are they when you add the suffix -en?
sharpensweetenblackenreddenshorten
Can you add -en to any adjective? (Think of other adjectives and try it.)
In general, a prefix or suffix attaches to certain part of speech and the result is a certain part of speech.
2. What kinds of words (part of speech) are the following?
dowriteworkcookimportbuildstatesetsharpenshape
Can you add the prefix re- to them?What part of speech is the resulting word?
redorewritereworkrecookreimport
reshaperebuildrestateresetresharpen
3. Can you add re- to any verb?
What's different about the verbs below? What specific kind of verb does re- attach to?
*rego*recry*resleep
*resit*redie*reelapse*revanish
To help you figure it out, you might also consider this pair of homophones. The words sound the same (they're homophones), but re- can go on only one of them. Can you figure out why?
redye *redie

Use redye in a sentence.

4. Consider the following words that begin with re-. Some have the prefix, but some don't; they may have a different kind of prefix. Think about whether the meaning you expect from the prefix, and also consider how you pronounce the re.
repaint respond reverse relock

The re- of respond and reverse is not as productive; we cannot attach it to any transitive verb to make a new verb meaning 'to do again.' This re- is still an affix that carries meaning and it attaches to Latin roots (spond and verse above). It is historically/etymologically related to the more productively used re-, but it is distinct.