Prefixes: Where Spanish and English Go Hand in Hand (Part 2)

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Welcome to part 2 of my blog dedicated to the common prefixes in Spanish and English.

It is worth recalling one important fact about prefix spelling in la lengua de Cervantes. Each and every prefix must always be written directly attached to the word they are modifying, with only two major exceptions:

  • If the modified word start with a capital letter. The perfect example? Anti-OTAN, which would be spelled the same way in English—with a hyphen (anti-NATO).
  • If the modified word is in itself a compound noun made of at least two words not attached to one another. Primer ministro means “prime minister” as a compound noun; vice primer ministro would be “deputy prime minister”, with the prefix vice separated with a space from the original compound word.

Let’s keep going with our list of common prefixes!


Co- (con-, com-)

A very special prefix meaning “gathering” or “to do something together, as a group”. In American English, this prefix appears with no hyphen after it, unlike many instances of “co-“ in British English.

Example: cooperar, “cooperate”; coautor, “coauthor”; coexistencia, “coexistence”; coincidencia, “coincidence”


I- (in-, im-, il-, ir-)

The prefix base i-, which changes its form depending on the letter coming right after it, is one of the most well-known affixes in Spanish as well as in English, as it functions as the quintessential antonym maker, in the case of nouns or adjectives alike.

Examples: ilegal, “illegal”; impaciencia, “impatience”; innoble, “ignoble”; inactivo, “inactive”; irregular, “irregular”



This one is a very complex particle, whose meaning comprises “along with” the object being described, “beyond” that same object, “among” many of that same object or even “referring to itself”.

Example: metalenguaje, “metalanguage”, a language used to describe a language; metadatos, “metadata”, data that describe other set of data; metafísica, “metaphysics”; metacentro, “metacenter”.



Used to describe a shorter or smaller version of an object or idea. In English, it is generally used without a hyphen, though it may appear as such on some spellings.

Examples: minidocumental, “minidocumentary”; minifalda, “miniskirt”; minimapa, “minimap”



This prefix means “all, everything or everyone” being described by the modified word.

Examples: panamericano, “pan-American”; pandemia, “pandemic”; panteísmo, “pantheism”


Seudo- (pseudo-)

Used to convey the meaning of something that is false, delusive or not completely true with respect to the object or idea described by the modified word. In Spanish, the form seudo- has been overtaking the one spelled with a p for some decades now.

Examples: seudónimo, “pseudonym”, a nickname; seudociencia, “pseudoscience”; seudointelectual, “pseudointellectual”


Don’t miss out on the third part of my prefix list. You are not going to “pseudolove” it, I tell you.


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