It's a strange question but can we add 're' to any verb?

  • replan
  • revisit
  • rechange
  • reinsist

Is it possible to add 're' to compound verbs?

  • refind out
  • rebring back
  • refly over
  • reshout out

Does it work same way with adjectives?

  • regrown
  • retransported
  • refound
  • rewidened
  • Is reensist a typo for reenlist? – snailplane Nov 25 '16 at 7:33
  • @snailplane misspelled insist, T9 you know. – SovereignSun Nov 25 '16 at 7:49

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is no, though the prefix re- seems to have more inherent forgiveness in its usage than any other prefix in the English language.

Many stative verbs by their very nature would become nonsensical if prefixed by 're-'. Stative verbs usually describe states (not actions) that last for some time. (Example: like, appear, believe, hate, belong) A state continues over a period of time and has no immediate beginning and the end is unknown. The prefix 're-' on the other hand implies repetition, so the two obviously don't mesh well. To give examples, re-be, re-want, re-have, re-need and so on don't really make sense in day-to-day usage.

(there are of course, exceptions - certain stative verbs can also be dynamic, so re-possess, re-think and so on are acceptable.)

However with dynamic verbs, there seems to be a general acceptance that re- can prefix most verbs, particularly in day-to-day english usage.

The Wictionary article on re- sums it up best:

re- is highly productive, to the point of being almost grammaticalized — almost any verb can have re- applied, especially in colloquial speech. Notable exceptions to this include all forms of be and the modal verbs can, should, etc. When used productively, it is always pronounced /ɹiː/.

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  • What to think of such words like retell? Does it mean tell again or say something someone else said? – SovereignSun Nov 25 '16 at 8:05
  • retell means that the story is being told again. Who is telling the story doesn't seem to be a factor... – mike Nov 25 '16 at 8:07
  • Resell is another such example. – SovereignSun Nov 25 '16 at 8:08

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