We can break some words in two or three parts. Example:

Impossible = Im + possible

Misconception = Miss + conception

What does these type of grammatical term called?

PS:I'm looking for this, because I'm trying to learn vocabulary and found that this way would be easier for me.

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2 Answers 2


From more general to more specific,

  • word formation (making new words)
  • word derivation (making new words out of other words)
  • word prefixation (making new words by putting stuff in front of an existing word or root)

in- and mis- are called a prefix, as opposed to -ness or -ly which would be examples of a suffix. There are also other kinds of affixes, rarer or missing in English.


The different parts of words that have different meanings are called MORPHEMES. A morpheme is the smallest part of a word that has its own meaning. So the morphemes in the word reviewed are:

  • re (meaning again)
  • view (meaning see)
  • ed (usually indicating past)

Sometimes there is a main part of the word, which we call the BASE or the ROOT. Bits that go before the root are often called PREFIXES. Bits that go after the root are called SUFFIXES.

In English, prefixes usually change the actual meaning of a word. So if we change like to dislike, it has the opposite meaning.

Suffixes usually have two possible functions.One is to show grammatical inflections. This means they show us whether a word is singular or plural, or whether a verb, for instance is present tense or past tense. We call this kind of morphology INFLECTIONAL MORPHOLOGY and suffixes like -s or -ed are called inflectional morphemes.

The second main function of suffixes in English is to change the type of word. So, for example, suffixes often change a verb into a noun, or noun into an adjective:

  • election (-tion usually changes verbs into nouns. Here we have the verb elect and the noun election)
  • colourful (-ful usually changes nouns into adjectives. Here we have the noun colour and the adjective colourful).

If you understand the difference between the different jobs that prefixes, roots and suffixes do, it can help you to guess the meanings of new words.

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