Prefixes and Suffixes with MLs

Prefixes and Suffixes with MLs

prefixes suffixes

Teaching students the meaning of prefixes and suffixes is a great way to increase their vocabulary. When they know basic prefixes and suffixes they are better able to use context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. This is true for all students, but it is particularly helpful for Multilingual Learners (MLs), as they may not be familiar with some of the words that have affixes from past exposure.

Some suffixes can make changes to words such as tense, number, possession, or comparison. A simple way to introduce this to MLs is by making a simple chart. Have a list of words without the suffix and then add words that have the suffix. You can also create charts that show the differences in spelling when adding a suffix to the word.

Suffixes/Inflectional Morphemes Added to a word How it changes a word
-s noun plural
-er adjective comparative
-est adjective superlative
-ed verb past tense
-ing verb progressive
-en verb past participle


Suffixes Grammatical Category Base Grammatical Category with Suffix
-er verb noun
-ee verb noun
-ee verb noun
-less noun adjective

Reading Rockets has additional charts for prefixes and suffixes and their meaning.

Inflected Ending Spelling & Pronunciation

Teach students basic rules that most English words follow to help them spell and prounounce words. Use picturse to build vocabulary knowledge at the same time. Suffixes are added to the end of an English word. The suffix changes the meaning of the word. Some suffixes are also inflected endings. An inflected ending changes the words tense or number.

inflected endings suffix

Here are some of my favorite ways to practice this vocabulary topic with MLs.

Word Sorts

There are so many ways to use word sorts with affixes! Students can sort words into groups based on common prefixes or suffixes. They can sort words based on spelling patterns, such as the different ways that a word ending changes when adding -ing. You can quickly model a word sort to show a spelling pattern and review the meaning of the words that you are using.


Verb Verb + -ed How it changes the word
walk walked past tense
ask helped past tense
help helped past tense

Word Hunt

Review what a prefix and/or suffix is. Then as students are reading have them keep track of any prefixes or suffixes that they find. You can give students a sticky note to write down the words, a recording sheet, or if you are using a printed passage place in into a sheet protector and have students use dry erase markers to circle the words.

Simple to read books and passages with prefixes and suffixes

Whole Phonics Level 3 has examples of suffixes.

SyllaSense Decodables include suffixes in the beginning (green) level, and prefixes and suffixes in the purple level.

Junior Learning phase 6 books include suffixes.

I have created short prefix and suffix task cards with one or two easy to read paragraphs that have prefixes and suffixes in them. Students were able to practice identifying affixes in the context of what they were reading.

prefix task card with the prefixes highlighted

Use the Words in Sentences

Show students a list of words with the same prefix or suffix. Have them practice using the words in sentences. Include sentence frames for additional support.

They are in a _______ (relationship, partnership, friendship.)

I have ____________ (ownership, citizenship.)

I can _____________ (worship) 

ship suffix poster

Use Student’s Home Language

Some languages such as Arabic and Hebrew are highly root based. Other languages such as Spanish have some similarities to the Latin prefixes and suffixes used in English. Point out similarities to students. Encourage them to make connections as they are learning about affixes. Show examples if you are able.


Puzzles are a quick way for students to practice creating words that have an affix in it. You can have students use recording sheets to write down the words that they create. You can also print out puzzles and have students add them to an interactive vocabulary notebook.

suffixes puzzles


Junior Learning/Beanstalk Decodable Books with suffixes. There are fiction and nonfiction sets.

Junior Learning Decodable Readers Fix Its Suffixes

Junior Learning Decodable Readers Fix Its Suffixes Non-Fiction

Prefix and Suffix Activities Bundle

All of the materials in this set use the same vocabulary words and pictures. The set comes with passage task cards, sentence task cards with the sentence taken out of the passages, puzzles, and posters.

Prefixes and Suffixes for ELLs

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