20 Prefixes in Spanish That’ll Help You Understand Hundreds of New Spanish Words


A cup of tea sitting on top of an open notebook that contains many Spanish words

Learning and memorizing Spanish verb conjugations can be a drag.

On the other hand, without understanding the right conjugations– and specifically those tricky irregular verbs— interacting in Spanish is generally difficult.

Luckily, there’s a little trick that increases your vocabulary knowledge while cutting your memorization time in half: prefixes.

Read on to acquaint yourself with 20 of the most typical Spanish prefixes.


What are Prefixes?

Prefixes are groups of letters contributed to the start of a word to modify, alter or certify its significance. They offer context or show a particular attribute of the base word. (in English) the prefix in the word “dissatisfied,” “un-” suggests negation, making the word imply “not pleased.”

Common prefixes in Spanish consist of dis— (not), pre— (before) and con— (with). They are vital in forming brand-new words from existing words.

Why Focus on Prefixes in Spanish?

There’s a reason that your elementary school language arts instructor invested a lot time ensuring you comprehended prefixes. They’re extremely beneficial! Prefixes can be excellent for assisting you determine the significances of unknown words, both in English and in Spanish.

Take, for instance, a Spanish word like componer ( to assemble, to make up). You may not understand what this word suggests initially look. If you understand the typical verb


(to put), and you likewise understand that the prefix com suggests “with” or “together,” it will not be difficult to figure out that componer has to do with putting things together. When listening and checking out to Spanish, discovering the Spanish prefixes will assist you a million times over. Since prefixes are specifically beneficial when it comes to verbs, This post focuses on verbs. Among the most challenging aspects of Spanish for a non-native speaker is attempting to keep all of those various verb conjugations directly. It does not assist that much of the most typical Spanish verbs are simply flat-out or stem-changing irregular! Prefixes are excellent since they do not alter the conjugation of the verb, however can totally modify its significance. As soon as you discover the difficult irregular conjugations of the verb decir (to state), you can take benefit of prefixes to discover words like contradecir (to oppose), maldecir (to curse), bendecir (to bless),


(to forecast) and lots of others. If you’re discovering these beneficial, the natural next action is to branch off to suffixes. While we will not cover that in this post– prefixes just, infant– there’s in fact

Essential Spanish Prefixes to Know

1. Mal- ( bad) You can put the prefix mal at the start of numerous verbs in order to reveal that the action is being done improperly, and even that the action itself is ethically bad. The word malgastar

(to waste) comes from

mal (bad) and gastar (invest). To invest something terribly is to squander. Examples: 2. Ben- ( great) Meaning: great

The reverse of mal is ben

This one’s not difficult to bear in mind since it looks and sounds so comparable to the Spanish words

bien (well) and bueno

(great), 2 fundamental Spanish words!

Examples: 3. Des- ( un-) Meaning: un-

Like the English prefix un-,

des indicates the action of undoing something, either in an actual or a metaphorical sense. Take, for instance, the verb descubrir

( to find). Like in English, it originates from the prefix

des plus the verb cubrir (to cover), revealing a metaphorical revealing of something.

Watch out– the word “reveal,” describing the actual act of revealing something, has a various Spanish translation: des tapar Examples: 4.


(not) Meaning: not Similar to


in noise however not equivalent in significance, the pronoun dis assists to reveal revers or the idea of refraining from doing something. Examples: 5. Pre- ( before)

Meaning: before

Like the word pre fijo (prefix), this specific prefix describes things that come previously. It’s rather comparable to its English comparable prefix “pre,” as seen in words like “prepare” or “avoid.”

As in English, we can comprehend the “previously” temporally or spatially. The Spanish word


sentar (present), can be comprehended as “to put something before somebody else” figuratively.




( with, together) Meaning: with, together The Spanish word


by itself suggests “with,” so it should not be unexpected that the prefix con is utilized for verbs that have something to do with putting things together or things interacting. Make sure you do not blend it up with verbs that in fact begin with the prefix

contra, which suggests “versus”– nearly the precise opposite! Examples:


Com- ( with, together) Meaning: with, together Similar to


, com is likewise utilized to speak about things fitting or interacting.


8. Co- ( with, together) Meaning: with, together

This last and 3rd prefix utilized to imply “with” or “together” is likewise represented in a variety of beneficial Spanish verbs, much of which are cognates with their English equivalents.

Examples: 9. Ex-

( out of)

Meaning: out of Ex is another prefix that’s rather comparable to its English equivalent. Think about words like extract and expose. If you see the prefix preposition ex

at the start of a word, you can think that the verb in concern has something to do with pulling something out of something else or eliminating something.

Examples: 10. Inter-

( within, amongst, in between)

Meaning: within, amongst, in between If you’re discovering a 2nd language, maybe you’re currently inter ested in being an inter nationwide person. Verbs that start with this prefix pertain to actions that include positioning oneself inside, amongst or in between other things. Examples: 11.


( once again) Meaning: once again If you’ve ever studied the


( Renaissance) or the Spanish reconquista (re-conquest), then you’re currently acquainted with this prefix, which suggests “once again.” Examples: 12.


( over) Meaning: over The word

sobre has various significances in Spanish– depending upon context, it can imply “roughly,” “around” or “envelope.” As a

, it regularly suggests “over” or “above,” and that’s likewise what it suggests as a prefix.

( under) Meaning: under Sub

is the reverse of

sobre Much like the English prefix sub, the Spanish comparable handle things that are under. See Spanish words like subterráneo

(underground) and

subtítulos (subtitles). Examples:

14. Contra- ( versus)

Meaning: versus In Spanish, En contra suggests “versus” or “in difference” so it’s not stunning that contra as a prefix suggests “versus.” Its English equivalents are normally “contra” or “counter.” Examples: 15. Uni-

( one, whole)

Just like in English, the Spanish prefix uni suggests “one” or “entire.” (Think: universe, unilateral, united …)


— to join, to come together

— to sign up with, to merge
— to standardize, to make consistent
16. Equi- ( equivalent) Meaning: equivalent Think of English words like comparable, even equivalent and equidistant, and you will not forget the significance of the Spanish prefix


Utilize it in verbs that handle making things comparable or equivalent. Examples: 17.


( throughout, beyond) In Spanish, trans- frequently suggests motion or modification from one state to another. For example, transmitir suggests to transfer,


suggests to change and transporte describes transport. The prefix

trans- is utilized to communicate the concept of going or crossing beyond a specific state or place. It is frequently utilized in words connected to modification, transport and interaction. Examples:

18. Poli- ( lots of, much) The Spanish prefix “poli” originates from the Greek word “polys,” which suggests “lots of” or “much.” In Spanish, it frequently communicates the concept of having much or lots of of something. For example, polifacético

suggests diverse or flexible and


associates with politics (the affairs of the state or neighborhood). The prefix


is utilized to show range, intricacy or abundance.


( 2, double) will then love FluentU The Spanish prefix “bi” is originated from the Latin word “bi,” which suggests “2” or “double.” In Spanish, it frequently suggests a duality or having 2 of something. bilingüe


suggests multilingual and bipolar refers to bipolar condition. Bi- is utilized to signify a twofold or double nature of things.




20. Super- ( above, beyond)

In Spanish, Start using FluentU on the website very-download the FluentU app frequently communicates the concept of being above or beyond something in regards to degree, amount or quality.

For example, (*) remarkable(*) suggests remarkable or greater and (*) supernatural(*) describes the supernatural (beyond the laws of nature). (*) Super-(*) is utilized to show a greater level or degree of something.(*) Examples: (*) (*) This list of prefixes is simply the suggestion of the iceberg. Because these are some of the more typical prefixes in Spanish, they make a fantastic starting point.(*) To examine what you’ve discovered here (or dive deeper into the subject), take in Spanish-language material any place you can discover it– such as books, subtitled films and television programs– and remember when you see prefixes. (*) Remember that although this post concentrated on verbs, these prefixes are similarly important for customizing adverbs, nouns and adjectives! Prefixes are a fantastic fast and simple method to enhance your Spanish vocabulary.(*) Download:(*)
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