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English Grammar: Negative Prefixes - "un", "dis", "...

English Lessons with Adam - Learn English with Adam [engVid] Follow
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  • 3 years ago
Unsure when to use "insure"? This grammar lesson on prefixes will help you understand some of the prefixes that are common in English. What is the difference between "disinterested" and "uninterested"? What about "discover" and "uncover"? All are correct but mean different things. Find out now.

Take the quiz on this lesson here: http://www.engvid.com/english-grammar-negative-prefixes/


Hi. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. I'm Adam. Today's lesson is a bit of a strange lesson. I'm going to tell you something that you can't actually learn. Well, you can learn it, there's just no rules for it. I'm talking about specifically some prefixes. "Dis-", "un", "in/im-/il/ir-", "non-". Okay?

First of all, let's review a little bit. What is a prefix? A prefix is a little part of a word that comes before the main word; can come before an adjective, before an adverb, before a noun, before a verb. Anything that comes before a word, especially before a root of a word. We're going to look at an example of that very soon.

So, I was asked specifically to talk about these prefixes. All of them basically mean "not". Okay? They negate the word they are added to. Now, generally speaking, you can find specific little subtle differences between all of them. For example, "dis" means more like be a part of or away from, separate. "Un" means not or a reversal of something, or not having something, a lack of something, a deprivation. And same with these guys, not, reverse, opposite. "Non" is the most simple one. "Non" basically means not. Okay? But, the problem is that most of these can go with many words, but there's no real rule about which word takes which prefix. Okay? So, how do you learn which one to use in which situation? Well, I'll tell you after we look at a few examples. Okay?

So, again, all of these mean not. The only thing you have to worry about the most is the actual word that is being connected to a prefix. Okay? Concentrate on the root or the word itself before you concentrate on which prefix to join to it. Now, you will see that some words will take both prefixes, and be totally okay.

The problem is that their meanings are completely different. So, "to dislike", this is a verb, "to dislike", it could also be a noun. "I have a strong dislike for certain vegetables", for example. But "to dislike" means to not like. Now, if you say: "I don't like Pizza." And you say: "I dislike Pizza." These are a little bit different. Right? "Don't like" or "not like" means you don't have a good feeling towards. But "dislike" means you actually have a bad feeling towards. Right? So, this is a little bit more active. You're away from liking it. You're actually having a bad feeling for it. "Unlike" has absolutely no connection to "dislike". "Unlike" means not similar to. This is the preposition "like", "A" is like "B". This is the verb "like", means to have a good feeling toward. So, concentrate on the word you have. You have the verb, you have the preposition, and then decide which prefix you want to join to it.

So, here, I have a few examples of words that can take two prefixes and have different meanings. So, for example: "discover" and "uncover" are two completely different verbs. "To discover" means to find by accident. You're walking along the beach, and you discover the skull, the bone... Head bone of a dinosaur. You didn't look for it. You just found it. Okay? You discovered it. So, it was hidden by nature, by time, and then you took away the cover and there it is, the skull. "Uncover", on the other hand, means you were looking for something and you found it.

So, you're a... I'm a reporter. I work for a major newspaper, and I think that this particular politician is corrupt; he's lying to the people, he's stealing their money. So, I investigate. And after my investigation, I uncover certain facts that will help the police put him in jail. Not, not, not covered, not covered, means not hidden, but this one by accident, time, nature hit it, I, by accident discovered it; "uncover" means I looked for, I found.

This one, or these two, I should say: "disinterested" and "uninterested". These are always mixed up. You cannot use these two interchangeably; you have to use one or the other. I'll start with "uninterested". Uninterested means indifferent, don't care. It's boring. I'm uninterested. I don't want to know. Leave me alone. "Disinterested" means impartial, means you're not... You don't have a reason to take one side or the other. Okay? So, again, I'm the reporter. I have nothing to gain or lose by finding out information about this politician. I am a disinterested party. I am objective. Okay? I am not involved in the situation. I'm just reporting the facts. Here, I don't care; here, I'm not part of the situation.
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