Negative Prefixes Exercise (125)

The negative prefix un- may be added to any word to make it negative, but in- and ir- are preferred for some adjectives. Adjectives that end in -ent usually form their negative by adding in-. Adjectives that begin with the letter r form the negative with the prefix ir-. Choose the appropriate prefixes for the adjectives in the following sentences:

  • We couldn’t understand a word he said; he was __coherent.

  • Since I’m so __efficient, I need an assistant who can help me get things done.

  • My uncles disagree about everything; holiday quarrels are __evitable.

  • Some say commercialism at Christmas is __religious.

  • My __conventional Aunt Gertie raises llamas.

Answers and Explanations

1. We couldn’t understand a word he said; he was incoherent.

Incoherent ends in -ent.

2. Since I’m so inefficient, I need an assistant who can help me get things done.

Inefficient ends in -ent.

3. My uncles disagree about everything; holiday quarrels are inevitable.

Adjectives that exist only in a negative form ("evitable" does not exist as an English word) usually use carry the in- prefix.

4. Some say commercialism at Christmas is irreligious.

Irreligious begins with the letter r. Someone or something that is irreligious is hostile to religion. An unreligious person would be indifferent to religion.

5. My unconventional Aunt Gertie raises llamas.

When in doubt, use the prefix un- to make a word negative.

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