The Prefixes EN- and EM- (31 Examples – Video – PDF guide)

The English language is full of interesting prefixes that change the meaning of words. In this blog post, we will explore the meanings and uses of the prefixes EN and EM. Discover how they can help you better understand and communicate in English. 

The prefixes EN and EM mean ​to cause to be or ​to put into the thing or condition
en + large = enlarge – to make large
The suffix EM is used before words that begin with B, M, or P
em + power = empower – to give power (put power into something)

Whether you are a native English speaker or learning English as a second language, understanding these prefixes can help you expand your vocabulary and improve your communication skills. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the prefixes EN and EM.

Prefix EN- Meaning

The prefixes EN- is used to make verbs that mean –

① ​to cause to be

en + large = enlarge (verb) to make large

  • “Let me enlarge the text size so it’s easy to read.”

② ​to put into the thing or condition mentioned
en + danger = endanger (verb) to put somebody/something in a situation in which they could be harmed or damaged

  • “The reckless driver endangered the lives of pedestrians by speeding through the crowded crosswalk.”

Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com – Prefix en-

The prefix EM- has the exact same meaning. It is used with words that begin with the letters B, M, or P.

em + power = empower (verb) to give power (put power into something)

  • “The goal of the leadership training program is to empower employees to make important decisions on their own.”

Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com – Prefix em-

Prefix EN-​to cause to be
largeenlarge – to make large
Prefix EM-(Same meaning) Before words that begin with B, M, or P
bold embolden – to make brave or more confident 

*Note: the adjective bold needs the prefix EM- plus the suffix -EN to become a verb [EMboldEN]

Prefix EN-​to put into the thing or condition mentioned
dangerendanger – to put in danger
Prefix EM-(Same meaning) Before words that begin with B, M, or P
powerempower – to give power (put power into something)
The prefixes EN- and EM- meaning (table)

Prefix EN- Word Origin

Origin: from French, from Latin in-. See also in-, a commonly found by-form. SOURCE

Prefix EN- Word Examples

Most of the words on my list are proper root words whose meaning changes after adding the prefixes EN- or EM-. I didn’t include words like embellish or entrepreneur because there is not a clear root word that becomes a verb after adding a prefix.

The definitions in this post come from Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com

*Note – The following words on this list are verbs. They are often used in the Past Participle form with the Passive Voice English grammar.
You can follow up on these grammar points in detail in the posts below. These links will open in a new tab so you can refer to them after you use this resource.

en + able = enable (verb) to make it possible for somebody/something to do something

  • “Can you please enable the subtitles on this video?”

en + act = enact (verb) to pass a law

  • “The government is expected to enact new laws to address the issue.”

en + amor = enamor (verb) to be filled with love for [This comes from the French amour which means LOVE.]

  • “He was enamored with her beauty.”

en + case = encase (verb) to surround or cover something completely, especially to protect it

  • “The ancient document was encased in a protective glass display at the museum.”
The ancient document was encased in a protective glass display at the museum.

en + circle = encircle (verb) to surround somebody/something completely in a circle

  • “The soldiers encircled the enemy camp.”

en + close = enclose (verb) to build a wall, fence, etc. around something

  • “The letter was enclosed in a plain white envelope, sealed with a strip of tape.”

en + code = encode (verb) to change ordinary language into letters, symbols, etc. in order to send secret messages

  • “The company uses advanced algorithms to encode sensitive information.”

en + courage = encourage (verb) to give somebody support, courage or hope

  • “His parents always encouraged him to follow his dreams.”

en + crust = encrust (verb) to cover or coat something with a hard, thick layer of something, usually something decorative or ornamental

  • “The crown was encrusted with jewels.”
The crown was encrusted with jewels.

en + crypt = encrypt (verb) to put information into a special code, especially in order to prevent people from looking at it without authority

  • “She encrypted the sensitive documents before sending them over the internet.”

en + danger = endanger (verb) to put somebody/something in a situation in which they could be harmed or damaged

  • “The reckless driver endangered the lives of pedestrians by speeding through the crowded crosswalk.”

The adjective reckless is made with the suffix -less. You can do a deep dive into this suffix at my blog post here >>> 79 Words with the Suffix -less (Real Examples – PDF – Video) 

en + force = enforce (verb) to make sure that people obey a particular law or rule

  • “The law was strictly enforced by the police.”
The law was strictly enforced by the police.

en + gender = engender (verb) to make a feeling or situation exist 

  • “His actions engendered a lot of resentment among his coworkers.”

en + gorge = engorge (verb) to cause something to become filled with blood or another liquid and to swell (= become larger or rounder than normal)

  • “The bird was engorged with ticks.”

en + grave = engrave (verb) ​to cut words or designs on wood, stone, metal, etc.

  • “He had his initials engraved on the inside of the ring.”

en + gross = engross (verb) if something engrosses you, it is so interesting that you give it all your attention and time

  • “She became completely engrossed in the mystery novel, she couldn’t put it down until she had finished the final chapter.”
She became completely engrossed in the mystery novel, she couldn’t put it down.

en + gulf = engulf (verb) to surround or to cover somebody/something completely

  • “The fire quickly engulfed the entire house.”

en + joy = enjoy (verb) to get pleasure from something

  • “I really enjoy going to the beach on weekends.”

en + large = enlarge (verb) to make large

  • “Let me enlarge the text size so it’s easy to read.”
Let me enlarge the text size so it’s easy to read.

en + list = enlist (verb) to persuade somebody to help you or to join you in doing something/to join the armed forces; to make somebody join the armed forces

  • “He decided to enlist in the military after college.”

en + liven = enliven (verb) to make something more interesting or more fun

  • “The high-energy music helped enliven the party.”

en + roll = enroll (verb) ​to arrange for yourself or for somebody else to officially join a course, school, etc.

  • “I need to enroll in a class before the deadline passes.”
I need to enroll in a class before the deadline passes.

en + shrine = enshrine (verb) to make a law, right, etc. respected or official, especially by stating it in an important written document

  • “The freedom of our citizens is enshrined in our constitution.”

en + slave = enslave (verb) to make somebody the property of another person who they are forced to work for and obey

  • “Many people were enslaved and forced to work in terrible conditions in the past.”

en + snare = ensnare (verb) to make somebody/something unable to escape from a difficult situation or from a person who wants to control them

  • “Sadly, many poor people with little opportunity can easily become ensnared in a life of crime.”

en + title = entitle (verb) to give somebody the right to have or to do something

  • “The contract entitles you to 15 vacation days each year.”
The contract entitles you to 15 vacation days each year.

en + trench = entrench (verb) to establish something very strongly so that it is very difficult to change

  • “The fortress was entrenched in the mountains.”

en + trust = entrust (verb) to make somebody responsible for doing something or taking care of somebody

  • “He entrusted the care of his young children to his sister while he was away on business.”

Prefix EM- Word Examples

em + bed = embed (verb) To embed something means to place it firmly and deeply within a surrounding substance

  • “I embed videos in my blog posts to make them more helpful for language learners.”
I embed videos in my blog posts to make them more helpful for language learners.

em + body = embody (verb) to express or represent an idea or a quality

  • “The statue embodies the spirit of the city.”

em + broil = embroil (verb) ​to involve somebody/yourself in an argument or a difficult situation

  • “The family’s financial problems embroiled them in a lot of stress and conflict.”

em + power = empower (verb) to give power (put power into something)

  • “The goal of the leadership training program is to empower employees to make important decisions on their own.”
The goal of the leadership training program is to empower employees.

em + ploy = employ (verb) to give somebody a job to do for payment

  • “The company employs 11 full-time and 29 part-time staff.”

Prefixes EN-/EM- PDF Word List PDF

Download your printable PDF Word list below. (It’s FREE!) PDFs contain the live links from the post.↓

Check out these other great Prefix/Suffix posts.

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