I love to teach new English vocabulary with clear examples. For example, The prefix pre- is part of the word prefix. A prefix is a letter or group of letters added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. The pre in prefix means the beginning, or before. You will learn lots of other common English words that use the prefix pre in this blog post.
I have grouped the words into nouns verbs and adjectives. You will also find a fun video for helpful review and a free PDF Word List download so you can study this vocabulary any place at any time. Keep reading.
The Prefix PRE- Meaning
The Prefix PRE- is used in verbs, nouns, and adjectives to mean before.
- Preheat means heat before.
- Prepay means to pay in advance.
- Preseason means before the regular season begins.
The Prefix PRE- is used in the word PREFIX, which means: a letter or group of letters added before a word.
This prefix came to English from the Latin word prae-. SOURCE
Prefixes and Hyphens (-)
How can I tell if my prefix word needs a hyphen or not? That’s a great question, even for native English speakers. Hyphens are things we only need to worry about in written English, in English conversation we can’t see hyphens.
Sometimes we need to send an email so we want to use the correct spelling in our message. Here is a basic guide to using hyphens according to Grammar Monster:
Most prefixed words can be written with or without a hyphen after the prefix.SOURCE
So there is some freedom in our choice to use a hyphen or not. Our goal is to communicate our ideas clearly to our conversation partners, here are a few guidelines to help you achieve that goal in your English writing.
- The prefixes- ex- and self- will always use a hyphen.
- Ex-wife – Self-evaluation
- Break up matching vowels. This makes your message clear. This applies to prefixes that end in a vowel like CO- and DE-
- De-escalate – Co-opt
This applies to the suffix PRE- words pre-empt and pre-exist.
- If the vowels don’t match we can usually leave out the hyphen
- Deactivate (No hyphen is ok.)
- Be careful if your prefix word looks exactly the same or similar to another word. Adding a hyphen makes your meaning clear.
- For example, re-cover means to cover again – The verb recover means to get well again after being ill, hurt, etc. (Using a hyphen is necessary to make the meaning of your word clear.)
- Still not sure? Trust your spell checker! I use Grammarly. You can download the FREE version here: Grammarly
My choice to write the word with or without a hyphen (-) is completely random. Both spellings are usually fine. *Except for the matching vowel words mentioned above: pre-empt and pre-exist.
Words with the Prefix PRE-
I tried to only include words that add the prefix to an existing English word or have the feeling of before in their definition. I didn’t include words like precise that don’t have before or earlier in their meaning.
If you can think of any common words that use the suffix pre to mean before or earlier let me know in the comments.
Examples – Nouns with the Prefix PRE-
Precaution – something that is done in advance in order to prevent problems or to avoid danger
- As a precaution, I always carry an umbrella when traveling in case of rain.
Preconception – an idea or opinion that is formed before you have enough information or experience
- Wendy had a preconception that all politicians are dishonest. It changed after she met the town’s new mayor. She really likes him.
Precondition – something that must happen or exist before something else can exist or be done
- The bank requires proof of a stable source of income as a precondition for getting a loan.
Predestination – the theory or the belief that everything that happens has been decided or planned in advance by God or by fate and that humans cannot change it
- Some believe in predestination, the idea that events are predetermined by a higher power.
Predisposition – a condition that makes somebody/something likely to behave in a particular way or to have a particular illness
- She has a predisposition to migraines. Severe headaches run in her family.
Prefabrication – the practice of making sections of something, especially a building, that can be put together later
- The house was built using prefabrication techniques.
Preface – an introduction to a book, especially one that explains the author’s aims
- The author wrote a preface to the novel to provide context for the reader.
Prejudice – an unreasonable dislike of or preference for a person, group, custom, etc., especially when it is based on their race, religion, sex, etc.
- The prejudice against people with disabilities is often based on a lack of understanding and education about their abilities.
Premed – a course or set of classes that students take in preparation for medical school
- He is premed and planning to become a doctor.
Pre-order – an order for a product that is not yet available
- Concert tickets are now available for pre-order.
Preponderance – if there is a preponderance of one type of people or things in a group, there are more of them than others
- The preponderance of evidence suggests that he is guilty.
Preposition – a word or group of words, such as in, from, to, out of and on behalf of, used before a noun or pronoun to show place, position, time or method
- The preposition “IN” can be used to indicate a relationship in time or location.
Learn more about prepositions here >> 50 of the Most Common English Prepositions (Examples + PDF)
Preproduction – the work that is done before the process of producing something, especially a film, begins
- The film is currently in preproduction and is set to begin filming next month.
Preregistration – the act of registering for something before the usual time or before something starts
- Preregistration is required to attend the conference.
Preschool – a school for children between the ages of about two and five
- My daughter is going to preschool for the first time next week.
Preschooler – students enrolled in preschool
- Kindergarten teachers work very hard. I can’t imagine spending a day in a room full of preschoolers.
Preserve– a type of jam made by boiling fruit with a large amount of sugar
- Kevin’s mom used to make the best strawberry preserves. I always ate some with my breakfast when I slept at his house.
Presumption – the act of supposing that something is true, although it has not yet been proved or is not certain
- It was a presumption on her part to assume that everyone would be available for the meeting on that day.
Presupposition – something that you believe to be true and use as the beginning of an argument even though it has not been proved; the act of believing it is true
- The presupposition of this argument is that the problem is a real and pressing issue. There is no evidence that this is true.
Pretext – a false reason that you give for doing something, usually something bad, in order to hide the real reason; an excuse
- Gordon used a pretext to leave early from work. He is sneaky.
Prevention – the act of stopping something bad from happening
- Regular exercise and a healthy diet are key to the prevention of chronic diseases.
Preview – an occasion at which you can see a film, a show, etc. before it is shown to the general public
- I went to a movie preview one time in Los Angeles. It was so much fun, there were lots of stars and Paparazzi at the event.
Examples – Verbs with the Prefix PRE-
Preapprove – to approve (something or someone) in advance
- The bank preapproved the loan, which made it easier to buy the house.
Pre-book – to arrange to have something such as a room, table, seat, or ticket in advance
- You should pre-book your hotel during the busy travel months. Good hotel rooms can sell out fast.
Precede – to happen before something or come before something/somebody in order
- The parade will precede the game tomorrow.
Precipitate – to make something, especially something bad, happen suddenly or sooner than it should
- The sudden announcement of the company’s bankruptcy precipitated a panic among its employees.
Predate – to be built or formed, or to happen, at an earlier date than something else in the past
- This is a very valuable old coin. It predates the founding of the Roman Empire.
Predict – to say that something will happen in the future
- Meteorologists use mathematical models to predict the weather.
Pre-empt – to prevent something from happening by taking action to stop it
- The company preempted the competition by launching its new product first.
Pre-exist – to exist from an earlier time
- The ancient ruins pre-exist the arrival of the Spanish explorers arriving in the New World.
Preface – to say something before you start making a speech, answering a question, etc.
- Let me preface this by saying that I’m not an expert on the subject.
Prefer – to like one thing or person better than another; to choose one thing rather than something else because you like it better
- I like iced tea but I prefer iced coffee.
Preheat – to heat an oven to a particular temperature before you put food in it to cook
- Before baking the cake, make sure to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prejudice – to influence somebody so that they have an unfair or unreasonable opinion about somebody/something
- The lawyer was attempting to prejudice the jury against the defendant.
Preload – to load something in advance
- The company preloads all new computers with basic office software.
Pre-order – to place an order for a product before it is available
- You can pre-order the book on Amazon to receive it as soon as it is released.
Prepay – paid for in advance
- Oscar prefers to prepay for his airplane tickets to save money.
The Past Participle prepaid is often used as an adjective.
- The prepaid cell phone plan doesn’t require a contract.
Prepare – to make something or somebody ready to be used or to do something
- It is important to prepare for natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
Pre-record – to record music, a television program, etc. in advance, so that it can be broadcast or used later
- The TV show was prerecorded weeks before broadcast.
The Past Participle pre-recorded is used as an adjective.
- The news show used pre-recorded footage.
Pre-sell – to help sell a product, service, etc., especially one that is not yet available, by using advertising and other techniques to attract consumers’ attention
- The company is preselling its new product before it becomes available in stores next month.
Preserve – 1) to keep a particular quality, feature, etc.; to make sure that something is kept
- After the scandal, the president tried desperately to preserve his reputation. Most people felt that it was too late.
2) to keep something in its original state in good condition
- My great-uncle lives in a perfectly preserved 18th-century house.
Presoak – to soak beforehand
- To soften the beans, we must presoak them for at least 4 hours. Overnight is better.
Presume – to suppose that something is true, although you do not have actual proof
- Without further evidence, we cannot presume that the accused is guilty.
Presuppose – to accept something as true or existing and act on that basis, before it has been proved to be true
- The article presupposes a basic understanding of quantum physics. It’s over my head.
Prevent – to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening
- The security measures put in place are meant to prevent theft.
Preview – to see a film, a television program, etc. before it is shown to the general public and write an account of it for a newspaper or magazine
- My friend is a film critic, he gets to preview many big movies before they even come to the theater. He is lucky.
Pre-wash – to give clothing an extra wash before the main wash, especially in a machine
- Melanie pre-washed her jeans before putting them in the washing machine. She hopes to get rid of the wine stain
Examples – Adjectives with the Prefix PRE-
Precooked – (of food) prepared and partly cooked in advance so that it can be quickly heated and eaten later
- For a quick and easy meal, I usually buy precooked chicken from the grocery store.
Predawn – in or relating to the part of the day just before the first light appears
- The predawn sky was lit up with beautiful shades of pink and orange.
Predetermined – decided in advance so that it does not happen by chance
- The predetermined schedule for the events meant that there was no room for unexpected delays or changes.
Predominant – most obvious or easy to notice
- The predominant color in the painting was blue, with hints of yellow in the background.
Prefabricated – (especially of a building) made in sections that can be put together later
- The house was made of prefabricated materials and took only a few days to build.
Prehistoric – connected with the time in history before information was written down
- The dinosaurs lived during the prehistoric era.
Pre-Industrial – refers to a time before there were machines and tools to help perform tasks
- The Industrial Revolution occurred from 1750 to 1850. Pre-industrial societies use lots of physical work and animal labor to take care of their needs.
Premeditated – (of a crime or bad action) planned in advance
- She premeditated the murder for several weeks before committing the crime.
Prenatal – relating to the medical care given to pregnant women
- Prenatal vitamins are important for a healthy pregnancy.
Preoccupied – (with something) thinking and/or worrying continuously about something so that you do not pay attention to other things
- He was so preoccupied with his thoughts that he didn’t hear his phone ringing.
Preowned – not new; owned by somebody else before
- The used car was labeled as “preowned” on the dealership’s lot.
Preseason – taking place before the regular sports season begins
- Preseason training usually starts about 10 weeks before the regular season opens.
Prescientific – of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a period before the rise of modern science or a state prior to the application of the scientific method
- The prescientific explanation for the movement of the stars was that they were pulled by gods riding chariots.
Preshow – of, relating to, or taking place during the time preceding a show
- Tonight is my first big performance. I’ve got the preshow jitters.
[Preshow jitters is a common expression. Jitters is a noun that means – feelings of being anxious and nervous, especially before an important event or before having to do something difficult] SOURCE
Preteen – connected with young people of about 11 or 12 years of age
- The preteen years can be a challenging time as children go from childhood to adolescence.
Prewar – happening or existing before a war, especially before the Second World War
- Life in pre-war Britain was very different.
Printable Prefix PRE- PDF Word List
Download the Word List as a printable PDF. Great for teachers to use with private or group classes. PDF contains the live links from the post.
Check out these other great prefix and suffix blog posts.
- How do you use the suffix -al? (Examples, Free PDF, Video)
- The Suffix Able – 32 Real Examples (PDF wordlist + Video)
- The Prefix Trans- (Definitions, 52 Examples, Video, PDF)
- The Prefix SUB- (32 Examples・Free 9-page PDF・Video)
- The Suffix -ARY (57 Real examples + Free PDF)
- Learn The English Suffix -y (60 examples + Free PDF download)
- The Prefix Post- (Definitions with 31 Real Examples, video)