Prefixes et Suffixes – Prepare to Succeed (in French!)

stay calm and speak french

When we see or hear a word we don’t know, we guess its meaning, but often with a little help from prefixes and suffixes. Even if we don’t remember learning them in school, we intuitively know what a lot of the prefixes and suffixes we use every day mean, like knowing “re-” at the beginning of a word means again or back, and “-tion” at the end of word implies the word is an action or a state.


The same applies in French! It’s much easier to guess a word’s meaning when we understand the French prefix and/or suffix, and to make it even easier, a lot of the prefixes and suffixes in French are the same as the ones we use in English!

Let’s take “re-”, for example.

“re-” as in “again”: to re-do, for example, is refaire in French (faire = to do)

“re-” as in “back”: to come back, for example, is revenir in French (venir = to come)

The same applies for “-tion”!

fonction – without knowing what this word means, you can already presume it’s a noun.  Can you guess what the word is in English?

And in fact, a lot of the “-tion” words are identical in French!

action, attention, adaptation, accumulation, accusation, combustion, multiplication, manipulation, opposition, production, promotion, proportion, question, solution, tradition, vision, version

See for yourself! Think of a word that ends in “-tion” (or “sion”!) in English, and look up the French equivalent. I bet you’ll find it’s identical!

So many other prefixes and suffixes are the same in both languages, so when you see or hear a word you don’t know, zoom in on the possible prefix and/or suffix and take a guess!

But what about the ones that are not the same in English?

It’s good to learn and keep track of a handful of them, such as “-ment”, which is the typical ending of adverbs in French (the equivalent of “-ly” in English).

Now that you know all of this, are you ready to translate the longest word in the French language?

(It has 25 letters!)


frech speaking dog

For other tips, suggestions, and support in developing your child’s French skills, please contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at 416.925.1225 or visit


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