Prefixes de-, dys-, and dis

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Prefixes de-, dys-, and dis

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Do you suffer from dyspepsia ? Could a detox diet help? Do you always listen to your doctor or do you sometimes disagree ? Neil and Finn talk about prefixes in this episode of 6 Minute Vocabulary.

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Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I’m Neil…

And I’m Finn. In this programme we’re looking at three prefixes: de- , spelt d-e , dys- , spelt d-y-s and dis- ,spelt d-i-s .

Neil Prefixes - or prefixes, as some people say - are two or three letters that go at the beginning of a word and affect its meaning.

Finn We’ll look at what each prefix means and give you example sentences…

Neil There’ll be a quiz …

Finn …and we’ll leave you with a top tip for learning vocabulary.

Neil But first, let’s listen to Gladys talking about her husband Bert.

Finn While you listen, think about this question: Does Gladys agree with Bert’s doctor?

INSERT Gladys Bert’s dyspepsia , or indigestion, is quite bad at the moment. It’s causing him quite a bit of discomfort . The doctor says it ‘s because he eats too much fatty food. She says the symptoms would disappear if Bert went on a detox diet. No disrespect to the doctor, but I disagree - I think it ‘s caused by stress.

So we asked you: Does Gladys agree with the doctor?

And the answer is: No, she disagrees. Gladys thinks her husband’s indigestion is caused by stress, but the doctor thinks it’s due to a bad diet.

Neil Disagree is the key word because it has the prefix dis , spelt d-i-s . This means not. So by adding dis, we can turn a word into its opposite. So dis - agree means not to agree …

Finn …and dis - respect means not having respect.

Neil Gladys says No disrespect to the doctor - meaning she doesn’t want people to think she doesn’t respect what the doctor says . Let ‘s hear another clip from Gladys with more prefixes.

INSERT CLIP 1 Bert’s dyspepsia , or indigestion, is quite bad at the moment. It’s causing him quite a bit of discomfort .

Finn So we had discomfort. If you know what the word comfort means …

Neil … then you can work out what discomfort means: dis- plus comfort give us the opposite of comfort: Bert’s feeling uncomfortable.

Finn And in the clip, we heard the word dyspepsia - that’s the medical word for indigestion, when your stomach feels very full and uncomfortable after you eat.

Neil This word starts with the prefix dys , but this time it’s spelt d-y-s .

Finn This prefix is less common than dis ,spelt d-i-s , but it also has a negative meaning - it has the idea of being bad or abnormal.

Neil So dyspepsia is a medical condition when your body can’t process food in the normal way.

Finn Other words with the prefix dys- , spelt d-y-s , are dyslexia and dysfunctional. People who have dyslexia have difficulty with reading …

Neil … and if something is dysfunctional , it doesn’t work properly.

Finn Let’s have another clip with the prefix dis- , d-i-s . We ‘ll also hear our next prefix.

INSERT CLIP 2 She says the symptoms would disappear if Bert went on a detox diet.

Finn So, we had disappear - that ‘s dis- plus appear …

Neil Yes, and disappear , means the opposite of appear.

Finn We also had the word detox , which starts with the prefix de- , spelt d-e .

Neil Yes, the prefix de- ,spelt d-e , usually means take away or remove something …

Finn So, if something is described as a detox , de-tox , it means it takes away toxins or poisons. A detox diet could be one with just fruit and vegetables.

Neil I like to detox at the end of the day with a hot bath.

6 Minute Vocabulary from the BBC.

Neil And we’re talking about the prefixes dis- ,spelt d-i-s ; dys ,spelt d-y-s ; and de- , spelt d-e .

Finn All these prefixes have a negative meaning.

Neil And now it’s quiz time. Choose the correct word. Number one: One minute the dogs were playing in the garden. The next minute the garden was empty and they’d all a) disagreed b) disappeared c) detoxed.

Finn Well, the answer to that is b) disappeared .

Neil Number two. People who drink too much alcohol sometimes go to a clinic for a a) dyspepsia b) discomfort c) detox.

Finn The answer is c) detox .

Neil And number three: My daughter is having problems learning to read. Her teacher thinks she may be a) disrespectful b) dyslexic c) dysfunctional.

The answer is b) dyslexic . And that ‘s the end of the quiz. Well done if you got them right.

Yes, well done. And now, here’s our top tip for learning vocabulary: when you see or hear a new word, see if you can break the word up - if it starts with a prefix that you recognise, it may help you to understand the meaning.

Finn There’s more about this at Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.


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