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12.13: The Prefix Syn- and Assimilation

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

The Prefix Syn- and Assimilation

1. All of the following words begin with some form of the prefix syn-. In the analysis we give you the stem of each word. Your job is to identify the form of the prefix for each. Show any assimilation that takes place:

Word = Prefix + Stem
sympathy = sy\begin{align*}\cancel{n}\end{align*}+ m + pathy
sympathetic = + pathetic
symbol = + bol
syllable = + lable
symptom = + ptom
system = + stem
symmetry = + metry
symphony = + phony
synagogue = + agogue
synchronize = + chronize
syndicated = + dicated
synonym = + onym
synopsis = + opsis
synthesis = + thesis
synthetic = + thetic
syzygy = + zygy

2. You should be able to look at your analyses above and describe the pattern of assimilation for the prefix syn-:

The prefix syn- assimilates partially by changing to sym- before stems that start with the letters ________, ________, and _________. It assimilates partially by changing to sy- before stems that start with the letters _______ and _______. It assimilates fully before stems that start with the letter _________. Everywhere else it remains syn-.

3. The prefix syn- usually means something like “with, together, at the same time.” Below are the meanings of the some of the stems in the syn- words with which you've worked. Be ready to discuss the connection between the meanings of the prefixes and stems of the words and the meanings of the words.

Word Stem and Its Meaning
syllable lable “take”
sympathy pathy “suffer”
system stem “cause to stand”
symmetry metry “measure”
symphony phony “voice, sound”
symptom ptom “fall”
synchronize chronize “time”
synopsis opsis “appearance”
synonym onym “name”
synthesis thesis “put, place”
syzygy zygy “yoke, connect”

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