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11.10: The Prefixes Inter- and Sur-

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Prefixes Inter- and Sur-

1. The prefix sur- adds the meanings “over, beyond, extremely” to words. For instance, a surtax (sur + tax) is an extra charge added beyond the regular tax. Now compare the meanings of the words in these pairs and decide which of these meanings the prefix inter- adds to the words in the right column: “under, beneath, too little” or “between, among, together” or “no, not”:


Inter- adds the meaning between, among, together.

2. Both sur- and inter- are often added to free stems, like tax and connect. The following words all contain the prefix sur- or inter- plus a free stem. Analyze each one and be ready to talk about what they mean:

Word = Prefix + Free Stem
surmount = sur + mount
interview = inter + view
surplus = sur + plus
intermission = inter + mission
surname = sur + name
interchange = inter + change
surface = sur + face
interwine = inter + twine
surpass = sur + pass
intermediate = inter + mediate
surround = sur + round
surrender = sur + render

3. The prefixes sur- and inter- are also often added to bound stems. Each of the following words contains the prefixes inter- and sur- plus a bound stem. Analyze each one:

Word = Prefix + Bound Stem
intercept = inter + cept
surprise = sur + prise
interest = inter + est
surveillance = sur + veillance
interrupt = inter + rupt
survey = sur + vey
interpret = inter + pret
survive = sur + vive
intersect = inter + sect
intervene = inter + vene
interfere = inter + fere
interval = inter + val

4. In some of these words it is not always too clear what the prefix and bound stem mean, even if you know the meaning of the whole word. But even if you can't always be sure what they mean, it is still useful to be able to recognize the prefix and stem in such words. And usually you can see a connection between the root meanings of the base and suffix and the meaning of the modern word. In the table below you are given the meanings of the bases from the the following words:


Remember that the root meaning of sur- is “over, beyond, extremely”; that of inter- is “between, among, together.” Be ready to discuss the connection between the meanings of the prefixes and bases and the meanings of the words:

cept = “take”

prise = “take”

render = “give”

rupt = “burst”

sect = “cut”

val = “wall”

veill = “watch”

vene = “come”

vey = “see”

vive = “live”

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