Skip Navigation

8.11: The Prefixes Spelled < in >

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
Turn In

The Prefixes Spelled <in>

1. English has two prefixes that are spelled <in>. One means “in”; the other means “no, not.” Each of the following words contains one of these in- prefixes. Analyze each word into prefix and stem:

Word = Prefix + Stem
include = in + clude
independent = in + dependent
invisible = in + visible
involve = in + volve
incomplete = in + complete
insignificant = in + significant
invent = in + vent
insane = in + sane
inexpensive = in + expensive
intend = in + tend
inspect = in + sped
insist = in + sist

2. Find the six words among these twelve in which in- means “no, not.” The in- means “no, not” if the word means just the opposite of the stem that's left after you take away in-. For instance, independent means “not dependent,” just the opposite of dependent. So the in- in independent means “not.” Now sort the twelve words into these two groups:

Words in which
means “no, not” does not mean “no, not”
independent include
invisible involve
incomplete invent
insignificant intend
insane inspect
inexpensive insist

4. The meaning of the in- that means “in” can be difficult to see in some words, because the meanings of the words have changed so much over the centuries. The following words contain the in- that means “in.” For each we've given you the stem and its original meaning. Be ready to discuss the connection between the original meaning of the prefix and stem and the modern meaning of each word. For instance, how is our meaning of include like shutting in or closing in?

Word Stem Meaning of Stem
include clude “shut, close”
involve volve “roll, turn”
invent vent “come”
intend tend “stretch”
inspect spect “look”
insist sist “stand”

Word Venn. Into circle A put only words that contain the sound [t]. In circle B put only words that contain some form of the prefix sub-. In circle C put only words that contain one of the prefixes in-:

\begin{align*}& \text{seek}\surd && \text{subscribed}\surd && \text{coughing}\surd && \text{involved}\surd && \text{insignificant}\surd \\ & \text{debts}\surd && \text{insufficient}\surd && \text{inexpensive}\surd && \text{subdue}\surd && \text{earlier}\surd \\ & \text{succinct}\surd && \text{incomplete}\surd && \text{substitute}\surd && \text{weigh}\surd && \text{insufferable}\surd \end{align*}

Teaching Notes.

The existence of the two in-'s explains the sign inflammable on tanker trucks that some people wonder about. It is obviously an instance of the in- that means “in,” not the one that means “not.”

Item 1. The bases contained in the stems in this table include the following, which are discussed in the Teaching Notes indicated: vise(4:13), sign (4:13), fic (a form of the fice in 4:34), vent (1:12, 4:13), tend (4:12), spect (3:43). Other bases in this table are these: pend “hang, cause to hang” occurs in append, appendix, compendium, expend, impending, pendant, pendulous, perpendicular, suspend. Clude “close, shut” occurs in exclude, preclude, occlude; it has a partner form cluse, as in exclusion, recluse, etc. Volve “roll, turn” occurs in devolve, evolve, revolve; it has a partner form volute, as in evolution, revolution...Plete “fill” occurs in complete, deplete, expletive, replete. Sane “health” occurs in sanitorium, sanitary, sanitarium. Pense “hang, cause to hand, weight, consider” is a partner form to pend (expend vs. expense, etc.) and occurs in compensate, dispenser, pension, pensive, prepense, propensity, suspense. Sist “set, place, stand, stop” occurs in assist, consist, desist, exist (with the typical \begin{align*}<\mathrm{s}>\end{align*}-deletion after ex-), persist, resistance, subsistence.

Item 4. The discussion answers here can be expected to get a bit loose and idiosyncratic, but what we have in mind are things like “When you include something with something else, you kind of shut them in together” - that sort of thing. The point is to get the students to see that their minds can find sometimes surprising, if sometimes rather attenuated, connections between current word meanings and the earlier meanings of their elements, thus helping dispel some of the arbitrariness that youngsters can feel in the words in the lexicon.

Notes/Highlights Having trouble? Report an issue.

Color Highlighted Text Notes
Show More

Image Attributions

Show Hide Details
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Jul 07, 2015
Files can only be attached to the latest version of section
Please wait...
Please wait...
Image Detail
Sizes: Medium | Original