Writing in Spanish

Guide About How To Use Prefixes in Spanish

Few people know how prefixes in the Spanish language work and how to use a prefix correctly. This is normal, since the norm sometimes changes and the influence of other languages leads us to misspell them.

What is a prefix in Spanish? How are prefixes written? What are the most common prefixes in Spanish? iScribo answers your questions according to the rules of the RAE.

What are Spanish Prefixes?

Prefixes are elements of Spanish grammar that depend on other elements, and therefore lack autonomy.

Prefixes are affixes, meaning that they are placed before the root or lexical base of the word they accompany. Their function is to alter the meaning of the original word, to give it some nuances or an additional meaning.

Some examples are pre, ex, multi and súper, to name a few:

multiespacio, exministro, supercerca, preaprobado

(multispace, ex-minister, superclose, preapproved)

How Should Prefixes Be Written?

Prefixes are attached to the word they accompany, so it is incorrect to write them separately or with a hyphen, except for the exceptions mentioned a few line below this examples:

antisistema, prenupcial, contraoferta (anti-system, prenuptial, counteroffer)

X anti-mafia, pre pagado, súper bonito (anti-mafia, pre-paid, super nice)

If the next word begins with a capital letter, whether it is an acronym or a number, the prefix IS hyphenated:

pro-Obama, super-8, mini-USB

X posGorvachov, sub21

Note that the prefix súper does not have an accent even if it is hyphenated with the following word or there is simply a space.

Another exception is to write the prefix separately when it affects several words that act as a unit or if it affects proper nouns consisting of more than one word:

pro Barack Obama, ex chica de los recados (former delivery girl)

X proderechos humanos, antiNaciones Unidas

In case of a combination of prefixes, they are written together or separately following the same rule as if there were only one prefix:

ex vice primera presidenta, supersuperlento (former first vice-president, super-super-slow)

When it comes to monosyllables, when the prefix is added to them, they are no longer monosyllables and are considered acute, so they must be stressed as such:

✓ biogás

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to use two or more prefixes for a single word, add a hyphen after the first suffix:

✓ pre- y poselectoral

iScribo Works In Real Time

Prefixes follow some basic rules and you will see, as you practise with our tool, that they are easy to apply. iScribo corrects incorrect prefixes and suggests writing improvements as you write, in real time. Have you tried it yet? Tell us about it in the comments.

Want more Spanish tips?

Get them direct to your inbox

Sign up for tips and tricks to perfect your Spanish writing skills. You’ll be writing like a native in no time.

Free Trial until 30 September 2021: Our subscription programme does not start until 1 October 2021. So, as long as you provide us with a feedback you can use our site for free until noon 30 September 2021 (GMT)