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The Prefix SUB-: A FREE Morphology Lesson

Cate O'Donnell

3 min read

Apr 12




Morphology is a powerful tool for teaching older students both decoding longer words and understanding new vocabulary words. We use prefixes to change the meaning of a word. Adding the prefix sub- changes the meaning of the word. The prefix sub- means under, beneath, below, or secondary.

prefix sub- example of submarine

Prefixes work with other roots to form words. Knowing the meanings of the prefixes and the roots can help us determine the meaning of a word.

In this lesson, you will teach students many things.

  1. prefixes come at the beginning of words

  2. prefixes can be combined with other roots

  3. prefixes and roots are not words, but they are units of meaning

  4. we use the prefix sub- means under, beneath, below, or secondary

NOTE: Studying the etymology of words, we see that some words have the sub- prefix, but over time the b has been replaced by other letters. Examples of these words include suggest, support, supply, and suffer. We are not addressing these words in this lesson.

Also, the meanings of words shift over time. Some of the words with the sub- prefix may not seem to fit with under or below, but upon closer inspection or looking at the Latin origin, they do.

It is helpful for students to know the parts of speech as they work on morphology. If your students need to work on parts of speech, I highly recommend this writing program. It teaches writing complete sentences based on parts of speech. If you need to, you can even use these two programs at the same time.

writing complete sentences

Teaching the Prefix Sub-

To teach your students about the prefix sub-, display the presentation below. You can access the presentation from this website for free. You can also purchase the slideshow for use at school.

I recommend focusing on the meaning of the words by having students write or say sentences.

  1. You display the vocabulary word with the prefix.

  2. Students discuss the meaning of the word and how it can be used in partners or small groups.

  3. You display the definition of the word. Some of the definitions include picture support.

  4. Students reflect on their understanding in partners or small groups. They should also discuss how the definition of the word makes sense with the meaning of the prefix.

  5. At the end of the presentations, have students choose one or two words and write example sentences that use context clues to show the meaning of the word.

This lesson is designed to last five days. You also get 25 mixed review practice slides to use later in the year.

Check out this list of words with the prefix. You can use this list to build your own activities for your classroom. You can also get a printable .pdf.

prefix sub word list

More Morphology Practice

Do you love this lesson? You can access all of the morphology lessons for FREE on this website! You can also purchase the presentations!

Base Words

The Suffixes -S and -ES

The Suffix -ING

The Suffix -ER for Comparative Adjectives

The Suffix -EST for Superlative Adjectives

The Suffix -ER for Someone Who

The Suffix -ED for Past Tense Verbs



The Prefix DIS- 


The Prefix IN- Meaning Not

The Suffix -FUL Meaning Full Of

The Suffix -LESS Meaning Without

The Suffix -Y Meaning What Something is Like

The Suffix -LY Meaning How an Action is Done

The Prefix UNDER

The Prefix OVER

The Prefix NON

The Prefix PRE

The Prefixes BI/DI

The Prefix TRI

The Prefix QUAD

The Prefix OCT



The Prefix SEMI

The Prefix SUPER

The Prefix MULTI

The Prefix POLY

The Prefix TELE

The Prefix MID

The Prefix MIS

The Prefix INTER

The Prefix DECA/DECI

The Prefix KILO

The Prefix SUB


the prefix sub

Cate O'Donnell

3 min read

Apr 12




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