Language point

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 March, 2004, 12:00am

Re- is a very useful prefix (a group of letters that are added to the beginning of a word to form another word, known as a compound word). Re- is used to mean that an action or a process is repeated, eg. retell, reread, remarry. Most compound words with the prefix re- are spelt as one word. However, there are two exceptions to this practice. Firstly, some people would use a hyphen when the word that follows re- begins with a vowel (eg. re-assess, re-iterate, re-unite), but reassess, reiterate, reunite are much more common nowadays. However, if the vowel is an e, then a hyphen should be used to show clarity, eg. re-enter, re-examine. The second exception is when a compound word is the same as an existing word, eg. re-collect and recollect, re-count and recount. Note that there are some words that begin with re- but are not compound words, eg. rejoice, regret, recess, receive.

Can you think of some compound words that fit the second exception?

Suggested answers: reclaim, recover, recreation, resort


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