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  • Category: Improve Your English

    Is there any special rule for the use of words commencing with 'in' and 'un' to give negativity?

    Is there any grammar rule for the use of words starting with IN and UN to give a negative sense to a word? Read the following words and understand my query, and respond.

    Sufficient X insufficient (why not unsufficient)
    Discipline X indiscipline (why not undiscipline)
    Adequate X inadequate (why not unadequate)

    Traceable X untraceable (why not intraceable)
    Noticed x unnoticed (why not innoticed)
    Educated X uneducated (why not ineducated)

    There many such words to quote.

    There may be a rule to follow. Will the ISC English experts clear this doubt.
  • #663661
    On an Educational portal ISC, my this thread starves for responses from the English expert members of ISC. Is there anyone who can hear me?
    No life without Sun

  • #663668
    An awesome question. These are very common prefixes that are used show negativity. I think it depends on the verb.
    As for why using two different prefixes, there is no concrete established rule. But if you are confused over what to use, better use in. Many words use in for a negative. Actually I saw a video few days ago that explained this very thing.

    English is a mixture of languages. If a word is from Germanic origin, use Un. From Latin, use in. How to know? A good educated guess would be to assume that almost 70% of word you know are from Latin. So use in when faced with difficulty. You can not go wrong for long.
    Water, bread, day, building, etc...; are words that come from Germanic origin.
    Hence you say plants look unwatered today. Or my shirt is unaltered.

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #663669
    There are words which become opposite in meaning by prefixing 'in' or 'un' or 'dis'. I don't see if there is a rule as when to put 'in' or 'un' but these have been there during the evolution of the language from its primitive form to the present form.

    There are two ways to bring the opposite meaning either use a prefix or use a different word itself having the opposite meaning. For example opposite of 'We agree' is 'We differ' but we can also say that 'We disagree'. These prefixes can not be used everywhere but their accepted use with many words is the only thing that we can also use them in our writing.

    Some interesting opposites which can be made by using the prefixes are legal-illegal, obey-disobey, sense-nonsense, prefix-suffix, eligible-ineligible, close-disclose, firm-infirm etc.

    Knowledge is power.

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