There are no real prefixes and suffixes in Esperanto. Instead, each is considered a word on its own, can take the same grammatical forms as any other word, and can technically show up in any part of the compound word. We are simply calling them prefixes because they tend to come first in a word, because they usually need to modify what comes after them.

The modification, or compounding, rules are simple. In a compound, the word "after" gets modified by the word "before". For example, "fanbook" is a book made by a fanatic. "Bookfan" is a fanatic who likes books. "Songbird" is a bird that sings. "Birdsong" is the song of a bird. English does the same thing with compounds versus adjectives, as in "house-pet" being a pet who lives in the house but "pet house" is a house that is a pet. "Computer-electronic" and "electronic computer" work in the same way.

When it comes to compound words, Esperanto is the same. Thus there are words which naturally tend to only come near the end or beginning of any given word. Likewise, just as in English, there are times where the same word can be said with either word first in the compound and it doesn't actually matter, but this is also fairly rare.

An apostrophe ( ' ) traditionally is used to show where words are compounded, as is done here below, however if a word is cut off and has to continue onto the next line, most people use a hyphen ( - ) as in English. There is, however, no rule about which punctuation to use where in general, or set rules even for when to capitalize words (these rules, like so many others, is "do what feels comfortable to you"). If a prefix or suffix is added to a non-Esperanto word, such as a foreign name, then a hyphen is used to separate the two ("Tracy-a", for example).

Furthermore, the meanings listed here are not the only possible meanings of the word. That is to say, a "candle-holder" is most likely a candlestick and can be translated as such, but in reality it means literally anything that can hold a candle, such as a jar of sand or the tin container from a tea-light. The true, precise translation depends on context or even imagination. When a word is vague in meaning or has multiple correct meanings, the proper one is either assumed through context or the reader accepts things as inexplicit.

It is also important to note that just because a unique word instead of a compound exists, doesn't mean it has to be used, and the goal of Esperanto is to have a very small vocabulary so that everyone can learn the language fast. There are many people (I hear this is a huge problem with French and English speakers, because they "can't believe other people don't know their language anyway") who use unnecessary words and borrow words from their languages instead of using compounds. For example, saying "station" instead of "train-meet-place", or "bus-rest-place", where the latter two options would be much more preferrable. Please remember, when using Esperanto, that there are indeed many people who speak it who know zero English and so words like "station" are just making things unnecessarily complicated. Imagine if an African, Icelandic or Chinese person randomly inserted words from their language into English and expected everyone to know what they meant!

One last note is necessary: Some certain words, mostly regarding family members, are usually assumed to mean a certain gender even in their basic form, due to various oversights in the very first Esperanto dictionaries. Zamenhof himself has said that he knows his dictionaries had many flaws! In reality, all words are neutral gender and their gender can (if one wishes) be made explicit by adding a prefix or suffix denoting the gender. Thus, while most people assume "patro" means father, it actually should mean "parent" and only "virpatro (male-patro)" should mean "father" explicitly. However this problem affects only a small number of words, and through you influencing people with your correct usage of prefixes and suffixes, it can disappear in the language entirely.

To make matters worse, all the modern dictionaries for Esperanto are rather bad and include wrong meanings or even made-up words on occasion. I'm not sure why this is, as it's very frustrating for any learner, so in general my advice is to use one of the free, older dictionaries from back when Esperanto was new for most things, and use the online newer dictionary for missing words. As your vocabulary in Esperanto improves, you'll learn how to avoid the wrong or unnecessary words. I will eventually prepare my own dictionary with correct meanings and lots of synonyms (the existing dictionaries are really weak on synonyms too), but it will take some time.

About exceptions:

There are some words which, due to oversights, are exceptions and have what is seemingly a prefix or suffix in them, except it's actually part of the word root. However over time these exceptions are diminishing as people regularize the language, change words or use different words. I have noticed myself that when people tend to borrow words and use new words, they like to completely forget about that it may contain a real Esperanto suffix already, especially when the words come from English. For example, "papero - paper", looks like it contains the suffix "ero - a fragment". "Sentema - sensitive", looks like it is made up of the prefix "sen - without", and the word "tema", which is the adjective of "theme, topic". Thus one would have to say, for example, "sensentema" (numb, without sensitivity). It's simply oversights from the original language which are made better or worse by the Esperanto speakers, although my guess is that as more and more native Esperanto speakers and very young learners are born we'll see these exceptions diminish as children always generalize language more than adults.

Bo: relation through marriage Other forms: bo (noun: a relation through marriage), ba (adjective: related through marriage); etc. More information on these other forms will be given in another section.

This word denotes any relationship resulting from marriage, whether one's own or someone else's:

- viro, male, vir'patro, male-parent, father, bo'vir'patro, father-in-law.
- vir'frato, brother, bo'vir'frato, brother-in-law.
- ont, to be (something that is doing something) in the future, bo'ont'o, a being or thing which in the future is going to be related through marriage
- dube, dubiously, doubtedly, dube'ba, dubiously related by marriage (ex. a marriage in peril or a marriage where neither partner acts married)
Dis: dispersal, asunder, divided Denotes "spread in many directions", and "into pieces or parts (asunder)":
Other forms: dise (separately)

- ŝiri, to tear, dis'ŝiri, to tear to pieces, to rip apart
- sendi, to send, dis'sendi, to broadcast, to send out
- igi, to cause, dis'igi, to cause a dispersal, to make something scatter
- vasta, vast, wide, dis'vast'igi, to cause to spread out vastly (ex. to broadcast information, to flatten dough with a baking pin)
- doni, to give, dis'doni, to distribute
Ek: short duration; just begun This can often be translated as "sudden", as in "a sudden shout" versus "to be shouting". It also makes the difference in "to be startled (suddenly shocked for a brief moment)" versus "to be shocked", for example. The most commonly-used meaning is "short duration" but remember that it also means "has just begun to..." as well.

back-formation: ek! (let's go! let's start!), eko (a start, a beginning)

- for, away, iri, to go, ek'for'iri, to begin to go away, to start to leave
- kanti, to sing, ek'kanti, to begin to sing, to sing for a short while
- ridi, to laugh, ek'ridi, to burst out laughing, to begin to laugh, to laugh for a short while
- lerni, to learn, lern'anto, a thing or being that is learning, ek'lern'anto, a beginning learner, someone who is just starting to learn
- krii, to shout, ek'krii, to interject, exclaim, cry out, begin to shout
- suspekti, to suspect, ek'suspekti - to begin to suspect, to suspect for a moment
- brili, to shine, ek’brili, to flash, sparkle, glint
Ge: of different genders If used with a non-plural noun, means "intersex, hermaphrodite" or otherwise a single being of two genders (perhaps someone with multiple personalities could be included in this meaning).

When used with a plural noun, it denotes at least two people, each a member of a different gender, paired together as a couple, crowd or group. This may mean "people of the same profession of both genders", or "the person of that profession and their opposite-gender-spouse", or simply "a group of people of this profession" for example.

When used with a verb, it's taken to mean "heterosexual", as in "(verb) involving both genders".

- mastro, master (as in the master of the house), ge'mastro, a master who is intersex, ge'mastro'j, master and mistress (Mr. & Mrs.)
- edzo, husband, ge'edzo'j, husband and wife, spouses
- sinjoro, gentleman, ge'sinjoro'j, ladies and gentlemen, gentlefolk
- patro, father, ge'patro'j, father and mother, parents
- sama, same, lando, land, country, ano, member, ge'sam'land'ano'j, fellow countrymen
- amo, a deep love, anto, a person or thing who is currently doing something, ge'am’anto’j, (current) lovers
- knabo, a boy, ge'knabo'j, boys and girls, children
- tajloro, a tailor, ge’tajloro’j, tailors and seamstresses (or a tailor and his wife)
Mal: complete opposites, antonyms Back-formation: malo (an opposite), mala (contrary), male (on the contrary)

- estimi, to esteem, mal'estimi, to despise, hold in contempt
- varma, warm, mal'varma, cold.
- fermi, to close, shut, mal'fermi, to open
- kavi, to key, to type, mal’kavi, to delete
- kaj, and, plus, mal’kaj, without, subtract
- oblo, a multiple, igi, to cause, mal’obl’igi, to divide (as in mathematics)
- festi, to celebrate, mal’festi, to mourn
- brako, arm, mal'brako, leg
- neto, a final draft, a corrected version, mal'neto, a rough-draft
- ino, a female, mal'ino, a male
Re: returning to... This denotes the return to a location or state in which one has already been. It corresponds to the English "re," meaning back or again:
back-formation: ree (once more, again)

- doni, to give, re'doni, to give back, to return something
- diri, to say, re'diri, to say again, to repeat
- veni, to come, re'veni, to come again, to return.
- fari, to make, do, re’fari, to re-make, re-do, do over
- juni,
to be young, re’juni, to rejuvenate, to be young again
- sano, health, iĝi, to become, re’san’iĝi, to become healthy again, to recover from an illness
- marŝi, to march, walk, re'marŝi, to march back, to retreat, to re-march
- kun, with, iĝi, to become, re'kun'iĝi, to be with again, to reunion
Eks: former, previously but no longer This corresponds to the English "ex-".
back-formation: eksa means "that which no longer is", or "former":

- prezidento, a president, eks'prezidento, an ex-president, eksa prezidento, prezidento eksa, a former president
- viro, a male, eks'viro, a male-to-female transsexual
- edzi, to marry, iĝi, to become, eks’edz’iĝo, a divorce (a thing where one becomes formerly-married)
- igi, to cause, eks’igi, to "make former", to dismiss, recall (make something a former edition or product)
- malo, an opposite, sano, health, ulo, a being, person, eks'mal'san'ulo, an ex-sick person, a person who used to be ill (whether physically or mentally)
fi: immoral, ignoble, shameless This denotes a lack of morals and shame, also denotes ”corrupt” as in "corrupt banker" and is used as a general word to add force to insults. The precise meaning of the resulting compound word is usually up to interpretation:
back-formation: fi! (fie! for shame!), fia (adj - "shameful, ignoble"):

- fama, famous, fi'fama, infamous
- filmo, movie, fi'filmo, pornographic (or otherwise shameful) movie
- komercisto, merchant, businessman, fi'komercisto, conman, swindler, corrupt businessman
- paroli, to speak/talk, fi'paroli, to cuss, swear
- literaturo, literature, fi'literaturo, smut
mis: incorrect, mis- back-formations: misa (incorrect, amiss), miso (an incorrect occasion, act, etc.), mise (mistakenly, incorrectly)

- kompreni, to comprehend, understand, mis'kompreni, to misunderstand
- legi, to read, mis'legi, to misread
- traduki, to translate, mis'traduki, to mistranslate
- nasko, a birth, iĝi, to become, mis'nask'iĝi, to be born with complications (ex. deformed or still-born)
pra: ancestral, ancient, primitive Denotes "very primitive or ancient; since the earliest times of the thing’s existence”, which normally means "ancestral" and occasionally translates to "original". Solely in the case of family members, it corresponds to "great-" in English, and this is because in other languages they can simply say "my ancestor", or even ex. "ancestor-father" for "grandfather":

- arbaro, forest, pra'arbaro, ancient, primeval or virgin forest
- avo, grandfather, pra'avo, great-grandfather, pra'pra'avo, great-great-grandfather
- historio, a history, story, pra'historio, pre-history, an ancient story
- tempo, tempo, a time, pra'tempo, prehistoric
- vivo, life, pra'vivo, the earliest stages of life (ex. in the womb or in evolution)
- norda, north, lingvo, language, pra'norda lingvo, Old Norse language (the earliest stages of the Nordic-Germanic languages, that is to say, ancient Icelandic, Swedish, Faroese etc.)
- celo, a goal, isto, a profession, pra'cel'ist'o ”ancient-goal-for-job", a heavy supporter of the original goal of something (ex. of the original goal of Esperanto to be the second language of the entire world)
- pra'esperanto, the name for the versions and stages of Esperanto that existed before the language became public
vic: step-, vice-, sequential A back-formation of "vico - a sequence, row, series", and it corresponds to "step-, vice-" in English:
- patro, father, vic'patro, step-father
- prezidanto, a president, chairman, vic'prezidento, a vice-president
- unu, one, unu'vice, "in a one-row manner”, single-file
- morti, to die, igi, to cause, ulo, a being, person vic'mort'ig'ulo "sequence-killer-being", a serial murderer vir: male gender Words in basic form mean any gender or unisex, depending on context. However adding this word (or adding "male" as an adjective) ensures that it is explicitly male. This is the same difference as "a horse" versus "a stallion, a male horse" in English. Just as English can say both "a male human" and "a human male", this can be either a prefix or suffix in Esperanto, and the trend is that in older writing it was a suffix while in modern writing a prefix. Normally it's simply easier to pronounce as a prefix, so that is probably the reasoning behind the switch.

Vira is the adjective form and means "male, masculine".

- bovo, a bovine, vir'bovo, bov'viro, vira bovo, bovo vira, a bull (a male ox or cow)
- homo, a human, vir'homo, hom'viro, homo vira, vira homo, a male human, man, boy
- infano, a child, vir'infano, infan'viro, vira infano, infano vira, a male child
- koketi, to flirt (coquet), ulo, a being, person, vir'koket'ulo, koket'ul'viro, a male flirt
- eco, -ness, -ity (a quality), vir'eco, male-ness, manliness, masculinity
- malo, an opposite, mal'viro, a female
- ekso, a former thing, eks'viro, a former male, a male-to-female transsexual
sen: -less, -free, without As in "paperless, sugarfree". It can also be set before the word with a space in-between:

- okulo, eye, sen'okula, sen okula, eyeless, ”without ocular”
- sukero, sugar, sen'sukera, sugarfree, without sugar
- doloro, pain, sen'dolora, painfree, painless, without pain
- mono, money, sen'mona, money-less, broke, not carrying money
- ĉesi, to cease, sen'ĉesa, incessant, without stopping
- fini, to end, to be finished, sen'fina, endless, without end, unfinished, unending
- kupli, to blame, igi, to cause, sen'kulp'igi, to excuse or pardon, to cause someone to be without blame
- senca, sensible, with sense, sen'senca, senceless, nonsense, incomprehensible

sentema - sensitive, sentient. Thus, "sen'sentema" means "numb, without sensitivity, insusceptible, without sentience". We can't act as if the "sen" is a prefix because the word "tema" on its own means "relating to a theme or topic".
sentebla - sensible (feelings)
ne: no, not 14. ne'— denotes "no, not" and implies "anything at all besides the following". In the same way as "sen", the space can be either added or omitted. The meanings of "ne" and "mal (opposite)" sometimes overlap:
back-formation: nei (to deny), ne'ado ("an on-going deny", denial, negation)

- murmuri, to murmur, ne'murmuri, ne murmuri, to not murmur, to not be murmuring, mal'murmuri, to yell
- aperi, to appear, ne'aperi, ne aperi, to not appear, mal'aperi, to disappear
- utili, to avail, be useful, ne'utili, ne utili, to not avail of, to not be useful, mal'utili to be detrimental
- helpi, to help, ne'helpi, to not help, not to help, mal'helpi, to hinder, inhibit
- konfesi, to confess, acknowledge, admit, ne'konfesi, to not confess etc., mal'konfesi, to retract, disclaim, recant (claim that one no longer has a belief, idea, and so on.)
- progresi, to progress, ne'progresi, to not progress, mal'progresi, to retrograde, to go backwards

Examples of where the two have exactly the same, or very nuanced, meanings:
- sati, to be sated, ne'sati, ne sati, to not be sated, mal'sati, to be hungry
- eviti, to evade, avoid, be aloof, shirk, ebla, able, ne'ebla, not evadable, mal'ebla, inevitable
- amiko, friend, ne amiko, ne'amiko, a non-friend (an acquaintance, enemy, stranger), mal'amiko, enemy, stranger (though normally taken to mean an enemy)
- gravedi, to be pregnant, ne'gravedi, to not be pregnant, mal'gravedi, to not be pregnant, to give birth tele: bridging distances Denotes "making a journey or bridging distances from one (usually faraway) place to the next", just as in English. Note that another word, ”for”, means simply ”away, at a distance” and lacks the meaning of actually crossing that distance:

- telei, to bridge distances, to travel far
- regi, to rule, control, ilo, a tool, tele’regi, to control remotely, tele’reg’ilo, a remote-control
- vidi, to see, ilo, a tool, tele’vid’ilo, a television (which brings sights and scenes of faraway places)
- kopii, to copy, tele’kopii, to fax (which copies messages and delivers them across large distances)
- paroli, to speak, ilo, a tool, tele’parol'ilo, a telephone, a walkie-talkie (a tool that lets one speak across long distances)
- porti, to bring, carry, bear, tele’porti, to teleport (moves something from one faraway place to the next)
dub, dube: dubious, doubtfully, -ish denotes ”-ish” when used as a prefix, but literally means ”dubiously, doubtedly, questionable”. The "dube" form is simply the adverb.

- dubo, a doubt, a misgiving
- frua, early, dube'frua, early-ish, dubiously early
- luma, light (brightness), dube’luma, light-ish, a bit dim, dubiously light
- nigra, black (colour), dube’nigra, swarthy, blackish
- sen, without, sen’dube, doubtlessly, without a doubt
- dube, dubiously, doubtedly, dube'ba, "related by marriage-ish", dubiously related by marriage, a questionable marriage relationship (ex. a marriage in peril or a marriage where neither partner acts married)

Mem: self- - fida, trusting, tro, too (much), excessively, mem'fida, self-confident, self-assurance, tro'mem'fida, presumptuous
- vundo, a wound, an injury, igi, to cause, mem'vund'igi, to self-harm
- amo, deep love, ulo, a being, mem'am'ulo, a narcissist
- forgeso, a forgotten (thing), mem'forgesi, to forget oneself
- riproĉo, reprimand, reproach, mem'riproĉo, remorse (a reprimadal of oneself) Antaŭ: pre-, before, previous - juĝi, to judge, antaŭ'juĝi, to "before-(facts)-judge", to be prejudiced
- lasta, final (the very last of all time), antaŭ'lasta, second-to-last, penultimate
- diri, to say, antaŭ'diri, to "say before (the thing actually happens)", to predict, to mention something before the main speech begins, etc.
- preta, ready, prepared, antaŭ'preta, prepared beforehand, pre-prepared

Duon: half-, demi-, semi-
Earlier in time, this was also used to mean "step-" as in "step-father". Suffice to say, "half-father" sounds like an insult (as in an absent father, perhaps) and is a bit less clear in meaning than "in-a-line-father", so that may account for the switch.

duono, a half
duone, by halves, in halves

- tima, afraid, duon'tima, half-afraid
- rondo, a circle, duon'rondo, a semi-circle
- fermita, to have been closed, duon'fermita, half-closed, ajar
- acida, acidic, sour, bitter, duon'acida, bitter-sweet
- dio, a god, duon'dio, a demi-god
- diri, to say, duon'diri, to half-say, suggest, hint
- ebria, drunk (as in alcohol), duon'ebria, tipsy
- fali, to fall, duon'fali, to stumble
- globo, a globe, duon'globo, a hemisphere
El: out of This can be set before the word with a space, or prefixed. Technically speaking, words like these are prepositions, but as it is heavily used as a prefix it has been listed here.

- ŝelo, a shell, husk, rind, iĝi, to become, el'ŝel'iĝi, to hatch, to come out of a shell
- iri, to go, el'iri, to go out, to exit
- stari, to stand, to be erect, el'stari, to protrude
- akvo, water, igi, to cause, el'akv'igi, to cause to come out the water (ex. to pull out a log, to chase something onto shore)
artiko, joint (of the body), el'artik'igi, to dislocate
aŭto, an automobile, car, el'aŭt'iĝi, to get out of a car
peli, to..., el'peli, to push out, drive out something

Words that may seem odd:
dono, a gift, el'dono, a publication, edition, version
diri, to say, el'diri, to articulate, to say out loud
nutri, to...., el'nutri, to rear (bring up a child, etc.)
vido, a view, el'vido, a view, a survey
voki, to invoke, el'voki, to envoke