beside, alongside

Quick Summary

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. A number of well-used English vocabulary words contain the prefix para-, which means “beside.” Examples using this prefix include paragraph and parentheses. An easy way to remember that the prefix para- means “beside” is through the word parasite, for a parasite, or organism that feeds or lives on other organisms, feeds right “beside” its hosts.

Keep "Para-" Beside You!

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The English prefix para- means “beside,” so stay “beside” us today to learn all the parameters about words that have the prefix para- in them!

A parenthesis contains words inserted into a sentence that are placed “beside” other words in that sentence that are not necessary for the sentence to make sense, and therefore are extra. For instance, in the sentence “Cal (coolest guy ever) is the boy sitting next to Sophie,” the superfluous “coolest guy ever” is sitting “beside” the word “Cal” (note that “parentheses” appropriately surround the parenthesis). Extra words such as these are also referred to as parenthetical remarks, set “beside” core text as nonessential material. Such remarks are often found in paragraphs, or indented groups of sentences that are written “beside” each other, flanked by other paragraphs. And, of course, the collective paragraphs that one reads in a chapter of a book can be later paraphrased, using one’s own words “beside” the actual written text to describe what happened. And a parody? It is a humorous likeness of a serious piece of literature which is set “beside” it, often for laughs or satirical purposes.

“Besides” English terminology, the prefix para- also figures in math and science words. We have all heard of parallel lines, or those lines always remaining equidistant from each other which extend “beside” each other towards infinity. A parallelogram has two pairs of parallel lines that lie “beside” each other, forming a quadrilateral. If a part of your body becomes paralyzed, you have one limb or limbs “beside” your body that are not functional. A parasitic organism is one life form that feeds “beside” another, using it for food.

And paraphernalia? They are those items carried “beside” you for special purposes, such as hiking gear or a lacrosse player’s equipment.

Be careful! Don’t confuse the Greek prefix para- with the Latin root par meaning “equal,” which gave rise to such words as parity, par (in golf), disparity, disparage, compare, and nonpareil. Note that the prefix para- will begin a word, whereas the root par generally does NOT.

Hopefully this podcast has been unparalleled in your learning of the English prefix para-—keep it right “beside” you and you’re sure not to go wrong, thereby avoiding para- paranoia!

  1. parameter: a limit “beside” which you cannot pass
  2. parenthesis: words placed “beside” the main text
  3. parentheses: punctuation marks which contain a parenthesis
  4. parenthetical: of words that are mostly “beside” the main point
  5. paragraph: indented groups of words placed “beside” each other in a text
  6. paraphrase: a reader’s own words set “beside” the actual words of a text
  7. parody: a humorous piece of writing placed “beside” a more serious one
  8. parallel: lines placed “beside” each other but never intersecting
  9. parallelogram: a figure made out of two sets of parallel lines
  10. paralyze: when a limb which is placed “beside” the body becomes unusable
  11. parasitic: of one organism eating “beside” another host organism
  12. paraphernalia: items which one carries “beside” oneself for a given activity
  13. paranoia: pathological condition of a mind “beside” itself thinking that something’s always going to go wrong


  • paradox

    A paradox is a statement that appears to be self-contradictory or unrealistic but may surprisingly express a possible truth.

  • paradigm

    A paradigm is a model or example of something that shows how it works or how it can be produced; a paradigm shift is a completely new way of thinking about something.

  • parochial

    Someone has a parochial outlook when they are mostly concerned with narrow or limited issues that affect a small, local area or a very specific cause; they are also unconcerned with wider or more general issues.

  • paragon

    A paragon is an example of a thing or person at its or their very best.

  • parody

    A parody is a humorous imitation of more serious writing or music.

  • parable

    A parable is a short story that usually is told to illustrate a moral or lesson of some kind.

  • paranoia

    If you are afflicted with paranoia, you have extreme distrust of others and feel like they are always out to get you.

  • paraphernalia

    Paraphernalia is the equipment that one uses to do something or one's personal belongings collected over a period of time.

  • paraphrase

    When you paraphrase, you put into your own words what you have just read, usually in a shorter version.

  • parenthetical

    A parenthetical remark further explains or qualifies information.

  • unparalleled

    An unparalleled accomplishment has not been equaled by anyone or cannot be compared to anything that anyone else has ever done.

  • parabola

    a plane curve formed by the intersection of a right circular cone and a plane parallel to an element of the curve

  • paradigmatic

    of or relating to a grammatical paradigm

  • paragraph

    divide into paragraphs, as of text

  • parallel

    be parallel to

  • parallelogram

    a quadrilateral whose opposite sides are both parallel and equal in length

  • paralysis

    loss of the ability to move a body part

  • paralyze

    make powerless and unable to function

  • paramecium

    any member of the genus Paramecium

  • parameter

    a constant in the equation of a curve that can be varied to yield a family of similar curves

  • paranoid

    suffering from paranoia

  • parasite

    an animal or plant that lives in or on a host (another animal or plant)

  • parasitic

    relating to or caused by parasites

  • parenthesis

    either of two punctuation marks (or) used to enclose textual material

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