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