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Magoosh Comics: Prefixes in TOEFL Vocabulary, Part 1

Understanding prefixes on the TOEFL– beginning parts of words that have special meaning– can help you really master TOEFL vocabulary.  In this series of posts, we’ll do a careful study of some prefixes that are common on the exam.

Each prefix will come with a short Magoosh Comic that shows the prefix in context. After the comic, you can then see more examples of the prefix in use, as it might appear in different parts of the TOEFL.

Prefixes in TOEFL vocabulary: over-

On the TOEFL, the prefix over- usually means “too much,” as seen in the comic below. Over– can also sometimes mean “dominating or controlling,” or “at a physically higher place.”Target Score Unit 4 Prefix Activity_Page_05

TOEFL examples of the over- prefix

  • In a TOEFL lecture from an English literature class
    Now, Faust was a German folktale chracter. But he really resembled the tragic heroes of Greek mythology. Faust had a tragic flaw– he was overambitious— and this flaw led to his downfall as a hero.
  • In a TOEFL Reading passage
    The Great Depression, an economic disaster that took place in the United States from the late 1920s to early 1930s, happened in part because stocks were oversold. Panicked investors sold their stocks in too great of quantity, at artificially low prices.
  • In a conversation track from TOEFL Speaking Task 3
    Did you hear about the new overpass the city is building? It sounds like it’ll make it much easier to get downtown from campus!
  • In a lecture from TOEFL Integrated Writing
    The passage criticizes Kurt Vonnegut’s books… basically for being too negative. The writer argues that Vonnegut’s novels had strong overtones of anger and sadness. While it’s true that Vonnegut was known for his dark comedy, there’s a lot of optimism and cheer in his humor too.

The takeaway

Notice that over- can appear in a lot of different contexts. It can also be part of just about any grammar form. In this post, we see the over- prefix appearing in nouns, verbs, and adjectives; over- is possible in other grammatical contexts as well.

Knowing this prefix can help you understand TOEFL vocabulary across many different subjects, and in a wide range of grammatical uses. In fact, you were probably able to guess the meanings of any unfamiliar re- words you saw in this post, based on your knowledge of this prefix.

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