PREFIXES – Words with un-.

People tend to think that un- is solely a negative prefix. It is, of course, often used as such. And unlike most of the other negative prefixes it can be added to just about any adjective. If you want to make up a word to say that a picture is ‘not pretty’, the word has to be unpretty. Impretty or mispretty simply will not do.
There are, however, plenty of un- adjectives that have no matching positive form. You can have fun making up words like kempt and couth. Is a greatly praised person a sung hero?
Before verbs, on the other hand, un- generally conveys the idea of reversing the action of the verb. In this it resembles the de- prefix. To unbend is not ‘not to bend’ but ‘to straighten up after being bent’. Other words of this type are untie and unwrap.
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