Le préfixe re– et ses variantes
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The French prefix re- can be added to hundreds of verbs to make new verbs. Depending on the first letter of the verb it’s added to, re- has a few variations as well as some different meanings.
Generally speaking, re- is added to verbs that begin with a consonant or h aspiré:
|remarier||to remarry||(added to marier – to marry)|
|rehausser||to heighten||(added to hausser – to raise)|
The verb recycler is a little different: it was created by adding the prefix re– to the noun cycle to get recycle, which was then verbified.
While re- is the most common spelling, it can only be added to words that begin with a consonant other than s or h muet. For words that begin with s, h muet, or a vowel , you need a different spelling.
Re- generally changes to res- in front of a verb starting with s:
|ressembler||to resemble||(added to sembler – to seem)|
|ressortir||to go out again||(added to sortir – to go out)|
2) ré- and r-
In front of a vowel or h muet, re- either takes on an accent (especially for Latin-based words) or contracts to r-. For a few verbs, both spellings exist.
|rentrer||to return home||(added to entrer – to enter)|
|rhabiller||to dress again||(added to habiller – to dress)|
|réélire||to re-elect||(added to élire – to elect)|
|réutiliser||to reuse||(added to utiliser – to use)|
|récrire, réécrire||to rewrite||(added to écrire – to write)|
Meanings of re- (and its variants)
1. To redo, to do again
|ressaisir||to seize again||(added to saisir – to seize)|
|rouvrir||to reopen||(added to ouvrir – to open)|
2. To return to a previous location, condition, or state of being
(someone to something)
|(added to habituer – to accustom)|
|revenir||to come back||(added to venir – to come)|
3. To emphasize or reinforce a verb
|redoubler||to increase, redouble||(added to doubler – to double)|
|remercier||to thank||(added to mercier [archaic] – to thank)|
Because the prefix re- has more than one possible meaning, some verbs do too. Sometimes they even have new meanings unrelated to the root verb:
|rappeler||– to call back, to call again|
– to recall, remember
|(added to appeler – to call)|
|rejoindre||– to get back to, rejoin, reunite|
– to join (an organization)
|(added to joindre – to link, combine, to join [two things together]; to contact)|
|renvoyer||– to send back, to send again|
– to fire, dismiss
|(added to envoyer – to send)|
- The e in both re- and res- is pronounced [ə] (as a schwa or e muet).
- Ré- is pronounced [ʀe] (rhymes with né)
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