B2 First: word formation (negatives)

For the B2 First exam, there's nearly always at least one negative in the word formation part of the use of English. There are lots of prefixes and suffixes we can use to make negatives. Here is some useful general advice:

  1. Negative prefixes can be used with nouns, verbs, adjective and adverbs. For example disapproval, disapprove, disapproving, disapprovingly.
  2. Usually im + p (impatient) but not always (unpleasant).
  3. Often il + l (illegal) but not always (unlikely).
  4. Often ir + r (irregular) but not always (unresponsive).
  5. Usually -ful changes to -less (harmful/less) but not always (endful / endless).
  6. If you can't remember, choose un - it's the most common negative prefix.

All of the words in the table below are adjectives (unless stated in brackets afterwards - do you notice anything interesting about dis- and mis-?). Look at the information in the table for a few minutes and try to remember the words. Then click below to hide the information and try to answer the questions at the bottom.


un-indis-im-
unexpected
unaware
unbelievable
unknown
unable
inaccurate
inappropriate
inefficient
incapable
ineffective
disapprove (verb)
dislike (verb)
disagree  (verb)
disbelieve (verb)
dishonest (adjective)
improbable
impossible
impolite
imperfect
impatient
il-ir-mis--less
illegal
illiterate
illogical
illegible
irregular
irresponsible
irrational
irrelevant
misbehave  (verb)
misunderstand (verb)
misspell (verb)
misuse (verb)
careless
harmless
helpless
endless

Practice 1: word formation (use of English part 3)

Write the correct NEGATIVE form of the word in brackets to complete these sentences. Be very careful: some words have different negative forms (e.g. unbelievable/disbelieve, unlikely/dislike, unable/disabled) and you may have to make other changes (e.g. verb to noun or past simple).

  1. The politician was accused of being . (HONEST)
  2. His story was so I thought he was crazy. (BELIEVE)
  3. She looked at him in when he told her the shocking news. (BELIEVE)
  4. Many people are of the dangers of mobile phones. (AWARE)
  5. He's invited me to his party. It would be to say no. (POLITE)
  6. Too many children nowadays are growing up . (LITERATE)
  7. That's not what I said! You've me. (UNDERSTAND)
  8. My dog is completely . I promise he won't bite. (HARM)


Practice 2: more word formation

  1. The medicine was so unfortunately he didn't recover. (EFFECT)
  2. His answers were very so he failed the Maths exam. (ACCURATE)
  3. It's that people will ever live on the moon. (LIKELY)
  4. He waited for the train. (PATIENT)
  5. It's to smoke in public places nowadays. (LEGAL)
  6. I would hate to teach children. They always . (BEHAVE)
  7. The shirt he's wearing is completely for a job interview. (APPROPRIATE)
  8. His speech was . I thought he'd never stop talking. (END)