The wonders of the ‘a-‘ prefix in English. ‘Personal’ versus ‘personnel.’

942. We’re diving deep into the chameleon-like nature of the “a-” prefix, tracing its journey from Latin, where it often started out as “ad-,” to its function as a preposition in French, and its transformative role in Greek that gifts English words like “atypical” and “asymmetrical.” You’ll be wowed by the versatility of the seemingly humble “a-” prefix as we unveil its covert presence in words like “atom” and its power in creating modern English words like “asexual.”

Then, we explore the difference between the words “personal” and “personnel” and give you a tip for getting the spelling right every time.

The “a-” prefix segment was by Kirk Hazen, a data scientist at CVS Health and a linguist at West Virginia University. He is the author of Introduction to Language (Wiley) and can be found on LinkedIn:

| Transcript:

| Preorder “The Grammar Daily”

Subscribe to the newsletter for regular updates.

Watch my LinkedIn Learning writing courses.

Peeve Wars card game

Grammar Girl books

| HOST: Mignon Fogarty

| VOICEMAIL: 833-214-GIRL (833-214-4475) or

| Grammar Girl is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network.

  • Audio Engineer: Nathan Semes
  • Director of Podcasts: Adam Cecil
  • Advertising Operations Specialist: Morgan Christianson
  • Marketing Associate: Davina Tomlin
  • Digital Operations Specialist: Holly Hutchings

| Theme music by Catherine Rannus.

| Grammar Girl Social Media Links: YouTube. TikTok. Facebook. Instagram. LinkedIn. Mastodon.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter