A remarkable feature of the flexibility and richness of English vocabulary comes from the use of prefixes and suffixes to form new words from old words or to modify or extend the root idea. In this respect, it bears the close affinity with Germans. Thus, the practice of appending prefix and suffix started from the old English period and has continued to enrich the stock till yet. During the period, there were about a dozen prefixes that occurred with a great frequency such as a-, be-, for-, fore-, to-, under-, and wip-. The prefix wip- enters verbs where it has the force against or away. The prefix occurs in over a hundred old English words.
During the Middle English period, many of the old English prefixes lost their vitality. The old English prefixes for- was occasionally used in new formation. The only verb that in which it occurs in Modern English are forgive, forsake, forget. The prefixes to- has disappeared more completely.