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Thread: A letter

  1. Newbie
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    A letter

    Can you explain please the difference between Rise and Arise, Sleep - Asleep, Like - Alike etc? what is A letter used for?

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    Re: A letter

    Welcome to the forum, dmitryost.

    There is no simple answer to what difference the letter a makes.

    Start by clicking here.

    If that does not answer your question, type rise/arise in the Google Custom S(earch) box near the top of the page. You will find links to previous answers to your question.

    Then do the same for the other pairs of words.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 29-Nov-2014 at 12:42.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Re: A letter

    From the online etymology dictionary:


    in native (derived from Old English) words, it most commonly represents Old English an "on" (see a (2)), as in alive, asleep, abroad, afoot, etc., forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns; but it also can be Middle English of, as in anew, abreast (1590s); or a reduced form of Old English past participle prefix ge-, as in aware; or the Old English intensive a-, as in arise, awake, ashame, marking a verb as momentary, a single event. In words from Romanic languages, often it represents Latin ad- "to, at."
    [I]t naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. [OED]

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