Lesson 6: Prefix/Suffix Alternatives

When Not To Use Prefix And Suffix Strokes

It's a trick question - you should really always use prefix and suffix strokes when they'd help type a word. The techniques described in this lesson are not true alternatives. Instead they should be your way of recognizing an opportunity to learn a new prefix or suffix stroke. If you find yourself doing any of the techniques described in this lesson as a way of getting around a word boundary error, view it as identifying a bit of skill that you need to work on; and make a note of the particular word in question, so you can look up the appropriate prefix or suffix stroke when you get a chance.


A guaranteed way to get the word you want - though very slow - is to spell a word out by hand. Fingerspelling is an important skill in Plover, and you should really master it. If you've gotten this far in the tutorials without taking the time to get good at fingerspelling, you should go back and get good at it now. There are plenty of names and other special words that legitimately call for fingerspelling. Here are some examples of fingerspelling to avoid prefix and suffix strokes:

  • 'puppy': P* *U P* P* KWR*
  • 'overcome': O* SR* *E R* KR* O* PH* *E
  • 'fire place': TP* *EU R* *E S-P P* HR* A* KR* *E
  • 'light engage': HR* EU* TKPW* H* T* S-P *E TPH* TKPW* A* TKPW* *E

Manually Inserting Spaces

It you want to type a phrase like 'fire place', but Plover insists on producing the single word 'fireplace', there is a relatively straightforward solution. In the fingerspelling example above, note the S-P stroke, to add a space between the words 'fire' and 'place'. The same technique forces Plover to insert a space between two words that you strike whole. So the phrase 'fire place' can be stroked TPAOEUR S-P PHRAEUS.

If you realize the problem only after you've stroked TPAOEUR/PHRAEUS and gotten 'fireplace', use the * key to undo the most recent stroke. This leaves you with 'fire'. Then stroke S-P PHRAEUS to end up with 'fire place'.

The same technique works with 'light engage', which can be stroked HRAOEUT S-P EPB/TKPWAEUPBLG.

Avoiding Spaces With The "No Space" Stroke

If you want to type the compound word 'overcome', but Plover insists on producing the phrase 'over come', there is a relatively straightforward solution. To prevent a space being added between words, use the TK-LS stroke. To type 'overcome', use the stroke OEFR TK-LS KOPL. This works because both 'over' and 'come' are distinct words in the Plover dictionary.

Words like 'puppy' are a different case because they are not compound words. Even though 'pup' is a whole word that may be stroked on its own, there is no stroke for a whole word 'py' in Plover. So, after stroking PUP TK-LS, you'd be at a loss for the next stroke, unless you went back to fingerspelling. At that point you probably should have just fingerspelled the whole word to begin with.

The TK-LS technique also doesn't work to get 'light engage'. If you stroke HRAOEUT EPB TK-LS TKPWAEUPBLG, you only end up with 'lightengauge'. Or if you try combining TK-LS and S-P to get HRAOEUT S-P EPB TK-LS TKPWAEUPBLG, you do end up with 'light engage', but only because EPB is the prefix stroke for 'en^', and so it produces the correct letters even though there's no whole word 'en'. At that point you're basically using prefix strokes anyway, and might as well really use them.