Friday, February 16, 2018

What You Need to Know About Parts of a Word

Definition of Root Words

The root is the foundation on which other words are built.  The core meaning of every word is carried within the root.  A root word can also be a whole word such as self, you can attach new parts to form new words like selfless and selfish.

However most words aren't always formed from root words because they come from other languages, and their meanings may not be as they seem at first glance.


Convocation:  The root is "voc" from the Latin "to call" or "voice".
Convocation is an act of calling together, or assembly.
You can also get provocative, vociferous and vocal from the same root.

More Examples

Set 1: Manufacture, factory, benefactor.
Set 2: Biography, autobiograhy, biology, anitbiotic.

Each of these two sets of words has a common root word.

Set 1, the root word is "fac" which simply means to make or do.
Set 2, the root word is "bio-" which means life.

Greek and Latin Influence on Root Words

The English language is a mish mash of numerous languages that have come together over the centuries.  The two main languages being Greek and Latin.  These two languages have had the greatest affect overall, so being able to figure out what words mean as we come across them definitely helps.

Take a look at more root words extracted from Greek and Latin.

Root word  Meaning Origin  English word 
 anthropo- human Greek anthropology, anthropomorphic 
 astra star Greek astronomy, astrology
 audi hear Latin audible, audio, audience
 cap, capt to take, seize  Latin capable, capture
 chron time Greek chronicle, chronology
 cred to believe Latin credit, incredible
 dict say, speak Latin diction, dictator, predict
 dorm sleep Latin dormant, dormitory
 duc to lead Latin educate, abduct
 flect bend Latin reflect
 ject throw Latin eject
 photo light Greek photon, photographer
 port carry Latin export, transport
 mono single Greek monologue
 mut change Latin commute, mutation
 sperm seed Greek angiosperm
 terr earth Latin terrain
 vac empty Latin evacuate, vacate
 val strong/well Latin valor, valid
 ver truth Latin verdict, verify
 vert to turn Latin divert, convert
 vol wish/will Latin volunteer

Suffixes and Prefixes

What is a Suffix?

A syllable or group of syllables added after a root which can often change the meaning of the word.


Cheerful - Cheerfully

By adding "ly" to the adjective'cheerful' it changes it to the adverb 'cheerfully'.

Here are some well-known suffixes.

Suffix  Meaning  Origin  Example 
 -able (-ible) expressing ability Latin capable, manageable 
 -ac pertaining to Greek cardiac, maniac
 -ary (-ery) connected with Latin dictionary, surgery
 -dom state, rank, condition Latin freedom, wisdom
 -en cause to be, become Old English  darken, weaken
 -ful full of, marked by Anglo Saxon  hopeful, colorful
 -ish tending to Anglo Saxon foolish, stylish
 -ly characteristic of Anglo Saxon friendly, quickly
 -ment action/instance Latin punishment, development
 -tion (-ion, -sion, -ation, -ition)  the action or state of Latin action, friction

What is a Prefix?

One or more syllables added before the root.


Perfect - Imperfect

By adding the prefix "im" which means not, before the word 'perfect' it changes the meaning to produce a negative feeling.

Various prefixes in the English language come from not only Greek and Latin but also Anglo-Saxon languages.

Here are some commonly used prefixes.

Prefix  Meaning  Origin  Examples 
 ab- away from  Latin abduction, abnormal 
 ad- to, toward Latin adjoin
 ante- before Latin anteroom, antechamber 
 anti- opposed to  Greek antisocial, anticlimax
 bi- two Latin bisect, bimonthly
 ex- (e-, ec-, ef-)  forth, from, out  Latin extend, emigrate
 dis- not, apart Latin disqualify, disagree
 in- (il-, im-, ir) not Latin inhuman, illegal, impossible, irresponsible 
 inter- between Latin intermediate
 mis- wrongly Anglo Saxon  mislead, misunderstand
 pre- before Latin pretest, precede
 re- again/back Latin review, rewrite
 sub- beneath Latin subway, submarine

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