Greek and Latin Root Words

Prefixes, Suffixes, and Greek and Latin Root Words. Sounds scary. Sounds difficult. In reality, knowing the origin and breaking down larger words can help children learn new vocabulary quick and easy.

Look at the word autobiography. If we break it down into smaller parts, it is easier to determine its meaning without having to look it up or guess. Auto– is the Greek root meaning “self,” bio- is the Greek root meaning “life,” and graph is the Greek root for “written.” Piece it together and an autobiography is written by a person about his own life. Take away the root “auto” and a biography is written about a life.

An example of a prefix would be “un-,” which means not. So breaking down words like unsaid, unequal, undone, and unclear it’s easier to see that these words actually mean not said, not equal, not done, and not clear.

When children are learning to read, it is important for them to have a background knowledge of these prefixes, suffixes, and root words so they can comprehend the vocabulary words they are reading. It’s one thing to read the words on a page, but the second part to reading is comprehending.

Here is a fun way to practice prefixes, suffixes, and root words using paint chip samples from the paint or home improvement store. Just write the “root” on the top of the card, and using the other colors, write words that come from those roots. You can punch a hole in them and create a book of words. Whenever your child comes across a word using a specific prefix, suffix, or root, add it to the card.


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