Base Words: Definition & Examples

Base Words: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:00 What Is a Base Word?
  • 0:48 Using Base Words
  • 1:53 Finding Base Words
  • 2:37 Challenging Words
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shelly Merrell

Shelly has a Master's of Education. Most recent professional experience is an educational diagnostician. Prior, she taught for 8 years.

Words in the English language can be made up of several different parts. Understanding those parts can help to determine the meaning of the word. In this lesson, we will learn what a base word is and how adding word parts, such as prefixes and suffixes, can create a new word.

What is a Base Word?

Have you ever read a word like 'endangered' and wondered what it meant? Knowing we can break the word into smaller parts may be helpful in determining a word's meaning.

In the English language there are two types of words: words that can be broken down into smaller units and words that cannot. The part of the word that cannot be broken down is called a base word, also known as a root word. The base word gives the word its basic meaning. Sometimes, base words have a prefix, which is a letter or letters added to the beginning, or a suffix, which is a letter or letters added to the end. Prefixes and suffixes change the base word's meaning.

Using Base Words

Let's look at some examples of how prefixes and suffixes can change a word's meaning.

  • Happy means feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
  • Un + happy = unhappy, which means not satisfied or not pleased.

Adding the prefix 'un' to the base word 'happy' changed the meaning.

  • Care means to feel concern for something.
  • Care + less = careless, which means not concerned or worried about.

Adding the suffix 'less' to the base word 'care' changed the meaning to the opposite.

  • View means the ability to see something.
  • View + er = viewer, which means one who views.

Once again, adding a suffix changed the meaning of the word.

Finding Base Words

Can you find the base word of these three words? Undo, redo, and undoing. The base word is 'do.' 'Undo' and 'redo' added a prefix that slightly changed the meaning of the base word. 'Undoing' added both a prefix, 'un', and a suffix, 'ing.'

How about the words: reread, reading, and preread? The base word here is 'read.'

Let's try one more set: jumping, jumped, and jumps. The base word is 'jump.'

Challenging Words

Sometimes, we may encounter words that have both a prefix and a suffix attached to the base word. We will carefully have to evaluate those words to determine what the base is.

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