Greek & Latin Roots Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Hance

Elizabeth has taught elementary and middle school special education, and has a master's degree in reading education.

In this lesson, you will learn about some common and helpful Greek and Latin roots. Greek and Latin roots are very common in the English language, and knowing their meanings can help you figure out an unknown word.

What is a Root?

Imagine you're reading a book and you come across a long, difficult word. You've never seen it before, and there aren't many good context clues to help you out. But what if you knew the root of the word? Just like plants, words have roots that anchor them. A word's root is its origin. If we know where a word comes from, we can take that knowledge and figure out its meaning today.

Root or Base?

A root word is not the same as a base word. A base word can stand on its own, or have affixes, word parts that are added to the beginning or ending of a word. A root word, however, does not stand alone. For example, the word predict has the Latin root dict, meaning to say. But dict is not a word on its own. However, 'predict' could be a base word! You can add many prefixes (affixes at the beginning of a word) and suffixes (affixes added to the end of a word) to it: predictable, predicted, predicting, unpredictable. No matter what, knowing more Latin and Greek words will definitely build your knowledge of words!

In English, many of our words have origins and Greek and Latin. Our words are built from their roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Knowing the meaning behind some of these roots can help enrich your vocabulary and even improve your spelling!

Common Greek Roots

Have you ever noticed that many words in English seem like they are related? Biology, psychology, anthology, astrology, dermatology...They seem related because they are: each word has the Greek root logy, meaning 'the study of'.

  • A democratic government is elected by the people.
  • Anthropology is the study of humans, their cultures, and their communities.
  • Chronology is the ordering or sequencing of events according to time.

Four common Greek roots and their meanings
greek roots

Phon is a very common root: you probably use a telephone to call people, you can listen to music on a phonograph, and studying phonics can help you sound out words.

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