In this lesson, we will learn how to understand the meaning of words by breaking them down into the parts that form them. This requires knowledge of the Greek and Latin roots, and affixes, which are parts we add to roots to make new words.
Latin & Greek Roots & Affixes
The United States of America is well known as the 'Land of the Free' and a place where liberties are protected. Now, what is liberty?
To understand the meaning of this word, and a lot more, we can take a look at the parts that form them. In this lesson, we will learn how to increase our vocabulary by understanding the meaning of words through their Latin and/or Greek roots and affixes.
The root of a word is the minimum unit with meaning and cannot be broken down any further. 'Bio' is an example of a root. It has its own meaning, but when we add other parts, it forms more words with the same root, as in 'biology,' 'biography' and 'bionic.'
Here are some common roots you may be familiar with:
|| to hold
|| to choose
Affixes: Prefixes & Suffixes
Affixes are parts of words that can be added to words to change the meaning. Add the affix 'un' to the word 'real' = 'unreal.' Affixes can be added to words or roots. If affixes are added at the beginning, they are called prefixes. If they are added at the end of a word, they are called suffixes.
Look at this example:
Correct: From the Latin correctus, and it means 'free of error.'
What do you think the next one means?
Incorrect: We add the prefix 'in' from Latin that means 'not.' So 'incorrect' means: 'not free from error.'
Let's take a look at the first word we brought up:
'Liberty': This word is formed by two parts: 'liber-' from the Latin root 'liber' that means 'free' and '-ty,' from the Latin '-tas' or '-tat,' that is a suffix which means condition. So 'liberty,' putting together the meaning of both parts, can be defined as the 'condition of being free.'
Here are some common prefixes you may be familiar with:
| de, dis
|| develop, discover
| in, im
|| indiscreet, improper
Here are some common suffixes you may be familiar with:
|| can be
|| made of
Let's take the word 'view' and add affixes. 'Review,' 'preview,' and 'viewable.' Notice how each word has a different meaning because of the affix. Can you think of some examples from the word 'cover?' ('recover,' 'discover,' 'uncover,' 'coverable,' 'uncoverable')
In this lesson, we learned many roots from Greek and Latin and also prefixes and suffixes that we can add to these roots to create different words. Many English words have roots from Greek and Latin, and with the memorization of common roots and affixes, you will be able to understand words you have never seen before.
By the time you are done with this lesson you should be able to:
- Explain affixes and roots
- Recall some common prefixes, suffixes, and root words
- Identify the root and affixes of words