Saturday, September 1, 2012

Root Words

(root word) root: (linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed; "thematic vowels are part of the stem".

A root word is the most basic form of a word that is able to convey a particular description, thought or meaning. Root words are sometimes English words, but often they are words based or derived from other languages like Greek, Latin, German, French, or Spanish (which is quite often based on Latin).

Have you ever given much thought to root words? I bet you just have your child complete the worksheets in your given curriculum without ever really thinking about why you need to teach them, or what benefit they give.

The roots archy (government) and dox (opinion or belief) need to be combined with other word elements, like prefixes, suffixes, or even other roots:

  • dyarchy: a government with two rulers, from the prefix dy-(meaning two) and the root archy (meaning government)
  • anarchist: one who rebels against governmental authority, from the prefix an- (meaning without or no), the root archy (meaning government), and the suffix -ist (meaning one who)
  • orthodox: conforming to established doctrines and practices, from the prefix ortho- (meaning right or true) and the root dox (meaning opinion or belief)

A solid foundation in root words is extremely important for your child. In order to successfully decode some words you must first identify the root. Knowing the root helps your child understand more clearly what a specific word is meant to express. Reading fluency. comprehension, and spelling skills will benefit greatly from studying root words.

Many root words have suffixes and/or prefixes attached to them. When you can put together the meaning of a root with the meaning of a prefix and/or a suffix, you can unlock the definitions of new words without a hitch.

de+ter+ent=deterrent  adj.  impediment

The study of root words begins in kindergarten and continues into college. The language portion of most standardized tests will contain root word questions. While worksheets  are one way to learn about root words, playing root word games are also an excellent way to learn and reinforce this important skill.

*Tip:  When you encounter an unknown word, look at the root first to see if you can figure out the meaning even if you don’t know the word. For example, if you read the word arboreal and you recognize arbor, you know the word relates to trees.

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