Words with root words

Have you ever wondered about words and their origin? What do you know about root words? If this is your first time hearing about a root word then you should continue reading. You will find out why it matters and whether should you memorize the whole root words list to brag to your friends.

Can anyone help me out by thinking of a term that describes all the words that come from a single root?

Helpful, helpless, helplessness, would all be ???s of the word ‘help’.
Technical, technicality, technically etc

I’m sure there’s a technical term, but I can’t think what it is.

Derivatives, I would say.

From the OED

derivative: Formed from another word; not primitive; Gram. A word derived from another by some process of word-formation; any word which is not a primitive word or root.

With respect, etymology is the practice of discovering the origins of words, not a word to describe the words derived from a common root.

Paronym’s new on me. The OED has this to say:

1. A word which is derived from another word, or from a word with the same root, and having a related or similar meaning (e.g. childhood and childish); a derivative or cognate word. 1991 E. DECHANT Understanding & teaching Reading x. 361 Paronyms are words with the same root: wise, wisdom.

Also means:
2. A word from one language which translates into another with only minor changes in form, or with no change at all; a word formed by adaptation of a foreign word. Opposed to heteronym.
3. a. A word similar in sound or appearance to another; esp. a near homonym.
b. A play on words that are similar in appearance or sound; = n.

  1. What are root words and examples?
  2. What are common word roots?
  3. What are 100 examples of prefixes?
  4. What is the root word of child?
  5. What is root words for kids?
  6. How do you find the root of a word?
  7. What are the most common suffixes?
  8. What are the 5 examples of affixes?
  9. What are the 50 examples of suffix?
  10. What are the 26 suffixes?
  11. Is Ty a suffix?
  12. Is Mrs A suffix?
  13. What does Ty mean on Tiktok?
  15. What is a Base Word?
  16. Prefixes and Suffixes
  17. What is a Root Word?
  18. Examples of Base Words and Root Words
  19. What is the Difference Between Base Word and Root Word?
  20. Download PDF Version of Base Word vs Root Word
  21. Geek Root Words
  22. Root Words List | Infographic
  23. The Traditional Root and Base-Word System for Kids
  24. Modern Linguistics
  25. English Word-Formation (1983) by Laurie Bauer
  26. Roots, Stems, and Bases
  27. Morphemes
  28. Root / Root Morpheme
  29. We have two types of root morphemes
  30. Dependent Root and Independent Root
  31. Base / Base Word
  32. Putting It All Together
  33. English Root Words
  34. Traditional Root Words
  35. Common Root Words
  36. Join over 15,000 writers today
  37. (Reason 2) Use your understanding of word roots and affixes to decode the meanings of long words.
  38. PDF, Flashcards and SBN formats
  39. Word Roots with Latin Origins
  40. Why You Should Know
  41. (Reason 3) Use an affix to reduce your word count.
  42. Example of Word Roots with Prefixes and Suffixes
  43. «Word Root» or «Base Word»?
  44. A List of Common Prefixes
  45. (Reason 4) Break down long words to help with spelling
  46. What Is a Word Root? (with Examples)
  47. A List of Common Suffixes
  48. Is it a base or root word?
  49. Some fun examples
  50. Conclusions

What are root words and examples?

A basic word to which affixes (prefixes and suffixes) are added is called a root word because it forms the basis of a new word. The root word is also a word in its own right. For example, the word lovely consists of the word love and the suffix -ly.

What are common word roots?

Common Word Roots

What are 100 examples of prefixes?

100+ Prefix Words List for Grades

What is the root word of child?

From Middle English child, from Old English ċild (“fetus; female baby; child”), from Proto-Germanic *kelþaz (“womb; fetus”), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵelt- (“womb”).

What is root words for kids?

What are Root words for kids? A root word or base word for kids is a standalone word that has no affixes attached to it. It is the most basic form of a word with a meaning of its own. Root words or base words help you discover the meaning of a bigger, multisyllabic word by breaking it down into smaller units.

How do you find the root of a word?

It’s what’s left after you remove all the affixes — the prefixes like “un-” or “anti-” and suffixes such as “-able” and “-tion.” With a word like “lovely,” when you take away the suffix “-ly,” you’re left with the root word “love.” Other words, like “schoolhouse” and “armchair,” are made up of two root words together.

What are the most common suffixes?

The most common suffixes are: -tion, -ity, -er, -ness, -ism, -ment, -ant, -ship, -age, -ery.

What are the 5 examples of affixes?

In the English language, there are almost 120 root words that have been identified, which are commonly originated from Greek and Latin. Moreover, there are common root words as well as Greek root words which add with the suffixes and prefixes.

What are the 50 examples of suffix?

50 Examples of Suffixes, Meaning and Examples

4 mar 2022

What are the 26 suffixes?

14 feb 2020

Is Ty a suffix?

We found 1 solutions for Suffix For Boy . The most likely answer for the clue is ISH.

Is Mrs A suffix?

The prefix Mrs. is used to describe any married woman. In the present day, many women decide they want to keep their last name instead of taking their husband’s. These women are still referred to as Mrs. A widowed woman is also referred to as Mrs., out of respect for her deceased husband.

What does Ty mean on Tiktok?

Many words in the English language are formed by taking base words or root words and adding combinations of prefixes and suffixes to them.

A root word is the primary form of a word. While root words may contain the core meaning of the word, they cannot stand alone. For example, “bene” is the root in the word “beneficial.”

A base word is slightly different from a root because a base is the basic form of a word that can stand on its own. For example, “commit” is the base in the word “commitment.” To differentiate the two, just remember that a base can have affixes attached to it, but it does not have to; a root must have an affix (prefix or suffix), or another root, attached to it in order to make it a whole word.

A prefix is a word part that is placed at the beginning of a word to change or enhance its meaning. For example, “dis—” is the prefix of the word “disagree.”

A suffix is a word part that is placed at the end of a word to change or enhance its meaning. For example, “—ful” is the suffix of the word “thankful.”

Most English words are actually derivatives of ancient Greek and Latin words. Knowing Greek and Latin roots is an essential reading comprehension strategy for students because they could determine the meaning of an unknown word if they were familiar with any of the prefixes, suffixes, or root words attached to it. When context clues fail, breaking down words into their smallest parts can ensure your students will be successful.

For example, students might not know what the word “contradict” means, but if they know that “contra” means against and “dict” means speak, they can determine that contradict means: to assert the opposite against what someone has said. Another example is the word “incredulous.” If students know that “in” means not, “cred” means believe, and “ous” means  having, then they could conclude incredulous means: not having a readiness to believe things easily.

Greek and Latin word parts are a tool you want your students to have in their academic tool belt because having a strong vocabulary helps students tremendously with reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Below you can find a FREE, downloadable copy of the 300 most commonly used Greek and Latin root words, suffixes, and prefixes. You can choose particular word parts from the list below to use in your classroom or provide students with this comprehensive list to keep for reference.

Base words are words that exist as recognizable words in the English language. These words cannot be divided into smaller units. Prefixes and suffixes can be added to these words to create new words. There are two theories about root words. Some people use the term root word as a synonym for the base word. However, in some contexts, root words refer to the part of the base word that comes from another language. This article will mainly focus on this second meaning. The key difference between base word and root word is that base words are recognizable words in the English language whereas root words are from another language.


1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is a Base Word
3. What is a Root Word
5. Side by Side Comparison – Base Word vs Root Word in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What is a Base Word?

There are two types of words in the English language: the words that can be broken down into smaller units and words that cannot be broken down into smaller units. Words that cannot be broken down into smaller units are known as base words. In other words, base word is the base form of a word and gives its basic meaning. For example, let’s look at the two words happy and unhappy. The word happy cannot be broken down into smaller units, but unhappy can be broken down into two units since this word is made by adding the prefix un to the base word happy. Prefixes and suffixes are always added to base words.

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Prefixes and Suffixes

Reusable, disappear, unhappiness, unacceptable, disqualified, childish, unlikely, reinvention

What is a Root Word?

In linguistics, the term root word is often used synonymously with base word, and refers to a morpheme from which words have been created by the addition of prefixes or suffixes. For example, the word transportation is formed from the root word transport.

However, the term root word also refers to the origin of the word. In this sense, root word is the part of the base word that comes from another language. For example, the word maternal comes from Latin mater and gives the meaning mother. So, this Latin word, mater can be considered as the root word of maternal. The root words of words like maternity, maternally, maternalism, etc. is also the Latin word mater.

Examples of Base Words and Root Words

Let’s look at some other examples to understand the meaning of base words and root words more clearly.

Base word = cycle, Root word = Latin cyclus (circle)

Base word = transport, Root word = Latin port (to carry)

Base word = moderate, Root word = Latin moderatus (reduced, controlled)

What is the Difference Between Base Word and Root Word?

Base word is a form of a word to which affixes can be added to create new words.  Base words and root words are two terms that are sometimes used as synonyms. However, root words are also defined as parts of the base word that come from another language. This is the difference between base word and root word.

Download PDF Version of Base Word vs Root Word

You can download PDF version of this article and use it for offline purposes as per citation note. Please download PDF version here Difference Between Base Word and Root Word


1. Merrell, Shelly. “Base Words: Definition & Examples.” Study.com, Available here.
2. Nordquist, Richard. “Base Forms of Words in English.” ThoughtCo, Available here.

Root Words! The English language has its roots in languages like Greek and Latin. An understanding of the common root words will help us make educated guesses about the meaning of new words and substantially strengthen our vocabulary.

Given below is a list of commonly used root words, their meanings and some examples of words formed using these root words.

Geek Root Words

List of Greek root words with meanings and examples:

Meaning: Two, Twice

Root Words List | Infographic

Teachers frequently debate this question: What’s the difference between a root, base word, and stem? The reason teachers are forced to debate this question is that their textbooks present a model that quickly falls apart in the real world.

If teachers are confused, their students will also be confused. By the end of this page, you won’t be confused. To end this confusion, we will look at two systems:

The Traditional Root and Base-Word System for Kids
A Modern System of Morphemes, Roots, Bases, and Stems from Linguistics

The Traditional Root and Base-Word System for Kids

Here is a problem-filled system that, unfortunately, some students still learn.

Students learn that are Greek and Latin roots. Most of these roots cannot stand alone as words when we remove the prefixes and suffixes.

justify      : jus (law)

Students also learn that can stand alone as words when we remove all of the prefixes and suffixes. Students learn that if it cannot stand alone when we remove all of the prefixes and suffixes, then it is not a base word.

kindness      kind

The problem comes later in the day when the teacher is teaching verb tenses.

Look at these two verbs: responded and responding. What’s the base word?

Isn’t re- a prefix? If re- is a prefix, then respond can’t be a base word. I suspect that spond is a Latin root. Is it?

I’m not sure. Let me research this. Yes, the word respond has the prefix re- attached to the Latin root spond. The Latin root spond comes from sponder, which means to pledge.

Although the teacher was looking for the answer “respond,” Student #2’s answer was the correct answer according to this Traditional System. That’s how easily the Traditional System falls apart. And the problems get worse from here.

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Modern Linguistics

I looked at a few current student textbooks from major publishers, and most of them don’t mention the terms base or base word. They only use the term root in their basic word studies. I suspect that this is because modern linguistics has created a new meaning for the term base.

In case you are not aware, modern linguistics and modern grammar fix many of the broken models from centuries past—i.e., models and definitions that quickly fall apart when you question them. These days, most books on linguistics and morphology present a somewhat standardized model. In English Word-Formation (1983), Laurie Bauer explains this model succinctly and definitively. Let’s take a look.

English Word-Formation (1983) by Laurie Bauer

As you can see below, Bauer acknowledges the root/stem/base problem and then explains a model that removes the ambiguity.

“‘Root’, ‘stem’ and ‘base’ are all terms used in the literature to designate that part of a word that remains when all affixes have been removed. Of more recent years, however, there has been some attempt to distinguish consistently between these three terms.”

This model holds up across the curriculum. This model is the foundation of what I teach my students.

Roots, Stems, and Bases

I always like to have a complete model in mind that holds up across the curriculum. This lets me find teaching moments and ensures that I can answer my students’ questions clearly and consistently. Although I may not teach my students the entire model, at least the concepts are straight in my mind.

For this reason, I created this “Perfect Model of Roots, Stems, and Bases.” To be clear, this model is an interpretation and fuller explanation of what you might find in a linguistics book. Let me explain it to you. It all begins with morphemes.

Keep in mind that teachers don’t need to teach their students this entire model. In fact, most teachers will want to keep their morphology lessons simple and focus on roots, prefixes, and suffixes. But all teachers will want to understand this entire model.


The term morpheme unifies the concepts of roots, prefixes, and suffixes, and therefore, it is an extremely valuable word. In short, words are composed of parts called morphemes, and each morpheme contributes meaning to the word. Morphemes are the smallest unit of language that contains meaning. Roots, prefixes, and suffixes all have one thing in common—they are all single morphemes. In contrast, stems and bases can be composed of one or many morphemes.

Root / Root Morpheme

When I use the term root, I always mean the root morpheme. The root is always the main morpheme that carries the main meaning of a word. Since a morpheme is the smallest unit of language that contains meaning, we can’t divide or analyze the root morpheme any further. Although a root can be a stand-alone word, to avoid confusion, I never use the term “root word.” I use the term root, and I use the term root morpheme to reinforce what a root is.

We have two types of root morphemes

1. Dependent (bound) Roots: These roots cannot stand alone as words. These roots are usually Greek and Latin roots. Here are a few examples:

2. Independent (free) Roots: These roots are stand-alone words. Practically speaking, these roots are almost always single-syllable words. You know the ones. It seems to me that most multi-syllable words can be further divided and further analyzed. With a little research, one finds that an ancient prefix or suffix has merged with a root. In short, most multi-syllable words are not root morphemes.

Here is what they thought 150 years ago. Although modern linguistics does not agree with these statements, it’s still food for thought. My point is that most of the independent roots that we deal with inside of the classroom are single-syllable words.

“All languages are formed from roots of one syllable.” – New Englander Magazine (1862)

“All words of all languages can be reduced to one-syllable roots.” – New Jerusalem Magazine (1853)

Dependent Root and Independent Root

Modern linguistics use the term bound (for dependent) and free (for independent) to classify morphemes. Since teachers spend so much time teaching students about dependent clauses and independent clauses, I transfer this knowledge and terminology over to morphemes. Put simply: independent morphemes CAN stand alone; dependent morphemes CAN’T stand alone.

PREFIXES and SUFFIXES are almost always dependent morphemes—i.e., they can’t stand alone as words.

ROOTS are either dependent or independent morphemes.

Now, we will examine words that contain one root and words that contain two roots. As you examine these words, pay special attention to the dependent root and independent root aspect.

Many words have just one root. That one root may be a Dependent Root or an Independent Root. Remember, the root carries the main meaning of the word.

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justify              jus

kindness            kind

Some words have two roots. The roots may be Dependent Roots or Independent Roots. With two roots, each root contributes near equal meaning to the word.

Two Dependent Roots

geography        geo (earth)    graph (write)

carnivore    carn (flesh)    vor (swallow)

cardiovascular    cardi (heart)    vas (vessel)

Two Independent Roots

bathroom    bath    room

downfall    down    fall

popcorn    pop    corn

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I use the term stem just as Bauer does. To find the stem, simply remove the inflectional suffixes. It’s that simple.

When to Use the Term Stem: The term stem is quite unnecessary in many classrooms, as all stems are bases. For this reason, teachers can always use the term base instead of stem. However, the concept of stems is helpful in teaching students about inflectional suffixes. Inflectional suffixes are different from derivational affixes (derivational prefixes and derivational suffixes).

reddest    red

girls’    girl

boats    boat

preapproved    preapprove

justifying    justify

responded    respond

unjustifiable    no stem

kindness    no stem

Base / Base Word

Bauer says, “A base is any form to which affixes of any kind can be added. This means that any root or any stem can be termed a base.”

In the table below, I use two labels to show how base and root relate to each other. Sometimes a base is a root (marked   ), and sometimes it is not a root (marked   ).

To be clear, we can add a prefix or suffix to every base even if it already has a prefix or suffix. Furthermore, if we can add a prefix or suffix to something, we can call it a base.

reread    read

unhelpful    helpful    help

justifying    justify    jus

unreliable    reliable    rely

preponderance    ponderance (uncommon)    ponder

responded    respond    spond

preapproved    preapprove    approve    approved    proved    prove

Base vs. Base Word: To keep things simple, teachers should probably strike the term “base word” from their vocabulary. However, if the base is a complete word that can stand alone, teachers may choose to (or through force of habit) refer to it as a base word. If the base can’t stand alone, be sure not to call it a base word.

When to Use the Term Base: The term base is somewhat of a generic term for when we are not interested in or concerned with the root morpheme. As an example, we may choose to use the term base when we are ADDING prefixes and suffixes. When we are adding prefixes and suffixes, we often are unconcerned with finding or discussing the root morpheme. (Remember, we often add prefixes and suffixes to words that already contain prefixes and suffixes.) We may also choose to use the term base when removing a single, specific prefix or suffix, as the word may still contain other prefixes or suffixes.

Putting It All Together

Here is a table to help get you started in your word analysis studies related to root, stem, and base.

The asterisks may be the most important part of this table. They help illustrate that every word has a unique history that often makes analysis and classification complicated and debatable.

* act and graph are also Latin roots

** deny is from Latin denegare = de (away) + negare (to refuse; to say no); since deny technically
has a Latin prefix (de-), you may choose to classify the word differently.

*** forest is from Latin foris meaning outdoors, and unlike the word deny, cannot be analyzed as
having a prefix or suffix attached.

Here is our list of root words to help you with your writing.

Root words are essential to help readers understand the meaning of new English words derived from the original ones. They’re critical to improving vocabulary. Learning root words aids in developing excellent grammar and syntax as a writer. Read through this article to know how to apply these words in your writing.

Note that root and base words are similar but not interchangeable

A root word is a complete word that has its own meaning. You can’t possibly reduce a root word to a shorter one that still makes sense. People use root words in writing and speaking as they contain the core meaning of a word.

They’re also vital in forming new words included in dictionaries. These words may have similar or completely different meanings through prefixes and suffixes. Note that root and base words are similar but not interchangeable, this is because base words can stand alone but not every root word can be used as an independent word.

Below are examples of modern and traditional root words used in almost every English word today:

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English Root Words

Modern English root words can stand alone as a complete word. They’re also known as free morphemes. These words don’t need suffixes or prefixes to be part of the English language; they can also be a basis to form another word. Here are some examples of modern root words and how to use them as part of another English word:

William was hailed as the best actor in the stage play competition.

She worries so much about her appearance that it’s starting to affect her mental health.

He’s only getting a lot of attention because of his bad behavior.

Breaking the fourth wall is a great way to connect with your audience.

She always reminds her son to be careful wherever he goes.

You will need a guide to solve that cryptic crossword.

Being an egomaniac is a red flag many want to avoid in their relationships.

Last month, America recorded a 3.5% unemployment percentage, which is still within the ideal unemployment rate of 3% to 5%.

Everyone likes her because she’s a very friendly person.

Formulating a new design for this project in the short period they allotted us was challenging.

Instead of buying hot food, she prefers to reheat her leftovers to save money.

He believes downloading pirated copies of movies from the internet should not be illegal.

I’m frightened and intrigued by a submarine‘s mechanisms.

There’s a total of 1,000,000 millimeters per kilometer.

They want to hire a paranormal expert to solve this supernatural case.

Her employer promised to replace her if she didn’t change her attitude.

Dennis is such an exceptional player that the head coach told him he should pursue a professional career out of it.

When rulers misuse their power, the whole kingdom suffers.

All I ever wanted was to feel like I belonged; is that too much to ask? Check out this list of er words.

Traditional Root Words

Most English words have a Latin and Greek foundation. It’s the reason they’re called “traditional root words.” This type is the opposite of modern root words and needs to be attached to another word or affixes to be a complete word. Identifying words with Latin and Greek roots is not easy, so here’s a list of examples to help you become more familiar with them:

Cleo’s new aquamarine hair suits her very much; it makes her look like she just came out of a movie about mermaids.

You need to shock the audience, so they don’t easily forget your performance.

Daily morning exercises are beneficial to one’s health.

Unfortunately, her current circumstance doesn’t let her keep her children.

Contrary to everyone’s expectations, James wins the competition.

Don’t let other people dictate your life, do what you want.

Her mother has worked at the shoe factory for over five years.

Apple pickers carefully choose good apples and reject the bad ones.

The victim’s attorney is seeking judicial review of the decision.

The doctor explains that the old lady’s cancer is malignant; they can’t do anything about it anymore.

Nurse Angela likes to work in the hospital’s maternity unit.

The Mona Lisa’s popularity hangs on her smile; experts argue that it has multiple meanings.

Because his father died when he was young, Kean always wonders what paternal love feels like.

He prefers public transport even if he has a car since it’s cheaper.

The bombing strikes are causing massive disruption in the country.

Aya proudly says that she knows how to dissect a frog.

Parents must sign a consent form declaring they permit their children to participate in the summer camp.

He wants to restructure their house to eliminate clutter and make it look more inviting.

She’s an advocate for the deaf and mute, pushing laws requiring public establishments to have a representative who can help and communicate with them.

There’s a CCTV video that captured the bank robbery.

Latin and Greek prefixes, suffixes, and traditional root words are all examples of bound morphemes. To make a new word, bound morphemes need to be attached to one another or other morphemes. It’s why most words with Latin and Greek roots end or start with “dis,” “em,” “over,” “pre,” “able,” “ing,” “tion,” etc. Check the list of English words with Greek roots below to correctly use them in teaching or writing.

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An antisocial personality disorder is a severe condition where the person disregards other people’s rights and feelings.

Cecile and her father are arguing whether automatic cars are better than manual cars.

Biology is an exciting subject with many subbranches explaining living things’ origins, behaviors, and classes.

The new employee likes to put the files in chronological order.

No one has the right to use dynamite when fishing.

Henry is an excellent graphic artist, and he’s good at exceeding his client’s expectations.

I still believe that gay and lesbian pairs will one day have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Fevers can quickly dehydrate your body, so you must drink lots of water.

She is taking psychology to understand herself and other people better.

You need to carefully put the specimen under the microscope if you don’t want the slides to break.

The film shows the leading actor morphing into a giant wolf.

A synonym refers to words that have the same or similar meanings.

Her severe claustrophobia doesn’t let her ride any elevator.

Jake wants to enroll in photography classes this semester.

She writes her excellent stories under a pseudonym.

Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can turn an individual into a psychopath.

The doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to the heart’s murmur.

Because of financial issues, Lino’s parents ask him to enroll in a technological institute instead of a university.

His grandfather has a stack of old telegrams containing Morse codes and other important information.

I can’t believe my doctor still uses a traditional thermometer to see if I have a fever instead of a thermometer gun.

Common Root Words

Because people use root words so often, you won’t be able to notice these words unless you’re familiar with them. To strengthen your vocabulary and be comfortable using them in your writing, here are more examples of roots and common words formed by adding prefixes, suffixes, or both:

The government always seems to be ambiguous on this issue.

Mino knows that NASA has strict requirements to be an astronaut, but he is serious about being one in the future.

Smoking puts anyone at a higher risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Living in medieval castles shows how wealthy and powerful the royal family was during the 11th century.

The brand owner plans to raise the company’s return on equity to 25%.

The general explained that the easiest way to capture the enemy’s fortress was from the inside.

He needs to save money, so he only spends a fraction of his monthly income.

To avoid issues, all club members must have homogenous taste in music.

Seven mountaineers are suffering from hypothermia after the avalanche.

Kenneth wants to participate in this year’s intramural, but he can’t decide what sport he wants to join.

Lia prays she inherits her mother’s intelligence and kindness.

You look much shorter than I remember, but you’re still as lovely as ever.

To ensure you have a high-quality paper, do not misspell words, check grammar, and avoid typos.

My mom explains that money isn’t omnipotent, but people can’t survive in this world without it.

Jillian has been packing her things since this morning, preparing for her flight tomorrow.

Mia enjoys reading and doing her assignments on their school’s rooftop rather than in the library.

After her checkup, the doctor prescribes some medications to lessen the pain in her stomach.

The humble student feels unworthy to receive the award, but his family and friends assure him that he does and are proud of him.

Aina’s date takes her to a zoo without knowing she has zoophobia.

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(Reason 2) Use your understanding of word roots and affixes to decode the meanings of long words.

Often, you can decode the meaning of a word by identifying the word root and applying your understanding of any affixes. Here’s an easy example with the word «disrespectfully»:

Here are some harder examples:

PDF, Flashcards and SBN formats

If you’re learning English, you can quickly increase your vocabulary by learning some common word roots and the most common prefixes and suffixes.

Word Roots with Latin Origins

Lots of word roots derive from Latin. For example:

Why You Should Know

Knowing a root word can help you a lot. Especially when you’re learning a new word or reading something unusual. You don’t have to be pursuing higher education to learn new words. This skill can be very helpful when you’re in a conversation and when preparing for a spelling bee. It also works as an icebreaker in many situations.

(Reason 3) Use an affix to reduce your word count.

A word’s meaning is changed when an affix is added. Sometimes, you can exploit this to reduce your word count and to create a more flowing text.

Example of Word Roots with Prefixes and Suffixes

In these examples, the word roots are in shaded, but the prefixes and suffixes aren’t.

«Word Root» or «Base Word»?

Be aware that there are two different terminologies for dissecting words:

A List of Common Prefixes

Here at Grammar Monster, we use the version on the left (i.e. «word root»), but be aware that you might encounter the version on the right (i.e., «base word» and «root words» to mean the base word and the affixes).

Here is a list of common prefixes with some examples:

(Reason 4) Break down long words to help with spelling

The word «antidisestablishmentarianism» (a 19th-century political position that sought the removal of the Anglican Church’s status as the state church of England, Ireland and Wales) is best known not for what it represents but for its length (28 letters and 12 syllables). Can you spell it? No? I bet you can. If you break it down into its word root and affixes, it’s pretty simple.

This is well-used technique to help with spelling.

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What Is a Word Root? (with Examples)

A word root is the base part of a word (i.e., the word less any prefixes and suffixes).

To change the meaning of a word, a prefix can be added to the front of the word root, or a suffix can be added to the back. Quite often, a prefix and a suffix are added to a word root to change the meaning. (Prefixes and suffixes are known as

Table of Contents

A root word is an English word without any suffix or prefix attached. When you add them to the word, it may change the original meaning. You may think that all root words are Latin or Greek-based. However, that is a traditional understanding of what a root word is. Nowadays, most English words come from other English words.

Meter, legal, crypt, and act are some of the common examples of root words. When you add a prefix to the word “meter“, you can get kilometer, centimeter, and so on. This addition changes the meaning of the actual word and shows a different measurement.

A List of Common Suffixes

Here is a list of common suffixes with some examples:

The term «word root» does not just apply to nouns and creating new nouns (e.g., forming «player» from «play»). Word roots also apply to verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. For example:

Why Word Roots Are Important

Here are four good reasons to care about word roots.

Lots of word roots in English derive from Greek. For example:

Is it a base or root word?

It’s easy to confuse base words with root words, but there are several differences between base and root. Of course, most of the words overlap and are both base and root. It sure makes you wonder if you should memorize the root words list to differentiate it from the base words.

A base word is an English word that you can use independently. It works as a standalone after you add a prefix and suffix. Whereas root work may not work independently.

Another difference is the change in meaning. Adding a prefix or suffix to a base word may not always change the meaning. While for a root word, the addition is most likely to change the meaning.

For example, the root word “marine“. As a root word, it means the sea environment. But when you add the prefix sub– and it becomes “submarine“, a vehicle to travel undersea. Add the suffix –er, then you will get “mariner” or the person who is working on the sea.

Some fun examples

You also can add another word to the root and give it an entirely new meaning.  For example, “sunflower” comes from adding the word “sun” to the root word “flower.”

Another example is the root word “fish.” You can add the word “jelly” before the “fish” and it becomes “jellyfish“. It refers to a unique species that looks like a jelly yet lives underwater like a fish.


Remember that the meaning will not stray very far from the root word. However, it sure gives you a new perspective on the words and what you can do. You can be creative with the root words list and try to figure out the new words and meanings.

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