Prefixes, Suffixes, and Root Words
Have you ever been reading a book and come across a word that you’ve never seen before? Well, if you can break that word down into prefixes, suffixes, and root words, then you can probably figure out what the word means.
For instance, “orthography” may be a word you’ve never seen before. But, if we break it down into its prefix, “ortho“, its root word, “graph“, and its suffix, “y“, then we might be able to figure out what the word means.
The next lesson: Subjects, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.
“Ortho” means “correct” or “straight“. “Graph” means “write” or “draw“. And, “y” means “the state” or “condition of“.
So, if we put all those together, we can get “the state of being written correctly“. And when we compare the definition we came up with, with our actual definition, you can see they’re pretty close. The state of being written correctly, writing words using the proper letters.
So, you got a pretty good idea just by breaking the words down into a prefix, a root word, and a suffix, and figuring out what those meant. And even if you only knew “graph” had something to do with writing, you would have an idea that “orthography” had to do something with writing.
Let’s look at another example. “Geometric“. We’ll break down into our prefix, “geo“, our root word, “metri“, and our suffix, “ic“.
“Geo” means “earth“, and we put that with “metri“, which means “measure“, and “ic” means “having to do with“.
So, if we put all of those together, we can come up with “having to do with measuring the earth“.
Now, this one isn’t quite as close to the actual definition, “relating to the branch of mathematics that has to do with measuring points, lines, and angles“. But, it does have “measuring” in there. You would be able to tell from the root word, “measure“, that “geometric” is going to have something to do with measuring.
So, if you ever come across a word that you don’t know, first, try to figure out what the prefix is, what the root word is, and what the suffix is, so that you can maybe get an idea of what the word means. You can see how important prefixes, suffixes, and root words are to understanding what a word means.