Yeah – you know your great-grandmother’s maiden name, but it’s not those roots I’m referring to here.
The roots (along with prefixes and suffixes) I want you to know are of the Greek and Latin persuasion. I’m talking about the roots of words - where those expressions we use today come from.
Why spend time learning the history of a word? Well, read below and you’ll see. Trust me on this one!
1. Knowing one root can give you reasonable definitions of many words.
Therefore, words like theocracy, theology, atheist, polytheistic, and others all have something to do with “god”. Get it? If you know what “theo” means, you have a much better chance of understanding a word you’ve never seen before if it contains that root.
2. Knowing one suffix (word ending) can give you the part of speech of a word.
Definition: a person who…
Part of speech will always be a noun
A cyclist is a person who cycles. A cellist is a person who plays the cello. A somnambulist is a person who sleepwalks (som = sleep and ambul = walk).
3. Knowing one prefix (word beginning) can give you part of the definition.
Root a-, an-
Definition: without, not
Atypical means not typical. Amoral means without morals. Anaerobic means without air or oxygen. If you understand a prefix, you’ll have a better time guessing the definition of a word on a test.
4. Every major standardized test assesses your vocabulary.
No, you won’t have to write the definition of a word down verbatim, but you will have to understand words you’ve never seen before anyway. Take, for instance, the word incongruous. You may have heard the word before, but might not be able to use it in a sentence correctly. But, if you remember that the Latin root “congruere” means “to come together” and “in-“ negates what’s behind it, then you know that incongruous means not together or inharmonious.
5. Knowing roots, suffixes and prefixes can increase your verbal score.
Even though the verbal, critical reading or writing sections may only account for one-third, one-fourth or an even smaller percentage on those monstrous tests, you still have to understand what you’re reading in the other sections. Knowing the bases of the language can help you score better in the math, science, reasoning, and biology sections of major tests because most of the English language is derived from, you guessed it, Greek and Latin.
And that should make you very happy.