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What is a Root word?

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Every language has its own importance and attractiveness. The same holds true for the English language, which was first used in early medieval period in England. Since then, the language has seen a lot of development and over the course of time it has become one of the most common native languages in the world. A single sentence contains vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation which makes it meaningful. Ever wondered how  are these words formed or rather where do they come from?

root words

The English language has formed many words by taking basic words and adding combinations of prefixes and suffixes to them.  These words are called root words as they form the basis of words. Many root words in English have originated from the Greek and Latin. However, the root word is also a word which has its own meaning.

Learning root words with examples


Example: Let’s take the word ‘unemployment’. It comprises of a prefix - un and a suffix – ment. So, here the root word is employ and we can add prefixes and suffixes to change its meaning e.g. employee, employer, etc. When you learn these common root words you will understand the meaning of new words and considerably strengthen your vocabulary. Let’s have a look at the root words.

base word

1. Aqua

Meaning – Water

Examples – Aquarium means artificial environment for water plants and animals, aqua marine means a light bluish-green color.

2. Auto

Meaning – Self

Examples – Autobiography means an account of a person's life written by that person. Automobile means a self-propelled passenger vehicle that usually has four wheels and an internal-combustion engine

3. Bio

Meaning – Life

E.g. – Biology means study of living things, biography means an account of someone's life written by someone else.

4. Counter

Meaning – Against

E.g. Encounter means unexpectedly be faced with or experience. Counter-productive means having the opposite effect as intended.

5. Decor

Meaning – Beauty, elegance,

E.g. Decorate means make (something) look more attractive by adding extra items or images to it, decorum means etiquette.

6. Derm

Meaning – Skin

E.g. Dermatologist means a doctor who has specialized in the study of skin disorders, Dermatitis means Inflammation of the skin

7. Kilo

Meaning – Thousand

E.g. Kilogram means thousand grams, kilolitre means thousand litres

8. Omni

Meaning – All

E.g. Omnipresent means present everywhere at the same time, omnivorous –means eating all kinds of foods

Hope the above examples have cleared the meaning of root words. These words form the base for other words. Keep reading newspaper, books and improve your vocabulary. A spoken English course will help you to advance your English speaking skills and enhance your communication skills.

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-By Chander Madan

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