If you’re anything like me, you probably never stopped to think about where the English language came from. I mean, sure, we all know that English is a Germanic language, but what does that actually mean? And how did English come to be the complex, fascinating language that it is today?
The answer to both of those questions lies in the roots of English words. A root word is a word or word element (usually a morpheme) that forms the basis of other words. For example, the Latin root aud- has given rise to such words as audio, audition, and auditorium. Similarly, the Greek root geo- has given us geometry, geology, and geography.
But why is it important to learn the roots of English words? Keep reading to find out!
1. Learning Latin and Greek roots can help you improve your vocabulary.
One of the most obvious benefits of learning Latin and Greek roots is that it can help you expand your English vocabulary. By understanding the meaning of common roots, you can often infer the meaning of new words that contain those roots—even if you’ve never seen those words before. This can be especially helpful for students who are preparing for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT.
2. Learning Latin and Greek roots can help you spell new words correctly.
Another benefit of learning Latin and Greek roots is that it can help you spell new words correctly. This is because many English words are spelled according to their Latin or Greek origins—even if those spellings don’t necessarily reflect how those words are pronounced today. For example, the word “debt” is derived from the Latin word debitum, which means “something owed.” As a result, its spelling doesn’t follow standard English rules (i.e., there should be a “b” between the “t” and the “t”). However, because we understand its origins, we can still spell it correctly.
3. Learning Latin and Greek roots can help you remember new words better.
In addition to helping you improve your vocabulary and spelling skills, learning Latin and Greek roots can also help you remember new words better. This is because attaching meaning to a word makes it easier to recall later on. For example, let’s say you want to remember the meaning of the word “contradict.” If you know that its root—”contra-“—means “against” or “opposite,” then it will be much easier for you to remember that “contradict” means “to go against or oppose something.”
As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to learn Latin and Greek roots! Not only can it help improve your vocabulary and spelling skills, but it can also make it easier for you to remember new words. If you’re looking for a trusted resource to help your child get a head start, “English from the Roots Up, Help for Reading, Writing, Spelling, and S.A.T. Scores” is a highly rated book that teaches about root words and focuses on 100 Greek and Latin roots.
Next time you come across an unfamiliar word, take a moment to look up its origins—you might be surprised at what you discover!