Use English Root Words to Improve Your Vocabulary

How to Use English Root Words to Improve Your Vocabulary

FastInfo logoBy FastInfo Class Published On 18 Jul 2023 Updated On 06 Nov 2023 Category Learn English Online

Learning vocabulary is an important aspect of mastering the English language. It allows you to express your views and thoughts more effectively and helps in understanding written and spoken English with greater ease. One powerful technique for expanding your English vocabulary is by using root words. Root words form is the basis of many English words, and by understanding their meanings, you can unlock the meanings of numerous related words. In this article, we will explore strategies for effectively using of root word methods to learn English vocabulary.

What are Root Words?

Root words are the basic units from which many words are derived. They carry the core meaning and are often derived from Latin or Greek. By recognizing and understanding root words, you can decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words, make connections between words, and expand your vocabulary.
Some common ‘root’ words in English include:

  • "bio" meaning life (biology, biography)
  • "graph" meaning to write (graphite, autograph)
  • "aud" meaning to hear (audio, auditorium)

By recognizing these root words, you can break down complex words into their basic components and gain insights into their meanings.

What is the Difference Between Root Words and Base Words?

In English, root words and base words are closely related concepts, but with slight distinctions in meaning.

A root word is the fundamental lexical unit from which many words are derived. It is the core element that carries the central meaning of a word. Root words typically trace their origins back to Greek or Latin and are seldom employed as independent entities in contemporary English. Instead, they serve as a foundation for building new words through the addition of prefixes and suffixes. For example, the root word "spect" means "to see," and it forms the basis for various words such as "inspect," "spectacle," and "spectator."

On the other hand, a base word is a word that can stand alone and has its own meaning, but it can also serve as the foundation for forming related words. Base words are more common in everyday language compared to root words. They may or may not contain prefixes or suffixes. For instance, the base word "act" can be used independently, but it can also combine with affixes to create words like "actor," "action," and "react."

To summarize, root words represent the core units with a specific meaning that form the bedrock for numerous words, whereas base words are stand independently that functioning as the underlying framework for related words. Both root words and base words play a significant role in the formation and understanding of English vocabulary.

Importance of Root Words in Vocabulary Building

Learning root words is essential for English vocabulary building because they provide a roadmap to understanding the meaning of various words. When you know the meaning of a root word, you can easily remember words derived from it. It serve as the core elements from which many words are derived. Root words also enable you to make connections between words, identify word families, and expand your vocabulary more efficiently.

Root Word method to learn English Words is one of the important way to build strong vocabulary list. It also assist in spelling correct forms of any words. By recognizing common root words, you can deduce the spelling patterns and make informed guesses about the spelling of related words.

How to Identify Root Words?

Identifying root words in the English language can be a helpful skill for understanding the meanings of unfamiliar words, building vocabulary, and recognizing word patterns. Remember that not all words have clear-cut root words, as some may be formed by blending or have irregular origins. Here are some strategies you can use to identify root words:

  • Look for prefixes and suffixes: Many words in English have affixes attached to the beginning (prefixes) or end (suffixes) of the root word. By recognizing and removing these affixes, you can isolate the root. For example, in the word "unhappiness," "un-" is the prefix, and "-ness" is the suffix, while "happy" is the root. Some common prefixes include "un-", "re-", "pre-", "dis-", and "mis-" etc. Similarly, there are some common suffixes like: "-ed", "-ing", "-ly", "-er", and "-tion" etc.

  • Consider word families: Related words with similar meanings often share a common root. For instance, words like "act," "actor," "acting," and "react" all share the root "act."

  • Examine the word's origin: English borrows words from various languages, particularly Latin and Greek. By understanding the etymology of a word, you can often identify its root. Online dictionaries or language references can provide valuable information about a word's origin.

  • Analyze the word's structure: Pay attention to the word's internal structure. Sometimes, you can identify a root word within a longer word by recognizing familiar word parts or syllables. For example, in the word "transportation," "port" is the root word.

  • Check the dictionary: If you are unsure about the root word or want to verify your findings, consult a dictionary. Look up the root word to confirm its meaning and usage.

Strategies for Using Root Words to Learn English Vocabulary

i) Recognizing Root Words

When encountering a new word, take a moment to analyze its structure. Look for familiar root words, prefixes, and suffixes. By identifying the root word, you can gain insight into the word's meaning. For example, if you come across the word "aquarium," recognizing the root word "aqua" (meaning water) helps you understand that it refers to a container for aquatic creatures.

ii) Creating Word Lists

To effectively use root words for vocabulary expansion, it is beneficial to create a personal root word list. Whenever you encounter a new word, take a moment to analyze its structure and identify any familiar roots. This practice reinforces your understanding and retention of vocabulary. Regularly reviewing and expanding your word list enhances your vocabulary retention and allows you to make connections between words with shared roots.

iii) Exploring Word Families

Word families consist of words derived from the same root word. By examining word families, you can gain a deeper understanding of the various ways a root word is used and expand your vocabulary simultaneously. For example, the root word "photo" (meaning light) gives rise to words like "photograph," "photosynthesis," and "photocopy." Exploring these related words helps you grasp the nuances of the root word's meaning and its applications in different contexts.

iv) Contextual Learning

Understanding root words in context is a powerful way to learn new vocabulary. When you encounter an unfamiliar word, pay attention to the surrounding words and phrases. Look for clues that help you infer the word's meaning. By associating the word with its context and recognizing any familiar root words, you can make educated guesses about its definition.

v) Utilizing Online Resources

Numerous online resources provide lists of root words and their meanings. Websites like and offer comprehensive databases that allow you to explore root words and their derivatives. Additionally, online dictionaries often provide etymological information, which can help you trace the origins of words and understand their root components.

Practical Applications of Root Words

Understanding root words can have real-world applications. Here are a few examples:

  • Vocabulary Expansion: By recognizing root words, you can quickly grasp the meaning of unfamiliar words, thereby expanding your vocabulary and improving your language skills.
  • Word Analysis: Analyzing root words can help you break down complex words into their constituent parts, making it easier to understand their meanings. For instance, the word "geography" can be broken down into "geo" meaning earth and "graphy" meaning writing or study, indicating that it is the study of the earth.
  • Medical Terminology: Many medical terms are derived from Latin or Greek root words. Knowing these roots can help in understanding medical terms and communicating effectively with healthcare professionals.
  • Etymology: Studying root words provides insights into the origins and historical development of words. You can trace the evolution of words and understand how they are connected to other languages or disciplines. This knowledge can deepen your understanding of language and culture.
  • Word Formation: Root words serve as the building blocks for word formation. By combining prefixes, suffixes, and root words, you can create new words or modify existing ones. For example, adding the prefix "un-" to the root word "happy" creates the word "unhappy."
  • Spelling and Pronunciation: Recognizing root words can assist in spelling and pronouncing words correctly. If you know that the root "phon" refers to sound, you can spell and pronounce words like microphone, symphony, and telephone more accurately.

20 Common Root Words in English for Language Learners

There are many more root words in the English language. Understanding root words can help you decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words and expand your vocabulary. Here are some common root words for language enthusiasts that use freequently in the English language along with their meanings for better understanding of root words:

SL NO. Root Word Meaning Words
1 Act to do, to perform action, react
2 Aud to hear auditory, audience
3 Bio life biology, biography
4 Geo  earth, ground geography, geology
5 Chron time chronology, chronic
6 Dict to speak dictate, contradict
7 Dem People democracy, demographic
8 Fin end, limit final, infinite
9 Graph to write, to draw graphic, autograph
10 Hyper excessive, beyond hyperactive, hypersensitive
11 Jur law jury, jurisdiction
12 Log word, study, speech logic, biology, dialogue
13 Meter / Metr measure thermometer, perimeter
14 Phon sound, voice telephone, microphone
15 Photo light photograph, photosynthesis
16 Port to carry transport, portable
17 Scrib / Script to write scribe, manuscript
18 Struct to build structure, construction
19 Uni one uniform, unicorn
20 Vid / Vis to see video, visible


Expanding your vocabulary is a journey that requires time, effort, and effective strategies. By understanding root words and their meanings, analyze the structure of words, prefixes, and suffixes, and explore word families you can unlock a vast array of words and enhance your overall language proficiency. With dedication and consistent practice, you will become a more confident and articulate communicator. For better understanding the root words and different tricks and strategies for English Language Learning you may join affordable spoken English Course by FastInfo Class. Start your journey to linguistic excellence today!

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