Know Your Greek/Latin Roots!

Why learn the origins of English words? Etymology deals with the origin of or derivation of words in many languages. English has roots in many languages such as Greek and Latin and by learning to recognise some of these common roots and affixes helps a second language learner understand words out of context, as well as improve their vocabulary skills. English is based of Latin and Greek, the building blocks of the language. Learn one root and you unlock the meanings of many English words in which Latin and Greek roots appear. For example if you learn the Latin audi-, which means hearing, listening or sound you immediately have a grasp of the meaning of words such as auditorium, auditory and audible. If you learn the Greek root log-, which means thought, word or speech you would be able to decipher the meanings of logic, monologue and morphological.

Here are some examples:

  • astro = star= Asterisk, Astrology
  • auto = self = Autograph, Automobile
  • bio = life = Biology, Biography
  • chrono = time= Chronology
  • dict= say/speak = Dictation, Predict
  • geo = earth = Geography
  • fin = finish = Finish, Final
  • graph = to write/draw = Graphic
  • inter =between = International, Intermission
  • mal = bad = Malfunction
  • path = feel, hurt = Pathology, Pathetic
  • phon = sound = Homophone, Microphone
  • tele = far, end = Telephone, Telegram

You can find a complied list of Greek and Latin roots in English at these sources: