Words can be puzzling for students as they are often pieced together by many different word parts (morphemes). A single word might contain a prefix, a suffix, root, and a base or root word, each part holding important information. A root word is a basic standalone word in which affixes can be added to create new words. A root is the basis of a word and it typically does not stand alone.
It is essential for students to develop an understanding of root words, roots, and other morphemes in order to deconstruct words and build word meaning.
Morphemes, also referred to as word-part clues, are units of language that hold meaning, but cannot be broken down any further into smaller meaningful parts. Two basic types of morphemes exist: bound and free. Bound morphemes cannot stand alone and must be attached to other morphemes to form a word. Affixes (prefixes and suffixes) and Latin and Greek roots are bound morphemes. Free morphemes, on the other hand, can stand alone. Examples of free morphemes include English root words, such as the root word “teach” in “teacher.” Two free morphemes can join to form a compound word, for example “dog” and “house” to form “doghouse.”
Prefixes and suffixes can be added to a root word to form many new words and change word meaning. Often the term base word is used interchangeably with root word. When affixes are added to them, they serve as the anchor of the word because they hold the word’s principle meaning.
While there are many conflicting definitions of root words and base words, teachers need to keep in mind the importance of teaching these topics. Knowledge of morphemes, like root words, helps with reading fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.
Root Words Spelling Lists
Greek & Latin Root Words
Many words in the English language possess a Greek or Latin root. Below is a list of commonly used Greek and Latin roots, their meanings, and words containing these roots.
Greek and Latin Root Word Examples
English Root Words
Root words are words in their own right, but are also the basis of many other words. Prefixes, suffixes, or both affixes may be added to expand upon a root word. Below are examples of words containing English root words. Access additional root word lists on VocabularySpellingCity and pair with learning games and activities for root word practice.
English Root Words Examples
|appear||reappear, appearance, disappear|
|break||breakable, breaking, unbreakable|
|build||rebuild, builder, unbuild|
|care||caring, careful, careless|
|comfort||discomfort, comfortable, uncomfortable|
|count||counting, counter, countless|
|employ||unemploy, employment, unemployment|
|faith||faithful, faithfully, unfaithful|
|fear||fearless, fearful, fearing|
|friend||friendly, friendship, unfriendly|
|happy||happiness, unhappy, unhappiness|
|hope||hopeful, hopeless, hoped|
|joy||joyful, enjoyment, overjoyed|
|kind||unkind, kindness, unkindness|
|love||loveable, lovely, loved|
|pack||unpack, packed, packing|
|play||replay, playful, played|
|read||readable, reading, reader|
|use||misuse, useful, used|
|worth||worthy, unworthy, worthless|