Greek and Latin Roots

Explore the Depth and Complexity of Words

“Learning the 100 most common Latin and Greek stems in the English language gives you access to at least 5,000 words."

Why teach Greek and Latin Roots?

Did you know that 70% of the English language is derived from Greek and Latin language? When students are given Greek and Latin roots as building blocks they will have the tools to decode new words they encounter when reading independently.

Greek and Latin Affixes and Roots are Important Parts of the Common Core in All Grades.

Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., audience, auditory, audible). Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, heat/preheat).

Explore the Depth and Complexity of Words

Morphological Families

The TextProject provides a resource on Morphological Families. Often, the most common words in a language have multiple meanings, a feature that is called polysemy (“many meanings”). The word "set", has 464 definitions. That is an unusually high number, but quite a few everyday words (e.g., find, change, good) have a surprising number of nuanced, or distinct, meanings. Here are some other Morphological Families.

Root Word Super Heroes

Students should research the meaning of the root, make a list of words using the root, and create a superhero character based on the root. The superhero’s costume and super-power should be directly linked to the meaning of the root. Superhero costumes should allow other students in the class to infer what root inspired the disguise without directly giving it away. For example, a crown of pencils might reveal the root graph, a cape with the map of the world might reveal the root geo, or a mask of moons and stars might reveal the root ast. This is where students really get an opportunity to be creative. Students could also write a short story explaining how the superhero gained his or her superpower using as many of the words containing the root as possible.

Create a Learning Center

Ms. Reed's favorite ways to reinforce learning Greek/Latin roots or suffixes is through a center she calls Stacks. On the outside of the bottom of cups write the root or suffix. Inside write the meaning. Students should pick a cup and read the bottom and then say the meaning without looking in the cup. They can check if they correct by reading the inside of the cup. If they get it right, they can stack it.

Root Word Stacks

Root of the Day

On this website words are broken down into constituent roots. Each "Daily Root" has an interactive component and podcast to engage students. Use the Google document for whole class discussion or independently at a computer center.

Root Word of the Day Document

A Great Place to Start

The goal of Vocabulary Packets: Greek & Latin Roots electronic book is useful to introduce, reinforce, and provide practice in basic roots and cognates.

Most Common Root Words

Check out how clearly the Reading Center explained Word Parts. This list of the 84 most common Greek and Latin roots includes the root word, the English meaning and examples of words.

Relationship Triads

Write three root words that could be linked according to the theme in the center of each triad. Write the three root words along the three sides of the triad.

Root Word Triads

-ology, -logy, -ologist, -logist

Encourage students to engage with the suffix -ology. It is used in words to name any science or academic field of study, a person who speaks in a certain manner, or someone who deals with certain topics or subjects. This OLOGY activity gives students the opportunity to investigate future fields of study.

The American Museum of Natural History has a website called OLogy. Challenge students to read a few articles within an -ology and write about the articles' commonalities.

Using Root Words to Infer

Give students this list of the 84 Most Common Greek and Latin roots. As they read independently or in small groups challenge them to find new words containing roots and suffixes. Have your students complete this Using Root Words to Infer chart with words they find in their own reading. Come back together to discuss.

Greek and Latin Influence Across the Academic Discplines

Learning root words commonly found in science, math, social studies, reading and art will help students increase their non-fiction reading fluency and comprehension.

Investigate the parts of math words. Focus on roots, prefixes and suffixes using this Math Word Parts or Prefixes used in Math word list. Check out the Origins of Math Terms.

Investigate the parts of science words. Focus of Science Greek and Latin Roots or explore Scientific Root Words, Prefixes, and Suffixes

Check These Out

Check out Learn that Word Root Word Dictionary and Root Word Dictionary.

Suffix Prefix Dictionary is the most comprehensive online dictionary of biological and medical prefixes and suffixes.

Invent a Word

Provide students with a list of roots and affixes that they are already familiar with. Combine these known roots to invent new words. Deepen the challenge by asking them to invent a word that fits into the science or social studies content. They must also compose definitions for these words. Students will then share and discuss their invented words to the class.

Check out the Read Write Think website lesson called Make A Word.

Make a Word Instructions

Make a Word Game

Make a Word Self Evaluation

Root Word &Suffix Activities

  • Create a story correctly using 10 words that contain a root from the list. Highlight or underline the words in the story. Provide a list of the words used with their definitions.
  • Create a song correctly using 10 words that contain a root from the list. Highlight or underline the words in the lyrics. Provide a list of the words used with their definitions.
  • Create a poem or several haikus with 10 words that contain a root from the list. Highlight or underline the words in the poem/haikus. Provide a list of the words used with their definitions.
  • Write riddles using information from the definitions of 10 words that contain a root from the list. Provide a list of the words used with their definitions.
  • Play Roll an Affix game On a blank die, write six prefixes or suffixes. Have students roll the die. For the prefix that comes up, students take turns giving a word which starts with that prefix. Students keep giving words until someone cannot think of another word. The last person to give a word scores a point.

Introduce Prefixes, Root Words and Suffixes with this RAP!