<< Back to Lessons Index

7th Grade Language Arts / Lesson 4.2.1: Prefixes, Roots

Roots, Prefixes, & Suffixes

What will we be learning in this lesson?

How Did Greek & Latin Prefixes, Roots & Suffixes Get into English?
  • Latin was the language which the ancient Romans spoke.

  • As Romans conquered other countries in Europe, the Latin language spread over those countries.

  • Over time, the Latin spoken in those countries became
    separate languages like French, Spanish and Italian.

How Did Greek & Latin Prefixes, Roots & Suffixes Get into English?

  • Latin changed a little, too, by adding new words or word parts. For example, some Greek words and word parts became part of Latin.

  • In 1066, England was conquered by a Frenchman named William, Duke of Normandy.

  • 1  He was also known as William the Conqueror
    2  Many Latin and Greek words or word parts came into English indirectly from French during     that time (the Norman invasion).
    3  That is why we have Greek and Latin words and word parts in English today.


  • Prefix : Placed at the beginning of a word to change its meaning. A prefix cannot stand alone.
    Example : tele- which means "far."

  • Root : Main part of a word. The root contains the core meaning of the word.
    Example : - phon-which means "sound."

  • Suffix : Placed at the end of a word to change its meaning. A suffix cannot stand alone.
    Example : -ic which means "of or like."

tele - phon - ic

  • Meaning: Like a sound that can be heard from far away.

How can prefixes, suffixes, and roots help you figure out word meanings?

  • Many affixes (another name for prefixes and suffixes) have meanings just like words.

  • Knowing those meanings can help you figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words when you find them in your reading.

  • See the following slides for examples

Meanings of Some Common Prefixes

    1. uni : means one.

    EXAMPLES :   A unicorn has ONE horn.
                             A unicycle has ONE wheel.

    2. bi : mean two

    EXAMPLES :    A biplane had TWO wings.
                              A bicycle has TWO wheels.

Meanings of Some Common Suffixes

    1. ful :  means characterized by or full of.

    EXAMPLES :  Beautiful means full of beauty.Joyful means full of joy.

    2. less :  means without.

    EXAMPLES :  Luckless means without luck. Friendless means without friends.

    3. phone : means sound or something that makes sound.

    EXAMPLES :   Homophones are words that sound alike.A telephone carries sound.

Meanings of Some Common Roots

    1. derm : means skin.

    EXAMPLES :  A dermatologist is a doctor who helps cure skin problems

    2. graph : means something written

    EXAMPLES :  Your autograph is the way you write your name.

    3. phono : means sound

    EXAMPLES :   A saxophone is an instrument that makes musical sounds.

    4. photo : means light

    EXAMPLES :   Photosynthesis is a way green plants use light to make food.