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How to learn word formation

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How to learn word formation

The word formation are prefixes, roots, and suffixes. Prefixes are word elements in front of words, roots in the middle, and suffixes are at the back. Knowledge of how words are built up, and the meanings of each elements of the whole word can help first enlarge your vocabulary and then improve your reading comprehension.

Verb Roots from Latin and Greek

A root word is the basic liguistic unit of a word, the form of a word after all affixes are removed. Also known as the "stem word" -- e.g. "import" has a root word "port", sleepwalking has the root word "walk".

In the table, 'fr.' means 'from'.

aerairaerate, aeroplane
am (fr. amare)loveamorous, amateur, amiable
ann (fr. annus)yearannual, anniversary
aud, (fr. audire)hearauditorium, audit
cap (fr. capire)takecaptive
cap (fr. caput)headcapital, per capita, decapitate
chrontimechronology, chronic
degoddeify, diety
dic, dietsay, speakdictate
duc, (fr. ducere)leadaqueduct, duke, ductile
fac, fic, (fr. facere)make, domanufacture, efficient
graphwritecalligraphy, graphology, telegraph
loc (fr. locus)placelocation, local
loqu, loc (fr. loqui)speakeloquence, circumlocution
luc, (fr. lux)lightelucidate
man (fr. manus)handmanuscript, manipulate
mit, miss (fr. mittere)sendadmit, permission
mort. (fr. mors)deathimmortal
omniallomnipotent, omnibus
pat (fr. pater) fatherpaternal, suffering, feelingsympathy, pathology
ped, (fr. pes)footimpede, millipede, pedal
phobia, phobefearhydrophobe, xenophobia
pneumair, breath, spiritpneumonia
pos, positplacedeposit, position
pot, poss, poten (fr. ponerte)be ablepotential, possible
quaerereask, question, seekinquiry, query
rog. (fr. rogare)askinterrogate
scrib, scrip, (fr. scribere)writescribble, script, inscribe
sent, sens, (fr. sentire)feelsensitive, sentient
solalonesoloist, isolate
spect, (fr. spicere) lookintrospective, inspect
spir, spirate)breatheinspiration
therm, (fr. thermos)warmthermometer
ten, (fr. tendere)stretchextend, tense
ten, (fr. tenere)holdtenant
ven, vent (fr. venire)come, arriveadvent, convenient
vert, vers, (fr. vertere)turnrevert, adverse
vid, vis (fr. videre)seesupervisor, vision, provident

Verb Prefixes

A prefix is a group of letters added before a word or base to alter its meaning and form a new word.

a-, an- (G)without, notanaeorobic
ab-, abs- (L)away, from, apartabsent
ad-, ac-, af (L)to, towardsadvent, advance
aero-airaeroplane, acronaut
amb-, ambi- (G)both, aroundambiguous
amphi- (G)both, aroundamphitheatre
ante- (L)beforeantenatal
anti- (G)againstantidote, antitoxic
apo-away fromapostasy
arch- (G)chief, most importantarchbishop, archcriminal
auto- (G)selfautomatic, autocrat
be-about, makebelittle, beguile, beset
bene- (L)well, goodbenefactor
bi- (G)twobiennial, bicycle
centi-, cente- (L)hundredcentigrade, centenary
circum- (L)aroundcircumference, circumambient
co, coll, com-, cor-togethercompanion
con-, (L)with,collect, co-operate
contra- (L)against, countercontradict, contraceptive
de- (F)downdenude, decentralise
deca-, deci (G)tendecade, decagon
demi- (L)halfdemigod
dia-(G)through, betweendiameter
dis- (L)not, opposite todislike, disagree
duo- (G)twoduologue, duplex
dys-bad, difficult, ill, harddysfunction
e-, ex-out ofexhale, excavate
ec- (L)out ofeccentric
en-in-, em-, im-, (L; G) (F)into, notenrage, inability, embolden, emulate, impress
epi- (G)upon, at, in addition, besides, attached to, over, outer, afterepidemic, epidermis
extra- (L)outside, beyondextra-terrestrial
for-, fore- (E)beforeforesee
hemi- (G)halfhemisphere
homo- (L)samehomonym
hyper- (G)above, beyond, excessively, excessivehyperintelligent, hyperfunction
il- (im-, ir-)not, non-illogical
in, im, (un) (L, G, F)notimperfect, inaccessible
inter- (L)among, betweeninterrupt, interstellar
intra-, intro- (L)in, into, inward, within, during, between layers of (inside)intramural, introjection, introvert
iso (G)equal, same,isobaric, isosceles
mal- (L)bad, badly, abnormal(lly), inadequate(ly)malfunction, malformed, malnourished
meta- (G)after, beyond, more comprehensive, transcending, more highly organized, change (etc)metabolism, metaphysical, metastudy, metastasis
mis-wronglymisfit, mislead
mono (G)one, single, alonemonody, monophonic, monocular
multi- (L)manymultipurpose, multimillion
non-notnonsense, nonpareil
ob-, oc-, of-, op (L)in the way, against , opposite, in the way of resistanceobject, obstacle, opposite,
over-above,overhear, overcharge
para- (G)aside, beyondparable, paradox
per- (L)through, throughout, thoroughlyperuse, perennial, peradventure
peri- (G)around, aboutperimeter, pericardium
poly- (G)manypolygamy, polytechnic
post- (L)afterpostscript, postnatal, P.M (post meridiam, i.e., after noon)
pre- (L)beforeprehistoric, pre-war
prime-, primo- (L)first, important, of highest authority, of the highest grade, primaryprimary, Prime-Minister
pro- (L)in front of, favouring, before, earlier than, prior to, rudimentary, forward, front, in front ofprofessor, prologue
quadri- (L)fourquaddennial, quadrangi
re- (L)again, backreappear, recivilise
retro- (L)backwardretrograde, re
self-oneself, itself, of oneself or itself, by oneself or itself (etc) self-knowledge, self-adjustment
semi- (G)halfsemicircle, semidetached
sub- (L)undersubmarine, subterranean
super- (L)above, oversuperfluous, superior
syl-with, togethersyllogism
syn-, sym (G)togethersympathy, synchronise
tele- (G)far, far off, distanttelegram, telepathy
ter- (L)three timestercentenary
tetra- (G)fourtetrahedron, tetralogy
trans- (L)across, throughtransatlantic, translate
tri- (L; G)threetriangle, tripartite
ultra- (L)beyond (in space, range, limits, what's ordinary etc.)ultramarine, ultra-violet
un- (im) (L, G, F)notunbroken, unbotton, unable
under-belowunderfed, underling
uni- (L)oneunicellular, uniform
vice- (L)in place ofviceroy, Vice-President

Verb Suffixes

A suffix is a unit (it may be just one letter too) you add to the end of another word or root so as to alter its meaning or create a new word. Usually, suffixes can't stand on their own as words. Knowledge of suffixes tends to help the student. On this page you find suffixes employed in common English.

-able, -ible (L)able of, fit fordurable, comprehensible
-acy (L; G)state or quality ofaccuracy
-age (L)action or state ofbreakage
-al, ial (L)relating toabdominal
-an (ane, ian) (L)the nature ofGrecian, African
-ance, encequality or action ofinsurance, corpulence
-ant (L)forming adjectives of quality, nouns, signifying a personal agent or something producing an effectdefiant, servant
-stable (L)See -able, -ible 
-arium, -orium (L)place foraquarium, auditorium
-ary (L)place for, dealing withseminary, dictionary
-ate (L)cause to be, office ofanimate, magistrate
-ation, -ition (L)action or state ofcondition, dilapidation
-cle, -icle (L)diminutiveicicle
-dom (E)condition or controlkingdom
-en (E)smallmitten
-en (E)qualitygolden, broken
-er (E)belonging tofarmer, New Yorker
-ess (E)feminine suffixhostess waitress
-et, -ette (L)smallpuppet, marionette
-ferous (L)producingconiferous
-ful (E)full ofcolourful, beautiful
-fy, -ify (L)makesatisfy, fortify
-hood (E)state or condition ofboyhood, childhood
-ian (L)practitioners or inhabitantsmusician, Parisian
-ion (L)condition or action ofpersuasion
-ic (G)relating tohistoric
-id(e) (L)a qualityacid
-ine (G; L)a compoundchlorine
-is (L)names of classes, names of placesbacteria, America
-ish (E)a similarity or relationshipspeevish, childish, greenish
-ism (G)quality or doctrine ofrealism, socialism
-itis (L)inflammation of (medical)bronchitis
-ist (G)one who practiceschemist, pessimist
-ity, -ety, ty (L)state or quality ofloyalty
-ive (L)nature ofcreative, receptive
-ize, -ise (G)make, practise, act likemodernize, advertise
-less (E)lackingfearless, faceless
-logy (G)indicating a branch of knowledgebiology, psychology
-lent (L)fulnessviolent
-ly (E)having the quality ofsoftly, quickly
-ment (L)act or condition ofresentment
-metry, -meter (G)measurementgasometer, geometry
-monyresulting conditiontestimony
-oid (G)resemblingovoid
-ora state or action, a person who, or thingerror, governor, victor, generator
-ous, -ose (L)full ofmurderous, anxious, officious, morose
- osisprocess or condition ofmetamorphosis
-tude (L)quality or degree ofaltitude, gratitude
-ward (E)directionbackward, outward
-y (E) conditiondifficulty

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