How to understand new English vocabulary by learning roots!

Categories English By JadePosted on Format Film
How to understand new English vocabulary by learning roots!

Did you know that many words in English originally come from the Greek language? In fact, if you can identify the Greek keywords within an English word, you can often understand its meaning even if it is a word you have never encountered before! In this lesson, I will show you how to break down the meaning of a Greek word in English by learning keyword prefixes and suffixes.
Take a quiz on this lesson:


Hi, everyone. I’m Jade. Today we’re talking about Greek words in English, and I’m not teaching you these words because they’ll be the most useful words for you, and I’m not teaching you these words so you can go around sounding really clever using long words when you’re speaking English. The reason is to show you a little bit about how the English language has evolved, and also so that when you do encounter a long word, you can use what I’m teaching you today to break it down, and maybe you’ll recognize parts of this word and that will help you understand.

So, let’s have a look at some Greek words in English. So, most of the time, when we find a Greek word in English, it’s academic language, it represents a concept or idea, and there’ll be quite a lot of medical language as well. So, looking at medical words for the mind and body. The Greeks from a long time ago, they were very knowledgeable about medicine and things like that, so we took a lot of words from their language. We didn’t have idea… We didn’t have words for these things, because it was not knowledge known here, so the concepts came from Greece, and with that, the language came from Greece.

So, when we find a word with „dermo” or „derma” in it, we need to think of this part of the word as a building block, and you put different building blocks together, and that can help you understand the whole meaning of the word; otherwise known as a root. So, that means skin. And when we get this end part of the world… Word, which sounds like „ology”, that means study of the subject. So, skin, study of the skin. You put it together, and that gives you the full meaning. So, if you have a problem with… With your skin and you need to go to the hospital, you would go to the „dermatology department”, and the doctor would be a „dermatologist”; a special doctor who knows about skin problems. A different skin problem is „dermatitis”, and the „titis” part means inflammation, it means… Could be… Could be swollen skin, or it could be inside your body. If it’s a problem with your bones, you get a disease called „arthritis” that older people get, usually, and it’s quite painful and difficult to move their fingers, and things like that. So, these are examples of medical words. You can sometimes get a sense of what one part means, and maybe guess the other.

Similarly, when we get words with „hemo” or „hema”, this is related to blood. „Hemoglobin” is a part of what makes up our blood. „Hematoma” is the medical word for bruise. You know when you hit yourself and skin goes purple? If it’s a… If it’s a big bruise, then it’s a hematoma. And a „hemorrhage” is a medical problem where… Where blood is suddenly, like, leaking out where it’s not meant to be inside your body, and you can be in very big, big, big trouble if you get a hemorrhage. Sometimes people get a brain hemorrhage, and maybe they die from that. So, „hemo” or „hema” means blood.

What about „psycho” or „psych”? What does this mean? Well, this is to do with the mind, and I think these words have… These words are interesting because we can see how they’re related. So, we have „psychic”, that’s the power of being able to read somebody’s mind; one mind to another mind. „Psycho” means, like, crazy. And „psychiatrist” means doctor of the mind. So, whenever you see a word with this, you know it’s to do with the mind basically. That’s a useful one, I think; you can find that in a lot of words.

Then, let’s have a look at words with „mania”. You’ll find words with „mania” at the end. „Mania” means to be mad or addicted to something, so here are two… Here are two words. „Cleptomania” means somebody addicted to stealing things; thief. They can’t help themselves, but steal things. And „nymphomania” means somebody addicted to sex, somebody who can’t help themselves from having sex. But that we’ve got many, many words with this „mania” on the end, so if you see that, you can… You ca get a sense, again, of what it actually means.

And we’ve got words here, „anthrop” and that means human, related to human things. „Anthropology”, do you remember what this part means? The study of. The study of humans. So, „an anthropologist” is somebody who studies the way people live in society and culture in the worlds. And „anthropomorphic”, you might use this if you’re a kind of literature student or something. This is a word for when we make things that aren’t humans… We talk about things that aren’t humans as if they were.