Reviewing Root Words, Prefixes, Suffixes and Phonics

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Here, students will review whatever they have learned regarding root words, prefixes, and suffixes from previous grades.
1. Word Decoding- Root words, Prefixes,
Suffixes, and Phonics:
Ways to understand and simplify language

College of the Redwoods
Academic Learning Center
Learning Packet
2. Table of Contents
Introduction: Word Decoding and Its Use
Definitions and List of Root Words and Prefixes
Explanation of Suffixes and Spelling Rules.
Phonics- Explanation
Helpful Study Quiz
3. Introduction: Word Decoding and Its Use
Word Decoding is simply a way of breaking up a word into understandable parts.
Phonics tells you how words are pronounced, but it is not much help in understanding a word
through context or by remembering that parts of words contain smaller, sometimes more
specific, sometimes more flexible meanings. Through leaming root words, suffixes and
prefixes, you can give yourself a “code book” that not only helps you navigate around English,
but at times, also languages derived from Greek, Roman, and German. These include many of
today’s European and South American languages.
Here’s a quick example of how word decoding might work:
Take the sentence- Bill predicted that the results of the latest democratic election would
leave the losing candidate suffering with hypertension.
There are several words that we can derive “clues” through context. For example, we
could guess that whatever the losing candidate is suffering from is not good. But the root word
“hyper” means “high or excessive” and a moderately versed reader could see the word “tense”
inserted in the middle. Or, they might look at the suffix- “-sion” and recognize that this suffix
often accompanies a profession or a state of being. Likewise, the root word “demo” means
people, as in “demo/cracy,” meaning rule by the people,” and “demo/graphics” would give you a
picture of how people are physically spread out over a given location. Ina final example, look at
the word predicted; “pre” meaning before and “dict” meaning to speak as in the word diction.
Thus, prediction is a word or words spoken about the future. In each of these cases, knowing
just part of the word or knowing the root of a similar word might help you guess at the meaning
of the whole word.
English is a language that is derived from mainly German, Latin and Greek, as well as,
some other languages. Because of this, one of the greatest tools any reader, beginner or
advanced, can have is to master and memorize a large amount of these root words.
General Roots and Prefixes
Root Words- Root Words are where many of our common English words originate from.
Often a root word is a word in itself or is easily recognizable as the origin of other words.
4. Sometimes root words have several different meanings. Root Words may come at the beginning
or end of longer words.
Prefixes- Prefixes help to form longer words, but are not words in themselves

only come at the beginning of words and usually have one distinct meaning.

Root or Prefix

a, an not, without atheist, anarchy, anonymous apathy, aphasia, anemia
ab away from absent, abduction, aberrant, abstemious
ambul to walk ambulatory, amble, ambulance, somnambulist
ante before anteroom, antebellum, antedate antecedent, antediluvian
anti, ant against, opposite _ |} antisocial, antiseptic, antithesis, antibody, antichrist,
antinomies, antifreeze, antipathy, antigen, antibiotic
audi to hear audience, auditory, audible, auditorium, audiovisual,
be thoroughly bedecked, besmirch, besprinkled
auto self automobile, automatic, autograph, autonomous,
bene good, well benefactor, beneficial, benevolent, benediction,
beneficiary, benefit

cede, ceed, cess

to go, to yield

succeed, proceed, precede, recede, secession, exceed,


chron time chronology, chronic, chronicle chronometer,
cide, cis to kill, to cut fratricide, suicide, incision, excision, circumcision
circum around circumnavigate, circumflex, circumstance, circumcision,
circumference, circumorbital, circumlocution,
circumvent, circumscribe, circulatory
clud, clus claus. || to close include, exclude, clause, claustrophobia, enclose,
exclusive, reclusive, conclude
con, com with, together convene, compress, contemporary, converge, compact,
confluence, concatenate, conjoin, combine

contra, counter
against, opposite
contradict, counteract, contravene, contrary, counterspy,

cred to believe credo, credible, credence, credit, credential, credulity,
cycl circle, wheel bicycle, cyclical, cycle, encliclical
de from, down, away || detach, deploy, derange, deodorize, devoid, deflate,
degenerate, deice
dei, div God, god divinity, divine, deity, divination, deify


demo people democracy, demagogue, epidemic
dia through, across, _ || diameter, diagonal, dialogue dialect, dialectic,
between diagnosis, diachronic
dict speak predict, verdict, malediction, dictionary, dictate, dictum,
diction, indict
dis, dys, dif || away, not, dismiss, differ, disallow, disperse, dissuade, disconnect,
negative dysfunction, disproportion, disrespect, distemper,
distaste, disarray, dyslexia
duc, duct to lead, pull produce, abduct, product, transducer, viaduct, aqueduct,
induct, deduct, reduce, induce
dyn, dyna power dynamic, dynamometer, heterodyne, dynamite, dynamo,
ecto outside, external _ |] ectomorph, ectoderm, ectoplasm, ectopic, ectothermal
endo inside, withing _|} endotoxin, endoscope, endogenous
equi equal equidistant, equilateral, equilibrium, equinox, equitable,
equation, equator
e, ex out, away, from | emit, expulsion, exhale, exit, express, exclusive,
enervate, exceed, explosion

exter, extra

outside of

extemal, extrinsic, exterior extraordinary, extrabiblical
extracurricular, extrapolate, extraneous


flu, flux flow effluence, influence, effluvium, fluctuate, confluence,
reflux, influx
flect, flex to bend flexible, reflection, deflect, circumflex
graph, gram |) to write polygraph, grammar, biography, graphite, telegram,
autograph, lithograph, historiography, graphic
hetero other heterodox, heterogeneous, heterosexual, heterodyne
homo same homogenized, homosexual, homonym, homophone
hyper over, above hyperactive, hypertensive, hyperbolic, hypersensitive,
hyperventilate, hyperkinetic
hypo below, less than _ || hypotension, hypodermic, hypoglycemia,
in, im not inviolate, innocuous, intractable, innocent, impregnable,
infra beneath infrared, infrastructure
inter, intro between international, intercept, intermission, interoffice,
internal, intermittent, introvert, introduce

within, into
intranet, intracranial, intravenous

jac, ject

to throw

reject, eject, project, trajectory, interject, dejected,
inject, ejaculate


bad, badly
malformation, maladjusted, dismal, malady, malcontent,
malfeasance, maleficent

mega great, million megaphone, megalomaniac, megabyte, megalopolis
meso middle mesomorph, mesoamerica, mesosphere
meta beyond, change __ || metaphor, metamorphosis, metabolism, metahistorical,
meter measure perimeter, micrometer, ammeter, multimeter, altimeter
micro small microscope, microprocessor, microfiche, micrometer,
mis bad, badly misinform, misinterpret, mispronounce, misnomer,
mistake, misogynist
mit, miss to send transmit, permit, missile, missionary, remit, admit,
missive, mission
morph shape polymorphic, morpheme, amorphous
multi many multitude, multipartite, multiply, multipurpose
neo new neologism, neonate, neoclassic, neophyte


non not nonferrous, nonabrasive, nondescript
omni all omnipotent, omnivorous, omniscient
para beside paraprofessional, paramedic, paraphrase, parachute
per through, intensive |} permit, perspire, perforate, persuade
peri around periscope, perimeter, perigee, periodontal
phon sound telephone, phonics, phonograph, phonetic, homophone,
phot light photograph, photosynthesis, photon
poly many polytheist, polygon, polygamy, polymorphous
port to carry porter, portable, report, transportation, deport, import,
re back, again report, realign, retract, revise, regain
retro backwards retrorocket, retrospect, retrogression, retroactive
sanct holy sanctify, sanctuary, sanction, sanctimonious, sacrosanct,
scrib, script to write inscription, prescribe, proscribe, manuscript, conscript,
scribble, scribe
sect, sec cut intersect, transect, dissect, secant, section


semi half, semifinal, semiconscious, semiannual, semimonthly,
spect to look inspect, spectator, circumspect, retrospect, prospect,
sub under, below submerge, submarine, substandard, subnormal, subvert

super, supra |] above superior, suprarenal, superscript, supernatural,
syn together synthesis, synchronous, syndicate
tele distance, from afar || television, telephone, telegraph, telemetry
theo, the God theology, theist, polytheist
therm, thermo || heat thermal, thermometer, thermocouple, thermodynamic,

tract to drag, draw attract, tractor, traction, extract, retract, protract, detract,
subtract, contract, intractable
trans across transoceanic, transmit, transport, transducer
un not uncooked, unharmed, unintended
veh, vect to carry vector, vehicle, convection, vehement
vert, vers to turn convert, revert, advertise, versatile, vertigo, invert,


reversion, extravert, introvert

vital, vitality, vitamins, revitalize

What is a suffix?
Explanation of Suffixes and Spelling Rules
A suffix is a word ending. It is a group of letters you can add to the end of a root word*
e.g. walking, helpful *A root word stands on its own as a word, but you can make new words
from it by adding beginnings (prefixes) and endings (suffixes). For example, ‘comfort’ is a root
word. By adding the prefix ‘dis' and the suffix ‘able’ you can make new words such as
‘discomfort’ and ‘comfortable’.


1] For most short (one syllable) words that end in a single consonant (anything but 'a','e' "i, 'o',
‘u') you need to double the last letter when you add a suffix:
e.g. run + ing = running

Adding suffixes to words can change or add to their meaning, but most importantly they show
how a word will be used in a sentence and what part of speech (e.g. noun, verb, adjective) the
word belongs to.
e.g. If you want to use the root word 'talk' in the following sentence:
Iwas (talk) to Samina.
‘You need to add the suffix ‘ing’ so that the word 'talk' makes better sense grammatically:
"T was talking to Samina".
There are various suffixes we use. Probably the most common are 'ed' and ‘ing’.
Here are some other suffixes and examples.
Suffix spelling rules - double letters
Usually when you add a suffix to a root word the spelling of both stays the same:
e.g. care + ful = careful
But there are several important groups of words where the spelling of the root word changes
when you add a suffix.
Sometimes the spelling changes because of the 'Doubling' rules.
As always, there are exceptions to these 4 rules, but they are a good starting guide:


sun + y = sunny
If the word ends with more than one consonant, you don't double the last letter:
e.g. pump + ed= pumped
sing + ing = singing

2] For most longer (more than one syllable) words that end in 'l' you need to double the 'l' when
you add the suffix:
eg. travel + ing = travelling
cancel + ed = cancelled

3] For most longer (more than one syllable) words that have the stress on the last syllable when
you say them AND end ina single consonant (anything but 'a’, 'e' ','o', 'u!) you need to double
the last letter:
e.g. begin + er = beginner
prefer + ing = preferring
If the word has more than one syllable and ends in a single consonant, but the stress isn't on the
last syllable, then you don't need to double the last letter before adding a suffix:
eg. offer + ing = offering
benefit + ed = benefited
4] If you have a word ending in a consonant and a suffix starting in a consonant, you don't need
to double the last letter of the word:
e.g. enrol + ment = enrolment
commit + ment = commitment


Suffix Example Suffix Example
ed walk + ed = walked ness happy + ness =
ing say + ing = saying al accident + al =
er tall + er = taller ary imagine + ary =
tion educate + tion = able accept + able=
education acceptable
sion divide + sion = division ly love + ly = lovely
cian music + cian = musician ment excite + ment =
fully hope + fully = hopefully ful help + ful + helpful
est large + est = largest y ease + y = easy

15. More suffix spelling rules

'y'to i rule

‘When you add a suffix to a word which ends in a consonant followed by a'y', change the 'y' to '
e.g. The word 'happy' ends in ‘py’.
When you add the suffix ‘ness’, change the 'y' to 'i to make the word happiness:
happy + ness = happiness.
Exceptions to the rule.
If you are adding the suffix 'ing' to a word ending in'y', keep the 'y'.
e.g. The word ‘copy’ ends in 'py'.
When you add ‘ing’ the 'y' doesn't change to an 'i! because you would have 2 i's together: copy +
ing = copying.

Silent 'e' rule

When you add a'y' ora suffix which starts with a vowel (a,¢,i,0,u) to a word which ends in a
silent 'e', drop the silent 'e’.
Silent 'e' words are ones that end with a consonant and have an 'e' at the end, such as hope, like,
love. If you say the word to yourself you don't really hear the 'e' at the end.
e.g. The word 'noise' ends ina silent 'e’.
When you add the suffix 'y', the 'e' is dropped to make the word, noisy:
noise + y= noisy.
The word 'like' ends in a silent 'e’.


Silent 'e' rule

When you add the suffix 'ing’, the 'e' is dropped to make the word, liking:
like + ing = liking.
Exceptions to the rule, Ifa word ends in ‘ce’, or ‘ge’, keep the 'e' if you add a suffix beginning
with either an ‘a’, or an 'o'. (This is done to keep the 'c' or 'g' sounding soft.)
e.g. The word 'peace' ends in'ce’.
When you add on the suffix ‘able' the silent 'e' is kept to make the word, peaceable: peace + able
= peaceable

NB: All these rules also apply to words which have a prefix before the root word.
For example if you add the suffix 'ness' to the root word 'unhappy' you would still change the 'y’
to 'i: un + happy + ness = unhappiness
Verbs, nouns and professions
Adding a suffix to a word can change the job that word does.
There are several forms of the ‘shun! sound which are all suffixes that can change root words
from nouns to verbs, or give you important clues about what the word is doing.

From verbs to nouns...

1] Adding '-tion’
Adding 'tion' to a root word can change the word from a verb (action word) to a noun (name of
person, place or thing):
e.g. inject (verb) + tion = injection (noun)
instruct (verb) + tion = instruction (noun)


From verbs to nouns...

Sometimes the spelling changes slightly between the verb and the noun. The important thing is
that you can see that the verb and noun are related in meaning.
e.g. relax (verb) + tion = relaxation (noun)
describe (verb) + tion = description (noun)
Use this when:
- there is a consonant before the 'tion' sound (normally the root word ends int’)
N.B. if the root word ends in 't’, you drop the final 't' before adding the suffix.
- the root word ends with a long vowel or a short 'l'

18. Phonics is a method of teaching reading using the sounds of words. Phonics is usually helpfill to
beginners, who are just leaming English and are unfamiliar with common spellings of sounds,
but not as helpful to intermediate or advanced learners. This is because phonics does not help in
decoding the meaning of a word. Just because you know how a written word sounds when
spoken, does not mean that you understand the meaning of that word. However, phonics may be
helpful to ESL (English as a Second Language) leamers, who are working on their pronunciation
of written English. Because phonics is often for more advanced learners, this packet will not go
into depth, but those wishing to learn more can find information at:
1) -
2) -
3) -
19. Helpful Study Quiz

Longer Word Formed From

government, rule

progress, regress

audi, audio

dict, dic
diction, dictate

to lead

log or logos

life, mind, spirit

against, opposit

genocide, patricide