Posts Tagged ‘Greek roots’

How to Memorize Greek and Latin Word Parts

Grades 4-8 Comprehensive Vocabulary

Comprehensive Vocabulary

Teachers know that teaching the most common Greek and Latin prefixes, bases, and suffixes makes sense to help students build academic language, but how to memorize Greek and Latin Word Parts? After all, about 50% of the words in any unabridged dictionary include at least one Greek or Latin affix or root. Tier 2 words have even more!

The question is how can students most efficiently learn these word parts? Rote memorization has a role; however, tapping into the students’ transferable, long-term memories is more effective.

One way to connect to the long-term memory is through association. Associating multiple word parts helps students remember each word part better than through individual memorization. For example, auto means “self,” bio means “life,” graph means “write” and y means “the process or result of.” Learning the whole word, autobiography, is a great way to memorize by association.

Years ago I created a list of 15 Power Words with these types of associations for the most common Greek and Latin affixes and bases. The word parts associated in this list comprise word parts found in over 15,000 words. Well worth teaching your students, I would say.

Get the 15 Power Words FREE Resource:

Here’s a great game that will help students practice their own Greek and Latin word part associations.

Have students create and spread out vocabulary word part cards into prefix, root, and suffix groups on their desks. Business card size works best. The object of the Put-Togethers game is to put together these word parts into real words within a given time period. Students can use connecting vowels. Students are awarded points as follows:

  • 1 point for each prefix—base combination
  • 1 point for each base—suffix combination
  • 2 points for a prefix—base combination that no one else in the group has
  • 2 points for a base—suffix combination that no one else in the group has
  • 3 points for each prefix—base—suffix combination
  • 5 points for a prefix—base—suffix combination that no one else has.

Another great game this time of year is Word Part Monsters. Teach numerical prefixes, some body part bases, and some descriptive suffixes and students use these to name and draw their own monsters. A pyrcapunipod comes to mind… translation? a fire-headed, one-footed monster! Students guess the translations of their classmates’ monsters.


For full-year vocabulary programs which include multiple meaning words (L.4.a.), Greek and Latin morphology with Morphology Walls (L.4.a.), figures of speech (L.5.a.), words with special relationships (L.5.b.), words with connotative meanings (L.5.c.), and academic language words (L.6.0), check out the assessment-based grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Comprehensive Vocabulary.

Get the Grades 4,5,6,7,8 Vocabulary Sequence of Instruction FREE Resource:

Get the Greek and Latin Morphology Walls FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic Academic Language Assessment FREE Resource:

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