Vocabulary‎ > ‎

Word Parts

Prefixes, Roots, and Suffixes
From When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do by Kylene Beers
Standards: RL4, RIT4, W2, L3, L4, L6

Teach common prefixes, roots, and suffixes/affixes, about 6-15 a year, and develop a vertical plan with colleagues. Click here for Beers’ list of Common Prefixes, Roots, and Suffixes.

Instead of simply relying on the list, have students use them to construct “vocabulary trees” with a root word and its meaning at the base, or roots, or the tree and as many words as students can find that contain the root word in the branches and twigs of the tree.


Click here to view the Vocabulary Tree.


 Greek and Latin Word Parts

Over sixty percent of words in English are derived from Greek or Latin roots and in the sciences, the number rises to over ninety percent. Teaching students to recognize Greek and Latin word parts will help students to decode multisyllabic words that appear frequently in complex texts.

The work of learning Greek and Latin roots lends itself to word play. For example, from this List of Latin and Greek Roots Common in Scientific Words, RHS students in Mary Ellen Dakin's English classroom invented their own words, beginning with the Invented Words Chart, then composing an illustrated dictionary.


Students can construct word webs with the Greek or Latin root in the center and a collection of English words and definitions derived from the root arranged around it. The focus of study remains on the roots: learning these will help students to make educated guesses about tier 2 and tier 3 words encountered in academic texts.

 This list of Common Greek and Latin Roots is from The Key Vocabulary Routine: Content Vocabulary Instruction, by Joan Sedita.