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Cross and crown of thorns, the symbols of our Lord’s suffering for our sakes

Classical Christian
Classical Education
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Christine Miller

Classical Christian
Homeschooling Online Catalog: Teaching Prefixes, Suffixes and Roots

This page last revised:
June 2003


Prefixes, Suffixes, & Roots

Using the Online Catalog

Most references which list all the prefixes, suffixes, and roots found in English, and their meanings, do not give a clue as to how these may be taught to children, the ones who need to learn this information. Nor do they distinguish between native English prefixes, suffixes, and roots; and Latin or Greek prefixes, suffixes, and roots. As you know from studying the appendices in The ABC’s and All Their Tricks, this makes a difference in teaching the spelling rules which apply. (If you have not yet acquired The ABC’s and All Their Tricks as a resource for teaching English grammar and spelling, do so for the valuable and important information it contains, which is not repeated anywhere else.)

It is easier to teach adding prefixes (which changes the meaning of the word) and adding suffixes (which often changes the part of speech of the word) using native English prefixes and suffixes at first. Use The ABC’s and All Their Tricks, and the dictionary, to divide the prefixes and suffixes lists in The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists or other reference into a native English list, and a Greek and Latin list. Teach the native English list first, then the Greek and Latin list. Prefixes ought to be taught first, then suffixes, then roots, using the following as model lessons. The very last thing to be taught should be the adding of Latin suffixes, as this is the most complicated material to learn.

As you will discover from the following model lessons, a child will need to be familiar with dictionary use before beginning these lessons, although a mother may look up words with her child, and so teach dictionary use by example in the course of doing these lessons, rather than by filling out a dictionary workbook. By the time a child begins the suffix lessons, she should have been introduced to the difference between the parts of speech, as well as drilled in the spelling rules for adding suffixes; and these exercises will make good review material for those lessons. The parent can teach the child how to use the etymology information in the dictionary when doing the lessons on root words. The etymology information in a dictionary entry is that which precedes the definitions and follows the entry word, usually enclosed in [square brackets].

A lesson in prefixes, suffixes, or roots can be completed every day once a child has progressed far enough in Intermediate Language Lessons. These lessons, which will take 5 or 10 minutes once a child is very familiar with using the dictionary, can be carried into the 5th and 6th grades since there is so much material to cover. The 5th and 6th grade syntax lessons can then be worked upon completion of that day’s prefix, suffix, or root lesson.

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Teaching Prefixes

Lesson 110: Homonyms in Intermediate Language Lessons can be easily used as a lesson model to teach prefixes, suffixes, and the meanings of roots. Using this lesson as a model, we have constructed a lesson to teach the native English prefix “in-”:

A word part which is added before another word, which changes the meaning of the word, is called a prefix. Prefixes were originally used as separate words with their own meanings.

Find the meaning of the following words.

income / include / inhale / infect

The prefix is that which each word has in common. What meaning do each of these words have in common?
Prefix: _________ Meaning: _________ (in-; meaning “into”.)
(“income” means a coming into; “include” means a taking into as part of a whole; “inhale” means to draw into the lungs; “infect” means to introduce a germ into a healthy body or population.)

Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with words from the list above.
1. It is folly to ________ the character of the young with examples of vice. (infect)
2. The raise Father received has increased our yearly _______. (income)
3. To _______ an unknown child in the games of fast friends is a kindness. (include)
4. _________ the fragrant breeze of the summer evening! (inhale)

This lesson may be used as a model, with other lessons devised to teach the other prefixes.

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Teaching Suffixes

This lesson may be used as a model for teaching the suffixes. Here we teach the native English suffix “-y”:

A word part which is added onto the end of another word, which changes the job the word has in the sentence, is called a suffix.

Find the meaning of the following words:

silk / silky
rain / rainy
fun / funny
stone / stony

(Here provide review of the spelling rules for adding a suffix beginning with a vowel.)

Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with words from the list above.
1. Plants sprang up quickly from the seed sown along the path, but they withered in the summer heat, because the seed was sown in ______ soil.
2. The ______ fell on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights in the time of Noah.
3. Going to the beach is great ______ in the summertime!
4. Today I am helping Father remove the large _______ from our garden.
5. I love to pet my kitten and feel her ________ fur.
6. The _________ clowns are my favorite part of the circus.
7. “I saw the clouds among the hills trailing their plumes of ________ gray.”
8. ________ is a beautiful cloth which comes from China.

In the sentences above, what is the part of speech of the words silk, rain, fun, and stone? (noun)
What is the part of speech of the words silky, rainy, funny, and stony? (adjective)
What change did the addition of the suffix -y cause the words silk, rain, fun, and stone to undergo? (caused the nouns to become adjectives.)

This lesson may be used as a model, with other lessons devised to teach the other suffixes.

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Teaching Roots

This lesson may be used as a model for teaching native English, Latin and Greek roots. Here we teach the native English root “hap”.

The base element of a word to which prefixes and suffixes are added, the element in which the word’s meaning may be found, is called the root.

Find the meaning of the following words.

perhaps / happening / hapless / happy / happiness / mishap

The root is that which each word has in common. What meaning do each of these words have in common?
Root: ________ Meaning: ________ (-hap-; meaning “luck, fate, chance”.)
(“perhaps” [adv] means a chance of but not a certainty; a “happening” [noun] is a chance occurrance; “hapless” [adj] means unlucky; “happy” [adj] means favored by good fortune; “happiness” [noun] is the state of being blessed; a “mishap” [noun] is an unfortunate accident.)

Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with words from the list above.
1. “In vain, quoth she, I live, and seek in vain some happy mean to end a _______ life!” (hapless)
2. How _______ is the man who walks not in the way of the wicked! (happy)
3. What has happened, is what is now ________ more than ever. (happening)
4. “By misfortune was my life prolonged, to tell sad stories of my own _______s.” (mishap)
5. “_______ he longed for days he might have lived!” (Perhaps)
6. Perfect _______ is not attainable in this life. (happiness)

This lesson may be used as a model, with other lessons devised to teach the other roots.

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To find the meanings of words, including the meanings of roots, prefixes, and suffixes, CCH recommends Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition. To find beautiful sentences in English to use in writing your own exercises, or for copying or dictation for spelling words, these are my favorite Internet resources which allow a single word search:

The Holy Bible

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

Classic English Verse

The Complete Works of Shakespeare

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Using the Online Catalog

This online catalog is made possible through an association with Barnes& Clicking on the book title or book cover will take you to Barnes&’s information page about that book. You can look at its price, availability, any discounts currently taken for that title, reviews of the book, and other information, as well as order it if you decide to purchase the book. You can even place books in your shopping cart and save them for purchase at a later time. You can continue to add or delete books from your shopping cart until you are satisfied with your order and ready to purchase. Clicking on any link to Barnes& will open a new window; to return to CCH, click on the “Window” menu on your browser’s menu bar, and choose Classical Christian Homeschooling.

Sometimes books go out of print, or the publisher runs out of stock. Any book not available from Barnes& for any reason can be searched using, a book shopping site which will scan Barnes& as well as, Powell’s Books, Book Close Outs and many other new and used book sites. Be sure to also check for out of print book searches.

Still have questions? Ask me!

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