Clues Within The Words Themselvesword Parts

Many English words are made from combinations of Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes. Knowing some of these important word parts can greatly increase your ability to figure out and understand new words.

Example: Many politicians still favor the use of geothermal energy.

If you recognize "geo" from the word "geography," you may know that the prefix "geo" means "earth." Then you could use the root word "therm" to think of "thermometer" or "thermos" which have to do with temperature and heat. These clues may suggest that the meaning of the word geothermal is something to do with the earth's heat. As you read on, you can test your predicted meaning and see if other sentences that follow have something to do with the idea of earth's heat. Geothermal actually refers to heat within the earth's interior that may come to the surface in forms such as the steam from geysers, etc.

The one pitfall in using word parts is that not all words are made of Latin or Greek parts, and some words may look promising but may not actually follow the pattern. The only way to know for certain that a word uses these parts is to look up the word's etymology, or history, in a collegiate dictionary.

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