Root Words

Root words in English are essential words with no prefixes or suffixes added to them. Read through the rest of this handy teaching wiki to learn more about what root words are and what root words look like in English, with root word examples, as well as a great collection of resources and teaching aids to support your lesson planning this term.

Independent root words examples in English and their meaning

  • Act – to move or do (root word with added prefix or suffix – actor, acting, re-enact).
  • Crypt – to hide (root word with added prefix or suffix – cryptic, cryptography).
  • Ego – I (root word with added prefix or suffix – egotist, narcissistic, egomaniac).
  • Form- shape (root word with added prefix or suffix – conform, formulate, reform).
  • Legal – related to the law (root word with added prefix or suffix – illegal, legalities, paralegal).
  • Meter – measure (root word with added prefix or suffix – kilometer, millimeter, pedometer).
  • Norm – typical (root word with added prefix or suffix – abnormal, normality, paranormal).

What is the difference between root words and base words?

Base words are similar to root words but are not precisely the same. A base word is a standalone English word that can also form other words by using prefixes and suffixes (whereas root words cannot always be used as an independent words). When a prefix or suffix is added to a base word, the word’s meaning changes, and a new word is formed.

What are some KS2 root words examples?

Suffixes – ‘er’ and ‘-est’ is used to create comparative and superlative adjectives.

high / higher / the highest
Warm / warmer/ warmest.

Some root words can have words added to change their meaning entirely.

normal / ab – normal / normal – ity
place / re – place / place – d

Adding ‘jelly’ to the front of the word ‘fish’ makes ‘jellyfish,’ and adding ‘sun’ to the start of ‘flower’ creates ‘sunflower.’

More root words in English – KS2 examples

Root word Prefix added Suffix added
Marine submarine mariner
View review viewed
play replay player played
heat reheat heated, heater
behave misbehave behavior behaved
place replace replaced
normal abnormal normality, normalize
want unwanted wanted

What are some common prefixes that are added to root words in English?

  • Dis-, De-: Opposite of
  • Trans-: In-between, transcend
  • Inter-: Between, among
  • Sub-: Under
  • Non-: Not, negative
  • Un-: Opposite
  • Semi-: Half
  • Re-: Back, again
  • Mid-: Middle
  • Mis-: Wrongly
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