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Learn English Word Roots - Part 1


The English language has developed over two thousand years and has words from many other countries. The ancient Romans were so important that many English words are based on their language, Latin. If you want to learn English well, you should learn the basic Latin roots below. Then, when you see new words while reading, you will be able to guess their meaning and understand how to use those words.

1. "aud" means "hear". So, "audience" is a group of people who listen to music or listen to a person talk. "Audible" is an adjective that describes anything that can be heard, even if it is a very soft sound. "Audition" is when a movie director listens to many actors, to try to decide who is the best one.

2. "dict" means "speak". A "dictionary" will tell you the meaning of a word. A "dictation" is when a teacher speaks and the students write. "Predict" means to say what will happen (actually, to guess!) before it happens.

3. "duct" means "lead". To "conduct" also means to lead, as when a "conductor" leads an orchestra. An "aquaduct" is used to lead water to a farm so food can be grown. The word "educate" means to lead someone to learning.

4. "man" means "hand". For example, "manufacture" means to make things. Today those things may be made by machine, but at first they were probably made by people using their hands. "Manipulate" means to try to change things, and we can imagine someone using their hands, though in many situations the hands are not really used. A "manual" is a book we can hold in our hands which tells us how to use or repair a machine.

5. "migr" means "move". The word "immigrate" means to move into another country to live. "Migration" describes the movement of a whole group of people to a new land, or the movement of a large group of animals or birds from one place to another.

6. "mot" also means "move". Of course, a "motor" is something that makes something else move, right? And to "motivate" someone means to encourage them to do something or encourage them to move.

7. "rupt" means "break". A volcano will "erupt" when the top of the mountain breaks open and hot lava pours out. "Interrupt" means to break into a conversation. We say a company is "bankrupt" when the "bank is broken" which means they have no more money.

8. "sign" means "mark". A "signature" is what you write when you sign your name, for example, at the end of a contract. A traffic "signal" is a kind of mark, with the red mark meaning "stop" and the green mark meaning "go". "Significant" means that something is very important, and usually there is some sign to show that this thing is important.

9. "spec" means "see". "Inspect" means to look at something carefully to be sure it is okay. "Respect" is to look at someone and believe they are good. A "spectator" is someone who is watching something, for example, someone who is watching a sports event is a spectator.

10. "tract" means "pull". A "tractor" is a machine that pulls a plow on a farm. To "subtract" one number from another number is like pulling that number down. The word "attract" means to pull someone towards you. If you are "attractive" it means you are good-looking and so pull many people towards you!

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