Know Word Parts! – A Mini-Soapbox

One of the signs of educational decline–at least in America–is that fewer people seem to know about or understand word parts: roots, prefixes, and suffixes. If you know word parts, especially roots, you can usually have a good idea of what a word means and how to spell it.

Here is a simple example. Many people have a problem spelling the word repetition. It is not a hard word. It is a common word. Yet a lot of people have special trouble with the second vowel. It is a schwa, an unaccented vowel that sounds like “uh,” so it could be any of the vowels. How do we know the second vowel is an e? Simple, the root of repetition is repeat. Repeat is spelled with an e. So is repetition. With very few exceptions, the vowels in a root do not change unless they are conforming to an English spelling rule (changing the y to i before adding –es, that sort of thing).

There is a lot more that could be said, but at least this shows one way the understanding of roots can help you.

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