Greek and Latin Roots in English

Did you know that over 60% of all English words have been borrowed from Greek or Latin roots? In the vocabulary of the sciences and technology, it rises to over 90% because during the Middle Ages, Latin was the language of scholars and educated people.

Julie Christophers byline

Many children and even adults struggle as they are learning English if they are unfamiliar with the Greek and Latin roots that have so greatly influenced the evolution of our words.

Number Works 'n Words Mt Gravatt English competition

I am passionate about supporting students to be well versed in their knowledge and use of the Greek and Latin roots, for they serve 3 key purposes.


Being able to recognise derivational roots within a text allows for a greater depth of understanding. Comprehension is supported when an unknown word can be broken down to its parts.  eg.  In simple terms, if you know that the Greek root ‘psych’ means mind and the Latin root ‘ology’ means study of, then the meaning of the word ‘psychology’ is easy to determine.


Being familiar with Greek and Latin roots, provides the building blocks for accurate spelling. While many roots have been adapted over the years, there are common patterns and recognisable features that support the spelling of many multisyllabic words.

Number Works 'n Words Mt Gravatt English competition


Good writers need to have a mastery of their language in order to articulate and express ideas and emotions, elaborate and describe settings and characters and persuade and encourage their readers to move or question or feel etc.

When a writer has an appreciation for the diverse vocabulary available to them, they can make the most effective word choices. The English language has an unusually large number of synonyms, due to the fact that it has been influenced by several different language groups. English writers should take advantage of this.

Published 21-August-2023