Friday, September 27, 2013

Word Parts ~ Suffixes

     I'll try to suppress my enthusiasm for suffixes in this week's post, but I hope you'll understand if I get carried away.

     Suffixes (Suf means "after") are added to the end of a root or existing word. Suffixes (like prefixes) are not words in their own right. They cannot stand on their own in a sentence. When typed, a hyphen typically precedes them.
Their beauty is twofold:
  • they give new meaning to an existing word; and,
  • they indicate certain parts of speech
     For example:
Noun                                Suffix (Meaning)                             Adjective          
fate, sin                              -ful (full of)                                      fateful, sinful                                      
patriot                                -ic (one having the character of)      patriotic                          
sweaty                               -y (characterized by)                        sweaty
manage                              -able (capable of, able to be)           manageable
fiction                                -al (relating to)                                 fictional
child                                  -ish (of, relating to, being)                childish

     The suffix: -ion (pronounced shun) indicates the word's part of speech is a Noun. Words ending in
-ion, -tion, or -sion means that the given word will have in its definition in the act or process of; state or condition of. Using the word production, I can deduce that it's a noun, and that it's the process of producing. Here are a few others you can try to deduce their meanings: hydration, diversion, expansion, fusion, or orientation.

    As mentioned in last week's Post (please see Word Parts ~ Prefixes), once learned, these word parts help in understanding the meaning of words you don't know. Analyzing a new word for its meaning in this way should be confirmed with your dictionary.

Consider these handy reference books available at Amazon or learn more about prefixes and suffixes on the web at

Once again I ask: Are you surprised at how many words you knew? 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Word Parts ~ Prefixes

     The Greeks and Romans (Latin) devised a system for creating words by putting together smaller word parts called prefixes, roots, and suffixes.  Last week's Post covered the roots or stems of words (please see Roots of Words). Today's Post covers Prefixes (Pre meaning "before"). This word part is added to the front of a root (basic meaning of a word).
     The value of learning to analyze these word units becomes apparent when you come across a word which meaning you don't know. Once learned, those word units help you deduce and understand many words. These word parts contribute to the total meaning of a word, while each part has its own meaning. Analyzing a new word for its meaning in this way should be confirmed with your dictionary. A word is a sum of its parts––a part-to-part relationship. In reading on how to analyze a word's components at Cuesta College's website, I came across this: "It has been estimated that 60 percent of the English words in common use are made up partly or entirely of prefixes or roots derived from Latin or Greek."
Let's get into the swim of it!
     A prefix is a group of letters added before a word or root to alter its meaning and form a new word. For example:
Word                            Prefix                                    New Word
natural                          un- (no, not)                          unnatural
mail                              e- (electronic)                        email
work                            over- (above, beyond)           overwork
media                           multi- (many, more)               multimedia                                        
clutter                           de- (from, down, away)        declutter

     There are prefixes that indicate when (before), where (between),  or more (ultra). See how daily words change meaning when preceded by these designated prefixes.

Prefix                         Meaning                               New Word
pre-, pro-                    before                                    preschool, premature, predate
ante-                           before                                    antecedent, anteroom, antenatal
post-                           after                                       postwar, postgraduate, postdate
inter-                          between, among                    interstate, interfere, intermarry
intra-                          within                                    intramural, intracardiac, intractable
trans-                          across                                    transatlantic, transaction
sub-                            under                                     submarine, subscript, subserve
circum-                      around                                    circumnavigate, circumference
ultra-                          beyond, on the far side of,     ultrahigh, ultrapure, ultrasound

    Prefixes that deal with numbers or counting are seen in these examples:

Prefix                         Meaning                               New Word
uni-                              one, single                             unicycle
mono-                          one, single                             monosyllable
bi-                                two                                        bilateral
duo-                             two                                        duo fold
tri-                                three                                      tricycle
quad-                           four                                        quadrant
multi-                           many                                      multicolored
penta-                          five                                         pentagon
poly-                            many                                      polygamy

Series of six

Consult the chart prefixes, suffixes, roots for a more inclusive listings. Also, check out the two books pictured at Amazon Books.

Are you surprised at how many words you knew? Are you surprised that you knew their meanings based on prefixes and roots?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Roots of Words

     When I attended elementary school, I was taught the fundamentals of how words were formed––Roots. Within the definition of a root, we would find the word itself, its pronunciation, part of speech, and its English definition. Sometimes those English words contained different meaning, but I digress.
     Learning the meaning of roots of words made (for me) learning vocabulary and spelling so much easier. I retain those lessons to this day. They fostered my interest in the history of our fascinating language.
     The root of a word contains the basic meaning. A root word is also known as a base word, or its stem. Their origins are usually Latin or Greek. It is in the root part of a word that the base element or basic meaning is contained. Once you know the meaning of that root, you can manipulate it with prefixes or suffixes, and change the meaning of the word. Sounds like another Blog post to me.

Roots are the underlying support of trees.
Roots are the underlying support of words.
     Roots are supports. For example: 
astro = star    bi = two    cardio = heart   hydro = water   hypno = sleep   micro = small   mono = one   pod = foot   psycho = mind   pyro = fire   script = write   therma =heat   tri = three   uni = one

I've offered a few root words. Can you supply a prefix or suffix to the them to discover new words and how richly they alter their roots?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Twelve Women/Twelve Quotes

Readers of this Blog know my fondness for quotations––found under "Verbatim."
Readers of this Blog know my fondness for collecting books of quotes––found under "Bibliomania."

     Reading words by writers who have made it, those same writers who have had to plod along in their creative ups and downs, plotting them with pen and ink, is like having a universe of mentors at your fingertips. Wit and wisdom are dispensed in nuggets of pleasurable advice, giving courage and inspiration along the way. All good words. All good news.
     Books offering instruction on writing by acclaimed writers and poets, contain passages that have the power to lift up and carry away the novice or experienced writer who, otherwise, might be caught in creative angst or a cobweb of self-doubt. These writers impart some of their journeys under chapter headings like: technique, voice, mood, and so on. Their words impart glimpses into how or what kept their creative drive or glue together. For these books, read between the lines; seek and you shall find the wisdom.
     Wonderful collections of quotations exist. They are akin to writing self-help books, and to be lucky enough to find one that speaks to you page after page, is worth having at your fingertips. Maybe two. Maybe three. They are wonderful books to read from a pillow's supporting fluff at day's end. Read a few lines before the bed lamp shuts down for the night. Jot them down on the notepad next to your alarm clock. Or, let one or two latch onto your subconscious. Let it or them become your morning reveille. What a difference a few well-chosen words can make.

Maya Angelou
     "Words on Words"  
Poetry is music written for the human voice.

Elizabeth Berg
     "Escaping Into The Open"
Try to be observant, to look beyond surfaces. Let yourself feel everything that you can . . . . As a writer, you should have a sticky soul; the act of continually taking things in should be as much a part of you as your hair color.

Julia Cameron
     "The Right to Write"
Specificity is like breathing: one breath at a time, that is how life is built. One thing at a time, one thought, one word at a time. That is how a writing life is built.

Maureen Corrigan
     "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading"
It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others––even my nearest and dearest––there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book.

Natalie Goldberg
     "The Essential Writer's Notebook"
Make contact with other writers. Go to workshops to meet people. Don't stay isolated. Make an effort to seek out people who love writing and make friends with them. It helps to confirm your writing life.

Anne Lamott
     "Bird by Bird"
Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can't––and, in fact, you're not supposed to––know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.

Diane Mehta
     "How To Write Poetry"
To write a good poem, you must tap into deep feelings, observe the world closely, and put words together to create something that's uniquely yours.

Joyce Carol Oates
     "Good Advice on Writing"
Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.

Mary Oliver
     "A Poetry Handbook"
A poem that is composed without the sweet and correct formalities of language, which are what sets it apart from the dailiness of ordinary writing, is doomed.

Katherine Anne Porter
     "The Quotable Writer"
If I didn't know the ending of a story, I wouldn't begin. I always write my last lines, my last paragraph, my last page first, and then I go back and work towards it. I know where I'm going . . . . And how I get there is God's grace.

Anna Quindlen
     "How Reading Changed My Life"
Perhaps it is true that at base we readers are dissatisfied people, yearning to be elsewhere, to live vicariously through words in a way we cannot live directly through life. Perhaps we are the world's great nomads, if only in our minds.

Edith Wharton
     "The Writing of Fiction"
General rules in art are useful chiefly as a lamp in a mine, or a hand-rail down a black stairway; they are necessary for the sake of the guidance they give, but it is a mistake, one they are formulated, to be too much in awe of them.

And one more makes a Baker's Dozen:

Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge
We fear poetry, I think, for the same reason we fear rain forests, the depths of the ocean,  and our own unconscious. We fear the unknown, particularly inside ourselves.

I'll add books of quotes or books with inspired writing instruction to Bibliomania and Verbatim above. Find them. Read them, and feel inspired.