Throughout grammar classes everywhere, students and faculty members ask if root words and base words are the same. The best way to answer the question is to review the rules of vocabulary.
Many words in the English language have been borrowed from other languages. The origins are usually Latin or Greek. A word usually has three parts to it, they are a root, a prefix and a suffix. It is in the root part of the word that the base element or basic meaning is contained. So when it comes to the idea of base words and root words, the truth is that the terms "base" and "root" are one in the same.
Both the prefix and suffix when applied to a root have the ability to completely change the word.
Roots are the base elements of a word that convey the basic meaning of the word. So if you take words that you use every day, like the word reaction, you will notice that the root or base word within the word "reaction" is the word "act."
When simplified further, you can easily see that:
So when you look at the root or base of the word reaction and combine it with the meanings of both the prefix and the suffix, you can easily understand what the word means, which is to act in response to something.
There have been consistent debates within the teaching community regarding the use of the terms "base" and "root."
Some teachers believe that a base word is a word that can stand alone and that a root word is a word element that requires a prefix or suffix in order to be considered a useable word.
Despite the continuous debate that seems to go on between members of the teaching world, the terms base and root are often synonyms for each other when it comes to the notion of root words.
The confusion may come from the definition frequently used of a root word, where the term "base" is used in the definition. This has caused people to use the word "base" interchangeably with the word "root."
Information on the idea of base words vs. root words can be hard to find. Usually such lessons are taught on a third grade grammar level or in tests of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) class. When searching for clarification, it can be best to look for teaching materials that deal with the terms base or root words. You will more than likely find a clear and concise definition, as well as cognitive illustration or samples of base/root words.
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