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20 Greek Root Words All English Learners Should Know

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Greek root words form a significant part of the English language, especially in academic, scientific, and technical fields. For English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students, learning these roots can greatly enhance vocabulary, reading comprehension, and communication skills. Here are 20 essential Greek roots that every EFL student should know, along with examples to illustrate their usage:


Anthrop - Human 
Examples: Anthropology, Misanthrope

Astro - Star
Examples: Astronomy, Astrophysics

Bio - Life
Examples: Biology, Biography

Chron - Time
Examples: Chronology, Synchronize

Cosm - Universe, Order
Examples: Cosmology, Microcosm

Cracy - Rule, Government
Examples: Democracy, Bureaucracy

Dem - People
Examples: Democracy, Demographic

Geo - Earth
Examples: Geography, Geology

Graph - Write
Examples: Autograph, Biography

Hydr - Water
Examples: Hydrate, Hydroplane

Log/Logy - Word, Study
Examples: Dialogue, Biology

Micro - Small
Examples: Microscope, Microbe

Morph - Shape
Examples: Morphology, Amorphous

Phil - Love
Examples: Philosophy, Bibliophile

Phon - Sound
Examples: Telephone, Phonetics

Photo - Light
Examples: Photograph, Photosynthesis

Phys - Nature
Examples: Physics, Physical

Psycho - Mind
Examples: Psychology, Psychopath

Scope - See, Watch
Examples: Telescope, Microscope

Tele - Far
Examples: Telephone, Television

Why Learn Greek Roots?

  1. Vocabulary Expansion: Understanding Greek roots helps students quickly grasp the meanings of new words. For instance, knowing that "bio" means life makes it easier to understand words like "biology" (the study of life) and "biography" (a written account of someone's life).

  2. Reading Comprehension: Recognizing Greek roots in unfamiliar words can aid in decoding their meanings, leading to improved reading comprehension. For example, encountering the word "chronometer," a student familiar with "chron" (time) and "meter" (measure) can infer that it relates to a device that measures time.

  3. Scientific and Technical Language: Many scientific and technical terms are derived from Greek. A foundation in Greek roots can thus provide a significant advantage in subjects like science, medicine, and technology. For example, terms like "microbiology" (the study of microscopic organisms) and "geophysics" (the physics of the Earth) become more accessible.

  4. Language Connections: Greek roots often appear in combination with Latin roots, enhancing students' understanding of a broader range of vocabulary. For example, the word "television" combines the Greek "tele" (far) with the Latin "vision" (seeing), illustrating how these ancient languages interweave to form modern English.

  5. Enhanced Communication: Mastery of Greek roots allows students to use more precise and varied language in both written and spoken communication. This can lead to clearer, more effective expression and a greater ability to engage with complex texts and concepts.


For EFL students, learning Greek roots is a powerful tool for mastering the English language. It opens the door to a deeper understanding of vocabulary, improved reading comprehension, and greater confidence in navigating scientific and technical terms. By incorporating these essential Greek roots into their study routines, students can enrich their language skills and achieve greater academic success.

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