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Strategy #4: Analyzing word structure

Analyzing a word's structure and properties can be used to determine its meaning. Students can better guess the meaning of unknown words by breaking down their parts.  The following are examples you can share with students:

1. Compound words are two words joined together, sometimes by a hyphen. When separated, students may be able to determine their meaning.

Some easy examples related to dogs: doghouse, hangdog, dog-eared, underdog, dog-tired, hair-of-the-dog, dog-breath

Now, look at these more complex terms starting with aqua meaning water: aquacade, aquaculture, aquafarm, aqua-lung, aquamarine, aquanaut, aquaplane, aquarium, aquatic, aquatint, aquatone, aqueduct, aqueous.

2. Understanding the meaning of prefixes and suffixes can help students decode complex vocabulary terms. Therefore, exposure to common prefixes, roots, or suffixes in your discipline may help students to decipher the meaning of many words without the need for constant dictionary use.
Examples:
micro: prefix meaning "small" Ex. microscope, microcosm, micromanage, microeconomics
-less: suffix meaning "without." Ex. odorless, colorless, tasteless, senseless

3. Students can additionally use base words, also known as root words, to derive meaning:
Examples:
decathlon Root word is "deca" which means "ten." Definition: A decathlon is an athletic event consisting of ten track and field events.
hydraulics Root word is "hydra" which means "water." Hydraulics is the study of the mechanics of fluids--or can describe moved or operated by fluids.
Encourage your students to search the internet for the numerous websites available that provide word structure meanings. Some, like the following link, provide these in chart form.
Link to root chart