Latin roots abound in the English language. But if you had to choose the two most helpful roots, which would they be? IN, AN, ANA, ANTI, and A are all quite popular, because if you stick them in front of a bunch of words, they create the opposite. AUSPICIOUS becomes INAUSPICIOUS; MORAL becomes AMORAL; and WAR becomes ANTIWAR. But does that tell you what the words mean? NOT unless you know the meaning of the underlying words! My vote for the two most helpful roots goes to BENE (good) and MAL (bad). If a word starts with either of them, you'll have a mighty good clue as to the word's definition.
Here are some examples:
BENEFIT: As a noun, this means a party held to raise money for a group (a very good thing). As a verb, it means to have a good outcome.
BENEFACTOR: the generous supporter of an organization or individual
BENEVOLENT: good, kindly, well meaning
BENEFICENT: doing good or resulting in good
MALODOROUS: "bad odor" means really, really smelly
MALADY: really bad illness
MALADROIT: "bad fingers" means clumsy
MALEVOLENT: the baddest of the bad
Of the bunch, MALADROIT is only one that requires some interpretation. Learning these roots is a great way to decode unknown words...like the ones guaranteed to show up on the SSAT, ACT, and SAT. One more thing: has anyone seen the movie MALEFICENT? Disney clearly had fun coming up with that name.
I hope you found this spoonful useful...and easy to swallow too.
Laura Fineberg Cooper