Building Vocabulary Through Word Parts: 6 Helpful Websites

Prefixes, suffixes, and roots are very helpful in vocabulary building. If students know the meaning of word parts (especially of Greek and Latin origin), they will more likely be able to understand the meaning of a word in a particular context and increase their vocabulary arsenal.

In my last blog I described seven websites that allow teachers to make vocabulary flashcards and to use a variety of flashcards on different topics. Today I ‘d like to share six websites that could help students build their vocabulary knowledge through prefixes, roots, and suffixes. Some activities can also be used in the classroom.

1. Free Reading: Prefixes and Suffixes Activities

This website contains classroom activities for practicing prefixes and suffixes. All activities are divided into three categories: introducing, reintroducing, and building mastery. Through the first set of activities—introducing—learners get acquainted with a particular prefix or suffix, see its use in words, and recognize words having a particular prefix or suffix. The second category—reintroducing—offers activities that allow students to build new words by adding prefixes or suffixes to the roots of words. Finally, the last category—building mastery—contains a number of extension activities that give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge about the prefix or suffix. What I also like about this resource is that it has handouts for the activities in the second and third categories.

2. Preparation for an American University Program: Vocabulary Workshop

What’s good about this website is that it offers comprehensive lists of English prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Each of these word parts includes a definition, an example of a word with its definition, and the demonstration of how the word is built with this particular prefix, suffix, or root.

For example:

epi-, upon, beside, over

epilogue (noun): the concluding section of a play or literary work

epi + logue

The downside of this website is a lack of activities.


Activities on this website are designed for young native speakers of English—Grades 3 to 12. However, they can be used in a second language class. A variety of fun games offered on this website will help students stay motivated and engaged. The games can be used as classroom activities or given to students for individual practice at home. Through these games, students will see that learning roots, prefixes, and suffixes can be fun!

4. The Longman Vocabulary Website

This resource can be used after word parts have been taught. The multiple-choice and matching questions offered on this website are divided into three levels—beginner, intermediate, and advanced. You can assign these quizzes to students merely as a practice opportunity. But you can also use them as assessment material: The website allows students to print out their results or send them to you via email for grading.

5. Word Quests for Word Seekers

A wonderful resource for learning Greek and Latin word parts! You will find information about word parts, including their meanings, examples or words, and even word histories. There is indeed plenty of useful materials on this website that teachers can use in the classroom and that students can learn on their own.


This source is more suitable for advanced learners. There is also lots of theoretical information, so teachers can use it when teaching about word parts.

Do you have any favorite resources or activities for teaching word parts that you’d like to share?

About Elena Shvidko

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in second language studies from Purdue University and her master’s degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University. Her work appears in TESOL Journal, System, Journal on Response to Writing, TESOL interest section newsletters, and TESOL's New Ways series. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, interpersonal aspects of language teaching, and teacher professional development.
This entry was posted in TESOL Blog and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Building Vocabulary Through Word Parts: 6 Helpful Websites

  1. Elaine Plum says:

    About 14 years or so ago, I read an article that said something about knowing 10 or 15 words with roots, prefixes and suffixes, would open over 10,000 words. Do you by any chance know the article or can tell me where to look? It was at a convention of some sort.

    Elaine Plum

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.