Black and white photo of school girls seated at desks in the 1930s

Source: School Photo 1930s, theirhistory. Flickr

A black and white illustration of a sculpture of King Menelaus with his helmet on

Source: The Story of the Greeks, H. A. Guerber,
Project Gutenberg

Do you have a substandard vocabulary? You might not be able to answer the question if you don’t know the meaning of “substandard.” The word means inferior, falling short, below par, crummy, lousy, or lame. You get the point. If you have a substandard vocabulary, you may find yourself in a difficult situation in middle school where you encounter challenging words in every class. Whether you are studying biomes in biology, explorers who circumnavigated the globe in history, or iambic pentameter in English class, you will come across unfamiliar words.

In this lesson, you will learn a strategy to break apart those long, challenging words and upgrade your vocabulary from inferior to superior. The lesson will focus on some word parts borrowed from Greek and Latin, word parts that show up so often that you might want to memorize them. You are going to find out how learning some of these word parts, known as roots and affixes, can help you figure out the meanings of a lot of words.