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Use Knowledge of Latin and Greek Words to Aid Spelling

In this worksheet, students will use their knowledge of etymology, or the history of words, to help with their spelling.

Worksheet Overview

The etymology of a word is the study of where it came from, and how its meaning has changed. It is a bit like the history of a person. If we know where a word came from and what it used to mean, it can help us to understand what it means today and how to spell it.




The English language has a lot of words that originally came from other languages, especially Latin and Greek. For example, the English prefix therm- comes from a Greek word meaning 'heat'. If we know this, it helps us to understand and spell words like thermal and thermometer.


two thermometers


Look at the table below. It contains words (or parts of words) that have come from Latin or Greek. They are often used as prefixes and suffixes, and can sometimes be found in the middle of modern words, too. Try to memorise their spellings and what they mean, as you will need them to complete this activity.


Greek or Latin word Etymology
therm (Greek) heat
circ (Latin) circle or ring
geo (Greek) earth
cent (Latin) one hundred
sol (Latin) sun


the sun


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