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Word Knowledge Study Guide for McGraw-Hill's ASVAB (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Jun 26, 2011

Use Word Parts to Figure Out Meaning

Many words are made up of several parts: a root (the basic idea) and a prefix and/or a suffix (short letter combinations that change the meaning in some way). A prefix is attached to the root at the beginning of the word. A suffix is attached to the root at the end of the word. Not all words have prefixes and suffixes, but many do. On the ASVAB test, you will find many words that have roots with prefixes and/or suffixes. If you learn the most common word roots, prefixes, and suffixes, you can use what you know to pick apart unfamiliar words and figure out what they mean.

Below you will find tables of common prefixes, common word roots, and common suffixes. Study these tables carefully. The more you know about these word parts, the better able you will be to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words.

Study Some Examples

Now that you have studied these common word parts, you can start using what you know to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words. Here are a few examples of picking words apart to find their meaning.

  • Antibiotic. Anti- is a prefix that means "against," and bio is a root that means "life," so the word has something to do with "against life." An antibiotic is a substance that is designed to kill germs.
  • Inaudible. In- is a prefix that means "not," aud has something to do with sound, and the suffix -ible mans "capable of," so the word means something like "not capable of being heard."
  • Audiovisual. Audio- is a prefix that has something to do with hearing, and visual relates to seeing, so audiovisual involves both hearing and seeing.
  • Precede. Pre- is a prefix that means "before," and cede is a root that means "to go," so the word means something like "going before."
  • Captain. Capit is a root that means "head," so the word relates to the head of something (in this case, a ship's crew).
  • Capital. Capit is a root that means "head," so the word has something to do with the head of something (in this case, the symbolic "head" of a country, the location of the government).
  • Chronometer. Chron- is a prefix that has to do with time, and meter relates to measuring, so the word has to do with measuring time.
  • Pedicure. Pedi- is a prefix that has to do with "foot," so this word has to do with something related to feet.
  • Visage. Vis has something to do with seeing or looking, so the meaning of this word is "how a person looks."
  • Transform. Trans- is a prefix that means "go across," so this word means "going across" or "changing form."
  • Microbiology. Micro- is a prefix that means "small," bio is a root that has to do with life, and -ology is a suffix that means "the study of," so the word has to do with studying small living things.
  • Multitalented. Multi- is a prefix that means "many," so this word has to do with many talents.
  • Thermometer. Therm- has to do with heat, and meter means measuring, so this word has to do with measuring heat.
  • Geology. Geo is a root that means "earth," and -ology is a suffix that means "the study of," so this word has to do with studying the earth.
  • Revolve. Re- is a prefix that means "again," and volve means "to turn," so this word has something to do with turning again or turning repeatedly.
  • Mispronounce. Mis- is a prefix that means "wrong" or "to do wrongly," so this word has to do with pronouncing something in a wrong way.
  • Vacate. Vac means "empty," so this word has to do with making something empty or leaving an empty space.
  • Aerate. Aero is a root that has to do with air, so this word has to do with putting or placing air in a particular place.

Look up each of these words in a dictionary to see the precise definition.

Start Using What You Know

Use the following activity to further expand and strengthen your vocabulary.

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