Before you start, read the ‘How To Use a dictionary’ sheets. Use Black’s Writing dictionary with this sheet

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Reading Support - Dictionary 8 - Root Words

E3, E3

Root Words

Before you start, read the ‘How To Use A Dictionary’ sheets.
Use Black’s Writing dictionary with this sheet.
Lots of words have endings - a part of a word that goes on the end. Look at the different endings in this story.
My son John plays in a local football team. Last year he got an award for Best Player of the Year. They play on the Bill Shankly Playing Field in West Derby. Bill Shankly was the famous manager of Liverpool FC, who used to live nearby. When he retired, he played football there with the local children.

Underline all the words that start with play. Write them out and highlight the endings:

1 2 3 4 5

If you wanted to look up any of these words in the dictionary, you would find them all under the word play. This is called the root word which is the word without any endings added to it.
Look up play in Black’s Writing Dictionary. What other words start with play? Write them down.
Sometimes words can look very different from their root words. Look at this story and underline all the words that have go and shop as root words.

On Fridays I go to see my Aunty Phoebe. Sometimes she goes to the shops with me and sometimes I go for her. Last Friday I went to get her shopping. When I was going into the shop I found I had gone without her list so I had to go all the way back! It goes without saying that I won’t do that again!


Write out the words after the root word:

go: 1 2 3 4
went is the way we put go into the past. It doesn’t look at all like go. If a word in the past like went is very different from its root word, in Black’s Writing Dictionary it appears in red on the left.
shop: 1 2

Read these two sentences and look at the two underlined words. Which one is the root word? Use your dictionary to find it.

1 I sing when I’m in the bath.

The band sang their latest song on ‘Top of the Pops’.

The root word is .
2 Look right and left before you cross the road.

The barrier at the level crossing was down so we had to wait till the train had gone.

The root word is .
3 The cheese had passed its sell by date - it smelt off.

Don’t those flowers smell beautiful!

The root word is .
4 The footballer missed the penalty.

When they leave, I’m really going to miss them.

The root word is .
5 We went to the Arrivals at the airport to meet Chris.

What time does the plane arrive?

The root word is .



he underlined words in these sentences have the same root word. Look the words up in the dictionary to find the root word.

1 Have you passed your driving test?

If you are passing the Post Office, could you get me some stamps?

The root word is .

2 If you’re hungry, help yourself to some bread and butter.

The cat watched the blackbirds hungrily.

The root word is .
3 It was thoughtful of you to offer to do the shopping.

Lynn and Neeru thought the room was a mess.

The root word is .
4 Have you cleaned your teeth?

Kevin went to the dentist because he had toothache.

The root word is .
5 Tina decided to stay at home because it was raining.

It was a hard decision to make: the blue curtains or the red ones?

The root word is .


Check this with your tutor. The answers are on page 28.


Now look at the twenty underlined words in the story below from the ‘Liverpool Echo’. Ten are root words and ten have endings on. Look up the words in the dictionary. Write a list for each.

Titanic Menu is Up for Sale
A menu card and passenger inspection card that belonged to Sarah Roth, a woman who survived the sinking of the Titanic, were sold at Sotheby’s today. Sarah was going to America to marry her childhood sweetheart, Daniel Iles, who had emigrated the year before the fateful voyage of 1912.

Sarah was rescued by RMS Carpathia and lost everything except her handbag containing the cards. She was taken to hospital in New York where she married Daniel eight days after the disaster on 22 April.

Root Words:

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10

Words With Endings:

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10

Now choose a short text yourself, such as an article in the newspaper and see how many words with endings you can find. Look them up in the dictionary and find out what their root words are.

Discuss your work with a tutor and decide what you need to work on next.



1 plays 2 player 3 play 4 playing 5 played


1 goes 2 went 3 going 4 gone


1 shops 2 shopping

Find the root word:

1 sing 2 cross 3 smell 4 miss 5 arrive

Find the root word 2:

1 pass 2 hunger 3 think 4 tooth 5 decide

Titanic Menu:
Root Words:

1 card 2 woman 3 today 4 America 5 marry

6 sweetheart 7 year 8 voyage 9 hospital 10 disaster
Words with endings:

1 inspection 2 belonged 3 survived 4 sinking 5 sold

6 fateful 7 lost 8 containing 9 taken 10 married

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