Using "root words" to find meaning

One of my students told me about his daughter staring at a frog during a recent trip to a farm. She couldn’t stop focusing on it. I taught my student a new word to describe this situation, captivate. His daughter was captivated by the frog. Captivate is a verb that means : to hold the attention of, by beauty or excellence. As I explained the meaning of the word we looked at the root (the base) of the word and used it to help understand the meaning. I thought this technique would be a good blog topic 🙂

To hold attention can mean to capture the attention, and capture is the root of captivate. Capture means to take something/someone prisoner, by force. Captivate is a little softer and the past tense from can also be used as an adjective. (remember that captivated is a persons feeling and captivating is the thing that gives us that feeling. ed ing adjective review)

The audience was captivated by the speech.

If we associate (connect in our minds) the root word with the new vocabulary it can be very helpful. I find this most helpful when understanding written text. (I live in Tokyo so understanding words by their pieces is very helpful with Kanji characters)

Now if we hear other words that use capture as a root we can figure out the meaning by the rest of the sentence. Remember that if you you can tell if the word is a noun, verb or adjective/adverb it will be easier to find the meaning. Try this:

“The army kept me in their prison until my government freed me. I was their captive for 3 months.”

I hope that you are captivated by my blog, but not a captive!

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