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Word Families Part 1 - Learn ENGLISH about Word Families

Welcome back to the English Danny channel. I'm Don and today I'm starting a new series, expanding your vocabulary using word families.

Word Families in English

If you've watched some of my other english Danny channel videos, I introduced the idea of a word family, which means a range of words whose meaning all comes from the meaning of one root word.


When you know the root word meaning plus a few simple grammatical principles, you understand the meaning of many related words. That means you know a whole word family.


Now let me give you an example. The verb “to help” means to assist someone. To provide aid. To do something for someone else. “Can you help me?” “Yes, I'll help.” I helped my mother cook dinner yesterday.


Okay, now this word “help” is also the root word for a word family. Let's look at some prefixes and suffixes that are commonly used to turn this root word into other useful words.


You can check out my english Danny channel video on prefixes and suffixes if you want more information about how to do this.


So, first we can add “er” to help to make helper. Which means a person who helps others.

“I need a helper in class today. Can you be my helper?

And we can also turn help into an adjective by adding, “ful” to make “helpful.” Now this word describes something which helps people.


“I hope this video is helpful for you in learning English.”
“You were very helpful in class today, thank you.”

And we can also add “ly” to helpful to turn that adjective into an adverb “helpfully.” Now the word is describing something which is done in a helpful way.


“Mark helpfully added his signature to the list.”

Now we can also add the prefix, “un” meaning “not,” to the adjective helpful to make the adjective “unhelpful.” Meaning something that does not help or assist.


Your criticism was unhelpful.
Yelling at the teacher is unhelpful.

We can add another suffix to help, “less,” meaning to be without something. Now we've got the adjective helpless, and it means to be without help or without any defenses.


When the tank ran out of ammunition the soldiers inside were helpless.

So, from that root word “help” we have a word family that includes: “helper,” “helpful,” “helpfully,” “unhelpful,” and “helpless.”


In english, word families can often be extended by adding that root word to another word to create new expressions. For example, if I take the root word “help” and I add the word “list,” “help list.” A list is a series of words or numbers. We make an expression “help list” meaning a list of things to help someone accomplish a task.


New expressions in English are often made in just this way. The word email was created like this by taking the word “electronic” and then the word “mail” and putting them together “electronic mail.” So we just shorten that word “electronic” to the letter “e” and so now we have email. Meaning electronic mail. Mail that is sent over the Internet. So this is a very common way that we have in English of constructing new expressions.


Thanks for reading. I’ll post again soon.






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