If you’ve been following the Bespeaking blog, you know that we love English root words here. Root words are a great way to learn multiple words in English at once. Since root words are the base (beginning, something to stand on) for many different words, if you know a root word, you can study and learn multiple words at a time. But did you know that there are some English root words that can stand alone (be by themselves, be used just as is)?

There are many English root words that are both root words and have their own meanings. Some of these you may use all the time! Keep reading for some stand alone English root words.

Act (ˈækt)

The English root word act means to move or to do. The word act can mean the same thing, too! You may also recognize the root word act from words like actor/actress (someone who is in a movie, TV show, or play), active (to do a lot), or action (the doing of something). What acts have you done lately?

For example:

  • People usually do a lot of good acts around the holiday season, like volunteering or donating to charity.
  • They said the government should act in the face of the crisis, and finally, they took action and put some new laws in place.

Arbor (ˈɑːrbɚ)

Have you ever been to the arboretum? Or seen an arboreal animal? The English root word arbor means things that relate to trees. An arboretum is a place where plants and trees are grown for scientific and educational purposes. Arboreal is something that lives in trees. And an arbor is a small shelter mad of vines or branches that plants can grow on in a garden. What other words use arbor as a root word?

For example:

  • Once she had her own house with a garden, she built an arbor over the patio for vines to grow on.
  • In the summer when he would visit his parents, he loved having his morning coffee under the arbor in their back yard.

Form (ˈfɔːrm)

The English root word form is another common root word that can stand alone. A form is a shape or type of something. Words like conform (to be the same as something), formulate (to put something in a system), and reform (to improve by correcting mistakes) all use the word form as a root word. The word form on its own is very common, and you’re very likely to see it frequently (often)!

For example:

  • He’s been publishing essays on his blog for years, but in August, he’s releasing some in book form!
  • Both coal and diamonds are a form of the element carbon.

Norm (ˈnɔːrm)

What’s the norm for you? What is your type of normal? This English root word is a great one to know. Norm, which means typical, forms words like normal (regular, ordinary), paranormal (having to do with the supernatural), and abnormal (not average or normal). The word normal in English is often shortened to norm when people are speaking.

For example:

  • Going out on a Saturday night is outside of the norm for her, but she had a really good time last weekend.
  • A lot of people are ready for things to get back to normal after COVID. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later!

Phobia (ˈfoʊbiːə)

What are you afraid of? People are afraid of lots of different things. They may be afraid of spiders, the number 13, or the ocean. Things that people are afraid of are called phobias, and there are a lot of words using the root word phobia to describe them. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders, agoraphobia is the fear of public places, and triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. If you have any phobias, we hope they’re just mild (minor, small)!

For example:

  • She decided to face her fear of heights and go skydiving. She didn’t want to deal with her phobia anymore and wanted to face it head on.
  • He has a phobia of the ocean. He doesn’t like being in the ocean or even on the ocean in a boat.

Have you used any of these stand alone English root words in your daily life? Do you know of any other stand alone root words? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Check out these other popular blogs: Banking English VocabularyMusic Idioms in EnglishHow to Use Quotation Marks, or these 10 Common Latin Words in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and loves learning new English root words!

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