Latin Verbs Teach Us About Family

Last week we began talking about Latin verbs and their four principal parts.  The students caught on quickly and wanted to investigate a set of verbs on their own.   I wrote the four principal parts of different verbs on note cards and handed them out to students who then worked with partners.

The first group looked at Lavo, Lavare, Lavi, Lotus.   The two boys explained how they knew that they were looking at twin bases.  I enjoyed the discussions about lavendar, lavish, lavatory, and lava.  Prior to this investigation, none of us would have seen a meaning connection here, but then again, that is the joy of orthography!


The next group looked at Struo, Struere, Struxi, Structus.  This group found there were twin bases coming from this Latin verb.  They found quite a few words with the <struct> base, but just two with the <stru(e)> base.


This third group looked at Tracto, Tractare, Tractavi, Tractatus.  They determined that there was a single Latin base here.  They shared their list of words and definitions.

How wonderful to hear the students talk about seeing word connections that they never saw before.  Here is the evidence that words belong to families.  Some of those words are related in the same way that siblings are.  Some are related more like cousins would be.  For example, <laundry> and <launder> would be cousins to the <lave> / <lote> family.  They can all be traced back to Latin lavare, but <laundry> and <launder> do not share the base spelling of <lave> or <lote>.   Another example would be <destroy> and <industry>.  They are related to the <stru(e)> / <struct> family in the same way that cousins would be related to you.  They can all be traced back to Latin struere, but again the cousins do not share the base spelling of <stru(e)> or <struct>.