Structural analysis is the process of breaking words down into their basic parts to determine word meaning. Structural analysis is a powerful vocabulary tool since knowledge of a few word parts can give you clues to the meanings of a large number of words. Although the meaning suggested by the word parts may not be exact, this process can often help you understand the word well enough that you can continue reading without significant interruption.
When using structural analysis, the reader breaks words down into their basic parts:
For example, the word bicyclist can be broken down as follows:
Therefore, structural analysis suggests that a bicyclist is a person on two wheels – a meaning which is close to the word's formal definition.
Consider the word part –cide. Though it cannot stand as a word by itself, it does have meaning: to kill. Think about the many words in our language that include the word part –cide. Knowing this one word part gives us knowledge about many words.
To further develop this skill, refer to the convenient reference sheet Structural Analysis: Common Word Parts, for a list of some common prefixes, roots, and suffixes along with their meanings and examples of words that use them.
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