The American Institute for English Proficiency (located at two spots in Metro Manila, Philippines) can help you improve your English vocabulary.  One of the ways for vocabulary development is to know root words, etymology, or origins of words.  For example, the word boondock comes from the Filipino (Tagalog) word, bundok, which means mountain.

It’s good to know, therefore, that English borrows a lot from different languages.  One such language is Latin.



How did this happen?  Well, from 27 BC to 476 AD, much of Europe and the Mediterranean was ruled by the Roman Empire.  The main lingua franca–i.e. common tongue–of  the Empire was Latin.  One of the places in Europe conquered by the Romans was the island of Britain.  Therefore, Latin became a major influence in the local languages in the land that would one day become England.

Even when the Roman Empire collapsed, Latin was still a very important language all over Europe.  It was–and still is–used by the Roman Catholic Church; being used in religious ritual and theological study.  Latin became a language of the learned, and Europe’s universities used to focus studies on Latin until the end of the 19th century.

Because of this, many English words derive from Latin.  A lot of them do this by employing prefixes or suffixes based on Latin words. Here is a list of some examples:

  • annus means “year”; it gives us English words like anniversay, annual, and per annum.
  • bene means “good”; it gives us English words like benefit, benefactor, and benign.
  • celeber means “famous”; it gives us English words like celebrity, celebration, and celebrant.
  • centum means “hundred”; it gives us English words like century, centipede, and centennial.
  • corpus means “body”; it gives us English words like corpse, incorporate, and corporal.
  • deus means “God” or “god”; it gives us English words like deity, deify, and deist. 
  • dominus means “lord”; it gives us English words like dominate, dominion, and dominant.
  • homo means “man”; it gives us English words like human, homicide, and hominid.
  • terra means “earth” or “land”; it gives us English words like terrestrial, territory, and terrain.

These are only some examples of the huge number of Latin terms that are now used in English. Try using them when you practice your English! And if you want to learn more English vocabulary, enroll at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati and Quezon City, Philippines!


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At the American Institute for English Proficiency (which has two branches in the Philippines), you can study to build your English vocabulary.  English borrows heavily from other languages.  The language which English has borrowed the most from is French.  In fact, it is quite possible that the English language shares at least 40% of the same vocabulary with the French language. (Some of these come directly from French, but others come from French, which in turn come from Latin.)

This is primarily because England and France are close neighbors.  In fact, in 1066, England became ruled by a people from Northern France called the Normans.  Thus their language influenced the English language heavily.

More recently, French was actually the primary international language from about the 17th to 20th centuries.  Thus, it was widely studied and used in many English-speaking countries before their language replaced it in the 1900s.

It is useful to know which English words come from French because this can help one to learn to pronounce these words, which may seem to have very strange spelling.  Here are some examples:

  • A violent overthrow of a government and its replacement with another is called a coup d’etat (pronounced “koo-day-TAH”).
  • A meeting time/meeting place is designated as a rendezvous (“RON-day-voo”).
  • A synonym for boyfriend is beau (“BO”).
  • Those little appetizers at fancy parties are called hors d’oeuvres (“or-DERV”).
  • A word or phrase that is overused, unoriginal, or unfunny is called a cliche (“klee-SHAY”).
  • Material or garbage left out on the road or leftover from an accident is debris (“duh-BREE”).
  • An apprentice who works under a mentor is called a protege (“pro-tuh-ZHAY”).
  • An act that is considered socially unacceptable is a faux pas (“fo-PAH”)
  • A lengthy scolding or rant is called a harangue (“huh-RANG”).
  • It is useful to keep in mind that often if an English word comes from French and is spelled with a ch, the pronunciation will sound like the one in shore, and not chore. For example: chef, chauffeur, chandelier.
  • Similarly, if the word is spelled with a que, it will sound like the one in “kick”, and not “quick”.  For example:  bouquet, etiquette, torque.

These are just a few examples of the many, many French words that have found their way into English. Try using these French words in practicing your English!  And if you want to learn more English vocabulary, enroll at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati and Quezon City, Philippines!