How to Combine Word Forms in Medical Terminology


As the health care industry grows, so will the demand for education to prepare for this field. If you are seeking employment in areas such as medical coding and billing, medical assisting, nursing, health unit coordinating, medical transcription or surgical technician, you must know how to speak the language of the medical industry -- you must know how to combine prefixes, suffixes, and root words to form words used in medical terminology.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook
  • Medical terminology textbook
  • Medical dictionary
  • Index cards

Make a List of Medical Terminlogy

  • Make a list of the medical terms that you know. Say each word and then write it by dividing it into syllables.

  • Guess the meaning of each root, prefix, and suffix to determine the meaning of the medical term. Use a medical dictionary or a medical terminology textbook for verification.

  • Make a list of other medical terms with the same root words and prefixes but with different suffixes. Guess the meaning of each word and verify its meaning in a medical dictionary.

Practice Combining Rules

  • Use the combining form of the root word between the root words to combine more than one root word. For example, the word cardiogastric, meaning pertaining to the heart and stomach comprises two root words, cardi and gastr. Cardi/o is the combining form of the word.

  • Use the combining form of a root word to join the suffix and root for suffixes that begin with a consonant for better pronunciation. For example, use gastr/o to form gastromegaly which means an enlarged stomach.

  • Do not use a combining form to connect a root word and a suffix that begins with a vowel. For example gastr plus ectomy is combined to form gastrectomy, a surgical removal.

  • Pronounce the word and determine when to use exceptions to the rules. For example, gastr and enter are root words that make up the term gastroenterology, the study of the stomach and intestines. Use the combining vowel o for better pronunciation although the second root word, enter, begins with a vowel.

Practice Pronunciation Rules

  • Place the accent on the first syllable on medical terms with two syllables. Place the accent on gas, pronounced GASS, in the term gastric.

  • Place the accent on the next to last syllable, or on the third to last syllable of words with more than two syllables. For example, place the accent on TRY, the next to last syllable in gastritis, which has three syllables. Place the accent on the third to last syllable, MEG in gastromegaly, which has five syllables.

  • Pronounce the vowel in the accented syllable with the long vowel sound when the syllable ends with the vowel. Say TRY with a long i sound in the term gastritis.

  • Pronounce the vowel in the accented syllable with the short vowel sound when the syllable ends with a consonant. Emphasize KAR and MEG in the term cardiomegaly with the short e sound.

Analyze the Medical Terms

  • Write down a list of medical terms and separate each word into root, prefix, and suffix as you did in the beginning to reinforce the definition and proper way to combine the word elements to form medical terminology.

  • Write each word on the front of an index card and the meaning of the root, prefix and suffix on the back.

  • Write a short meaning of the suffix, prefix, and root word in your notebook without looking at the index card and connect all three definitions for an overall meaning of the medical term and for extra practice in formulating word forms.

Tips & Warnings

  • Spend as much time as possible practicing analyzing and learning the definition of words that combine roots, prefixes, and suffixes to broaden your scope of medical terminology.


  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • Medical Terminology Basics

    Medical terminology refers to the words or language used by various types of professionals in the healthcare field. The extent to which...

  • Medical Terminology Suffixes and Prefixes

    Medical terminology represents the language of the health care industry. Made up of mostly Greek and Latin word parts, many of the...

  • Word Structure in Medical Terminology

    Medical terminology is used to describe and classify anatomical structures, conditions, diagnosis, instruments, medications, procedures, processes, protocols, symptoms and treatments within the...

  • The History of Medical Terminology

    Medical terminology has an extensive and rich history in Latin and Greek languages. When the Romans conquered Greece, around 400, the knowledge...

  • Medical Terms & Definitions

    There are thousands of medical terms and definitions but unless you are a medical, nursing or other health sciences student, you don't...

  • How to Find a Word by the Definition

    It's easy to find the definition of a word: Just look in the dictionary. But what if you have the definition but...

  • How to Use Pictures to Learn Medical Terminology

    Medical terminology—you may cringe when you hear that term. Many medical students have a difficult time coping with the seemingly insurmountable number...

  • How to Understand Medical Terminology

    Medical terminology is derived from Latin and Greek and serves as a universal language in the health care arena. This nomenclature describes...

  • How to Combine Vowels in Medical Terminology

    During the First Century, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a Roman aristocrat from Narbonensis, wrote "De Medicina," a medical encyclopedia with knowledge from Greek...

  • Rules About Adding Suffixes to Words

    A suffix is a letter or group of letters added at the end of a word in order to modify the meaning...

  • Medical Terminology Exercises

    Medical terminology is the words or language used by health care professionals to identify anatomical structures, diagnoses, instruments, procedures, protocols and medications....

Related Searches

Check It Out

Can You Take Advantage Of Student Loan Forgiveness?

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!