I have read that one who knows Latin has a good command over English. Is this correct or just a myth? If it is correct, how does it work?

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    Not in any significant way. English is not a Romance language
    – vartec
    Nov 26, 2012 at 10:17
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    Depends on how good (or doubleplusungood) your English classes are. Nov 26, 2012 at 12:30
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    @Biju Jose - You should try asking on English.SE, as they'll have a lot more knowledge concerning the etymology of the language. English isn't a Romantic language (Latin/Greek based) like Italian, French, Spanish, etc. English is a giant mish-mash of blended languages, based more on Germanic sentence structures than Romantic and English uses a lot of borrowed words. "Water" has its roots in the Germanic "Vasser", but Aquaduct (a tube that carries water) refers to "water" as "aqua" which is a bit of borrowed Latin. Latin might help with about 20-30% of English words, as a very rough estimate.
    – MCM
    Nov 26, 2012 at 18:57
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    Welcome to Skeptics! We want to focus our attention on doubtful claims that are widely held or are made by notable people. Please provide some examples of places where this claim is being made.
    – Sklivvz
    Nov 26, 2012 at 21:59
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2 Answers 2


According to a widely-cited study on the English lexicon, close to 60% of English words are of French or Latin origin. At the very least, a knowledge of Latin would increase your comprehension of the English language, particularly when it comes words that are longer than two syllables.

The National Committee for Latin and Greek maintains that students who study Latin in high school do significantly better on their SAT scores, especially in the areas of reading and composition. (However, that could also be because Latin is not usually taught in your average public high school.)

Finally, bilingualism of any sort has all kinds of beneficial cognitive effects. A good summary of the critical literature on that topic here.


Latin defininitely improves English vocabulary. The higher SAT scores on the verbal part of the test can be explained by that fact


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