Inflectional morphology

Inflectional morphology

Inflectional morphology is a part of the study of linguistics.

To apply an inflection is to change the form of a word so as to give it extra meaning. This extra meaning could be:

* Number
* Person
* Case
* Gender
* Tense
* Mood
* Aspect
* Politeness (as in the Japanese language)

Inflectional morphology manifests primarily in the form of a prefix, suffix, or vowel change. Circumfixes and infixes can also occur, but these are relatively rare.

An example of suffixes in inflectional morphology:

* "I have an apple" - apple singular
* "I have apples" - apples plural

The word "apples" differs from "apple" only in the sense that the former indicates more than one fruit. This distinction is mandatory in English, optional in Korean, and impossible in Japanese. Yet other languages require the speaker to distinguish the number two of something, called the dual form of a noun. Forms for higher numbers, such a trial and paucal have also been recognized.

An example of vowel changes in inflectional morphology:

* "I throw the pencil" - throw present tense
* "I threw the pencil" - threw past tense

Again, "throw" and "threw" are not different words. "threw" is the result of inflectional morphology being applied to the root word "throw".

English is relatively poor in inflectional morphology. Other Indo-European languages have a richer system of inflection morphology. Latin is a typical example of a language with a very rich system of inflectional morphology.

ee also

* Inflection

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