A clitic (/ˈklɪtɪk/, backformed from Greek ἐγκλιτικός enklitikós "leaning" or "enclitic") is a morpheme in morphology and syntax that has syntactic characteristics of a word, but depends phonologically on another word or phrase. In this sense, it is syntactically independent but phonologically dependent—always attached to a host.[1] The term derives from the Greek for leaning.[2] A clitic is pronounced like an affix, but plays a syntactic role at the phrase level. In other words, clitics have the form of affixes, but the distribution of function words. For example, the contracted forms of the auxiliary verbs in I'm and we've are clitics.

Clitics can belong to any grammatical category, although they are commonly pronouns, determiners, or adpositions. Note that orthography is not always a good guide for distinguishing clitics from affixes: clitics may be written as separate words, but sometimes they are joined to the word they depend on (like the Latin clitic -que, meaning "and"), or separated by special characters such as hyphens or apostrophes (like the English clitic ’s in "it's" for "it has" or "it is").


Clitics fall into various categories depending on their position in relation to the word they connect to.[2]


A proclitic appears before its host.[2] It is common in Romance languages. For example, in French, there is "il s'est réveillé" ("he woke up"), or "je t'aime" ("I love you").


An enclitic appears after its host.[2]

"Senate people-and Roman" = "The Senate and people of Rome"
"people (and) gods and" = "(both) men and gods"
  • Sanskrit: naro gajaś 'ca 'नरो गजश्च' i.e. "naraḥ gajaḥ ca" "नरः गजः च" with sandhi,:::"the man the elephant and" = "the man and the elephant"
  • Sanskrit: Namaste < namaḥ + te, (Devanagari: नमः + ते = नमस्ते), with sandhi change namaḥ > namas.
"bowing to you"
  • Czech: Nevím, chtělo-li by se mi si to tam však také vyzkoušet.
"However (však), I do not know (nevím), if (-li) it would (by) want (chtělo se) to try (vyzkoušet si) it (to) to me (mi) there (tam) as well (také)." (= However, I'm not sure if I would like to try it there as well.)
  • Tamil: idhu en poo = இது என் பூ (This is my flower). With enclitic , which indicates certainty, this sentence becomes
idhu en poo = இது என் பூவே (This is certainly my flower)
  • Telugu: idi nā puvvu = ఇది నా పువ్వు (This is my flower). With enclitic ē, which indicates certainty, this sentence becomes
Idi nā puvvē = ఇది నా పువ్వే (This is certainly my flower)


A mesoclitic appears between the stem of the host and other affixes. For example, in Portuguese, conquistar-se ("it will be conquered"), dá-lo-ei ("I will give it"), matá-la-ia ("he/she/it would kill her"). These are found much more often in writing than in speech. It is even possible to use two pronouns inside the verb, as in dar-no-lo ("he/she/it will give it to us"), or dar-ta-ei (ta = te + a, "I will give it/her to you"). As in other Romance languages, the Portuguese synthetic future tense comes from the merging of the infinitive and the corresponding finite forms of the verb haver (from Latin habēre), which explains the possibility of separating it from the infinitive.


The endoclitic splits apart the root and is inserted between the two pieces. Endoclitics defy the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis (or Lexicalist hypothesis) and so were long thought impossible. However, evidence from the Udi language suggests that they exist.[3] Endoclitics are also found in Pashto[4] and are reported to exist in Degema.[5]


One important distinction divides the broad term 'clitics' into two categories, simple clitics and special clitics.[6] This distinction is, however, disputed.[7]

Simple clitics

Simple clitics are free morphemes, meaning they can stand alone in a phrase or sentence. They are unaccented and thus phonologically dependent upon a nearby word. They only derive meaning from this "host".[6]

Special clitics

Special clitics are morphemes that are bound to the word they are dependent upon, meaning they exist as a part of their host. This form, which is unaccented, represents a variant of a free form that does carry stress. While the two variants carry similar meaning and phonological makeup, the special clitic is bound to a host word and unaccented.[6]


Some clitics can be understood as elements undergoing a historical process of grammaticalization:[8]

     lexical item → clitic → affix[9]

According to this model from Judith Klavans, an autonomous lexical item in a particular context loses the properties of a fully independent word over time and acquires the properties of a morphological affix (prefix, suffix, infix, etc.). At any intermediate stage of this evolutionary process, the element in question can be described as a "clitic". As a result, this term ends up being applied to a highly heterogeneous class of elements, presenting different combinations of word-like and affix-like properties.[9]


One characteristic shared by many clitics is a lack of prosodic independence. A clitic attaches to an adjacent word, known as its host. Orthographic conventions treat clitics in different ways: Some are written as separate words, some are written as one word with their hosts, and some are attached to their hosts, but set off by punctuation (a hyphen or an apostrophe, for example).

Comparison with affixes

Although the term "clitic" can be used descriptively to refer to any element whose grammatical status is somewhere in between a typical word and a typical affix, linguists have proposed various definitions of "clitic" as a technical term. One common approach is to treat clitics as words that are prosodically deficient: they cannot appear without a host, and they can only form an accentual unit in combination with their host. The term "postlexical clitic" is used for this narrower sense of the term.[10]

Given this basic definition, further criteria are needed to establish a dividing line between postlexical clitics and morphological affixes, since both are characterized by a lack of prosodic autonomy. There is no natural, clear-cut boundary between the two categories (since from a historical point of view, a given form can move gradually from one to the other by morphologization). However, by identifying clusters of observable properties that are associated with core examples of clitics on the one hand, and core examples of affixes on the other, one can pick out a battery of tests that provide an empirical foundation for a clitic/affix distinction.

An affix syntactically and phonologically attaches to a base morpheme of a limited part of speech, such as a verb, to form a new word. A clitic syntactically functions above the word level, on the phrase or clause level, and attaches only phonetically to the first, last, or only word in the phrase or clause, whichever part of speech the word belongs to.[11] The results of applying these criteria sometimes reveal that elements that have traditionally been called "clitics" actually have the status of affixes (e.g., the Romance pronominal clitics discussed below).[12]

Zwicky and Pullum postulated five characteristics that distinguish clitics from affixes:[12]

  1. Clitics do not select their hosts. That is, they are "promiscuous", attaching to whichever word happens to be in the right place. Affixes do select their host: They only attach to the word they are connected to semantically, and generally attach to a particular part of speech.
  2. Clitics do not exhibit arbitrary gaps. Affixes, on the other hand, are often lexicalized and may simply not occur with certain words. (English plural -s, for example, does not occur with "child".)
  3. Clitics do not exhibit morphophonological idiosyncrasies. That is, they follow the morphophonological rules of the rest of the language. Affixes may be irregular in this regard.
  4. Clitics do not exhibit semantic idiosyncrasies. That is, the meaning of the phrase-plus-clitic is predictable from the meanings of the phrase and the clitic. Affixes may have irregular meanings.
  5. Clitics can attach to material already containing clitics (and affixes). Affixes can attach to other affixes, but not to material containing clitics.

An example of differing analyses by different linguists is the discussion of the possessive ('s) in English, some linguists treating it as an affix, while others treat it as a special clitic.[13]

Comparison with words

Similar to the discussion above, clitics must be distinguishable from words. Linguists have proposed a number of tests to differentiate between the two categories. Some tests, specifically, are based upon the understanding that when comparing the two, clitics resemble affixes, while words resemble syntactic phrases. Clitics and words resemble different categories, in the sense that they share certain properties. Six such tests are described below. These, of course, are not the only ways to differentiate between words and clitics.[14]

  1. If a morpheme is bound to a word and can never occur in complete isolation, then it is likely a clitic. In contrast, a word is not bound and can appear on its own.
  2. If the addition of a morpheme to a word prevents further affixation, then it is likely a clitic.
  3. If a morpheme combines with single words to convey a further degree of meaning, then it is likely a clitic. A word combines with a group of words or phrases to denote further meaning.
  4. If a morpheme must be in a certain order with respect to other morphemes within the construction, then it is likely a clitic. Independent words enjoy free ordering with respect to other words, within the confines of the word order of the language.
  5. If a morpheme’s allowable behavior is determined by one principle, it is likely a clitic. For example, "a" proceeds indefinite nouns in English. Words can rarely be described with one such description.
  6. In general, words are more morphologically complex than clitics. Clitics are rarely composed of more than one morpheme.[14]

Word order

Clitics do not always appear next to the word or phrase that they are associated with grammatically. They may be subject to global word order constraints that act on the entire sentence. Many Indo-European languages, for example, obey Wackernagel's law (named after Jacob Wackernagel), which requires clitics to appear in "second position", after the first syntactic phrase or the first stressed word in a clause:[9]

  • Latin had three enclitics that appeared in second or third position of a clause: enim 'indeed, for', autem 'but, moreover', vero 'however'. For example, quis enim potest negare? (from Martial's epigram LXIV, literally "who indeed can deny [her riches]?"). Spevak (2010) reports that in her corpus of Caesar, Cicero and Sallust, these three words appear in such position in 100% of the cases.[15]

Indo-European languages

Germanic languages


English enclitics include the contracted versions of auxiliary verbs, as in I'm and we've.[16] Some also regard the possessive marker, as in The Queen of England's crown as an enclitic, rather than a (phrasal) genitival inflection.[17]

Some consider the English articles a, an, the and the infinitive marker to proclitics.[18]

The negative marker n’t as in couldn’t etc. is typically considered a clitic that developed from the lexical item not. Linguists Arnold Zwicky and Geoffrey Pullum argue, however, that the form has the properties of an affix rather than a syntactically independent clitic.[19]

Other Germanic languages

  • Old Norse: The definite article was the enclitic -inn, -in, -itt (masculine, feminine and neuter nominative singular), as in álfrinn "the elf", gjǫfin "the gift", and tréit "the tree", an abbreviated form of the independent pronoun hinn, cognate of the German pronoun jener. It was fully declined for gender, case and number. Since both the noun and enclitic were declined, this led to "double declension". The situation remains similar in modern Faroese and Icelandic, but in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, the enclitics have become endings. Old Norse had also some enclitics of personal pronouns that were attached to verbs. These were -sk (from sik), -mk (from mik), -k (from ek), and -ðu / -du / -tu (from þú). These could even be stacked up, e.g. "fásktu" (from Hávamál, stanza 116).
  • Dutch: 't definite article of neuter nouns and third person singular neuter pronoun, 'k first person pronoun, je second person singular pronoun, ie third person masculine singular pronoun, ze third person plural pronoun
  • Plautdietsch: "Deit'a't vondoag?": "Will he do it today?"
  • Gothic: Sentence clitics appear in second position in accordance with Wackernagel's Law, including -u (yes-no question), -uh "and", þan "then", ƕa "anything", for example ab-u þus silbin "of thyself?". Multiple clitics can be stacked up, and split a preverb from the rest of the verb if the preverb comes at the beginning of the clause, e.g. diz-uh-þan-sat ijōs "and then he seized them (fem.)", ga-u-ƕa-sēƕi "whether he saw anything".

Romance languages

In Romance languages, some feel the object personal pronoun forms are clitics. Others consider them affixes, as they only attach to the verb they are the object of.[12] There is no general agreement on the issue.[20] For the Spanish object pronouns, for example:

  • lo atamos [loaˈtamos] ("it tied-1PL" = "we tied it" or "we tied him"; can only occur with the verb it is the object of)
  • melo [ˈdamelo] ("give me it")

Colloquial European Portuguese allows object suffixes before the conditional and future suffixes of the verbs:[21]

  • Ela levá-lo-ia ("She take-it-would" – "She would take it").
  • Eles dar-no-lo-ão ("They give-us-it-will" – "They will give it to us").

Colloquial Portuguese of Brazil and Portugal and Spanish of the former Gran Colombia allow ser to be conjugated as a verbal clitic adverbial adjunct to emphasize the importance of the phrase compared to its context, or with the meaning of "really" or "in truth":[22]

  • Ele estava era gordo ("He was was fat" – "He was very fat").
  • Ele ligou é para Paula ("He phoned is Paula" – "He phoned Paula (with emphasis)").

Note that this clitic form is only for the verb ser and is restricted to only third-person singular conjugations. It is not used as a verb in the grammar of the sentence but introduces prepositional phrases and adds emphasis. It does not need to concord with the tense of the main verb, as in the second example, and can be usually removed from the sentence without affecting the simple meaning.


In the Indo-European languages, some clitics can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European: for example, *-kʷe is the original form of Sanskrit (-ca), Greek τε (-te), and Latin -que.

Slavic languages

  • Russian: ли (yes-no question), же (emphasis), то (emphasis), не "not" (proclitic), бы (subjunctive)
  • Czech: special clitics: weak personal and reflexive pronouns (mu, "him"), certain auxiliary verbs (by, "would"), and various short particles and adverbs (tu, "here"; ale, "though"). "Nepodařilo by se mi mu to dát" "I would not succeed in giving it to him". In addition there are various simple clitics including short prepositions.
  • Polish: -by (conditional mood particle), się (reflexive, also modifies meaning of certain verbs), no and -że (emphasis), -m, -ś, -śmy, -ście (personal auxiliary), mi, ci, cię, go, mu &c. (unstressed personal pronouns in oblique cases)
  • Croatian: the reflexive pronoun forms si and se, li (yes-no question), unstressed present and aorist tense forms of biti ("to be"; sam, si, je, smo, ste, su; and bih, bi, bi, bismo, biste, bi, for the respective tense), unstressed personal pronouns in genitive (me, te, ga, je, nas, vas, ih), dative (mi, ti, mu, joj, nam, vam, im) and accusative (me, te, ga (nj), je (ju), nas, vas, ih), and unstressed present tense of htjeti ("want/will"; ću, ćeš, će, ćemo, ćete, će)

In Croatian these clitics follow the first stressed word in the sentence or clause in most cases, which may have been inherited from Proto-Indo-European (see Wackernagel's Law), even though many of the modern clitics became cliticised much more recently in the language (e.g. auxiliary verbs or the accusative forms of pronouns). In subordinate clauses and questions, they follow the connector and/or the question word respectively.

Examples (clitics - sam "I am", biste "you would (pl.)", mi "to me", vam "to you (pl.)", ih "them"):

  • Pokažite mi ih. "Show (pl.) them to me."
  • Pokazao sam vam ih jučer. "I showed them to you (pl.) yesterday."
  • Sve sam vam ih (jučer) pokazao. / Sve sam vam ih pokazao (jučer). "I showed all of them to you (yesterday)." (focus on "all")
  • Jučer sam vam ih (sve) pokazao. "I showed (all of) them to you yesterday." (focus on "yesterday")
  • Znam da sam vam ih već pokazao. "I know that I have already shown them to you."
  • Zašto sam vam ih jučer pokazao? "Why did I show them to you yesterday?"
  • Zar sam vam ih jučer pokazao? "Did I (really) show them to you yesterday?"
  • Kad biste mi ih sada dali... "If you (pl.) gave them to me now..." (lit. If you-would to-me them now give-PARTICIPLE...)
  • Što sam god vidio... "Whatever I saw..." (lit. What I-am ever see-PARTICIPLE...)

In certain rural dialects this rule is (or was until recently) very strict, whereas elsewhere various exceptions occur. These include phrases containing conjunctions (e. g. Ivan i Ana "Ivan and Ana"), nouns with a genitival attribute (e. g. vrh brda "the top of the hill"), proper names and titles and the like (e. g. (gospođa) Ivana Marić "(Mrs) Ivana Marić", grad Zagreb "the city (of) Zagreb"), and in many local varieties clitics are hardly ever inserted into any phrases (e. g. moj najbolji prijatelj "my best friend", sutra ujutro "tomorrow morning"). In cases like these, clitics normally follow the initial phrase, although some Standard grammar handbooks recommend that they should be placed immediately after the verb (many native speakers find this unnatural).


  • Ja smo i on otišli u grad. "He and I went to town." (lit. I are and him gone to town) - this is dialectal.
  • Ja i on smo otišli u grad. - commonly heard
  • Ja i on otišli smo u grad. - prescribed by some Standard grammars
  • Moja mu je starija sestra to rekla. "My elder sister told him that." (lit. my to-him is elder sister that say-PARTICIPLE) - standard and usual in many dialects
  • Moja starija sestra mu je to rekla. - common in many dialects

Clitics are however never inserted after the negative particle ne, which always precedes the verb in Croatian, or after prefixes (earlier preverbs), and the interrogative particle li always immediately follows the verb. Colloquial interrogative particles such as da li, dal, jel appear in sentence-initial position and are followed by clitics (if there are any).


  • Ne vidim te. "I don't (or can't) see you."
  • Dovedite ih. "Bring them (over here)!" (a prefixed verb: do+vedite)
  • Vidiš li me? "Do/can you see me?"
  • Vidiš li sestru? "Do you see the sister?" (It is impossible to say, e. g. **Sestru li vidiš?, although Sestru vidiš. "It's the sister that you see." is natural)
  • Jel (me) vidiš? "Do/Can you see (me)?" (colloquial)

Other languages

  • Arabic: Suffixes standing for direct object pronouns and/or indirect object pronouns (as found in Indo-European languages) are suffixed to verbs, possessive determiners are suffixed to nouns, and pronouns are suffixed to particles.
  • Finnish: Finnish has seven clitics, which change according to the vowel harmony: -kO (-ko ~ -kö), -kA (-ka ~ -kä), -kin, -kAAn (-kaan ~ -kään), -pA (-pa ~ -pä), -hAn (-han ~ -hän) and -s. One word can have multiple clitics attached to it: onkohan? "I wonder if it is?"
    • -kO attached to a verb makes it a question: Katsot televisiota "You are watching television" → Katsotko televisiota? "Are you watching television?"
    • -kA gives the host word a colloquial tone: miten ~ miten ("how"). When attached to a negative verb it corresponds with "and": En pidä mansikoista en mustikoista "I don't like strawberries nor blueberries". It can also make a negative verb stronger: En tule! "I definitely won't come!"
    • -kin is a focus particle, often used instead of myös ("also" / "as well"): Minäkin olin siellä "I was there too". Depending on the context when attached to a verb it can also express that something happened according to the plan or as a surprise and not according to the plan. It can also make exclamations stronger. It can be attached to several words in the same sentence, changing the focus of the host word, but can only appear once per sentence: Minäkin olin siellä ("I was there too"), Minä olinkin siellä ("Surprisingly I was there"), Minä olin sielläkin ("I was there too")
    • -kAAn is also a focus particle and it corresponds with -kin in negative sentences: Minäkään en ollut siellä "I wasn't there either". Like -kin it can be attached to several host words in the same sentence. The only word it cannot be attached to is a negative verb. In questions it acts as a confirmation, like the word again in English: Missä sanoitkaan asuvasi? "Where did you say you lived again?"
    • -pA is a tone particle which can either add an arguing or patronising tone, or strengthen the host word: Minä tiedän paremmin! "Well I know better!", Onpa kaunis kissa! "Wow what a beautiful cat!"
    • -hAn is also a tone particle. In interrogative sentences it can make the question more polite and not as pressing: Onkohan isäsi kotona? "(I wonder) Is your dad home?" In command phrases it makes the command softer: Tulehan tänne "Come here you". It can also make a sentence more explanatory, make a claim more self-evident, express that something happened according to one's expectations, or that something came as a surprise etc. Pekka tuntee minut, onhan hän minun opettajani "Pekka knows me, he is my teacher after all", Kaikkihan niin tekevät "Everyone do so after all", Maijahan se siinä! "Oh but it is Maija!" Luulin, ettette osaisi, mutta tehän puhutte suomea hyvin "I thought you wouldn't be able to, but you speak Finnish well"
    • -s is a tone particle as well. It can also be used as a mitigating or softening phrase like -hAn: Annikos se on? "Oh but isn't it Anni?", Tules tänne "Come here you", Miksikäs ei? "Well why not?", Paljonkos kello on? "I wonder what time it is?"
  • Ganda: -nga attached to a verb to form the progressive; -wo 'in' (also attached to a verb)
  • Georgian: -o (2nd and 3rd person speakers) and -metki (1st person speakers) is added to the end of a sentence to show reported speech. Examples: K'atsma miutxra, xval gnaxe-o = The man told me that he would see you tomorrow (Literally, "The man told me, tomorrow I see you [reported]") vs. K'atss vutxari, xval gnaxe-metki = I told the man that I would see you tomorrow (Literally, "To man I told, tomorrow I see you [first person reported]).
  • Hungarian: the marker of indirect questions is -e: Nem tudja még, jön-e. "He doesn't know yet if he'll come." This clitic can also mark direct questions with a falling intonation. Is ("as well") and se ("not... either") also function as clitics: although written separately, they are pronounced together with the preceding word, without stress: Ő is jön. "He'll come too." Ő sem jön. "He won't come, either."
  • Japanese: all particles, such as the genitive postposition (no) and the topic marker (wa).
  • Korean: The copula 이다 (ida) and the adjectival 하다 (hada), as well as some nominal and verbal particles (e.g. , neun).[23] However, alternative analysis suggests that the nominal particles do not function as clitics, but as phrasal affixes.[24]
  • Somali: pronominal clitics, either subject or object clitics, are required in Somali. These exist as simple clitics postponed to the noun they apply to. Lexical arguments can be omitted from sentences, but pronominal clitics cannot be.[25]

See also


  1. ^ SIL International (2003). SIL Glossary of Linguistic Terms: What is a clitic? "This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003." Retrieved from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-05-10. Retrieved 2004-04-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  2. ^ a b c d Crystal, David. A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1980. Print.
  3. ^ Harris, Alice C. (2002). Endoclitics and the Origins of Udi Morphosyntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924633-5.
  4. ^ Craig A. Kopris & Anthony R. Davis (AppTek, Inc. / StreamSage, Inc.), September 18, 2005. Endoclitics in Pashto: Implications for Lexical Integrity (abstract pdf)
  5. ^ Kari, Ethelbert Emmanuel (2003). Clitics in Degema: A Meeting Point of Phonology, Morphology, and Syntax. Tokyo: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa. ISBN 4-87297-850-1.
  6. ^ a b c Miller, Philip H. "Clitics and Phrasal Affixes." Clitics and Constituents in Phrase Structure Grammar. New York: Garland, 1992. N. pag. Print.
  7. ^ Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo & John Payne (2011). There are no special clitics. In Alexandra Galani, Glyn Hicks & George Tsoulas (eds), Morphology and its interfaces (Linguistik Aktuell 178), 57–96. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  8. ^ Hopper, Paul J.; Elizabeth Closs Traugott (2003). Grammaticalization (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80421-9.
  9. ^ a b c Klavans, Judith L. On Clitics and Cliticization: The Interaction of Morphology, Phonology, and Syntax. New York: Garland Pub., 1995. Print.
  10. ^ Klavans, Judith L. On Clitics and Cliticization: The Interaction of Morphology, Phonology, and Syntax. New York: Garland Pub., 1995. Print.
  11. ^ Zwicky, Arnold (1977). On Clitics. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club.
  12. ^ a b c Andrew Spencer and Ana Luís, "The canonical clitic". In Brown, Chumakina, & Corbett, eds. Canonical Morphology and Syntax. Oxford University Press, pp. 123–150.
  13. ^ Spencer, Andrew; Luis, Ana R. (2012). Clitics: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. pp. 292–293. ISBN 9781139560313. There are two alternatives that have been explored in recent literature.
  14. ^ a b Zwicky, Arnold M. "Clitics and Particles." Language 61.2 (1985): 283-305. Print.
  15. ^ Spevak, Olga (2010). The Constituent Order of Classical Latin Prose. In series: Studies in language Amsterdam / Companion series (vol. 117). ISBN 9027205841. Page 14.
  16. ^ Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1614–1616. ISBN 0-521-43146-8.
  17. ^ Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 480–481. ISBN 0-521-43146-8.
  18. ^ "What is a clitic?" (PDF). Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  19. ^ Zwicky, Arnold M.; Pullum (1983). "Cliticization vs. inflection: the case of English n't". Language. 59 (3): 502–513. doi:10.2307/413900.
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-05-18. Retrieved 2014-05-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Gadelii, Karl Erland (2002). "Pronominal Syntax in Maputo Portuguese (Mozambique) from a Comparative Creole and Bantu Perspective" (PDF). Africa & Asia. 2: 27–41. ISSN 1650-2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2006-09-20.
  22. ^ Bartens, Angela, and Niclas Sandström (2005). "Novas notas sobre a construção com ser focalizador" (PDF). EStudos em homenagem ao Professor Doutor Mário Vilela. 1: 105–119. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-03-12. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  23. ^ Chae, Hee-Rahk (1995). "Clitic Analyses of Korean "Little Words"". Language, Information and Computation Proceedings of the 10th Pacific Asia Conference: 97–102. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2007-03-28.
  24. ^ James Hye Suk Yoon. "Non-morphological Determination of Nominal Particle Ordering in Korean" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27.
  25. ^ Mereu, Lunella. "Agreement, Pronominalization, and Word Order in Pragmatically-Oriented Languages." Boundaries of Morphology and Syntax. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins, 1999. N. pag. Print.
Albanian morphology

This article concerns the morphology of the Albanian language, including the declension of nouns and adjectives, and the conjugation of verbs. It refers to the Tosk-based Albanian standard regulated by the Academy of Sciences of Albania.

Anaphoric clitic

In linguistics, anaphoric clitics are a specific subset of clitics: morphologically-bound morphemes that syntactically resemble one word unit, but are bound phonologically to another word unit. Anaphoric clitics are a type of anaphor, meaning that they refer to previously mentioned constituents. Anaphoric clitics thus fill a position in a clause that would otherwise be occupied by a noun phrase, meaning that they are in complementary distribution with full noun phrases. A sentence can thus either contain an anaphoric clitic or a full noun phrase carrying out a particular grammatical function, but not both.

For example, in the Yagua language, spoken in Peru, there is an anaphoric clitic sa which appears before the verb, in subject function: the verb can either have a full noun phrase subject, or the clitic sa.

Araki language

Araki is a nearly extinct language spoken in the small island of Araki (locally known as [ˈɾaki]), south of Espiritu Santo Island in Vanuatu. Araki is gradually being replaced by Tangoa, a language from a neighbouring island.

Chocho language

Chocho (also Chocholtec, Chocholteco Chochotec, Chochon, or Ngigua) is a language of the Popolocan branch of the Oto-Manguean language family spoken in Mexico in the following communities of Oaxaca: Santa María Nativitas, San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca, San Miguel Tulancingo. Chocho is Spoken by 770 speakers (1998 Ethnologue Survey).

Chocho is a tonal language distinguishing low, mid and high tones.

Carol Mock (1982) argues that Chocho distinguishes morphosyntactically between subjects of willful actions whether they are transitive or intransitive and subjects of unwillful actions. This results in her analysing Chocho as an active–stative language.

As an example of how this works here is an example showing that the subject is marked with a different suffix depending on whether the action of the verb is active or inactive

In an active/voluntary transitive phrase the agent/subject is marked by the active suffix "-á" and the patient by the inactive clitic "-mī". The patient/subject of an intransitive active/voluntary phrase is marked by the same suffix.


"I saw you"d-àsǭ-á

"I arrive"However in an involuntary/inactive intransitive phrase the subject/patient is marked with the inactive clitic "má" like an object/patient of a transitive phrase.


"I fall"This morphosyntactic alignment would imply Chocho is a Split-S type active language. However, some intransitive verbs can use either the active person suffixes or the inactive enclitic, this suggests that it does in fact belong to the Fluid-S type active language.

Clitic doubling

In linguistics, clitic doubling, or pronominal reduplication is a phenomenon by which clitic pronouns appear in verb phrases together with the full noun phrases that they refer to (as opposed to the cases where such pronouns and full noun phrases are in complementary distribution).

Clitic doubling is found in many languages, including Albanian, Aromanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Degema, Greek, Persian, Romanian, Somali, Italian, and Spanish.

The conditions on clitic doubling vary from language to language, generally depending on well-known properties of the objects along the animacy hierarchy (allowing, requiring, or forbidding clitic-doubling for different kinds of objects). In this regard, clitic doubling for objects can be viewed as a species of differential object marking.


In linguistics, definiteness is a semantic feature of noun phrases (NPs), distinguishing between referents/entities that are identifiable in a given context (definite noun phrases) and entities which are not (indefinite noun phrases).

There is considerable variation in the expression of definiteness across languages and some languages do not express it at all. For example, in English definiteness is usually marked by the selection of determiner. Certain determiners, such as a/an, many, any, either, and some typically mark an NP as indefinite. Others, including the, this, every, and both mark the NP as definite. In some other languages, the marker is a clitic that attaches phonologically to the noun (and often to modifying adjectives), e.g. the Hebrew definite article ha- or the Arabic definite article al-. In yet other languages, definiteness is indicated by affixes on the noun or on modifying adjectives, much like the expression of grammatical number and grammatical case. In these languages, the inflections indicating definiteness may be quite complex. In the Germanic languages and Balto-Slavic languages, for example (as still in modern German and Lithuanian), there are two paradigms for adjectives, one used in definite noun phrases and the other used in indefinite noun phrases. In some languages, e.g. Hungarian, definiteness is marked on the verb.

Dislocation (syntax)

In syntax, dislocation is a sentence structure in which a constituent, which could otherwise be either an argument or an adjunct of the clause, occurs outside the clause boundaries either to its left or to its right. In this English example They went to the store, Mary and Peter the dislocation occurs to the right.

The dislocated element is often separated by a pause (comma in writing) from the rest of the sentence. Its place within the clause is often occupied by a pronoun (e.g. they).

There are two types of dislocation: right dislocation, in which the constituent is postponed (as in the above example), or a left dislocation, in which it is advanced. Right dislocation often occurs with a clarifying afterthought: They went to the store is a coherent sentence, but Mary and Peter is added afterward to clarify exactly who they are. By contrast, left dislocation is like clefting: it can be used to emphasize or define a topic. For example, the sentence This little girl, the dog bit her has the same meaning as The dog bit this little girl but it emphasizes that the little girl (and not the dog) is the topic of interest. One might expect the next sentence to be The little girl needs to see a doctor, rather than The dog needs to be leashed. This type of dislocation is a feature of topic-prominent languages.

English possessive

In English, possessive words or phrases exist for nouns and most pronouns, as well as some noun phrases. These can play the roles of determiners (also called possessive adjectives when corresponding to a pronoun) or of nouns.

For historical reasons, this case is misleadingly called the possessive (case). It was called the genitive until the 18th century and in fact expresses much more than possession. Most disagreements about the use of possessive forms of nouns and of the apostrophe are due to the erroneous belief that a term should not use an apostrophe if it does not express possession.In the words of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage:

The argument is a case of fooling oneself with one’s own terminology. After the 18th-century grammarians began to refer to the genitive case as the possessive case, grammarians and other commentators got it into their heads that the only use of the case was to show possession. ...

This dictionary also cites a study in whose samples only 40% of the possessive forms were used to indicate actual possession.

Nouns, noun phrases, and some pronouns generally form a possessive with the suffix -'s (apostrophe plus s, but in some cases just by adding an apostrophe to an existing s). This form is sometimes called the Saxon genitive, reflecting the suffix's derivation from Old English or Anglo-Saxon. Personal pronouns, however, have irregular possessives, and most of them have different forms for possessive determiners and possessive pronouns, such as my and mine or your and yours.

Possessives are one of the means by which genitive constructions are formed in modern English, the other principal one being the use of the preposition of. It is sometimes stated that the possessives represent a grammatical case, called the genitive or possessive case, though some linguists do not accept this view, regarding the 's ending, variously, as a phrasal affix, an edge affix, or a clitic, rather than as a case ending.

Genitive case

In grammar, the genitive case (abbreviated gen), also called the second case, is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus, indicating an attributive relationship of one noun to the other noun. A genitive can also serve purposes indicating other relationships. For example, some verbs may feature arguments in the genitive case; and the genitive case may also have adverbial uses (see adverbial genitive).

Genitive construction includes the genitive case, but is a broader category. Placing a modifying noun in the genitive case is one way of indicating that it is related to a head noun, in a genitive construction. However, there are other ways to indicate a genitive construction. For example, many Afroasiatic languages place the head noun (rather than the modifying noun) in the construct state.

Possessive grammatical constructions, including the possessive case, may be regarded as a subset of genitive construction. For example, the genitive construction "pack of dogs" is similar, but not identical in meaning to the possessive case "dogs' pack" (and neither of these is entirely interchangeable with "dog pack", which is neither genitive nor possessive). Modern English is an example of a language that has a possessive case rather than a conventional genitive case. That is, Modern English indicates a genitive construction with either the possessive clitic suffix "-'s", or a prepositional genitive construction such as "x of y". However, some irregular English pronouns do have possessive forms which may more commonly be described as genitive (see English possessive).

Many languages have a genitive case, including Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Irish, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Turkish and all Slavic languages except Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Genitive construction

In grammar, a genitive construction or genitival construction is a type of grammatical construction used to express a relation between two nouns such as the possession of one by another (e.g. "John's jacket"), or some other type of connection (e.g. "John's father" or "the father of John"). A genitive construction involves two nouns, the head (or modified noun) and the dependent (or modifier noun). The dependent noun modifies the head by expressing some property of it. For example, in the construction "John's jacket", "jacket" is the head and "John's" is the modifier, expressing a property of the jacket (it is owned by John).

Italian grammar

Italian grammar is the body of rules describing the properties of the Italian language. Italian words can be divided into the following lexical categories: articles, nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

Mavea language

Mavea (also known as Mav̈ea or Mafea or Mavia) is an Oceanic language spoken on Mavea Island in Vanuatu, off the eastern coast of Espiritu Santo. It belongs to the North–Central Vanuatu linkage of Southern Oceanic. The total population of the island is approximately 172, with only 34 fluent speakers of the Mavea language reported in 2008.There are 94 languages in the North Vanuatu linkage, including Mavea. The closest linguistic relative to Mavea, sharing a little over 70% of cognates, is Tutuba. Following Tutuba, Aore, South Malok, Araki, and Tangoa are the next closest relatives.

Nominal TAM

Nominal TAM is the indication of tense–aspect–mood by inflecting a noun, rather than a verb. In clausal nominal TAM, the noun indicates TAM information about the clause (as opposed to the noun phrase).

Whether or not a particular language can best be understood as having clausal nominal TAM can be controversial, and there are various borderline cases. A language that can indicate tense by attaching a verbal clitic to a noun (such as the -'ll clitic in English) is not generally regarded as using nominal TAM.

Personal pronoun

Personal pronouns are pronouns that are associated primarily with a particular grammatical person – first person (as I), second person (as you), or third person (as he, she, it, they). Personal pronouns may also take different forms depending on number (usually singular or plural), grammatical or natural gender, case, and formality. The term "personal" is used here purely to signify the grammatical sense; personal pronouns are not limited to people and can also refer to animals and objects (as the English personal pronoun it usually does).

The re-use in some languages of one personal pronoun to indicate a second personal pronoun with formality or social distance – commonly a second person plural to signify second person singular formal – is known as the T–V distinction, from the Latin pronouns tu and vos. Examples are the majestic plural in English and the use of "vous" in place of "tu" in French.

For specific details of the personal pronouns used in the English language, see English personal pronouns.

Phonological word

The phonological word or prosodic word (also called pword, PrWd; symbolised as ω) is a constituent in the phonological hierarchy higher than the syllable and the foot but lower than intonational phrase and the phonological phrase. It is largely held (Hall, 1999) to be a prosodic domain in which phonological features within the same lexeme may spread from one morph to another or from one clitic to a clitic host or from one clitic host to a clitic.

Polypersonal agreement

In linguistics, polypersonal agreement or polypersonalism is the agreement of a verb with more than one of its arguments (usually up to four). Polypersonalism is a morphological feature of a language, and languages that display it are called polypersonal languages.

In non-polypersonal languages, the verb either shows no agreement at all or agrees with the primary argument (in English, the subject). In a language with polypersonal agreement, the verb has agreement morphemes that may indicate (as applicable) the subject, the direct object, the indirect or secondary object, the beneficiary of the verb action, etc. This polypersonal marking may be compulsory or optional (the latter meaning that some agreement morphemes can be elided if the full argument is expressed).

Polysynthesis often includes polypersonalism, which in turn is a form of head-marking. Polypersonalism has also been correlated with ergativity.

Examples of languages with polypersonal agreement are Basque, Georgian, Magahi, to a lesser extent Hungarian (see Definite conjugation) and several other Uralic languages such as Mansi, Mordvinic or Nenets, the Bantu languages, as well as most polysynthetic languages, like Mohawk, Inuktitut and many other Native American languages.

Spanish object pronouns

Spanish object pronouns are Spanish personal pronouns that take the function of an object in a sentence. They may be analyzed as clitics which cannot function independently, but take the conjugated form of the Spanish verb. Object pronouns are generally proclitic, i.e. they appear before the verb of which they are the object; enclitic pronouns (i.e. pronouns attached to the end of the verb) appear with positive imperatives, infinitives, and gerunds.

In Spanish, up to two (or rarely three) clitic pronouns can be used with a single verb, generally one accusative and one dative. They follow a specific order based primarily on person. When an accusative third-person non-reflexive pronoun (lo, la, los, or las) is used with a dative pronoun that is understood to also be third-person non-reflexive. Simple non-emphatic clitic doubling is most often found with dative clitics, although it is occasionally found with accusative clitics as well, particularly in case of topicalization. In many dialects in Central Spain, including the one from Madrid, there exists one of the variants of leísmo; which is, using the indirect object pronoun le for the object pronoun where most other dialects would use lo (masculine) or la (feminine) for the object pronoun.

Venetian grammar

A peculiarity of Venetian grammar is a "semi-analytical" verbal flexion, with a compulsory "clitic subject pronoun" before the verb in many sentences, "echoing" the subject as an ending or a weak pronoun. As will be clear from the examples below, Venetian subject clitics are neither "redundant" nor "pleonastic" because they provide specific information, not present on verbal endings. Independent/emphatic pronouns (e.g. ti), on the contrary, are optional.

Italian: (Tu) eri sporco ("You were dirty").

Venetian: (Ti) te jèra onto or even Ti te jèri/xeri onto (lit. "(You) you were dirty").

Italian: Il cane era sporco ("The dog was dirty").

Venetian: El can el jèra onto (lit. "The dog he was dirty").

Italian: (Tu) ti sei domandato ("You have asked yourself").

Venetian: (Ti) te te à/gà/ghè domandà (lit. "(You) you yourself have asked").The clitic subject pronoun (te, el/ła, i/łe) is used with the 2nd and 3rd person singular, and with the 3rd person plural. This feature may have arisen as a compensation for the fact that the 2nd- and 3rd-person inflections for most verbs, which are still distinct in Italian and many other Romance languages, are identical in Venetian. (The Piedmontese language also has clitic subject pronouns, but the rules are somewhat different.)

The function of clitics is particularly visible in long sentences, which do not always have clear intonational breaks to easily tell apart vocative and imperative in sharp commands from exclamations with "shouted indicative". In Venetian the clitic el marks the indicative verb and its masculine subject, otherwise there is an imperative preceded by a vocative:

Venetian: Marco 'l canta ben, dai! ("Mark (subj.) sings well, you have to admit it!" - exclamation: subject + indicative)

Venetian: Marco canta ben, dai! ("Mark (voc.) sing well, come on!" - command: vocative+imperative)

Ven.Ital.: Marco canta ben, dai! (both exclamative and imperative)

Std.Ital.: Marco canta bene, dai! (both exclamative and imperative)Indeed, the verbal forms requiring subject clitics can often change or even drop their endings without problems of confusion because the clitic itself provide the necessary information (in Piedmontese and Milanese the clitic is not sufficient to mark the verb and often requires the cooccurence of a specific ending). Because Venetian subject clitics mark number (e.g. te = 2nd singular, el = 3rd singular, i = 3rd plural) and gender (ła = feminine 3rd singular, łe = feminine 3rd plural), they convey specific information that is not (or might not be) present on the endings. Thus, they act like a bridge that provide number and gender agreement between verb and subject (some languages, like Hebrew or Basque may show number/gender agreement on verbal endings). Thus, although some traditional grammars consider subject clitics as "redundant" or "pleonastic" elements, Venetian subject clitics are neither redundant nor pleonastic.

The clitics are the same in whole Veneto with two exceptions: te becomes ti in Venice (but is different from emphatic TI!) and becomes tu in some bellunese areas. El becomes Al in bellunese.

Yukulta language

Yukulta (Yugulda, Yokula, Yukala, Jugula, Jakula), also known as Ganggalida (Kangkalita), is an extinct Tangkic language spoken in Queensland and Northern Territory, Australia.

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