In grammar, inflection is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, and mood. It is found in many but not all languages. The inflection of verbs is also called conjugation, and one can refer to the inflection of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, determiners, participles, prepositions, postpositions, numerals, articles etc., as declension.
An inflection expresses one or more grammatical categories with a prefix, suffix or infix, or another internal modification such as a vowel change. For example, the Latin verb ducam, meaning "I will lead", includes the suffix -am, expressing person (first), number (singular), and tense-mood (future indicative or present subjunctive). The use of this suffix is an inflection. In contrast, in the English clause "I will lead", the word lead is not inflected for any of person, number, or tense; it is simply the bare form of a verb.
The inflected form of a word often contains both one or more free morphemes (a unit of meaning which can stand by itself as a word), and one or more bound morphemes (a unit of meaning which cannot stand alone as a word). For example, the English word cars is a noun that is inflected for number, specifically to express the plural; the content morpheme car is unbound because it could stand alone as a word, while the suffix -s is bound because it cannot stand alone as a word. These two morphemes together form the inflected word cars.
Words that are never subject to inflection are said to be invariant; for example, the English verb must is an invariant item: it never takes a suffix or changes form to signify a different grammatical category. Its categories can be determined only from its context. Languages that never use inflection, such as Mandarin Chinese, are called analytic or isolating.
Requiring the forms or inflections of more than one word in a sentence to be compatible with each other according to the rules of the language is known as concord or agreement. For example, in "the choir sings", "choir" is a singular noun, so "sing" is constrained in the present tense to use the third person singular suffix "s". The sentence *"the choir sing" is not grammatically correct in English.[a]
Languages that have some degree of inflection are synthetic languages. These can be highly inflected (such as Latin, Greek, Spanish, Biblical Hebrew, and Sanskrit), or weakly inflected (such as English). Languages that are so inflected that a sentence can consist of a single highly inflected word (such as many American Indian languages) are called polysynthetic languages. Languages in which each inflection conveys only a single grammatical category, such as Finnish, are known as agglutinative languages, while languages in which a single inflection can convey multiple grammatical roles (such as both nominative case and plural, as in Latin and German) are called fusional.
In English most nouns are inflected for number with the inflectional plural affix -s (as in "dog" → "dog-s"), and most English verbs are inflected for tense with the inflectional past tense affix -ed (as in "call" → "call-ed"). English also inflects verbs by affixation to mark the third person singular in the present tense (with -s), and the present participle (with -ing). English short adjectives are inflected to mark comparative and superlative forms (with -er and -est respectively).
There are 9 inflectional affixes in the English language.
|Affix||Grammatical Category||Mark||Part of Speech|
|-'s/'/s||Case||genitive||nouns and noun phrases, pronouns (marks independent genitive)|
|-s||Person, Number, Aspect, Tense||3rd person singular present||verbs|
|-er||Degree of Comparison||comparative||adjectives (monosyllabic or ending in -y or -i.e.)|
|-est||Degree of Comparison||superlative||adjectives|
Despite the march towards regularization, modern English retains traces of its ancestry, with a minority of its words still using inflection by ablaut (sound change, mostly in verbs) and umlaut (a particular type of sound change, mostly in nouns), as well as long-short vowel alternation. For example:
When a given word class is subject to inflection in a particular language, there are generally one or more standard patterns of inflection (the paradigms described below) that words in that class may follow. Words which follow such a standard pattern are said to be regular; those that inflect differently are called irregular.
For instance, many languages that feature verb inflection have both regular verbs and irregular verbs. In English, regular verbs form their past tense and past participle with the ending -[e]d; thus verbs like play, arrive and enter are regular. However, there are a few hundred verbs which follow different patterns, such as sing–sang–sung and keep–kept–kept; these are described as irregular. Irregular verbs often preserve patterns which were regular in past forms of the language, but which have now become anomalous. (For more details see English verbs and English irregular verbs.)
Other types of irregular inflected form include irregular plural nouns, such as the English mice, children and women (see English plural) and the French yeux (the plural of œil, "eye"); and irregular comparative and superlative forms of adjectives or adverbs, such as the English better and best (which correspond to the positive form good or well).
Irregularities can have four basic causes:
For more details on some of the considerations that apply to regularly and irregularly inflected forms, see the article on regular and irregular verbs.
Two traditional grammatical terms refer to inflections of specific word classes:
Below is the declension of the English pronoun I, which is inflected for case and number.
The pronoun who is also inflected in according to case. Its declension is defective, in the sense that it lacks a reflexive form.
|singular and plural|
|oblique||whom (formal), who (informal)|
|Tense||I||you||he, she, it||we||you||they|
The non-finite forms arrive (bare infinitive), arrived (past participle) and arriving (gerund/present participle), although not inflected for person or number, can also be regarded as part of the conjugation of the verb to arrive. Compound verb forms, such as I have arrived, I had arrived, or I will arrive, can be included also in the conjugation of the verb for didactical purposes, but they are not overt conjugations of arrive. The formula for deriving the covert form, in which the relevant inflections do not occur in the main verb, is
A class of words with similar inflection rules is called an inflectional paradigm. Typically, the similar rules amount to a unique set of affixes. Nominal inflectional paradigms are also called declensions, and verbal inflectional paradigms are also called conjugations. For example, Old English nouns could be divided into two major declensions, strong and weak, inflected as shown below:
|gender and number|
|case||Strong noun declension|
|engel 'angel'||scip 'ship'||sorg 'sorrow'|
|case||Weak noun declension|
|nama 'name'||ēage 'eye'||tunge 'tongue'|
The terms "strong declension" and "weak declension" are primarily relevant to well-known dependent-marking languages (such as the Indo-European languages, or Japanese). In dependent-marking languages, nouns in adpositional (prepositional or postpositional) phrases can carry inflectional morphemes.
In head-marking languages, the adpositions can carry the inflection in adpositional phrases. This means that these languages will have inflected adpositions. In Western Apache (San Carlos dialect), the postposition -ká’ 'on' is inflected for person and number with prefixes:
|1st||shi-ká||on me||noh-ká||on us two||da-noh-ká||'on us'|
|2nd||ni-ká||on you||nohwi-ká||'on you two'||da-nohwi-ká||'on you all'|
|3rd||bi-ká||'on him'||–||da-bi-ká||'on them'|
Traditional grammars have specific terms for inflections of nouns and verbs but not for those of adpositions.
Inflection is the process of adding inflectional morphemes that modify a verb's tense, mood, aspect, voice, person, or number or a noun's case, gender, or number, rarely affecting the word's meaning or class. Examples of applying inflectional morphemes to words are adding -s to the root dog to form dogs and adding -ed to wait to form waited.
In contrast, derivation is the process of adding derivational morphemes, which create a new word from existing words and change the semantic meaning or the part of speech of the affected word, such as by changing a noun to a verb.
Distinctions between verbal moods are mainly indicated by derivational morphemes.
Words are rarely listed in dictionaries on the basis of their inflectional morphemes (in which case they would be lexical items). However, they often are listed on the basis of their derivational morphemes. For instance, English dictionaries list readable and readability, words with derivational suffixes, along with their root read. However, no traditional English dictionary lists book as one entry and books as a separate entry; the same goes for jump and jumped.
Languages that add inflectional morphemes to words are sometimes called inflectional languages, which is a synonym for inflected languages. Morphemes may be added in several different ways:
Reduplication is a morphological process where a constituent is repeated. The direct repetition of a word or root is called total reduplication (or full reduplication). The repetition of a segment is referred to as partial reduplication. Reduplication can serve both derivational and inflectional functions. A few examples are given below:
|Plurality||Indonesian||buku 'book'||buku-buku 'books'|
|Distribution||Chinese||ren24 'person'||ren24 ren24 'everyone'|
|Intensity||Taiwanese Hokkien||ang24 'red'||ang24 ang24 'reddish'|
|Imperfective||Ilokano||ag-bása 'read'||ag-basbása 'reading'|
|Inchoative||Nukuoro||gohu 'dark'||gohu-gohu 'getting dark'|
|Progressive||Pazeh language||bazu’ 'wash'||baabazu’ 'be washing'|
|1 SG||1 PL||2||3|
Because the Proto-Indo-European language was highly inflected, all of its descendant Indo-European languages, such as Albanian, English, German, Ukrainian, Russian, Persian, Kurdish, Italian, Irish, Spanish, French, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Bengali, and Nepali, are inflected to a greater or lesser extent. In general, older Indo-European languages such as Latin, Ancient Greek, Old English, Old Norse, Old Church Slavonic and Sanskrit are extensively inflected because of their temporal proximity to Proto-Indo-European. Deflexion has caused modern versions of some Indo-European languages that were previously highly inflected to be much less so; an example is Modern English, as compared to Old English. In general, languages where deflexion occurs replace inflectional complexity with more rigorous word order, which provides the lost inflectional details. Most Slavic languages and some Indo-Aryan languages are an exception to the general Indo-European deflexion trend, continuing to be highly inflected (in some cases acquiring additional inflectional complexity and grammatical genders, as in Czech & Marathi).
Old English was a moderately inflected language, using an extensive case system similar to that of modern Icelandic or German. Middle and Modern English lost progressively more of the Old English inflectional system. Modern English is considered a weakly inflected language, since its nouns have only vestiges of inflection (plurals, the pronouns), and its regular verbs have only four forms: an inflected form for the past indicative and subjunctive (looked), an inflected form for the third-person-singular present indicative (looks), an inflected form for the present participle (looking), and an uninflected form for everything else (look). While the English possessive indicator 's (as in "Jane's book") is a remnant of the Old English genitive case suffix, it is now considered not a suffix but a clitic.
Old Norse was inflected, but modern Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish have lost much of its inflection. Neither of the languages are inflected for grammatical case with the exception of some dialects of the languages. Adjectives, nouns, determiners and articles still have different forms according to number and gender. Danish and Swedish only inflects for two different genders while Norwegian has to some degree retained the feminine forms and inflects for three grammatical genders like Icelandic. However in comparison to Icelandic, there are considerably less feminine forms left in the language.
In comparison, Icelandic preserves almost all of the inflections of Old Norse and remains heavily inflected. It retains all the grammatical cases from Old Norse and is inflected for number and three different grammatical genders. The dual number forms are however almost completely lost in comparison to Old Norse.
|a car||the car||cars||the cars|
|a line||the line||lines||the lines|
|a house||the house||houses||the houses|
Modern German remains moderately inflected, retaining four noun cases, although the genitive started falling into disuse in all but formal writing in Early New High German. The case system of Dutch, simpler than that of German, is also simplified in common usage. Afrikaans, recognized as a distinct language in its own right rather than a Dutch dialect only in the early 20th century, has lost almost all inflection.
The Romance languages, such as Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and Romanian, have more overt inflection than English, especially in verb conjugation. Adjectives, nouns and articles are considerably less inflected than verbs, but they still have different forms according to number and grammatical gender.
Latin, the mother tongue of the Romance languages, was highly inflected; nouns and adjectives had different forms according to seven grammatical cases (including five major ones) with five major patterns of declension, and three genders instead of the two found in most Romance tongues. There were four patterns of conjugation in six tenses, three moods (indicative, subjunctive, imperative, plus the infinitive, participle, gerund, gerundive, and supine) and two voices (passive and active), all overtly expressed by affixes (passive voice forms were periphrastic in three tenses).
The Baltic languages are highly inflected. Nouns and adjectives are declined in up to seven overt cases. Additional cases are defined in various covert ways. For example, an inessive case, an illative case, an adessive case and allative case are borrowed from Finnic. Latvian has only one overt locative case but it syncretizes the above four cases to the locative marking them by differences in the use of prepositions. Lithuanian breaks them out of the genitive case, accusative case and locative case by using different postpositions.
Dual form is obsolete in standard Latvian and nowadays it is also considered nearly obsolete in standard Lithuanian. For instance, in standard Lithuanian it is normal to say "dvi varnos (plural) – two crows" instead of "dvi varni (dual)". Adjectives, pronouns, and numerals are declined for number, gender, and case to agree with the noun they modify or for which they substitute. Baltic verbs are inflected for tense, mood, aspect, and voice. They agree with the subject in person and number (not in all forms in modern Latvian).
All Slavic languages make use of a high degree of inflection, typically having six or seven cases and three genders for nouns and adjectives. However, the overt case system has disappeared almost completely in modern Bulgarian and Macedonian. Most verb tenses and moods are also formed by inflection (however, some are periphrastic, typically the future and conditional). Inflection is also present in adjective comparation and word derivation.
Declensional endings depend on case (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative, instrumental, vocative), number (singular, dual or plural), gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and animacy (animate vs inanimate). Unusual in other language families, declension in most Slavic languages also depends on whether the word is a noun or an adjective. Slovene and Sorbian languages use a rare third number, (in addition to singular and plural numbers) known as dual (in case of some words dual survived also in Polish and other Slavic languages). Modern Russian, Serbian and Czech also use a more complex form of dual, but this misnomer applies instead to numbers 2, 3, 4, and larger numbers ending in 2, 3, or 4 (with the exception of the teens, which are handled as plural; thus, 102 is dual, but 12 or 127 are not). In addition, in some Slavic languages, such as Polish, word stems are frequently modified by the addition or absence of endings, resulting in consonant and vowel alternation.
Modern Standard Arabic (also called Literary Arabic) is an inflected language. It uses a system of independent and suffix pronouns classified by person and number and verbal inflections marking person and number. Suffix pronouns are used as markers of possession and as objects of verbs and prepositions. The tatweel (ـــ) marks where the verb stem, verb form, noun, or preposition is placed.
|Person||First||أَنَا ʾanā "I"||ـــِـي, ـــيَ, ـــنِي
—ī, —ya, —nī
|أ ʾ—||نَحْنُ naḥnu||ـــنَا —nā||نـــ n—||same as plural|
|Second||masc.||أَنْتَ ʾanta "you"||ـــكَ —ka||تـــ t—||أَنْتُمْ ʾantum||ـــكُمْ —kum||تــــُونَ t—ūn||أَنْتُمَا ʾantumā||ـــكُمَا —kumā||تــــَانِ t—āni|
|fem.||أَنْتِ ʾanti "you"||ـــكِ —ki||تــــِينَ t—īna||أَنْتُنَّ ʾantunna||ـــكُنَّ —kunna||تــــْنَ t—na|
|Third||masc.||هُوَ huwa "he"||ـــهُ —hu||يـــ y—||هُمْ hum||ـــهُمْ —hum||يــــُونَ y—ūna||هُمَا humā||ـــهُمَا —humā||يــــَانِ y—āni|
|fem.||هِيَ hiya "she"||ـــهَا —hā||تـــ t—||هُنَّ hunna||ـــهُنَّ —hunna||تــــْنَ t—na|
Arabic regional dialects (e.g. Moroccan Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Gulf Arabic), used for everyday communication, tend to have less inflection than the more formal Literary Arabic. For example, in Jordanian Arabic, the second- and third-person feminine plurals (أنتنّ antunna and هنّ hunna) and their respective unique conjugations are lost and replaced by the masculine (أنتم antum and هم hum), whereas in Lebanese and Syrian Arabic, هم hum is replaced by هنّ hunna.
The Uralic languages are agglutinative, following from the agglutination in Proto-Uralic. The largest languages are Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian—all European Union official languages. Uralic inflection is, or is developed from, affixing. Grammatical markers directly added to the word perform the same function as prepositions in English. Almost all words are inflected according to their roles in the sentence: verbs, nouns, pronouns, numerals, adjectives, and some particles.
Hungarian and Finnish, in particular, often simply concatenate suffixes. For example, Finnish talossanikinko "in my house, too?" consists of talo-ssa-ni-kin-ko. However, in the Finnic languages (Finnish, Estonian etc.) and the Sami languages, there are processes which affect the root, particularly consonant gradation. The original suffixes may disappear (and appear only by liaison), leaving behind the modification of the root. This process is extensively developed in Estonian and Sami, and makes them also inflected, not only agglutinating languages. The Estonian illative case, for example, is expressed by a modified root: maja → majja (historical form *maja-han).
The three language families often united as the Altaic languages—Turkic, Mongolic, and Manchu-Tungus—are agglutinative. The largest languages are Turkish, Azerbaijani and Uzbek—all Turkic languages. Altaic inflection is, or is developed from, affixing. Grammatical markers directly added to the word perform the same function as prepositions in English. Almost all words are inflected according to their roles in the sentence: verbs, nouns, pronouns, numerals, adjectives, and some particles.
Noun phrase morphology is agglutinative and consists of suffixes which simply attach to the end of a stem. These suffixes are in many cases fused with the article (-a for singular and -ak for plural), which in general is required to close a noun phrase in Basque if no other determiner is present, and unlike an article in many languages, it can only partially be correlated with the concept of definiteness. Proper nouns do not take an article, and indefinite nouns without the article (called mugagabe in Basque grammar) are highly restricted syntactically. Basque is an ergative language, meaning that inflectionally the single argument (subject) of an intransitive verb is marked in the same way as the direct object of a transitive verb. This is called the absolutive case and in Basque, as in most ergative languages, it is realized with a zero morph; in other words, it receives no special inflection. The subject of a transitive verb receives a special case suffix, called the ergative case.
There is no case marking concord in Basque and case suffixes, including those fused with the article, are added only to the last word in a noun phrase. Plurality is not marked on the noun and is identified only in the article or other determiner, possibly fused with a case marker. The examples below are in the absolutive case with zero case marking, and include the article only:
|txakur polit-a||(the/a) pretty dog|
|txakur polit-ak||(the) pretty dogs|
The noun phrase is declined for 11 cases: Absolutive, ergative, dative, possessive-genitive, benefactive, comitative, instrumental, inessive, allative, ablative, and local-genitive. These are signaled by suffixes that vary according to the categories of Singular, Plural, Indefinite, and Proper Noun, and many vary depending on whether the stem ends in a consonant or vowel. The Singular and Plural categories are fused with the article, and these endings are used when the noun phrase is not closed by any other determiner. This gives a potential 88 different forms, but the Indefinite and Proper Noun categories are identical in all but the local cases (inessive, allative, ablative, local-genitive), and many other variations in the endings can be accounted for by phonological rules operating to avoid impermissible consonant clusters. Local case endings are not normally added to animate Proper Nouns. The precise meaning of the local cases can be further specified by additional suffixes added after the local case suffixes.
Verb forms are extremely complex, agreeing with the subject, direct object, and indirect object; and include forms that agree with a "dative of interest" for intransitive verbs as well as allocutive forms where the verb form is altered if one is speaking to a close acquaintance. These allocutive forms also have different forms depending on whether the addressee is male or female. This is the only area in Basque grammar where gender plays any role at all. Subordination could also plausibly be considered an inflectional category of the Basque verb since subordination is signaled by prefixes and suffixes on the conjugated verb, further multiplying the number of potential forms.
Transitivity is a thoroughgoing division of Basque verbs, and it is necessary to know the transitivity of a particular verb in order to conjugate it successfully. In the spoken language only a handful of commonly used verbs are fully conjugated in the present and simple past, most verbs being conjugated by means of an auxiliary which differs according to transitivity. The literary language includes a few more such verbs, but the number is still very small. Even these few verbs require an auxiliary to conjugate other tenses besides the present and simple past.
The most common intransitive auxiliary is izan, which is also the verb for "to be". The most common transitive auxiliary is ukan, which is also the verb for "to have". (Other auxiliaries can be used in some of the tenses and may vary by dialect.) The compound tenses use an invariable form of the main verb (which appears in different forms according to the "tense group") and a conjugated form of the auxiliary. Pronouns are normally omitted if recoverable from the verb form. A couple of examples will have to suffice to demonstrate the complexity of the Basque verb:
Liburu-ak saldu dizkiegu.
Book-plural.the sell Auxiliary.3rd/Pl/Absolutive.3rd/Pl/Dative.1st/Pl/Ergative
"We sold the books to them."
Kafe-a gusta-tzen zaidak.
Coffee-the please-Habitual Auxiliary.Allocutive/Male.3rd/Sng/Absolutive.1st/Sng/Dative
"I like coffee." ("Coffee pleases me.") (Used when speaking to a male friend.)
The morphs that represent the various tense/person/case/mood categories of Basque verbs, especially in the auxiliaries, are so highly fused that segmenting them into individual meaningful units is nearly impossible, if not pointless. Considering the multitude of forms that a particular Basque verb can take, it seems unlikely that an individual speaker would have an opportunity to utter them all in his or her lifetime.
Most languages in the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area (such as the varieties of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai) are not overtly inflected, or show very little overt inflection, and are therefore considered analytic languages (also known as isolating languages).
Standard Chinese does not possess overt inflectional morphology. While some languages indicate grammatical relations with inflectional morphemes, Chinese utilizes word order and particles. Consider the following examples:
Both sentences mean 'The boy sees the girl.' This is because puer (boy) is singular nominative, puellam (girl) is singular accusative. Since the roles of puer and puellam have been marked with case endings, the change in position does not matter.
The situation is very different in Chinese. Since Modern Chinese makes no use of inflection, the meanings of wǒ ('I' or 'me') and tā ('he' or 'him') shall be determined with their position.
In Classical Chinese, pronouns were overtly inflected to mark case. However, these overt case forms are no longer used; most of the alternative pronouns are considered archaic in modern Mandarin Chinese. Classically, 我 (wǒ) was used solely as the first person accusative. 吾 (Wú) was generally used as the first person nominative.
Certain varieties of Chinese are known to express meaning by means of tone change, although further investigations are required. Note that the tone change must be distinguished from tone sandhi. Tone sandhi is a compulsory change that occurs when certain tones are juxtaposed. Tone change, however, is a morphologically conditioned alternation and is used as an inflectional or a derivational strategy. Examples from Taishan and Zhongshan (both Yue dialects spoken in Guangdong Province) are shown below:
The following table compares the personal pronouns of Sixian dialect (a dialect of Taiwanese Hakka) with Zaiwa and Jingpho (both Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in Yunnan and Burma). The superscripted numbers indicate the Chao tone numerals.
|1 Gen||ŋa24 or ŋai11 ke55||ŋa55||ŋjeʔ55|
|2 Gen||ŋia24 or ŋ̍11 ke55||naŋ55||naʔ55|
|3 Gen||kia24 or ki11 ke55||jaŋ51||khjiʔ55|
In Shanghainese, the third-person singular pronoun is overtly inflected as to case and the first- and second-person singular pronouns exhibit a change in tone depending on case.
Japanese shows a high degree of overt inflection of verbs, less so of adjectives, and very little of nouns, but it is mostly strictly agglutinative and extremely regular. Some fusion of morphemes does take place (e.g. causative-passive され -sare- as in 行かせられる ikaserareru "is made to go", and non-past progressive ている -teiru- as in 食べている tabeteiru "is eating"). Formally, every noun phrase must be marked for case, but this is done by invariable particles (clitic postpositions). (Many grammarians consider Japanese particles to be separate words, and therefore not an inflection, while others consider agglutination a type of overt inflection, and therefore consider Japanese nouns as overtly inflected.)
Auxiliary languages, such as Esperanto, Ido, and Interlingua have comparatively simple inflectional systems.
In Esperanto, an agglutinative language, nouns and adjectives are inflected for case (nominative, accusative) and number (singular, plural), according to a simple paradigm without irregularities. Verbs are not inflected for person or number, but they are inflected for tense (past, present, future) and mood (indicative, infinitive, conditional, jussive). They also form active and passive participles, which may be past, present or future. All verbs are regular.
Ido has a different form for each verbal tense (past, present, future, volitive and imperative) plus an infinitive, and both a present and past participle. There are though no verbal inflections for person or number, and all verbs are regular.
Nouns are marked for number (singular and plural), and the accusative case may be shown in certain situations, typically when the direct object of a sentence precedes its verb. On the other hand, adjectives are unmarked for gender, number or case (unless they stand on their own, without a noun, in which case they take on the same desinences as the missing noun would have taken). The definite article "la" ("the") remains unaltered regardless of gender or case, and also of number, except when there is no other word to show plurality. Pronouns are identical in all cases, though exceptionally the accusative case may be marked, as for nouns.
Interlingua, in contrast with the Romance languages, has no irregular verb conjugations, and its verb forms are the same for all persons and numbers. It does, however, have compound verb tenses similar to those in the Romance, Germanic, and Slavic languages: ille ha vivite, "he has lived"; illa habeva vivite, "she had lived". Nouns are inflected by number, taking a plural -s, but rarely by gender: only when referring to a male or female being. Interlingua has no noun-adjective agreement by gender, number, or case. As a result, adjectives ordinarily have no inflections. They may take the plural form if they are being used in place of a noun: le povres, "the poor".
A barista (; Italian: [baˈrista]; from the Italian for "bartender") is a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks.Declension
In linguistics, declension is the changing of the form of a word, generally to express its syntactic function in the sentence, by way of some inflection. The inflectional change of verbs is called conjugation.
Declensions may apply to nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and articles to indicate number (e.g. singular, dual, plural), case (e.g. nominative case, accusative case, genitive case, dative case), gender (e.g. masculine, neuter, feminine), and a number of other grammatical categories.
Declension occurs in many of the world's languages. Declension is an important aspect of language families like American Indian (such as Quechuan), Indo-European (German, Russian, Romanian, Sanskrit, Latin), Bantu (Zulu), Semitic (Modern Standard Arabic), Finno-Ugric (Hungarian, Finnish), Turkic (Turkish).
Old English was an inflectional language, but it has greatly abandoned inflectional changes as it evolved into Modern English. Though traditionally classified as synthetic, Modern English has moved towards an analytic language.Diatonic and chromatic
Diatonic (Greek: διατονική) and chromatic (Greek: χρωματική) are terms in music theory that are most often used to characterize scales, and are also applied to musical instruments, intervals, chords, notes, musical styles, and kinds of harmony. They are very often used as a pair, especially when applied to contrasting features of the common practice music of the period 1600–1900.These terms may mean different things in different contexts. Very often, diatonic refers to musical elements derived from the modes and transpositions of the "white note scale" C–D–E–F–G–A–B. In some usages it includes all forms of heptatonic scale that are in common use in Western music (the major, and all forms of the minor).Chromatic most often refers to structures derived from the twelve-note chromatic scale, which consists of all semitones. Historically, however, it had other senses, referring in Ancient Greek music theory to a particular tuning of the tetrachord, and to a rhythmic notational convention in mensural music of the 14th through 16th centuries.Grammatical case
Case is a special grammatical category of a noun, pronoun, adjective, participle or numeral whose value reflects the grammatical function performed by that word in a phrase, clause or sentence. In some languages, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners, participles, prepositions, numerals, articles and their modifiers take different inflected forms, depending on their case. As a language evolves, cases can merge (for instance, in Ancient Greek, the locative case merged with the dative case), a phenomenon formally called syncretism.English has largely lost its inflected case system although personal pronouns still have three cases, which are simplified forms of the nominative, accusative and genitive cases. They are used with personal pronouns: subjective case (I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, whoever), objective case (me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom, whomever) and possessive case (my, mine; your, yours; his; her, hers; its; our, ours; their, theirs; whose; whosever). Forms such as I, he and we are used for the subject ("I kicked the ball"), and forms such as me, him and us are used for the object ("John kicked me").
Languages such as Ancient Greek, Armenian, Assamese, Basque, Belarusian, Croatian, Czechoslovakian, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian, Tamil, Tibetan (one of a few tonal languages), Turkish, Ukrainian and most Caucasian languages have extensive case systems, with nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and determiners all inflecting (usually by means of different suffixes) to indicate their case. The number of cases differs between languages: Esperanto has two; German and Icelandic have four; Romanian has five; Latin, Russian and Turkish each have at least six; Armenian, Czech, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Ukrainian have seven; Sanskrit and Tamil have eight; Estonian has 14; Finnish has 15; Hungarian has 18 and Tsez has 64 cases.
Commonly encountered cases include nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. A role that one of those languages marks by case is often marked in English with a preposition. For example, the English prepositional phrase with (his) foot (as in "John kicked the ball with his foot") might be rendered in Russian using a single noun in the instrumental case or in Ancient Greek as τῷ ποδί (tôi podí, meaning "the foot") with both words (the definite article, and the noun πούς (poús) "foot") changing to dative form.
More formally, case has been defined as "a system of marking dependent nouns for the type of relationship they bear to their heads". Cases should be distinguished from thematic roles such as agent and patient. They are often closely related, and in languages such as Latin, several thematic roles have an associated case, but cases are a morphological notion, and thematic roles a semantic one. Languages having cases often exhibit free word order, as thematic roles are not required to be marked by position in the sentence.Grammatical conjugation
In linguistics, conjugation () is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection (alteration of form according to rules of grammar). Verbs may inflect for grammatical categories such as person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, case, possession, definiteness, politeness, causativity, clusivity, interrogativity, transitivity, valency, polarity, telicity, volition, mirativity, evidentiality, animacy, associativity, pluractionality, and reciprocity. Verbs may also be affected by agreement, polypersonal agreement, incorporation, noun class, noun classifiers, and verb classifiers.Agglutinative and polysynthetic languages tend to have the most complex conjugations albeit some fusional languages such as Archi can also have extremely complex conjugation. Typically the principal parts are the root and/or several modifications of it (stems). All the different forms of the same verb constitute a lexeme, and the canonical form of the verb that is conventionally used to represent that lexeme (as seen in dictionary entries) is called a lemma.
The term conjugation is applied only to the inflection of verbs, and not of other parts of speech (inflection of nouns and adjectives is known as declension). Also it is often restricted to denoting the formation of finite forms of a verb – these may be referred to as conjugated forms, as opposed to non-finite forms, such as the infinitive or gerund, which tend not to be marked for most of the grammatical categories.
Conjugation is also the traditional name for a group of verbs that share a similar conjugation pattern in a particular language (a verb class). For example, Latin is said to have four conjugations of verbs. This means that any regular Latin verb can be conjugated in any person, number, tense, mood, and voice by knowing which of the four conjugation groups it belongs to, and its principal parts. A verb that does not follow all of the standard conjugation patterns of the language is said to be an irregular verb. The system of all conjugated variants of a particular verb or class of verbs is called a verb paradigm; this may be presented in the form of a conjugation table.Grammatical gender
In linguistics, grammatical gender is a specific form of noun class system in which the division of noun classes forms an agreement system with another aspect of the language, such as adjectives, articles, pronouns, or verbs. This system is used in approximately one quarter of the world's languages. In these languages, most or all nouns inherently carry one value of the grammatical category called gender; the values present in a given language (of which there are usually two or three) are called the genders of that language. According to one definition: "Genders are classes of nouns reflected in the behaviour of associated words."Common gender divisions include masculine and feminine; masculine, feminine and neuter; or animate and inanimate. In a few languages, the gender assignment of nouns is solely determined by their meaning or attributes, like biological sex, humanness, or animacy. However, in most languages, this semantic division is only partially valid, and many nouns may belong to a gender category that contrasts with their meaning (e.g. the word for "manliness" could be of feminine gender). In this case, the gender assignment can also be influenced by the morphology or phonology of the noun, or in some cases can be apparently arbitrary.
Grammatical gender manifests itself when words related to a noun like determiners, pronouns or adjectives change their form (inflect) according to the gender of noun they refer to (agreement). The parts of speech affected by gender agreement, the circumstances in which it occurs, and the way words are marked for gender vary between languages. Gender inflection may interact with other grammatical categories like number or case. In some languages the declension pattern followed by the noun itself will be different for different genders.
Grammatical gender is found in many Indo-European languages (including Spanish, French, Russian, and German — but not Persian or English, for example), Afroasiatic languages (which includes the Semitic and Berber languages, etc.), and in other language families such as Dravidian and Northeast Caucasian, as well as several Australian Aboriginal languages such as Dyirbal, and Kalaw Lagaw Ya. Most Niger–Congo languages also have extensive systems of noun classes, which can be grouped into several grammatical genders. Conversely, grammatical gender is usually absent from the Koreanic, Japonic, Tungusic, Turkic, Mongolic, Austronesian, Sino-Tibetan, Uralic and most Native American language families. Modern English makes use of gender in pronouns, which are generally marked for natural gender, but lacks a system of gender concord within the noun phrase which is one of the central elements of grammatical gender in most other Indo-European languages.High rising terminal
The high rising terminal (HRT), also known as upspeak, uptalk, rising inflection, upward inflection, or high rising intonation (HRI), is a feature of some variants of English where declarative sentence clauses end with a rising-pitch intonation, until the end of the sentence where a falling-pitch is applied.
Empirically, one report proposes that HRT in American English and Australian English is marked by a high tone (high pitch or high fundamental frequency) beginning on the final accented syllable near the end of the statement (the terminal), and continuing to increase in frequency (up to 40%) to the end of the intonational phrase. New research suggests that the actual rise can occur one or more syllables after the last accented syllable of the phrase, and its range is much more variable than previously thought.Inflection point
In differential calculus, an inflection point, point of inflection, flex, or inflection (British English: inflexion) is a point on a continuous plane curve at which the curve changes from being concave (concave downward) to convex (concave upward), or vice versa.
If the curve is the graph of a function y = f(x), of differentiability class C2, this means that the second derivative of f vanishes and changes sign at the point. A point where the second derivative vanishes but does not change sign is sometimes called a point of undulation or undulation point.
In algebraic geometry an inflection point is defined slightly more generally, as a regular point where the tangent meets the curve to order at least 3, and an undulation point or hyperflex is defined as a point where the tangent meets the curve to order at least 4.Intonation (linguistics)
In linguistics, intonation is variation in spoken pitch when used, not for distinguishing words as sememes (a concept known as tone), but, rather, for a range of other functions such as indicating the attitudes and emotions of the speaker, signalling the difference between statements and questions, and between different types of questions, focusing attention on important elements of the spoken message and also helping to regulate conversational interaction. (The term tone is used by some British writers in their descriptions of intonation but to refer to the pitch movement found on the nucleus or tonic syllable in an intonation unit.)
Although intonation is primarily a matter of pitch variation, it is important to be aware that functions attributed to intonation such as the expression of attitudes and emotions, or highlighting aspects of grammatical structure, almost always involve concomitant variation in other prosodic features. David Crystal for example says that "intonation is not a single system of contours and levels, but the product of the interaction of features from different prosodic systems – tone, pitch-range, loudness, rhythmicality and tempo in particular."Lexeme
A lexeme ( (listen)) is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection. It is a basic abstract unit of meaning, a unit of morphological analysis in linguistics that roughly corresponds to a set of forms taken by a single root word. For example, in English, run, runs, ran and running are forms of the same lexeme, which can be represented as RUN. One form, the lemma (or citation form) is chosen by convention as the canonical form of a lexeme. The lemma is the form used in dictionaries as an entry's headword. Other forms of a lexeme are often listed later in the entry if they are uncommon or irregularly inflected forms.
A lexeme belongs to a particular syntactic category, has a certain meaning (semantic value), and, in inflecting languages, has a corresponding inflectional paradigm. That is, a lexeme in many languages will have many different forms. For example, the lexeme RUN has a present third person singular form runs, a present non-third-person singular form run (which also functions as the past participle and non-finite form), a past form ran, and a present participle running. (It does not include runner, runners, runnable, etc.) The use of the forms of a lexeme is governed by rules of grammar; in the case of English verbs such as RUN, these include subject-verb agreement and compound tense rules, which determine which form of a verb can be used in a given sentence.
In many formal theories of language, lexemes have subcategorization frames to account for the number and types of complements. They occur within sentences and other syntactic structures.
The notion of the lexeme is central to morphology, the basis for defining other concepts in that field. For example, the difference between inflection and derivation can be stated in terms of lexemes:
Inflectional rules relate a lexeme to its forms.
Derivational rules relate a lexeme to another lexeme.Mbula language
Mbula (also known as Mangap-Mbula, Mangaaba, Mangaawa, Mangaava, Kaimanga) is an Austronesian language spoken by around 2,500 people on Umboi Island and Sakar Island in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea. Its basic word order is subject–verb–object; it has a nominative–accusative case-marking strategy.Morphological derivation
Morphological derivation, in linguistics, is the process of forming a new word from an existing word, often by adding a prefix or suffix, such as -ness or un-. For example, happiness and unhappy derive from the root word happy.
It is differentiated from inflection, which is the modification of a word to form different grammatical categories without changing its core meaning: determines, determining, and determined are from the root determine.Northern Sami
Northern or North Sami (davvisámegiella; disapproved exonym Lappish or Lapp), sometimes also simply referred to as Sami, is the most widely spoken of all Sami languages. The area where Northern Sami is spoken covers the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The number of Northern Sami speakers is estimated to be somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000. About 2,000 of these live in Finland and between 5,000 and 6,000 in Sweden.Nynorsk
Nynorsk (translates to New Norwegian) is one of the two written standards of the Norwegian language, the other being Bokmål. Nynorsk was established in 1929 as one of two state-sanctioned fusions of Ivar Aasen's standard Norwegian language (Landsmål) with the Dano-Norwegian written language (Riksmål), the other such fusion being called Bokmål. Nynorsk is a variation which is closer to Landsmål, whereas Bokmål is closer to Riksmål.
In local communities, one quarter of Norwegian municipalities have declared Nynorsk as their official language form, and these municipalities account for about 12% of the Norwegian population. Nynorsk is also being taught as a mandatory subject in both high school and elementary school for all Norwegians who don't have it as their own language form. Of the remaining municipalities that don't have Nynorsk as their official language form, half are neutral and half have adopted Bokmål as their official language form.Four of Norway's eighteen counties, Rogaland, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Møre og Romsdal, have Nynorsk as their official language form. These four together comprise the region of Western Norway.Stationary point
In mathematics, particularly in calculus, a stationary point of a differentiable function of one variable is a point on the graph of the function where the function's derivative is zero. Informally, it is a point where the function "stops" increasing or decreasing (hence the name).
For a differentiable function of several real variables, a stationary point is a point on the surface of the graph where all its partial derivatives are zero (equivalently, the gradient is zero).
Stationary points are easy to visualize on the graph of a function of one variable: they correspond to the points on the graph where the tangent is horizontal (i.e., parallel to the x-axis). For a function of two variables, they correspond to the points on the graph where the tangent plane is parallel to the xy plane.Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix (sometimes termed post) is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case ending, which indicate the grammatical cased of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs.
Particularly in the study of Semitic languages, suffixes are called afformatives, as they can alter the form of the words.
In Indo-European studies, a distinction is made between suffixes and endings (see Proto-Indo-European root). Suffixes can carry grammatical information or lexical information.
An inflectional suffix is sometimes called a desinence or a grammatical suffix or ending. Inflection changes the grammatical properties of a word within its syntactic category
Derivational suffixes can be divided into two categories: class-changing derivation and class-maintaining derivation.Synthetic language
A synthetic language uses inflection or agglutination to express syntactic relationships within a sentence. Inflection is the addition of morphemes to a root word that assigns grammatical property to that word, while agglutination is the combination of two or more morphemes into one word. The information added by morphemes can include indications of a word's grammatical category, such as whether a word is the subject or object in the sentence. Morphology can be either relational or derivational.While derivational morpheme changes the lexical categories of words, inflectional morpheme does not. In the first example below, faster remained an adjective when followed by the suffix; however, teacher becomes a noun after the suffix is added. Therefore, the first case is an example of inflection and the latter derivation.
fast (adjective, positive) vs. faster (adjective, comparative)
teach (verb) vs. teacher (noun)In synthetic languages, there is a higher morpheme-to-word ratio than in analytic languages. Analytic languages have a lower morpheme-to-word ratio and higher use of helping verbs and word order. The four subtypes of synthetic languages are agglutinating languages, fusional languages, polysynthetic languages, and oligosynthetic languages.Weak inflection
In grammar, the term weak (originally coined in German: schwach) is used in opposition to the term strong (stark) to designate a conjugation or declension when a language has two parallel systems. The only constant feature in all the grammatical usages of the word "weak" is that it forms a polarity with "strong"; there is not necessarily any objective "weakness" about the forms so designated.Western Lombard dialect
Western Lombard is one of the main varieties of Lombard, a Romance language spoken in Italy. It is widespread in the Lombard provinces of Milan, Monza, Varese, Como, Lecco, Sondrio, a small part of Cremona (except Crema and its neighbours), Lodi and Pavia, and the Piedmont provinces of Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, the eastern part of the Province of Alessandria (Tortona), a small part of Vercelli (Valsesia), and Switzerland (the Canton of Ticino and part of the Canton of Graubünden). After the name of the region involved, land of the former Duchy of Milan, this language is often referred to as Insubric (see Insubria and Insubres) or Milanese, or, after Clemente Merlo, Cisabduano (literally "of this side of Adda River").