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In linguistic
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
, inflection (or
inflexion In linguistic Morphology (linguistics), morphology, inflection (or wikt:inflexion#English, inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express different grammatical category, grammatical categories such as grammati ...

inflexion
) is a process of
word formation In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
, in which a word is modified to express different
grammatical categories A grammatical category or grammatical feature is a property of items within the grammar of a language. Within each category there are two or more possible values (sometimes called grammemes), which are normally mutually exclusive. Frequently encou ...
such as tense,
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
,
voice The human voice consists of sound Voice production, made by a human being using the vocal tract, including Speech, talking, singing, Laughter, laughing, crying, screaming, shouting, humming or yelling. The human voice frequency is specifically a ...
,
aspect Aspect or Aspects may refer to: Entertainment * ''Aspect magazine ASPECT Volume 9: Performance ''ASPECT'' was a biannual DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital optical disc data stor ...
,
person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with the ...
,
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
,
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Althoug ...
, mood,
animacy Animacy (antonym: inanimacy) is a grammatical In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The ...
, and
definiteness In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
. The inflection of
verb A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
s is called ''
conjugation Conjugation or conjugate may refer to: Linguistics * Grammatical conjugation, the modification of a verb from its basic form * Emotive conjugation or Russell's conjugation, the use of loaded language Mathematics * Complex conjugation, the change ...
'', and one can refer to the inflection of
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...

noun
s,
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s,
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), ...

adverb
s,
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

pronoun
s,
determiners A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practic ...

determiners
,
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
s,
prepositions Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various semantic ...
and
postpositions Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various semantic ...
,
numeral A numeral is a figure, symbol, or group of figures or symbols denoting a number. It may refer to: * Numeral system used in mathematics * Numeral (linguistics), a part of speech denoting numbers (e.g. ''one'' and ''first'' in English) * Numerical di ...
s, articles etc., as ''
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 Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. Declensions ...
''. An inflection expresses grammatical categories with
affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most language ...
ation (such as
prefix A prefix is an affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) ...
,
suffix In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
,
infix An infix is an affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) a ...
,
circumfix A circumfix ( abbreviated ) (also confix or ambifix) is an affix In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mode ...
, and
transfix In linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
),
apophony In linguistics, apophony (also known as ablaut, (vowel) gradation, (vowel) mutation, alternation, internal modification, stem modification, stem alternation, replacive morphology, stem mutation, internal inflection etc.) is any sound change wi ...
(as
Indo-European ablaut The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
), or other modifications. For example, the Latin verb ', meaning "I will lead", includes the suffix ', 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 morpheme In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
s (a unit of meaning which can stand by itself as a word), and one or more
bound morpheme In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages ...
s (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 A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
, 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 seldom make use of inflection, such as
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, are said to be analytic. Analytic languages that do not make use of
derivational morphemes A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a language. A morpheme is not necessarily the same as a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with se ...
, such as
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bri ...
, are said to be 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 Agreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement, not enforceable by law * Trade agreement, between countries * Consensus, a decision-making process * Contract, enforceable in a court of law ** Meeting of ...
. For example, in "the man jumps", "man" is a singular noun, so "jump" is constrained in the present tense to use the third person singular suffix "s". The sentence "the man jump" is not grammatically correct in English. Languages that have some degree of inflection are
synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronom ...
s. These can be highly inflected (such as
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
,
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
,
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroas ...
, and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
), or slightly inflected (such as
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
). Languages that are so inflected that a sentence can consist of a single highly inflected word (such as many
Native American languages Over a thousand are spoken by the . These languages cannot all be demonstrated to be related to each other and are classified into a hundred or so (including a large number of s), as well as a number of extinct languages that are due to a lac ...
) are called
polysynthetic language In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for s ...
s. Languages in which each inflection conveys only a single grammatical category, such as
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
, are known as
agglutinative language An agglutinative language is a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express different grammatica ...
s, while languages in which a single inflection can convey multiple grammatical roles (such as both nominative case and plural, as in Latin and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
) are called fusional.


Examples in English

In English most nouns are inflected for
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
with the inflectional plural
affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most language ...
''-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 nine inflectional affixes in the English language. Despite the march toward regularization, modern English retains traces of its ancestry, with a minority of its words still using inflection by
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the Germanic strong verb, stron ...
(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: * ''Write, wrote, written'' (marking by
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the Germanic strong verb, stron ...
variation, and also suffixing in the
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
) * ''Sing, sang, sung'' (ablaut) * ''Foot, feet'' (marking by umlaut variation) * ''Mouse, mice'' (umlaut) * ''Child, children'' (ablaut, and also suffixing in the plural) For details, see
English plural English noun English grammar is the way in which meanings are encoded into wordings in the English language. This includes the structure of words, phrases, clauses, Sentence (linguistics), sentences, and whole texts. This article describes a g ...
,
English verbs Verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of ...
, and
English irregular verbs The English language has many irregular verbs, approaching 200 in normal use—and significantly more if prefixed forms are counted. In most cases, the irregularity concerns the past tense (also called ''preterite'') or the past participle. The ...
.


Regular and irregular inflection

When a given
word class In traditional grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech ( abbreviated as POS or PoS) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammatical properties. Words that are assigned to the same part of speech g ...
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 A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
inflection have both regular verbs and irregular verbs. In English, regular verbs form their
past tense The past tense is a grammatical tense In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the ...
and
past participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
with the ending ''- ''; 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; in rare cases, there are regular verbs that were irregular in past forms of the language. (For more details see
English verbs Verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of ...
and
English irregular verbs The English language has many irregular verbs, approaching 200 in normal use—and significantly more if prefixed forms are counted. In most cases, the irregularity concerns the past tense (also called ''preterite'') or the past participle. The ...
.) Other types of irregular inflected form include irregular
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
nouns, such as the English ''mice'', ''children'' and ''women'' (see
English plural English noun English grammar is the way in which meanings are encoded into wordings in the English language. This includes the structure of words, phrases, clauses, Sentence (linguistics), sentences, and whole texts. This article describes a g ...
) and the French ' (the plural of ', "eye"); and irregular
comparative In general linguistics, the comparative is a syntactic construction that serves to express a comparison between two (or more) entities or groups of entities in quality or degree - see also comparison (grammar) for an overview of comparison, as well ...

comparative
and
superlative Comparison is a feature in the morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of a ...
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: #
euphony Phonaesthetics (also spelled phonesthetics in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the A ...

euphony
: Regular inflection would result in forms that sound esthetically unpleasing or are difficult to pronounce (English ''far'' → ''farther'' or ''further,''
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
' → ', ' vs. ' → ', '',''
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
vs. Spanish ' → Portuguese ' vs. Spanish '). #
principal parts In language learning, the principal parts of a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occu ...
: These are generally considered to have been formed independently of one another, so the student must memorize them when learning a new word. Example:
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
' → Spanish '. # strong vs. weak inflection: In some cases, two inflection systems exist, conventionally classified as "strong" and "weak." For instance, English and German have weak verbs that form the past tense and past participle by adding an ending (English ''jump'' → ''jumped,'' German ' → ') and strong verbs that change vowel, and in some cases form the past participle by adding ' (English ''swim'' → ''swam,'' ''swum,'' German ' → ', '). Ancient Greek verbs are likewise said to have had a first
aorist Aorist (; abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for exam ...
() and a second aorist (). #
suppletionIn linguistics and etymology, suppletion is traditionally understood as the use of one word as the inflection, inflected form of another word when the two words are not cognate. For those learning a language, suppletive forms will be seen as "irregul ...
: The "irregular" form was originally derived from a different root (English ''person'' → ''people''). The comparative and superlative forms of ''good'' in many languages display this phenomenon. For more details on some of the considerations that apply to regularly and irregularly inflected forms, see the article on
regular and irregular verbs A regular verb is any verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''bec ...
.


Declension and conjugation

Two traditional grammatical terms refer to inflections of specific
word class In traditional grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech ( abbreviated as POS or PoS) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammatical properties. Words that are assigned to the same part of speech g ...
es: * Inflecting a
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...

noun
,
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

pronoun
,
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
,
article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The category of articles constitutes a part of ...
or
determiner A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practic ...
is known as declining it. The affixes may express
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
,
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
, or
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Althoug ...
. * Inflecting a
verb A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
is called conjugating it. The affixes may express tense, mood,
voice The human voice consists of sound Voice production, made by a human being using the vocal tract, including Speech, talking, singing, Laughter, laughing, crying, screaming, shouting, humming or yelling. The human voice frequency is specifically a ...
,
aspect Aspect or Aspects may refer to: Entertainment * ''Aspect magazine ASPECT Volume 9: Performance ''ASPECT'' was a biannual DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital optical disc data stor ...
,
person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is ...
, or number. An organized list of the inflected forms of a given
lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeol ...
or root word is called its ''
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 Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. Declensions ...
'' if it is a noun, or its ''
conjugation Conjugation or conjugate may refer to: Linguistics * Grammatical conjugation, the modification of a verb from its basic form * Emotive conjugation or Russell's conjugation, the use of loaded language Mathematics * Complex conjugation, the change ...
'' if it is a verb. 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. The following table shows the conjugation of the verb ''to arrive'' in the indicative mood:
suffixes In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis inclu ...
inflect it for person, number, and tense: 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 :pronoun + conjugated
auxiliary verb An auxiliary verb (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; ...
+ non-finite form of main verb.


Inflectional paradigm

An inflectional paradigm refers to a pattern (usually a set of inflectional endings), where a class of words follow the same pattern. Nominal inflectional paradigms are called ''declensions'', and verbal inflectional paradigms are termed ''conjugations''. For instance, there are five types of
Latin declension Latin declension is the set of patterns according to which Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...
. Words that belong to the first declension usually end in -a and are usually feminine. These words share a common inflectional framework. In
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
, nouns are divided into two major categories of declension, the ''strong'' and ''weak'' ones, as shown below: The terms "strong declension" and "weak declension" are primarily relevant to well-known
dependent-marking languageA dependent-marking language has grammatical markers of agreementAgreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement A gentlemen's agreement, or gentleman's agreement, is an informal and legally non-binding ...
s (such as the
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
, or
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
). In dependent-marking languages, nouns in adpositional (prepositional or postpositional) phrases can carry inflectional morphemes. In
head-marking language A language is head-marking if the grammatical marks showing agreement between different words of a phrase tend to be placed on the heads (or nuclei) of phrases, rather than on the modifiers or dependents. Many languages employ both head-marki ...
s, the adpositions can carry the inflection in adpositional phrases. This means that these languages will have inflected adpositions. In
Western Apache The Western Apache live primarily in east central Arizona, in the United States. Most live within reservations. The Fort Apache Indian Reservation, San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Tonto Apache, and the Fort McDowe ...
( San Carlos dialect), the postposition ''-ká’'' 'on' is inflected for person and number with prefixes: Traditional grammars have specific terms for inflections of nouns and verbs but not for those of
adposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various semantic ro ...
s.


Compared to derivation

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 (linguistics), 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 mood (linguistics), 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''.


Inflectional morphology

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: * Affixation, or simply adding morphemes onto the word without changing the root, * Reduplication, doubling all or part of a word to change its meaning, * Alternation (linguistics), Alternation, exchanging one sound for another in the root (usually vowel sounds, as in the Indo-European ablaut, ablaut process found in Germanic strong verbs and the Germanic umlaut, umlaut often found in
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...

noun
s, among others). * Prosody (linguistics), Suprasegmental variations, such as of Lexical stress, stress, pitch accent, pitch or tonal language, tone, where no sounds are added or changed but the intonation and relative strength of each sound is altered regularly. For an example, see Initial-stress-derived noun.


Inflection through reduplication

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 Morphological derivation, derivational and inflectional functions. A few examples are given below:


Inflection through tone change

Palancar and Léonard provided an example with Palantla Chinantec, Tlatepuzco Chinantec (an Oto-Manguean languages, Oto-Manguean language spoken in Southern Mexico), where tones are able to distinguish mood, person, and number: Case can be distinguished with tone as well, as in Maasai language (a Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language spoken in Kenya and Tanzania) (Hyman, 2016):


In various languages


Indo-European languages (fusional)

Because the Proto-Indo-European language was highly inflected, all of its descendant
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
, such as Albanian language, Albanian, Armenian language, Armenian,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, Ukrainian language, Ukrainian, Russian language, Russian,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
, Kurdish language, Kurdish, Italian language, Italian, Irish language, Irish,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, French language, French, Hindi, Marathi language, Marathi, Urdu language, Urdu, Bengali language, Bengali, and Nepali language, Nepali, are inflected to a greater or lesser extent. In general, older Indo-European languages such as
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, Ancient Greek language, Ancient Greek,
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
, Old Norse, Old Church Slavonic and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
are extensively inflected because of their temporal proximity to Proto-Indo-European. Deflexion (linguistics), 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 declension, Czech & Marathi language, Marathi).


English

Old English language, Old English was a moderately inflected language, using an extensive case system similar to that of modern Icelandic language, Icelandic or
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

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 by syntacticians not to be a suffix but a clitic, although some linguists argue that it has properties of both.


Scandinavian languages

Old Norse language, Old Norse was inflected, but modern Swedish language, Swedish, Norwegian language, Norwegian, and Danish language, Danish have lost much of their inflection. Grammatical case has largely died out with the exception of
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

pronoun
s, just like English. However,
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s,
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...

noun
s, Determinative, determiners and Article (grammar), articles still have different forms according to grammatical number and grammatical gender. Danish and Swedish only inflect 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 fewer feminine forms left in the language. In comparison, Icelandic language, Icelandic preserves almost all of the Old Norse morphology, 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 (grammatical number), dual number forms are however almost completely lost in comparison to Old Norse. Unlike other Germanic languages, nouns are inflected for
definiteness In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
in all Scandinavian languages, like in the following case for Nynorsk, Norwegian (nynorsk): Adjectives and
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
s are also inflected for definiteness in all Scandinavian languages like in Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germanic.


Other Germanic languages

Modern
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

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 Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
, simpler than that of German, is also simplified in common usage. Afrikaans language, 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.


Latin and the Romance languages

The Romance languages, such as
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, Italian language, Italian, French language, French,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
and Romanian language, Romanian, have more overt inflection than English, especially in grammatical conjugation, 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 Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

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).


Baltic languages

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 language, Latvian has only one overt locative case but it Syncretism (linguistics), 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 (grammatical number), 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).


Slavic languages

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 grammar, Bulgarian and Macedonian grammar, 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 (grammatical number), 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 (grammatical number), 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 Apophony, consonant and vowel alternation.


Arabic (fusional)

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 (linguistics), possession and as objects of verbs and prepositions. The kashida, tatweel (ـــ) marks where the verb stem, verb form, noun, or preposition is placed. Arabic Varieties of Arabic, regional dialects (e.g. Morocco, Moroccan Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Persian Gulf, 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 ( and ) and their respective unique conjugations are lost and replaced by the masculine ( and ), whereas in Lebanese and Syrian Arabic, is replaced by . In addition, the system known as Irab, ʾIʿrāb places vowel suffixes on each verb, noun, adjective, and adverb, according to its function within a sentence and its relation to surrounding words.


Uralic languages (agglutinative)

The Uralic languages are agglutinative language, agglutinative, following from the agglutination in Proto-Uralic. The largest languages are Hungarian language, Hungarian,
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
, and Estonian language, 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'').


Altaic languages (agglutinative)

The three language families often united as the Altaic languages—Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongolic, and Manchu-Tungus—are agglutinative. The largest languages are Turkish language, Turkish, Azerbaijani language, Azerbaijani and Uzbek language, 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.


Basque (agglutinative nominal inflection / fusional verb inflection)

Basque language, Basque, a language isolate, is a highly inflected language, heavily inflecting both nouns and verbs. 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.King, Alan R. ''The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction.'' University of Nevada Press. Reno, Nevada 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: 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.


Mainland Southeast Asian languages (isolating)

Most languages in the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area (such as the varieties of Chinese, Vietnamese language, Vietnamese, and Thai language, Thai) are not overtly inflected, or show very little overt inflection, and are therefore considered analytic languages (also known as ''isolating languages'').


Chinese

Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bri ...
does not possess overt inflectional morphology. While some languages indicate grammatical relations with inflectional morphemes, Chinese utilizes word order and Chinese particles, particles. Consider the following examples: * Latin: **Puer puellam videt. **Puellam puer videt. 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. * Modern Standard Chinese: **我给了他一本书 (''wǒ gěile tā yī běn shū'') 'I gave him a book' **他给了我一本书 (''tā gěile wǒ yī běn shū'') 'He gave me a book' 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 (linguistics), alternation and is used as an inflectional or a derivational strategy. Examples from Taishanese, Taishan and Zhongshan (both Yue Chinese, Yue dialects spoken in Guangdong Province) are shown below:Chen, M. Y. (2000). ''Tone Sandhi: Patterns across Chinese dialects''. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. * Taishan * Zhongshan 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 Myanmar, Burma). The superscripted numbers indicate the Tone letter, Chao tone numerals. 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 (agglutinative)

Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

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 language, agglutinative and extremely regular. Fusion of morphemes also happen in colloquial speech, for example: the causative-passive fuses into , as in , and the non-past progressive fuses into as in . Formally, every noun phrase must be case marker, 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

Some International auxiliary language, auxiliary languages, such as Lingua Franca Nova, Glosa, and Lingua sistemfrater, Frater, have no inflection. Other auxiliary languages, such as Esperanto, Ido, and Interlingua have comparatively simple inflectional systems.


Esperanto

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

Ido (language), 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

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".


See also

*Agreement (linguistics) *Diction * Intonation (linguistics) * Introflection *Lexeme *Marker (linguistics) *Morpheme *Nominal TAM *Periphrasis *Righthand head rule *Suppletion *Synthetic language *Tense–aspect–mood *Uninflected word *Linguistic relativity


Notes


Citations


Footnotes


References

* * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * *


External links


SIL articles

* SIL:What is ''inflection''?
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Lexicon of Linguistics articles

* Lexicon of Linguistics:Agglutinating LanguageFusional MorphologyIsolating LanguagePolysynthetic Language
* Lexicon of Linguistics:InflectionDerivation
* Lexicon of Linguistics:ConjugationDeclension
* Lexicon of Linguistics:BaseStemRoot
* Lexicon of Linguistics:Defective Paradigm
* Lexicon of Linguistics:Strong Verb
* Lexicon of Linguistics:Inflection Phrase (IP)INFLAGRTense
* Lexicon of Linguistics:Lexicalist Hypothesis
{{Authority control Grammar Linguistic morphology Linguistics terminology