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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 have a writing ...

linguistics
, function words (also called functors) are
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 languages, words also co ...

word
s that have little lexical
meaning Meaning most commonly refers to: * Meaning (linguistics), meaning which is communicated through the use of language * Meaning (philosophy), definition, elements, and types of meaning discussed in philosophy * Meaning (non-linguistic), a general ter ...
or have
ambiguous Ambiguity is a type of meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations plausible. A common aspect of ambiguity is uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic sit ...
meaning and express
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 traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
relationships among other words within a
sentence Sentence(s) or The Sentence may refer to: Common uses * Sentence (law), the punishment a judge gives to a defendant found guilty of a crime * Sentence (linguistics), a grammatical unit of language * Sentence (mathematical logic), a formula not cont ...
, or specify the attitude or mood of the speaker. They signal the structural relationships that words have to one another and are the glue that holds sentences together. Thus they form important elements in the structures of sentences. Words that are not function words are called ''
content wordContent words, in linguistics, are words that possess semantic content and contribute to the meaning of the sentence in which they occur. In a traditional approach, nouns were said to name objects and other entities, lexical verb, lexical verbs to in ...
s'' (or open class words, ''lexical words,'' or ''autosemantic words'') and include
nouns A noun (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 the power of the Roman ...
, most
verbs 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 ...
,
adjectives 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 includ ...
, and most
adverbs An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies 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 pr ...
although some adverbs are function words (like ''then'' and ''why'').
Dictionaries A dictionary is a listing of 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 ...
define the specific meanings of content words but can describe only the general usages of function words. By contrast, grammars describe the use of function words in detail but treat lexical words only in general terms. Since it was first proposed in 1952 by C. C. Fries, the distinguishing of function/structure words from content/lexical words has been highly influential in the grammar used in second-language acquisition and English-language teaching.


Overview

Function words might be
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various (''of'', ''for''). A pre ...
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,
auxiliary verb An auxiliary verb (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a verb that adds functional or grammatical meaning to the clause (linguistics), clause in which it occurs, so as to express grammatical tense, tense, Grammatical aspect, aspect, Li ...
s,
conjunctions ''Conjunctions'' is a biannual American literature, American literary journal based at Bard College. It was founded in 1981 and is currently edited by Bradford Morrow. Morrow received the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing in 2007. The jou ...
, grammatical articles or
particles In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical property, physical or chemical , chemical properties ...
, all of which belong to the group of closed-class words.
Interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction. It is a diverse category, encompassing many different parts of speech, such as exclamations ''(ouch!'', ''wow!''), curses ...
s are sometimes considered function words but they belong to the group of open-class words. Function words might or might not be inflected or might have
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 ...
es. Function words belong to the closed class of words 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 analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...
because it is very uncommon to have new function words created in the course of speech. In the open class of words, i.e., nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs, new words may be added readily, such as
slang Slang is vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words 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 ...
words, technical terms, and adoptions and adaptations of foreign words. Each function word either: gives grammatical information about other words in a sentence or
clause In language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and other, private a ...
, and cannot be isolated from other words; or gives information about the speaker's mental model as to what is being said. Grammatical words, as a class, can have distinct
phonological Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language variety. At on ...
properties from content words. Grammatical words sometimes do not make full use of all the sounds in a language. For example, in some of the
Khoisan languages The Khoisan languages (; also Khoesan or Khoesaan) are a group of Languages of Africa, African languages originally classified together by Joseph Greenberg. Khoisan languages share click languages, click consonants and do not belong to other Afri ...

Khoisan languages
, most content words begin with clicks, but very few function words do. In English, very few words other than function words begin with the voiced ''th''

. English function words may have fewer than three letters; e.g., 'I', 'an', 'in', while non-function words usually have three or more (e.g., 'eye', 'Ann', 'inn'). The following is a list of the kind of words considered to be function words with English examples. They are all uninflected in English unless marked otherwise: * articles — ''the'' and ''a''. In some inflected languages, the articles may take on the case of the
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 ...
of the following 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
s — ''he'' :: ''him'', ''she'' :: ''her'', etc. — inflected in English *
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 — ''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'', ''of'', ''for'', etc. *
conjunctions ''Conjunctions'' is a biannual American literature, American literary journal based at Bard College. It was founded in 1981 and is currently edited by Bradford Morrow. Morrow received the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing in 2007. The jou ...
— ''and'' and ''but'' * subordinating conjunctions — ''if'', ''then'', ''well'', ''however'', ''thus'', etc. *
auxiliary verb An auxiliary verb (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a verb that adds functional or grammatical meaning to the clause (linguistics), clause in which it occurs, so as to express grammatical tense, tense, Grammatical aspect, aspect, Li ...
s — ''would'', ''could'', ''should'', etc. — inflected in English * particles — ''up'', ''on'', ''down'' *
interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction. It is a diverse category, encompassing many different parts of speech, such as exclamations ''(ouch!'', ''wow!''), curse ...
s — ''oh'', ''ah'', ''eh'', sometimes called "filled pauses" * expletives — take the place of sentences, among other functions. *
pro-sentence A pro-sentence is a sentence where the subject pronoun has been dropped and therefore the sentence has a null subject. Overview Languages differ within this parameter, some languages such as Italian and Spanish have constant pro-drop, Finnish a ...
s — ''yes'', ''no'', ''
okay ''OK'' (spelling variations include ''okay'', ''O.K.'', ''ok'' and ''Ok'') is an English word (originally American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the ...

okay
'', etc.


See also

*
Content word Content words, in linguistics, are words that possess semantic content and contribute to the meaning of the sentence in which they occur. In a traditional approach, nouns were said to name objects and other entities, lexical verb, lexical verbs to i ...
, words that name objects of reality and their qualities *
Grammaticalization In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes i ...
, process by which words representing objects and actions transform to become grammatical markers


References


Further reading

*
Summary


External links



{{lexical categories, state=collapsed Grammar Parts of speech kk:Шылау