1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

inflection

By

Definition:

A process of word formation in which items are added to the base form of a word to express grammatical meanings. Adjective: inflectional.

Inflections in English include the genitive 's; the plural -s; the third-person singular -s; the past tense -d, -ed, or -t; the negative particle 'nt; -ing forms of verbs; the comparative -er; and the superlative -est.

See also:

Etymology:

From the Latin, "to bend"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Inflections are morphemes that signal the grammatical variants of a word; the inflectional -s at the end of ideas indicates that the noun is plural; the inflectional -s at the end of makes indicates that the verb is the third person singular, so that we say she makes but I make and they make. In addition, some affixes signal the part of speech to which a word belongs: the prefix -en in enslave converts the noun slave into a verb, and the suffix -ize converts the adjective modern into the verb modernize."
    (S. Greenbaum, The Oxford English Grammar. Oxford Univ. Press, 1996)


  • "Word endings can also be inflections, which indicate categories such as tense, person and number. The inflection -ed can change a verb from present to past tense (walk/walked), and the inflection -s can indicate third person singular concord with a subject. But inflections do not change the word class. Walk and walked are both verbs."
    (R. Carter and M. McCarthy, Cambridge Grammar of English. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006)


  • "In its grammar, Old English resembles modern German. Theoretically, the noun and adjective are inflected for four cases in the singular and four in the plural; . . . the adjective has separate forms for each of the three genders."
    (A. C. Baugh, A History of the English Language, 1978)


  • "If I talked about Watergate, I was described as struggling to free myself from the morass. If I did not talk about Watergate, I was accused of being out of touch with reality."
    (Richard M. Nixon)


  • "Guns don't kill people, people kill people, and monkeys do too (if they have a gun)."
    (Eddie Izzard)
Pronunciation: in-FLEX-shun
Also Known As: inflexion (chiefly British)
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Icon - Lower Case
  6. inflection - definition and examples of inflection

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.