An inflection is a change that signals the grammatical feature of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns (e.g., noun plurals, verb tenses). In various other words, inflectional morphemes are provided to create a variant create of a word in order to signal grammatical information without altering the meanings of words. Inflectional suffixes have actually grammatical interpretation just and cannot precede a derivational sufsolve.

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English has actually only eight inflectional suffixes:

noun plural -s – “He has three desserts.” noun possessive -s – “This is Betty’s dessert.” verb present tense -s – “Bill usually eats dessert.” verb past tense -ed – “He baked the dessert yesterday.” verb previous participle -en – “He has actually always eaten dessert.” verb existing participle -ing – “He is eating the dessert currently.” adjective comparative -er – “His dessert is larger than mine.” adjective superlative -est – “Her dessert is the largest.”

This list of inflectional morphemes have the right to serve as the KEY MARKERS for recognizing form-class words. The presence of an inflectional sufsolve is an essential formal test for determining form-course words because inflectional suffixes deserve to incorporate through virtually all members of a single part of speech. As constantly in English, there are exceptions, as we will certainly talk about below.

Nouns take two inflectional morphemes, plural and also possessive.


-s -es

book + -s glass + -es

publications glasses

Some plurals take a different morpheme:

datum --> data tool --> media ox --> oxen moose --> moose



Barbara + -s


When a singular possessive noun ends in –s or –z, it still takes the ‘s. The pronunciation of the ‘s just changes from the sound to the sound:

bass --> bass’s maze --> maze’s

The possessive of a plural noun ending in –s is pronounced just like the plural develop. It’s spelled with a simple apostrophe and also no extra –s:

5 days’ work the taxpayers’ burden

Verb Inflections

English has a relatively easy mechanism of verb inflections. Eexceptionally verb has a base, uninflected or infinitive, develop. Tbelow are just 4 inflectional morphemes that deserve to attach to the base (infinitive) form:





Note that…

present-tense inflections


Used when subject is third-person singular noun or pronoun

She usually sits below.

The home stays cool at night.

Verbs finishing in –s take -es, e.g. toss à tosses.

past-tense inflection


Used to suggest previous tense of a consistent verb.

We rowed dvery own the river.

The inside of the canoe got pretty wet.

Irconsistent verbs can inflect by altering their vowel (ride -> rode) or take no change (reduced -> cut). Some adjust more than a vowel (go -> went).

past-participle inflection


Used with the linking verb have in the Main Verb Phrase Formula to develop the existing perfect and also past perfect.

I have already eaten.

I had actually wanted a salad.

For most constant verbs, the past-participle inflection is –ed, simply favor the past-tense inflection.

present-participle inflection


Used with the helping verb be in the Main Verb Phrase Formula to create the current progressive.

I am walking to the store.

You are taking a class.

The present-participle inflection additionally frequently occurs as a noun modifer (e.g. the sleeping baby; a rolling stone).

In English, adjectives just take 2 inflections: the comparative and also superlative.

Comparative: -er





Superlative: -est





Notice that all the instance base morphemes just have one or 2 syllables. Adjectives with more than two syllables have the right to be made comparative and superlative by the enhancement of words (more; most), not inflectional morphemes.

Some adverbs deserve to take the very same comparative and superlative inflections (-er; -est) that adjectives take:

drove longer ran faster played harder

Many type of adverbs cannot take these inflections, yet. Notice the awkwardness of the adhering to phrases:

He said slylier. She danced awkwardliest.

Like some adjectives, these very same examples have the right to usage more and most to create comparatives and superlatives:

He shelp even more slyly. She danced most awkwardly.

To test your expertise of the ideas discussed on this web page, begin with the connect below for an instance exercise exercise:


For a little bit more of a challenge, analyze the following sentence from The Brothers Karamazov for inflectional morphemes.

While he was wearying every one through his tears and complaints, and turning his house right into a sink of debauchery, a faithful servant of the family members, Grigory, took the three-year-old Mitya right into his treatment.

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To evaluation your answers to these 2 samples, inspect the INFLECTIONAL MORPHEME SAMPLES ANALYSES page.