Inflectional and Derivational Morphology


Morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies the arrangement of the words within and across- languages and tries to create rules that represent the knowledge of the speakers of those languages or it is the field in linguistics that studies the structure of words, internally. The main subject in lexicology is the words as units. In the rules of the language that show how the words must be organized to make a sentence in that particular language, which is also called syntax, words are widely accepted as their smallest unit. Words can be related to other words in most languages (Buaer, 2004).

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To give an overview of the two forms of morphology, Derivational morphology creates new words from the old one. Therefore the formulation is from the word form but still, the two words are different. On the other hand, inflectional morphemes are those forms of words that primarily topics the singular or plural form of the word (Spencer, 1991).



Derivational Morphology primarily changes the meaning of the word or the part of speech. In contrast to the inflectional morpheme, it does not change the meaning or the part of speech.

Derivational morphemes do not have to be related syntactically. For example, un-attended combines un- and attended into one new word, but it has no definite syntactic relationship outside the word or we can say the phone is unattended or the phone is attended or the phones are unattended or the phones are attended, it depends on what the person means. While the inflectional morpheme requires a grammatical relationship between the words in the sentence. For example, Joan like-s Mark: -s symbolizes the 3rd person in the singular and present form of the verb and connects it to the 3rd singular subject, Joan.

Derivational morphemes are usually not creative because it is selective in the combinations of the words and may also have inconsistent effects on the meaning. To cite an illustration, the suffix -hood is used with some of the nouns such as brother, neighbor, and knight, but not with most others. Just like for example childhood, daughterhood, or neighborhood. Moreover, “brotherhood” can mean “the state or relationship of being brothers,” but “neighborhood” cannot mean “the state or relationship of being neighbors”. Inflectional morpheme has a contradicting characteristic. Inflectional morphemes are creative because they are combined more often into a large set of morphemes and it does have an expected outcome on the meaning or usage of the word. Hence, the plural morpheme can be combined with almost any noun, more often than not in the same form, and typically with the same result on meaning (Buaer, 2004).

The derivational morpheme typically arises between the stem and any inflectional affixes. Like in the word improvements- ment, a derivational suffix, precedes -s, an inflectional suffix. And in an inflectional morpheme, it occurs outside any derivational morphemes. Thus in legal-is-ation-s the final -s is inflectional, and visible at the end of the word, outside the derivational morphemes -is, -ation. In English, the derivational morpheme may either be prefixes or suffixes: pre-arrange, arrange-ment but in inflectional morphemes, they only appear on suffixes (Stump, 2001).

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Like in Spanish, the noun word pan which means ‘bread’ was compared to other related words like panadear which means to make bread, panadeo ‘breadmaking’ in English, panaderia ‘a bakery’, panadero ‘a baker’, panera which is ‘baker’s basket’ and panero are used as an adjective, gives us an idea about the first difference of derivational morphology from the inflectional (De Gamez, 1996).

In Bulgarian Language, because the Bulgarian has no form which corresponds to the infinitive form, their dictionaries provide two base forms for each kind of word, the present (xod-ja) and the Aorist (xod- ix), both are inflectional for the first singular person.

In Germany, the German word Mannes consists of the stem Mann and the genitive singular inflection – es is an example.

In Portuguese, a bandeja da palavra do substantivo que significa o pão do ‘ foi comparada a outras palavras relacionadas como panadear que significa fazer o pão, breadmaking do do panadeo’ em inglês, do panaderia uma padaria’, do panadero um padeiro’, o panera que é cesta do padeiro do ‘ e o panero é usado como um adjetivo, dá-nos uma idéia sobre a primeira diferença da morfologia derivational do inflectional.

In Italian, la vaschetta di parola di nome che significa il pane del ‘ è stata confrontata ad altre parole relative come panadear che significa fare il pane, la fabbricazione del pane del di panadeo’ in inglese, di panaderia un forno’, di panadero un panettiere’, panera che è cestino del panettiere del ‘ e il panero è usato come aggettivo, ci dà un’idea circa la prima differenza della morfologia derivativa dal inflectional


The way morphemes in a language combine to create words have influenced the speech in two ways. Primarily, the phonological process in a language often compliments the restrictions of morpheme and can not be represented without the appropriate usage of the morphological processes. And the second one is that, high creativity of morphology often makes the expansion of pronouncing dictionary for a language infeasible or unreasonable. This is because agglutinative and morphologically rich languages tolerate the speakers to make new words relatively often than not, which makes listing of all probable words in the pronouncing dictionary unrealistic if not possible (Spencer, 1991).

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Bauer, Laurie. (2004). A glossary of morphology. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown UP.

De Gamez, T. (Ed.). (1996). Simon & Schuster’s international dictionary: English/ Spanish- Spanish/ English. New York: MacMillan.

Spencer, Andrew. (1991). Morphological theory: an introduction to word structure in generative grammar. No. 2 in Blackwell textbooks in linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-16143-0 (hb); ISBN 0-631-16144-9 (pb)

Stump, Gregory T. (2001). Inflectional morphology: a theory of paradigm structure. No. 93 in Cambridge studies in linguistics. CUP. ISBN 0-521-78047-0 (hb).

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