City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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How would the part of speech of a word change when affix is added?

Group number: TA1 - 13

asked Apr 8, 2022 in Questions about English Grammar by tscleung3 (160 points) | 196 views

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Morphemes can be functionally classified as derivational morpheme and inflectional morpheme. Derivational morpheme is a morpheme that would change the meaning or the part of speech of a word while inflectional morpheme would change the grammar (tense and amount) yet the meaning of the word would not be affected.

In some cases, a morpheme can become both derivational and inflectional. The suffix “-er” for example, is one of the inflectional morphemes that can also inherit the features of a derivational morpheme.

Inflectionally, the suffix “-er” can be added to an adjective so that it becomes a comparative:

smart (adj.) + -er = smarter (comparative)

thin (adj.) + -er = thinner (comparative)

long (adj.) + -er = longer (comparative)

Derivationally, the suffix “-er” is frequently used to generate nouns when it is combined with root verbs:

kill (v.) + -er = killer (n.)

fight (v.) + -er = fighter (n.)

love (v.) + -er = lover (n.)

To summarize, suffixes can be both inflectional and derivational, while prefixes can only be derivational. In terms of flexibility for derivation, suffixes can change a root’s part of speech when two are combined, while new words generated by adding prefixes are bound to the root’s part of speech.

answered Apr 8, 2022 by tscleung3 (160 points)

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