Morphology its classification with examples in detail


The morphology is a discipline of linguistics in charge of the study of the internal structure of words, rules for training and the different ways in which these relate to other words in the same language. In this sense, the term morphology is composed of two particles or morphemes. Morphology its classification with examples

The first is -morf (form) and the second is -ology (branch of knowledge). Thus, it means “branch of knowledge concerning forms.” This word is generally attributed to the German poet, novelist, playwright, and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), who coined it in the early 19th century in the realm of biology.

In this area, morphology studies the shape and structure of organisms. In geology it refers to the study of the configuration and evolution of the forms of the Earth.

In linguistics, morphology studies the mental system involved in the formation of words; It is the branch that studies words, their internal structure and their formation processes.

What is morphology for?

Morphology, like the other branches of the linguistic discipline, serves to discover the underlying mechanisms in the different language systems. In your particular case, the internal structure and the rules of formation of the lexicon of each language are explained.

Thus, it has been noted that in some languages ​​the use of morphology to include complex meanings in a single word is much more elaborate than in others.

For example, in the Greenlandic language tusaanngitsuusaartuaannarsiinnaanngivipputit is a single word that means “you just can’t pretend not to be listening all the time.”

Also, compound words in English that combine verb and its object (like scarecrow) are quite rare. Instead, they are a basic and fairly general pattern in French and other Romance languages.

English and German tend to have the kernel on the right, as in the word “doll house ” . However, Italian and other Romance languages ​​often have the nucleus on the left, as in the word ” caffe latte” (coffee with milk).

Despite this variation, morphology is an aspect of the grammar of all languages, and in some it rivals syntax in the expressive power it allows.

Classification of morphology

Inflectional morphology

Inflectional morphology is the study of the processes (such as affixation) that distinguish the forms of words in certain grammatical categories.

Prototypical inflection categories include number, time, person, case, gender, and others. These generally produce different forms of the same word rather than different words.

Furthermore, inflectional categories do not alter the basic meaning expressed by a word or lexeme, they simply add specifications or emphasize certain aspects of its meaning.

Therefore, sheet and sheets, writing and writing, or teacher and teacher do not have separate entries in the dictionaries. “Leaves”, for example, has the same basic meaning as leaf, but the morpheme “s” adds the notion of plural.

The different grammatical forms that a word has can represent several types of phenomena:

  • They can manifest particular properties of certain classes of words. For example, in Spanish, the noun manifests gender and number (actor / actors, actress / actresses).
  • They represent syntactic relationships. An example of this is the agreement in gender and number of the adjective with the noun (the white house / the white houses).
  • They manifest sentence properties. A specific case of this is the time and the appearance in verbal inflection (eg #In that time, we Bana ba mos on the river “).

Derivative morphology

Derivative morphology deals with the processes of formation of new lexemes or words. These processes often involve the systematic modification of a base or root. Morphology its classification with examples

In general, the most common technique for bypass is affixation. For example,  in Spanish prefixes or suffixes are used: honest, des honesty, honest mind . However, in other languages ​​there are infixes, interfixes and circumcises.

In addition to affixation, there are other mechanisms such as reduplication, internal modification or rearrangement of consonants and vowels, or omission of segments.


Languages ​​have a wide variety of morphological processes available for the creation of words and their different forms.

However, there is variation regarding what morphological processes are available, how often they are used, and what kind of information can be encoded in these processes.

In general terms, languages ​​can be classified based on their word-building properties and the use of different affixation processes. Thus, two main types of languages ​​are distinguished: analytical and synthetic.

The former have sentences composed entirely of free morphemes, where each word consists of a single morpheme. For their part, synthetics allow the inclusion of two or more locked morphemes.

A morpheme is the minimum unit of semantic meaning. This can be free as ” sun ” “house” or “time” (they have meaning by themselves); or locked, such as the plural “s” or the suffix “dis” (they must be accompanied: parrot s – dis even).

Here are some examples.


Spanish is a synthetic language, but of the inflectional or fusing type. It is characterized by the fact that the same morpheme contains several types of grammatical information:

  • Spoke or (suffix “or” first person singular, present tense, indicative).
  • He spoke a (suffix “a”: third person singular, present tense, indicative mood).
  • Habl ó (suffix “o” with accent: first person singular, past tense, indicative mood).


Swahili is an agglutinating language, a type of synthetic language in which the morphemes remain unchanged:

  • ninasoma (ni / yo – na / present tense – soma / read): I read.
  • unasoma (u / you – na / present tense – soma / read): you read.
  • nilisoma: (ni / me – li / past tense – soma / read): I read.

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is an analytical language. These types of languages ​​usually have stricter and more elaborate syntactic rules. Morphology its classification with examples

Also, the words do not have morphological markings to show their role in the sentence. Therefore, word order tends to be very important.

  • 一个 男孩yī ge nánhái (literally “an [entity of] male child”): a child.
  • 四个 男孩 sì ge nánhái (literally, “four [entity of] male child”): four children.

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