Morphology and Morphemes
Morphology is the study of the structure of words. Morpheme is a minimal unit of meaning or grammatical function. For example, the word reopened consists of three morphemes. One minimal unit of meaning is open, another minimal unit of meaning is re- (meaning ‘again’), and a minimal unit of grammatical function is -ed (indicating past tense).
Different Categories of Morphemes:
lexical free functional Morphemes derivational bound inflectional
1. Free Morphemes: Free morphemes are the set of separate English word-forms. They are independent words which carry meaning. When they are used with bound morphemes, the basic word-form involved is known as the stem. For example, in the word careless, the stem (free) is care and the bound morpheme is – less.
1. a. Lexical Morphemes: As we have described, free morphemes fall into two categories. The first category is lexical morphemes which include nouns, adjectives, and verbs which are thought to carry the ‘content’ of messages we convey. Lexical morphemes are also described as ‘open’ class of words because we can add new lexical morphemes to the language rather easily.
1. b. Functional Morphemes:
The other group of free morphemes are called functional morphemes. They include articles, conjunctions, prepositions, and pronouns. Because we almost never add new functional morphemes to the language, they are described as a ‘close’ class of words.
2. Bound Morphems: They are the elements of meaning which are structurally dependent on the words they are added to. The ‘bound’ category includes the set of affixes (prefixes and suffixes). For example, in the word undressed, un- and –ed are bound morphemes. Bound morphemes can not stand alone; they must be connected to free morphemes.
2. a. Derivational Morphemes:
One type of bound morphemes is known as derivational morphemes. They are the prefixes and suffixes which are used to make new words of a different grammatical category from the stem. For example, the derivational morpheme –ness changes the adjective good to the noun goodness. The noun care can become the adjective careful or careless via the derivational morphemes –ful or –less.
2. b. Inflectional Morphemes:
The second type of bound morphemes contains what are called inflectional morphemes. These are not used to produce new words in the English language, but rather to indicate aspects of the grammatical function of a word, e.g. plural, singular, tense, comparative, or possessive form.
Continue English has eight inflectional morphemes. They are –’s (possessive), -s (plural), -s (3rd person present singular), -ing (present participle), -ed (past tense), -en (past participle), -est (superlative), and –er (comparative). Noun ’s, -s Verb s, -ing, -ed, -en Adjective est, -er
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