Anna Engel & Angela Herrmann

What is morphology?

Morphology, as a part of linguistics, is the study of how words are constructed. Words can be altered by different grammatica processes, as inflection and derivation.

Derivation is the formation of a new word from an already existing word such as singer derives from sing. This formation can for example happen due to affixes (prefixes, suffixes, infixes or circumfixes):

Prefix: unimportant = un + important

Suffix: beautiful = beauty + ful

Infix: abso-bloody-lutely = abso + bloody + lutely

Circumfix: beheaded = be + head + ed

In the process of derivation, it is possible that the new formed word belongs to a different word class than the word it derives from. Beauty is a noun and beautiful is an adjective.

Inflection is the linguistic process of changing the form of a word by adding distinctive endings. The endings can mark tense, mood, gender, number, person or case. Inflections occur in different word classes, as there are nouns, adjectives, pronouns and verbs. An inflected word does not change the word class.