Syntactic Theory

Minor Parts of Speech

General characteristics:

  • the word classes can be defined by listing all elements.
  • the words of minor parts of speech have a 'grammatical' meaning, i.e. they are function words. They express a grammatical, meta-linguistic or indexical function.
  • closed word classes (i.e. new words in the language will not belong to any of these classes)
  • diachronically words of minor parts of speech emerge and disappear very slowly if at all. A change in a minor class usually goes hand in hand with a change in the grammar.
  • they are heterogeneous and difficult to group. Therefore, we cannot provide tests, but since we are dealing with closed classes, we can provide listings.

These properties contrast with those of the major parts of speech.

Minor parts of speech in English:

Related page: classification of free morphemes?

Category: Glossary