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Inflection is a change of form in a word indicating some change in its meaning. A word thus changed in form is said to be inflected.

Thus the nouns man, wife, dog, may change their form to man’s, wife’s, dog’s, to express possession or to men, wives, dogs, to show that two or more are meant.

The pronouns I, she, may change their form to our, her.

The adjectives large, happy, good, may change their form to larger, happier, better, to denote a higher degree of the quality; or to largest, happiest, best, to denote the highest degree.

The verbs look, see, sing, may change their form to looked, saw, sang, to denote past time.

The examples show that a word may be inflected….

(1) by the addition of a final letter or syllable (dog, dogs; look, looked).

(2) by the substitution of one letter for another (man, men).

(3) by a complete change of form (good, better, best).

The inflection of a substantive is called its
declension .

The inflection of an adjective or an adverb is called its
comparison .

The inflection of a verb is called its
conjugation .

Note : Some forms which we regard as due to inflection are really distinct words. Thus WE is regarded as a form of the pronoun I, but it is in fact an altogether different word. Such irregularities, however, are not numerous and are properly enough included under the head of inflection.

The table below gives a summary view of inflection and may be used for reference.

Substantives (Nouns and Pronouns) :

Gender : Masculine (male), Feminine (female) and Neuter (no sex)

Number : Singular (one) and Plural (more than one)

Person : First (speaker), Second (spoken to) and Third (spoken of)

Case : Nominative (subject case), Possessive (ownership) and Objective (object case)

Adjectives and Adverbs :

Comparison : Positive Degree, Comparative Degree and Superlative Degree

Verbs :

Number (Verb agrees with Subject) : Singular and Plural

Person (Verb agrees with Subject) : First, Second and Third

Tense :

Simple Tenses : Present, Past and Future

Compound Tenses : Perfect (or Present Perfect), Pluperfect (or Past Perfect) and Future Perfect

Mood : Indicative (all six tenses), Imperative (Present Tense only) and Subjunctive (Present, Past, Perfect, Pluperfect)

Voice : Active (Subject acts) and Passive (Subject receives the action)

Infinitives (Present and Perfect)

Participles (Present, Past and Perfect)

Comparison :

Grammar Index

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