Inflection

??? Modern English has lost many (but by no means all) of the inflections that characterized its earlier incarnations, Old English and Middle English. It's not a question of whether or not a language is inflected; every natural language involves some changes in its basic word forms. It's a question of degree. In English, a regular verb can take only a handful of forms: walk, walks, walked, have walked, had walked, walking. A regular verb in ancient Greek can sport well over five hundred different forms. And it's not just verbs: nouns, adjectives, and pronouns are often inflected. Most English nouns are inflected only to show number (cat, cats); in other languages, inflections can show gender (French etudiant, etudiante), grammatical relation, and other things.

Most English adjectives aren't inflected at all, but they are in many other languages. English pronouns are still (comparatively) heavily inflected: I, me, my, mine; you, you, your, yours; he, him, his; she, her, her, hers; and so on.


From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
Please send comments to Jack Lynch.
Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
Three question marks mean I have to write more on the subject. Bear with me.