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Grammatical conjugation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection (regular alteration according to rules of grammar). Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, mood, voice, grammatical aspect, or other language-specific factors. All the different forms of the same verb constitute a lexeme and the form of the verb that is conventionally used to represent the canonical form of the verb is a lemma.

Conjugated forms of a verb which show a given person, number, tense, etc. are called finite forms. In many languages there are also one or more several non-finite forms, such as the infinitive or the gerund. A table giving all the conjugated variants of a verb in a given language is called a conjugation table or a verb paradigm.

A regular verb has a paradigm of conjugation that derives all forms from a few specific forms or principal parts (maybe only one, such as the infinitive in English). When a verb cannot be conjugated straightforwardly like this, it is said to be irregular. Typically the principal parts are the root and/or several modifications of it (stems).

Conjugation is also the traditional name of a group of verbs that share a similar conjugation pattern in a particular language (a verb class). This is the sense in which teachers say that Latin has four conjugations of verbs. This means that any regular Latin verb can be conjugated in any person, number, tense, mood, and voice by knowing which of the four conjugation groups it belongs to, and its principal parts.

Examples of conjugation

Indo-European languages tend to inflect the verb for several categories and thus they have large verb paradigms and a difficult conjugation. The copular verb to be is usually the most irregular. Here is a sample conjugation of to be in English and its Latin, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swedish equivalents