What is a Morpheme?
A morpheme is the smallest meaningful and syntactical or grammatical unit of a language which cannot be divided without changing its actual meaning. For instance, the word ‘love’ is a morpheme; but if you dispel any character such as ‘e’ then it will be meaningless or losses the actual meaning of love. Now we can say a morpheme is the smallest grammatical unit of a language by which meaningful words are formed. However, this is how we may define ‘what is a morpheme in linguistics’?
Types of Morphemes
- Free Morphemes
- Bound Morphemes
1. Free Morphemes
- Lexical morphemes
- Grammatical and functional morphemes
The lexical morphemes are those morphemes that are large in number and independently meaningful. The lexical morphemes include nouns, adjectives and verbs. These types of free morphemes are called lexical morphemes. For example; dog, good, honest, boy, girl, woman, excellent etc.
Grammatical or functional morphemes
2. Bound morphemes
A morpheme that doesn’t have any independent meaning and can be formed with the help of free morphemes is called a bound morpheme. For example; less, ness, pre, un, en, ceive, ment. Bound morphemes can be categorized into two sub-classes. They are:
- Bound roots
Bound roots are those Bound morphemes which lexical meaning when they are included to other bound morphemes to form the content words. For example, -ceive, -tain, perceive, deceive, retain, contain etc.
Affixes are those bound morphemes which naturally attached different types of words and used to change the meaning or function of those words. For example, -ment in payment, enjoyment, entertainment en- in enlighten, enhance, enlarge, ‘s in Joseph’s, Lora’s -ing reading, sleeping, singing etc.
Affixes can be categorized into five sub-classes according to their position in the word and function in a phrase or sentence. They are:
Prefixes are kind of bound morphemes included at the beginning of different types of words. For example in-, un-, sub- incomplete, injustice, unable, uneducated, subway etc.
Infixes are those bound morphemes included within the words. There are no infixes exist in the English language.
Suffixes are those bound morphemes included at the end of different types of words. For example; -able, -less, -ness, -en, available, careless, happiness, shorten etc.
Derivational morphemes are used to make new words by changing their meaning or different grammatical category. In other words, derivational morphemes form new words with a meaning and category distinct through the addition of affixes.
Thus, the derivational morphemes ‘-ness’ changes the adjective of ‘kindness’, the noun ‘care’ becomes the adjective careless. This is how derivational morphemes make new words by changing their meaning or grammatical category. Derivational morphemes can be categorized into two sub-classes. They are:
- Class-maintaining derivational morphemes
- Class-changing derivational morphemes
1. Class-maintaining derivational morphemes
2. Class-changing derivational morphemes
He is written the book.
Comparative: (-er): John is happier than before.
Superlative: (-est): He is the tallest person in the class.
After getting all the definitions, types and example you have gotten the clear conception about morphemes and more specifically what is a morpheme in linguistics? After all, this is how we can define morphemes.