Grammatical category. Grammatical meaning. Grammatical form
Fundamentals of grammar
1. Grammatical category. Grammatical meaning. Grammatical form.
2. Theory of oppositions. Types of oppositions. Oppositions in morphology.
3. Morpheme. Derivation morphemes and inflection morphemes.
4. Distributional analysis. Morphemic analysis. IC-analysis.
Grammatical category. Grammatical meaning. Grammatical form
The general notions of grammar which determine the structure of language
and find their expression in inflection and other devices are generally called
grammatical categories. As is known, a grammatical category is generally
represented by at least two grammatical forms, otherwise it cannot exist. A simple
case of oppositions in pairs of grammatical forms will be found, for instance,
between the Singular and the Plural in nouns, or between Active and Passive in
verbs. A grammatical categoryis a unit of grammar based on a morphological
opposition of grammatical meanings presented in grammatical forms.
It is more or less universally recognised that word-meaning is not
homogeneous but is made up of various components the combination and the
interrelation of which determine to a great extent the inner facet of the word. These
components are usually described as types of meaning. The two main types of
meaning that are readily observed are the grammatical and the lexical meanings to
be found in words and word-forms.
The most general meanings rendered by language and expressed by systemic
correlations of word-forms are interpreted in linguistics as grammatical meanings.
Grammatical meaningsare very abstract, very general. Therefore the
grammatical form is not confined to an individual word, but unites a whole class of
words, so that each word of the class expresses the corresponding grammatical
meaning together with its individual, concrete semantics. Grammatical meanings
ranged in oppositions and presented in grammatical forms build grammatical
Grammatical formscan be morphemes, synthetic forms, and grammatical
word combinations, which are analytical forms. Synthetic forms unite both lexical
and grammatical meanings in one word. In analytical forms there two or more
words in which at least one element is an auxiliary. The auxiliary is a constant
element of an analytical structure, which is devoid of lexical meaning (it renders
grammatical meanings and is a purely grammatical element). Analytical structures
must be differentiated from free syntactical word combinations. In free syntactical
word combinations all the elements possess both lexical and grammatical
Cf. waiter and waitress
The distinctions of gender in Russian are universal. They refer to all the
vocabulary of the language. In English this distinction is not a grammatical
phenomenon. The grammatical category of gender is lost. What we have now is
some gender distinctions existing as the remnant of history. The distinction “waiter
vs. waitress” is not universal enough to build up a grammatical category. It does
not possess the level of grammatical abstraction characterized by an unlimited
range of occurrence.
Cf. book and books
-s is a form-building morpheme that builds a grammatical form because it is
characterized by the level of grammatical abstraction realized in an unlimited range
Types of word-form derivation
These fall under two main headings:
(a) those limited to changes in the body of the word, without having
recourse to auxiliary words (synthetic types),
(b) those implying the use of auxiliary words (analytical types).
Besides, there are a few special cases of different forms of a word
being derived from altogether different stems.
The number of morphemes used for deriving word-forms in Modern
English is very small (much smaller than either in German or in Russian,
There is the ending -s (-es), with three variants of pronunciation and
the endings -en and -ren, in one or two words each, viz. oxen, brethren
There is the ending -'s, with the same three variants of pronunciation as
for the plural ending, used to form what is generally termed the genitive case of
For adjectives, there are the endings -er and -est for the degrees of
For verbs, there is the ending -s (-es) for the third person singular
present indicative, with the same three variants of pronunciation noted above
for nouns, the ending -d (-ed) for the past tense of certain verbs (with three
variants of pronunciation, again), the ending -d (ed) for the second participle
of certain verbs, the ending -n (-en) for the second participle of certain other
verbs, and the ending -ing for the first participle and also for the gerund.
Thus the total number of morphemes used to derive forms of words is
eleven or twelve, which is much less than the number found in languages
of a mainly synthetical structure.
It should also be noted that most of these endings are mono-semantic,
in the sense that they denote only one grammatical category and not two or
three (or more) at a time, as is the case in synthetic languages. For
example, the plural -s (or -es) denotes only the category of plural number, and
has nothing to do with any other grammatical category, such as case.
Sound alternations are a way of expressing grammatical categories which
consists in changing a sound inside the root. This method appears in Modern
English, for example, in nouns, as when the root vowel [au] of mouse is
changed into [aı] in mice, etc.
This method is much more extensively used in verbs, such as write —
wrote — written, sing — sang — sung, meet — met — met, etc. On the whole,
vowel alternation does play some part among the means of expressing
grammatical categories, though its part in Modern English has been much
reduced as compared to Old English.
These consist in using a word (devoid of any lexical meaning of its
own) to express some grammatical category of another word.
There can be no doubt in Modern English about the analytical character of
such formations as, e. g., has invited or is invited, or is inviting, or does not
invite. The verbs have, be, and do have no lexical meaning of their own in
these cases. The lexical meaning of the formation resides in the participle or
infinitive following the verb have, be or do. Some doubt has been expressed
about the formations shall invite and will invite. There is a view that shall
and will have a lexical meaning.
While the existence of analytical forms of the English verb cannot be
disputed, the existence of such forms in adjectives and adverbs is not
nowadays universally recognised. The question whether such formations as
more vivid, the most vivid, or, again, more vividly and most vividly are or
are not analytical forms of degrees of comparison of vivid and vividly, is
controversial. We can only say here that if these formations are recognised as
analytical forms of degrees of comparison, the words more and most have to
be numbered among the analytical means of morphology.
Date: 2015-12-17; view: 2194