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Derivational Vs. Inflectional Morpheme

As discussed in class, there are two types of morpheme: FREE morpheme, and BOUND morpheme. FREE morpheme is then further divided into two: LEXICAL and FUNCTIONAL morpheme. BOUND morpheme is also further divided into two categories: DERIVATIONAL and INFLECTIONAL morpheme.

DERIVATIONAL morpheme changes the root’s class of words OR its meaning, OR BOTH. The word ‘unhappy’ derives from the root HAPPY added with a prefix UN. Both ‘happy’ and ‘unhappy’ are adjectives. The meaning, however, is totally different. “I am unhappy” is totally different from “I am happy”. In this case, the prefix UN is called DERIVATIONAL MORPHEME.

INFLECTIONAL morpheme, on the other hand, does not change either the root’s class of words or the meaning. The word ‘books’, for example, derives from the root BOOK added with a suffix –S. Both ‘book’ and ‘books’ are NOUN. The meaning is still the same. The suffix –S only indicates the plural form. In this case, the suffix –S is INFLECTIONAL

Well… For practice, please do the worksheet here.

9 comments to Derivational Vs. Inflectional Morpheme

  • lilia

    I also teach about it in my class. And i want to share many problems that arouse while I am teaching it if you don’t mind ofcourse.

    Ms. Lilia

  • @Lilia: Yes… I’ve got problems too. One of the is that some defines derivations simply as those changing the part of speech. I used to believe this, but again many other books give more explanation. What’s your problem, BTW? I’d be glad to hear…

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  • Khoirul anwari

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  • Mr. Agus Depe, would you like to add more articles about general linguistic?
    I would be happy if you really posted it.


    can you compare and constrast dervational and inflectional morphemes? thank you

  • Hello Mr.Agus!

    What a great explanation I found here! I’m studying applied linguistics especially these inflectional and derivational morphemes now and perhaps will always visit ur blog from now on.. 😀

  • Sohan

    Its a very good effort. As a student of linguistics sometimes it is confusing to distinguish between Derivational and Inflectional Morpheme.
    If u publish more morphological terminology and their explanation it will be really great helpful task.
    Thank you..

  • soni ariawan


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