Part of the conjugation of the Spanish verb correr, "to run", the lexeme is "corr-".
Red represents the speaker, purple the addressee (or speaker/hearer) and teal a third person.
One person represents the singular number and two, the plural number.
Dawn represents the past, noon the present and night the future.

In linguistics, conjugation (/ˌkɒnʊˈɡʃən/[1][2]) is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection (alteration of form according to rules of grammar). For instance, the verb "break" can be conjugated to form the words break, breaks, broke, broken and breaking. While English has a relatively simple conjugation other languages such as French and Arabic are more complex with each verb having dozens of conjugated forms. Some languages such as Georgian and Basque have a highly complex conjugation systems with hundreds of possible conjugations for every verb.

Verbs may inflect for grammatical categories such as person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, case, possession, definiteness, politeness, causativity, clusivity, interrogatives, transitivity, valency, polarity, telicity, volition, mirativity, evidentiality, animacy, associativity,[3] pluractionality, and reciprocity. Verbs may also be affected by agreement, polypersonal agreement, incorporation, noun class, noun classifiers, and verb classifiers.[4] Agglutinative and polysynthetic languages tend to have the most complex conjugations, albeit some fusional languages such as Archi can also have extremely complex conjugation. Typically the principal parts are the root and/or several modifications of it (stems). All the different forms of the same verb constitute a lexeme, and the canonical form of the verb that is conventionally used to represent that lexeme (as seen in dictionary entries) is called a lemma.

The term conjugation is applied only to the inflection of verbs, and not of other parts of speech (inflection of nouns and adjectives is known as declension). Also it is often restricted to denoting the formation of finite forms of a verb – these may be referred to as conjugated forms, as opposed to non-finite forms, such as the infinitive or gerund, which tend not to be marked for most of the grammatical categories.

Conjugation is also the traditional name for a group of verbs that share a similar conjugation pattern in a particular language (a verb class). For example, Latin is said to have 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. A verb that does not follow all of the standard conjugation patterns of the language is said to be an irregular verb. The system of all conjugated variants of a particular verb or class of verbs is called a verb paradigm; this may be presented in the form of a conjugation table.

Verbal agreement

Verbal agreement, or concord, is a morpho-syntactic construct in which properties of the subject and/or objects of a verb are indicated by the verb form. Verbs are then said to agree with their subjects (resp. objects).

Many English verbs exhibit subject agreement of the following sort: whereas I go, you go, we go, they go are all grammatical in standard English, she go is not (except in the subjunctive, as "They requested that she go with them"). Instead, a special form of the verb to go has to be used to produce she goes. On the other hand I goes, you goes etc. are not grammatical in standard English. (Things are different in some English dialects that lack agreement.) A few English verbs have no special forms that indicate subject agreement (I may, you may, she may), and the verb to be has an additional form am that can only be used with the pronoun I as the subject.

Verbs in written French exhibit more intensive agreement morphology than English verbs: je suis (I am), tu es ("you are", singular informal), elle est (she is), nous sommes (we are), vous êtes ("you are", plural), ils sont (they are). Historically, English used to have a similar verbal paradigm. Some historic verb forms are used by Shakespeare as slightly archaic or more formal variants (I do, thou dost, she doth, typically used by nobility) of the modern forms.

Some languages with verbal agreement can leave certain subjects implicit when the subject is fully determined by the verb form. In Spanish, for instance, subject pronouns do not need to be explicitly present, but in French, its close relative, they are obligatory. The Spanish equivalent to the French je suis (I am) can be simply soy (lit. "am"). The pronoun yo (I) in the explicit form yo soy is used only for emphasis or to clear ambiguity in complex texts.

Some languages have a richer agreement system in which verbs agree also with some or all of their objects. Ubykh exhibits verbal agreement for the subject, direct object, indirect object, benefaction and ablative objects (a.w3.s.xe.n.t'u.n, you gave it to him for me).

Basque can show agreement not only for subject, direct object and indirect object but it also can exhibit agreement for the listener as the implicit benefactor: autoa ekarri digute means "they brought us the car" (neuter agreement for listener), but autoa ekarri ziguten means "they brought us the car" (agreement for feminine singular listener).

Languages with a rich agreement morphology facilitate relatively free word order without leading to increased ambiguity. The canonical word order in Basque is subject–object–verb, but all permutations of subject, verb and object are permitted.

Nonverbal person agreement

In some languages,[5] predicative adjectives and copular complements receive a form of person agreement that is distinct from that used on ordinary predicative verbs. Although that is a form of conjugation in that it refers back to the person of the subject, it is not "verbal" because it always derives from pronouns that have become clitic to the nouns to which they refer.[6] An example of nonverbal person agreement, along with contrasting verbal conjugation, can be found from Beja[7] (person agreement affixes in bold):

  • wun.tu.wi, “you (fem.) are big”
  • hadá.b.wa, “you (masc.) are a sheik”
  • e.n.fór, “he flees”

Another example can be found from Ket:[7]

  • fèmba.di, “I am a Tungus
  • .fen, “I am standing”

In Turkic, and a few Uralic and Australian Aboriginal languages, predicative adjectives and copular complements take affixes that are identical to those used on predicative verbs, but their negation is different. For example, in Turkish:

  • koş.u.yor.sun “you are running”
  • çavuş.sun “you are a sergeant”

Under negation, that becomes (negative affixes in bold):

  • koş.mu.yor.sun “you are not running”
  • çavuş değil.sin “you are not a sergeant”

Therefore, the person agreement affixes used with predicative adjectives and nominals in Turkic languages are considered to be nonverbal in character. In some analyses, they are viewed as a form of verbal takeover by a copular strategy.

Factors that affect conjugation

These common grammatical categories affect how verbs can be conjugated:

Here are other factors that may affect conjugation:

Examples

Indo-European languages usually inflect verbs for several grammatical categories in complex paradigms, although some, like English, have simplified verb conjugation to a large extent. Below is the conjugation of the verb to be in the present tense (of the infinitive, if it exists, and indicative moods), in English, German, Yiddish, Dutch, Afrikaans, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish, Norwegian, Latvian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Slovenian, Macedonian, Urdu or Hindi, Persian, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Albanian, Armenian, Irish, Ukrainian, Ancient Attic Greek and Modern Greek, Hungarian. This is usually the most irregular verb. The similarities in corresponding verb forms may be noticed. Some of the conjugations may be disused, like the English thou-form, or have additional meanings, like the English you-form, which can also stand for second person singular or be impersonal.

"To be" in several Indo-European languages
Branch Language Present
infinitive
Present indicative
Singular persons Plural persons
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
Germanic Proto-Germanic *wesaną *immi *izi *isti *izum *izud *sindi
Anglo-Saxon wesan eom eart is sind
sindon
English be am are
art1
be'st1
is
are10
are
German sein bin bist ist sind seid sind
Yiddish
transliterated
זיין
zein
בין
bin
ביסט
bist
איז
iz
זענען
zenen
זענט
zent
זענען
zenen
Dutch zijn ben bent
zijt2
is zijn
Afrikaans wees is
Old Norse vesa
vera
em est
ert
es
er
erum eruð eru
Icelandic vera er ert er erum eruð eru
Faroese vera eri ert er eru
Norwegian være3 (Bokmål)
vera, vere4 (Nynorsk)
er
Danish være er
Swedish vara är
Italic Latin esse sum es est sumus estis sunt
Italian essere sono sei è siamo siete sono
French être suis es est sommes êtes sont
Catalan ésser sóc ets és som sou són
Spanish ser soy eres es somos sois son
Galician ser son es é somos sodes son
Portuguese ser sou és é somos sois são
Friulian jessi soi sês è sin sês son
Neapolitan èssere songo, so è simmo site songo, so
Romanian a fi sunt ești este suntem sunteți sunt
Celtic Irish bheith bím bíonn bímid bíonn
Welsh (standard form) bod rydw rwyt mae rydych rydyn maen
Greek Ancient5
transliterated
εἶναι
eînai
εἰμί
eimí
εἶ
ἐστί
estí
ἐσμέν
esmén
ἐστέ
esté
εἰσί
eisí
Modern
transliterated
όντας6
óntas
είμαι
eímai
είσαι
eísai
είναι
eínai
είμαστε
eímaste
είσ(ασ)τε
eís(as)te
είναι
eínai
Albanian me qenë jam je është jemi jeni janë
Armenian Western
transliterated
ըլլալ
ĕllal
Եմ
em
ես
es
է
ē
ենք
enk‘
էք
ēk‘
են
en
Eastern
transliterated
լինել
linel
Եմ
em
ես
es
է
ē
ենք
enk‘
եք
ek‘
են
en
Slavic Czech být jsem jsi je jsme jste jsou
Slovak byť som si je sme ste
Polish być jestem jesteś jest jesteśmy jesteście
Russian
transliterated
быть
byt'
есть
yest'
Ukrainian
transliterated
бути
buty
є
ye
Serbo-Croatian strong biti jesam jesi jest(e) jesmo jeste jesu
Serbo-Croatian clitic none sam si je smo ste su
Slovenian biti sem si je smo ste so
Bulgarian
transliterated
none съм
săm
си
si
е
e
сме
sme
сте
ste
са
Macedonian
transliterated
none сум
sum
си
si
е
e
сме
sme
сте
ste
се
se
Baltic Latvian būt esmu esi ir esam esat ir
Lithuanian būti esu esi yra esame esate yra
Indo-Iranian Persian
transliterated
بودن
budan
ام
æm
ای
ei
(است (ا
æst (æ)9
ایم
eem
(اید (این
eed (spoken: een)
(اند (ان
and (spoken: an)
Sanskrit
transliterated
अस्ति
asti
अस्मि
asmi
असि
asi
अस्ति
asti
स्मः
smah
स्थ
stha
सन्ति
santi
Hindustani
Devanagari Script
Perso-Arabic Script
transliterated (ISO 15819)
होना
ہونا
honā
 हूँ
ہوں
hūm̥
है
ہے
hai
हैं
ہیں
haim̥
हो
ہو
ho
हैं
ہیں
haim̥
Marathi
transliterated (ISO 15819)
असणे
asṇe
आहे
āhe
आहेस
āhes
आहे
āhe
आहोत
āhot
आहात
āhāt
आहेत
āhet
Gujarati
transliterated (ISO 15819)
હોવું
hovũ
છું
chũ
છે
che
છીએ
chīe
છો
cho
છે
che
Bengali
transliterated (ISO 15819)
হওয়া
hôoā
হই
hoi
হও11
hôo
হয়11
hôy
হই
hoi
হও11
hôo
হয়11
hôy
Assamese
transliterated (ISO 15819)
হোৱা
hüa
হওঁ
hoü̃
হোৱা
hüa
হয়
hoy
হওঁ
hoü̃
হোৱা
hüa
হয়
hoy
1 Archaic, poetical; used only with the pronoun 'thou'.
2 In Flemish dialects.
3 In the bokmål written standard.
4 In the nynorsk written standard. vera and vere are both alternate forms.
5 Attic.
6 'eínai' is only used as a noun ("being, existence").
7 Ptc: qenë.
8 In the Tosk and Geg dialects, respectively.
9 Existential: هست (hæst) has another meaning. Usage of (æ) is considered to be colloquial, now. See, Indo-European copula
10 With the Singular they 3rd person pronoun.
11 Bengali verbs are further conjugated according to formality. There are three verb forms for 2nd person pronouns: হও (hôo, familiar), হোস (hoś, very familiar) and হন (hôn, polite). Also two forms for 3rd person pronouns: হয় (hôy, familiar) and হন (hôn, polite). Plural verb forms are exact same as singular.

Conjugation classes

Pama-Nyungan languages

One common feature of Pama–Nyungan languages, the largest family of Australian Aboriginal languages, is the notion of conjugation classes, which are a set of groups into which each lexical verb falls. They determine how a verb is conjugated for Tense–aspect–mood. The classes can but do not universally correspond to the transitivity or valency of the verb in question. Generally, of the two to six conjugation classes in a Pama-Nyungan language, two classes are open with a large membership and allow for new coinages, and the remainder are closed and of limited membership.[8]

Wati

In Wati languages, verbs generally fall into four classes:

  • l class
  • class
  • n class
  • ng class[9]

They are labelled by using common morphological components of verb endings in each respective class in infinitival forms. In the Wanman language these each correspond to la, ya, rra, and wa verbs respectively.

Example Verb Conjugations in Warnman
Class Past Present Future Imperative Past Continuous Habitual
LA -rna -npa/-rni -nku -la -rninya la
waka-rna waka-rni waka-nku waka-la waka-rninya waka-la
speared is spearing will spear spear it! used to spear spears
YA -nya -manyi -ku -∅/-ya -minya -∅/-ya
wanti-nya wanti-manyi wanti-ku wanti-ya wanti-minya wanti-ya
stayed is staying will stay stay! used to stay stays
RRA -na -npa -nku -rra -ninya -rra
ya-na ya-npa ya-nku ya-rra ya-ninya ya-rra
went is going will go go! used to go goes
WA -nya -nganyi -ngku -wa -nganyinya -wa
pi-nya pi-nganyi pi-ngku pi-wa pi-nganyinya pi-wa
hit is hitting will hit hit it! used to hit hits

[10]

See also a similar table of verb classes and conjugations in Pitjantjatjara, a Wati language wherein the correlating verb classes are presented below also by their imperative verbal endings -la, -∅, -ra and -wa respectively

Example Verb Conjugations in Pitjantjatjara
Class Past Present Future Imperative Past Continuous Habitual
LA -nu -ni -lku -la -ningi -lpai
kati-nu kati-ni kati-leu kati-la kati-ningi kati-lpai
took is taking will take take it! used to take takes
-ngu -nyi -ku -∅ -ngi -pai
tawa-ngu tawa-nyi tawa-ku tawa- tawa-ngi tawa-pai
dug is digging will dig dig! used to dig digs
RA -nu -nangi -nkuku -ra -nangi -nkupai
a-nu a-nangi a-nkuku a-ra a-nangi a-nkupai
went is going will go go! used to go goes
WA -ngu -nganyi -nguku -wa -ngangi -ngkupai
pu-ngu pu-nganyi pu-nguku pu-wa pu-ngangi pu-ngkupai
hit is hitting will hit hit it! used to hit hits

[11]

Ngayarta

Ngarla, a member of the Ngayarda sub-family of languages has a binary conjugation system labelled:

  • l class
  • class

In the case of Ngarla, there is a notably strong correlation between conjugation class and transitivity, with transitive/ditransitive verbs falling in the l-class and intransitive/semi-transitive verbs in the ∅-class.

Example Verb Conjugations in Ngarla
Class Present Remote Past Past Past Continuous Habitual Future Speculative Purposive Optative Present Contrafactual Past Contrafactual Anticipatory
L -rri -rnta -rnu -yinyu -yirnta -n -mpi -lu -nmara -rrima -nmarnta -rnamarta
jaa-rri jaa-rnta jaa-rnu jaa-yinyu jaa-yirnta jaa-n jaa-mpi jaa-lu jaa-nmara jaa-rrima jaa-nmarnta jaa-rnmarta
is chopping chopped (long ago) chopped used to chop chops will chop could have chopped in order to chop ought to chop were x chopping had x chopped should x chop
-yan -rnta -nyu -yanu -yanta -mpi -kura -mara -yanma -marnta -nyamarta
warni-yan warni-rnta warni-nyu warni-yanu warni-yanta warni-Ø warni-rnpi warni-kura warni-mara warni-yanma warni-marnta warni-nyamarta
is falling fell (long ago) fell used to fall falls will fall could have fallen in order to fall ought to fall were x falling had x fallen should x fall

[12]

These classes even extend to how verbs are nominalized as instruments with the l-class verb including the addition of an /l/ before the nominalizing suffix and the blank class remaining blank:

l-class example:

Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".

∅-class example

Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".

[8]

Yidiny

Yidiny has a ternary verb class system with two open classes and one closed class (~20 members). Verbs are classified as:

  • -n class (open, intransitive/semi-transitive)
  • -l class (open, transitive/ditransitive)
  • -r class (closed, intransitive)
Example Verb Conjugations in Yidiny
Class imperative Present/Future Past Purposive Apprehensive
N -n -ng -nyu -na -ntyi
nyina-n nyina-ng nyina-nyu nyina-na nyina-ntyi
sit! is sitting / will sit sat in order to sit lest x sit
L -∅ -l -lnyu -lna -ltyi
patya- patya-l patya-lnyu patya-lna patya-ltyi
bite it! is biting / will bite bit in order to bite lest x bite
R -rr -r -rnyu -rna -rtyi
pakya-rr pakya-r pakya-rnyu -pakya-rna pakya-rtyi
feel sore! is feeling / will feel sore felt sore in order to feel sore lest x feel sore

[13]

See also

Conjugations by language

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "conjugation". Oxford Dictionaries UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
  2. ^ "conjugation". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
  3. ^ Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  4. ^ Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  5. ^ Stassen, Leon; Intransitive Predication (Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory); published 1997 by Oxford University Press; p. 39. Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  6. ^ Stassen; Intransitive Predication; pp. 77 & 284-288
  7. ^ a b Stassen, Intransitive Predication; p. 40
  8. ^ a b Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  9. ^ Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  10. ^ Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  11. ^ Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  12. ^ Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".
  13. ^ Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".

Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".

Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".