A morpheme is the smallest linguistic unit that has a meaning. It cannot be divided into smaller parts. For example, unreadable has three morphemes: un, read and able.
1. Bound Morphemes
A bound morpheme is a morpheme that cannot stand alone as an independent word, or in other words a bound morpheme is a grammatical unit that never occurs by itself, but it is always attached to some other morphemes. The bound morpheme is not a word. They must be joined to other free morphemes (words). Bound morpheme consists of derivational and inflectional morpheme. Also affixes are bound morpheme.. Ex: -ish, un-, -ness, -li-, -s, -er, etc.
2. Free Morphemes (Unbound Morphemes)
A free morpheme is a morpheme that can stand alone, or a free morpheme is a grammatical unit that can occur by itself. They, the free morphemes are a word. Ex: boy, girl, man, gentle, cat, bag, house, etc.
3. Inflectional Morphemes
An inflectional morpheme is a morpheme that can only be a suffix. An inflectional morpheme creates a change in the function in the word, but Inflectional morphemes do not create new meaning. According to Yule (1996), English has only eight (8) inflectional morphemes, as follows:
· 2 used with adjectives : -er (comparative) & -est (superlative)
· 2 used with nouns: -s (plural),-'s (possessive)
· 4 used with verbs :-s (3rd person singular) ,-ed (past tense) ,-en (past participle) & -ing (present progressive)
4. Derivational Morphemes
Derivational morphemes are also known as the opposite of inflectional morphemes. A derivational morpheme is a morpheme that can be added to a word to create or to drive another word. This type changes the meaning of the word or the part of speech or both (a new word with a new meaning). Ex: -ation, un-, -al, -ize, -ous, -y, etc. In rationalization (ration-al-iz-ation-s) the final -s is inflectional, and appears at the every end of the word, outside the derivational morphemes -al, -iz, -ation.
5. Closing Morphemes & Nonclosing Morphemes
A morpheme such a –ize in the words in the words formalize and legalize is not a closing morpheme (nonclosing morpheme), because we can add other words after it. Ex: formalizer and legalization. –er and ion in those words are not a closing morpheme (nonclosing morpheme), because we can still add plural –s, and the –s is a closing morpheme.
6. Affixes : Prefixes & Suffixes
a.Prefixes : a form like ex-, anti-, un-, ad-, com-, dis-, in-, re-, mis- or inter- which can be added to the front of a word to give an additional or different meaning. Ex: ex-wife, anti-British, unhappy.
b.Suffixes : a form like -ology, -ance(-ence), -ful, ness, ment, -able, or –ese, which can be added to the end of a word to give an additional or different meaning. Ex: understandable, believable, biology,
7. Root morpheme
A root morpheme is the primary lexical unit of a word, and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. the term "root" is generally synonymous with "free morpheme", but the roots may sometimes be bound morpheme. The bound roots are relatively few, but some are found, such as –ceive, -tain, and –cur in receive, retain, contain, recur, etc. Example:
· run is the root of running
· dog is the root of dogs
· child is the root of children
· mouse is the root of mice
· rupt is the root of interrupt
<see stem morpheme for further>
8. Stem morpheme
A stem is a part of a word. The term is used with slightly different meanings. 'Stem' and 'root' have more or less the same meaning: the form of a word after all affixes have been removed. So the root or stem of 'unreadable' is read. We can say that read is a morpheme, stem and root at the same time. Similarly in the words manly the form man- is at the same time a root and a stem. But in the word breakwaters the stem is breakwater, and it’s not a single root. There are two morphemes, break and water. Another example: The stem of the verb wait is wait: it is the part that is common to all its inflected variants.
1. wait (infinitive)
2. wait (imperative)
3. waits (present, 3rd person, singular)
4. wait (present, other persons and/or plural)
5. waited (simple past)
6. waited (past participle)
7. waiting (progressive)
stem: reaction (s)
root: (re) act (ion) (s)
The stem is the base with all inflectional suffixes removed, whereas the root is what remains after all affixes have been taken off.
9. Nuclear and Peripheral Structure
A nuclear consists nucleus. A peripheral morpheme usually consists of a nonroot and is always ‘outside’ of the nuclear.
Ex: the word formal the nuclear element (nuclear structure) is form-, and the peripheral element (peripheral morpheme) is –al. In the word formalize the nuclear structure is formal-, and the peripheral morpheme is –ize. Similarly in formalizer the nuclear structure is formalize-, and the peripheral morpheme is –er.
- Bike : free, root, or stem morpheme
- -er : bound, derivational, nonclosing, or suffix morpheme
- -s : bound, inflectional, closing, peripheral, or suffix morpheme
- Biker-s : the biker is nuclear, and the –s is peripheral morpheme.
- Refuse : free, root, or stem morpheme
- -al : bound, derivational, or suffix morpheme
- Refuse-al : the refuse is a nuclear, and the –al is a peripheral morpheme.
- Im- : bound, derivational, or prefix morpheme
- Possible : free, root, or stem morpheme
- -ity : bound, derivational, suffix, or peripheral morpheme
- Impossible-ity : the impossible is a nuclear, and the –ity is a peripheral morpheme.
- Break : free or root morpheme
- Water : free or root morpheme
- -s : bound morpheme, inflectional, peripheral morpheme,
- Breakwater- : the breakwater is a stem morpheme also as a nuclear.