This post provides 4 definitions of Morphemes: Types & Examples. It also explains the subcategories of morphemes with copious examples. Morphemes play a crucial role in the word formation process in English and the field that studies morphemes is morphology.
Morphology is the branch of language study that examines morphemes, especially the form and structure of words in a particular language, the various patterns of inflexion, combination, blending, derivation and change that we can observe and classify and other related matters. An expert who specialises in the study of morphemes is called a morphologist. See more in the post Branches of Linguistics.
The English Grammatical Units – Rankscale
Rank scale in English refers to the hierarchical ordering or arrangements of the grammatical elements that make up the structure of Language. The English Rankscale ranges from the smallest grammatical unit, Morpheme to the largest, Sentence. The hierarchical arrangement could be from the smallest to the largest or from the largest to the smallest. The English Rankscale includes:
Here we will consider each of these five (5) grammatical units severally in other posts but our focus will be on morphemes.
Four (4) Definitions of Morphemes
A morpheme is the smallest unit of speech that has semantic or grammatical meaning.
If we look at morpheme from another perspective, we can say it is a minimal unit of meaning or grammatical function.
Indivisible Unit of Meaning
Just like the definition of an atom given in secondary schools (though we now know better) a morpheme is the smallest indivisible unit of meaning.
Minimal Building Blocks
We can also define a morpheme as the minimal building blocks of words.
We should, however, stress at this point that not every word counts as a morpheme. How do you identify a morpheme? A quick test: Understand that if there is no meaning, then there is no morpheme!
Check other posts on the other Grammatical Units in the English Rankscale. Kindly share with your friends.