Grammatical conjugation

From Academic Kids

In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection (regular alteration according to rules of grammar). Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, mood, voice, grammatical aspect, or other language-specific factors.

Conjugated forms of a verb which show a given person, number, tense, etc. are called finite forms. In many languages there are also one or more several non-finite forms, such as the infinitive or the gerund. A table giving all the conjugated variants of a verb in a given language is called a conjugation table or a verb paradigm.

A regular verb has a paradigm of conjugation that derives all forms from a few specific forms or principal parts (maybe only one, such as the infinitive in English). When a verb cannot be conjugated straightforwardly like this, it is said to be irregular. Typically the principal parts are the root and/or several modifications of it (stems).

Conjugation is also the traditional name of a group of verbs that share a similar conjugation pattern in a particular language (a verb class). This is the sense in which teachers say that Latin has 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.

Examples of conjugation

Indo-European languages tend to inflect the verb for several categories and thus they have large verb paradigms and a difficult conjugation. The copular verb to be is usually the most irregular. Here is a sample conjugation of to be in English and its Latin, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swedish equivalents — esse, être, sein, ser, ser, and vara, respectively. Notice the similarities between English, German, and Swedish on the one hand and French, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin on the other; notice also that, where the infinitive is concerned, only English and Swedish are very much divergent from the rest of the major European languages.

(Except for the infinitive, which is in the present active form, all the verbs listed are in the present indicative active. The appropriate pronoun is included in most of the examples.)

To be in several Indo-European languages
Form / Person English Latin Français Deutsch Español Português Svenska
infinitive to be esse être sein ser ser vara
1st singular I am (ego) sum je suis ich bin (yo) soy eu sou jag är
2nd singular you are (tu) es tu es du bist (tu) eres tu és du är
3rd singular he/she/it is (is/ea/id) est il / elle est er / sie / es ist él / ella / usted es ele / ela / você é han / hon / den / det är
1st plural we are (nos) sumus nous sommes wir sind (nosotros / nosotras) somos nós somos vi är
2nd plural you are (vos) estis vous êtes ihr seid (vosotros / vosotras) sois vós sois ni är
3rd plural they are (ei/eae/ea) sunt ils / elles sont sie sind (ellos / ellas / ustedes) son eles / elas / vocês são de är

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