Morphemes in English

A Morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a language. Morpheme is not mandatory to be same as a word. The main difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme sometimes does not stand alone, but a word, by definition, always stands alone.

In short, we can say that a "morpheme" is the short segment of language that meets three basic criteria:-

  1. It is a word or a part of the word that has resemble some meaning.
  2. It can not be divided into smaller meaningful segments without changing its meaning or leaving a meaningless remainder.
  3. It has relatively the same stable meaning in different verbal environments.

There are three types of morphemes-

  1. Free v/s Bound
  2. Derivational v/s Inflectional
  3. Prefix v/s Suffix
1. Free Morphemes- Free morphemes can stand alone with a specific meaning.
For example:- eat, date, weak, etc.

Bound Morphemes- Bound morphemes can not stand alone with meaning.
For example:- antedate, prehistoric, happily, etc.

2. Derivational Morphemes- It just makes fundamental changes to the meaning of the stem.
Inflectional Morphemes- They are used to mark grammatical information.

3. An "affix" is a bound morpheme that occurs before or after a base.

Prefix morpheme is a bound morpheme where "affix" occurs before a base.
Suffix morpheme is an free morpheme where "affix" occurs after a base.