Conjugation in Languages

By Ma

Intriguing enough, conjugation comprehends a great proportion of the grammar of all languages.

For instance, in Japanese, various conjugations of verbs are employed to express different states and honorifics which include a variety of respectful, humble, and polite speeches. The “て(te)” form, for example, contains a certain degree of politeness and is equivalent to “please” in English. It can be reckoned as a variant of the stem “ます(ma su)”; The “ない(na i)” form negates the original meaning of the verb, and here are three examples:

  1. 食べる taberu (to eat) → 食べない tabenai (not to eat)
  2. 走る  hashiru (to run) → 走らない hashiranai (not to run)
  3. 書く  kaku (to write) → 書かない kakanai (not to write)

Likewise, the “する/う (su ru/ u)” form attains the informal tone speakers intend for close friends.

While different conjugations imply honorifics in Japanese, European languages, say English and French, indicates temporality – tense and aspect – through a number of conjugations. In English, generally ‘s’ or ‘es’ is added to a verb to express either the present/regular state or third person singular:

  1. eat → He eats bread for breakfast every day.
  2. run → Joan runs around the park once a week.

To signify something in the past, ‘-ed’ is by and large attached to the end of the verb:

  1. jump → jumped
  2. play → played

Surprisingly, Chinese does not possess any conjugations. Personally I think it is attributed to the fact that the meaning of Chinese per se is conveyed through the combination of characters, thus almost no morpheme is affixed to either verbs or nouns.

Conjugation, in my opinion, is an important part to note during the process of language learning. Finally, I hope everyone are capable of mastering it in all languages!

[Featured image taken by James in London on 27th October, 2014]


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