Grammatical Function


In morphology, a morpheme which serves some grammatical function is meaningful in the abstract way that it conveys some grammatical information in terms of a specific language’s grammar. For example, past tense in English only makes sense in terms of there being ways of talking about how time unfolds (past, present, future).

Grammatical functions include tense, person (1st, 2nd, 3rd), aspect, plurality, and others. Languages may not make use of every grammatical category, and therefore languages may differ in terms of their grammar.


  • Hul’q’umi’num’

  • Skwxwú7mesh

  • Secwepemctsín:
    • Gibson (1973) provides an example of a morpheme with only a grammatical function. That is, the prefix /s-/, illustrated in the examples below. Gibson writes that the /s-/ prefix functions as a grammatical morpheme meaning “to derive a general state” (p. 26). The morpheme of interested are bolded in the examples below.
      • stéx̩əmə ‘a paddle’
      • sq̓ʷú ‘a trap’
      • səp̓séqs ‘nose’