Section 4: Form-Class Words

Form-class words are open-ended, not limited in the number of their members, as new words are being invented all the time. New inventions, observations, sciences, sports, ideas, etc. require us to constantly create new form-class words.

In this respect, as a category, form-class words usually have lexical meaning, or a dictionary definition. For example, the word smell tells us we’re dealing with a particular sense. We could look up specifics in the dictionary.

Finally, most all form-class words can take inflection in order to create a variant form of the word and signal grammatical information without changing its meaning. For example, the word smell can become smelly, smelliest, or smelled. Likewise, many form-class words can take derivations that will allow them to change forms, such as ideal to idealize or to idealistic or to ideally. Finally, as we will discuss, many form-class words can be identified in more than one form: smell can be identified as a NOUN (and take the noun inflections), or it can be identified as a verb (and take the verb inflections). Once again, when analyzing form-class words, be sure to analyze in context.

There are four sets of FORM-CLASS words described in this sub-section: