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What is a stem?



A stem is the root or roots of a word, together with any derivational affixes, to which inflectional affixes are added.


A stem consists minimally of a root, but may be analyzable into a root plus derivational morphemes. A stem may require an inflectional operation (often involving a prefix or suffix) in order to ground it into discourse and make it a fully understandable word. If a stem does not occur by itself in a meaningful way in a language, it is referred to as a bound morpheme.

Examples (English)
  • The verbs tie and untie are both stems.
  • The inflectional third person singular suffix -s may be added to the stems to form ties and unties.
  • Generic
      A stem is a kind of

    Crystal 1985 287


    Mish 1991 1154

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