Inflection is variation in the form of a word, typically by means of an affix, that expresses a grammatical contrast which is obligatory for the stem’s word class in some given grammatical context.
In contrast to derivation, inflection:
- does not result in a change of word class
- usually produces a predictable, nonidiosyncratic change of meaning
- In the following English sentence, come is inflected for person and number by the suffix -s:
- The mailman comes about noon.
- In the following Spanish noun phrase, las and rojas are inflected for agreement with manzanas in grammatical gender by -a and in number by -s:
- las manzanas rojas ‘the red apples’