Glossary of Linguistic Terms



A word is a unit which is a constituent at the phrase level and above. It is sometimes identifiable according to such criteria as

  • being the minimal possible unit in a reply
  • having features such as

    • a regular stress pattern, and
    • phonological changes conditioned by or blocked at word boundaries
  • being the largest unit resistant to insertion of new constituents within its boundaries, or
  • being the smallest constituent that can be moved within a sentence without making the sentence ungrammatical.

A word is sometimes placed, in a hierarchy of grammatical constituents, above the morpheme level and below the phrase level.