Grammatical particle

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In grammar, a particle is a function word that does not belong to any of the inflected grammatical word classes (such as nouns, pronouns, verbs, or articles). It is a catch-all term for a heterogeneous set of words and terms that lack a precise lexical definition. It is mostly used for words that help to encode grammatical categories (such as negation, mood or case), or fillers or discourse markers that facilitate discourse such as well, ah, anyway, etc. Particles are uninflected.[1] In English, the infinitive marker to and the negator not are examples of words that are usually regarded as particles.

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Depending on its context, the meaning of the term may overlap with such notions as "morpheme", "marker", or even "adverb" as in phrasal verbs such as out as in get out. Under the strictest definition, which demands that a particle be an uninflected word, English deictics like this and that would not be classed as such (since they have plurals) and are therefore inflected, and neither would Romance articles (since they are inflected for number and gender).

English

Articles, infinitival, prepositional, and adverbial particles

  • The definite article the (the indefinite article a or an cannot really be classed as uninflected, due to their inherently singular meaning disbarring them from plural usage)
  • the infinitive to, as in to walk
  • prepositions, such as over in I went over the hill
  • adverbs and adverbial portions of phrasal verbs, such as off in we put it off too long

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