More specifically, I'm wondering if languages can put into 1 word what in English takes multiple words. For example, in English you can say "Speak!" to say basically "You speak!". In Spanish you can get more complex with "¡Dámelo!" to say "Give it to me!" in one word. I'm wondering what some of the more complex examples of using 1 word to say a complete sentence in another language looks like.

For example, maybe you can say "I go to the store" in one word in some language, or "I went to the store". Maybe it can get more complex than <subject> <verb> <object> though. Maybe more like, "I watch a movie at the park with my friend in the past." Or using grammatical tense, "I watched a movie at the park with my friend." In English as one word you could potentially build "moviedaparkndate" lol. That's not really a thing to do in English, but I tried.

If there are languages where you can build arbitrarily-long complex words (I think someone told me German had large words like this), then I'm wondering how you would decide to divide "strings" up into individual words, but will save that for another question perhaps.

Trying to get a sense of how much you can cram into a single word.

Also not looking for predefined idioms or things in which it is just a norm to say something in one word but it is a complete sentence. Looking instead for complete sentences constructed purely out of the grammar.

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    In some kinds of languages you can do some kinds of stuff like this. But not in general -- think about the problems of having hundreds of billions of words, each describing some detailed situation. Human communication doesn't work like that. BTW, a lot of your elementary level questions will be answered in David Crystal's Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (both excellent, with references and glossaries, in paperback).
    – jlawler
    Aug 31, 2018 at 23:30

2 Answers 2


Polysynthetic languages come close to what you seem to be looking for since apart from marking multiple grammatical functions in one word, they allow a word to combine both noun and verb. Examples are West Greenlandic Aliikkusersuillammassuaanerartassagaluarpaalli "However, they will say that he is a great entertainer, but..." and Yupik tuntussuqatarniksaitengqiggtuq "He had not yet said again that he was going to hunt reindeer".

Putting objects and verbs together is a common pattern, within this uncommon type of word formation. I don't think there is a language where you can incorporate full NP objects and subjects plus verbs, thus rendering "My oldest child cooked many potatoes" into a single word.


I'm wondering what some of the more complex examples of using 1 word to say a complete sentence in another language looks like.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agglutination:

A very popular Turkish agglutination is Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınız, meaning "You are said to be one of those that we couldn't manage to convert to a Czechoslovak".

"I go to the store" in one word

Word boundaries are defined by orthography but in any case I do not know of a language where this is possible by my definition of word.

Subjects or even objects can be implied by a verb, but then they are more like pronouns, not NPs like the store.

arbitrarily-long complex words... German

If a sentence needs a verb, then noun compounding alone cannot yield a sentence.

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