RA Duff. Intention, Agency and Criminal Liability (1990). p 33.

      Notice too the various cognates of 'intention' which are used in ordinary language. We talk of intending to do something, of doing something intentionally, of doing something with the intention of bringing about some further result; and we cannot simply assume that the concept is univocal across these different uses. But if it does have 'different shades of meaning' in different contexts or different uses, it becomes crucial to determine which of these 'shades' is (or are) relevant to its legal usage.

Here I'm asking about all the conjugated forms from just one stem, like pose. Not affixed verbs derived from it as a base like de-pose, im-pose, pro-pose, re-pose, sup-pose.

  1. I don't think "cognate" is precise enough, because it's much broader than the conjugations of a single verb like 'intent'. Also, it can refer to any Word/Lexical Class, not just verbs. Correct?

  2. What term is preciser, and can replace "cognates" in the quote above?

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    I'm afraid this is not about linguistics or linguistic terminology, but about English language as used by lawyers. May 26, 2020 at 14:42
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    @jk-ReinstateMonica I think it is about linguistics. The quote from the book is just an example.
    – user5306
    May 27, 2020 at 7:07
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    I use the term verb form or form of the verb for that. I would be surprised if there is in fact some more technical term available. Jun 7, 2020 at 2:58
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    I think your use of affixes here is confusing matters. For the verb intend (which does have a prefix), the forms quoted in the text do have suffixes: -ing, -(t)ion(-al-ly), even -t itself, those are all suffixes. And what about unintentionally, which has one prefix and four suffixes? You need to clarify further. @jk-ReinstateMonica How on earth does this question have anything to do with lawyers? Are lawyers particularly known for needing to refer to possible permutations of the same verbal root excluding those where the root is modified by (different) affixes? Jun 7, 2020 at 7:54
  • Yes, "cognates" is not the right term. Inflected forms or derived forms might do better. But the law is already plenty wrong-headed about language and meaning, so I'd say this is not about linguistics.
    – jlawler
    Jun 8, 2020 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


The set of "all the conjugated forms from just one stem" is the stem's paradigm or declension; another term is the set of "all the inflected forms of a stem."

A paradigm is the inflected forms of a verb. For the English verb 'walk', the paradigm consists of 'walk', 'walks', 'walking', and 'walked'. For the verb 'run', the paradigm would be 'run', 'ran', and 'running'.

Some languages (Vietnamese, for example) have only one form of a verb, while others (Spanish, Finnish...) have many inflected forms.

Nouns and adjectives may also have multiple inflected forms, but these are usually referred to as their declensions. English noun declensions are pretty simple: 'book' and 'books', for example. Other languages (famously German) have more forms in their declensions, and some languages still more (Finnish, Russian).

A general term for the forms of a paradigm or declension is "inflected forms."

The prefixes you say you are not interested in are generally considered to be derivational morphology, not inflectional. But know that in other languages (Mayan or Nahuatl, for example), some prefixes are inflectional.

Linguists do not use the term 'cognate' in the sense of the para you quote. Rather, cognates are pairs (or triples...) of words in different languages that have a common source in some ancestral language. English 'hound' and German 'Hund' ("dog") are cognates due to both languages descending from a common ancestor thousands of years ago.

Similar to cognates are loanwords, which are pairs etc. of words in different languages, but where one language borrowed the word from another. "Fiance" (and "fiancé") is a loanword from French into English. Depending on how long ago a word was borrowed, and whether the two languages from that time are attested (i.e. know from written documents), it may not be possible to determine whether a pair of similar words are cognate or loans.

I'm not sure what the paragraph you quote is getting at. I think it's referring to derived forms, not (only) to inflected forms. 'Intention' is a noun derived from 'intend', 'intending' is an inflected form of the verb 'intend', and 'intentionally' is an adverb derived from the noun 'intention'. If you wanted to refer to both derived and inflected forms, one way would be to simply say "derived and inflected forms", another might be "morphologically related forms."

In general, inflected forms of a word have a meaning which is obviously and clearly relatable to the stem. This is not always true of derived forms, for example "deliverance" cannot be used in all the senses that "deliver" can: we don't talk about the "deliverance of a package".

Beware also that there are similar words which appear to be derived from some root, but where the different words have no meaning in common, nor can any real meaning be assigned to the roots or affixes, for example: prefer, confer, defer, refer, infer. It's not clear linguistically whether these are due to derivational morphology in the same way that intend, intention, intentionally are; for example, the root 'fer' is not a word of English. I would include your examples of 'suppose', 'depose, 'impose' etc. here; it's not at all clear that these have anything to do with the root 'pose' (which happens to be an English word).

  • I don't wantvto be tgat guy, but ... please proof your answer with appropriate references. I trust you don't answer from your own bare opinion, but I doubt anyway that it generalizes. To whit, as far as I understand it, cognancy refers to inheritance, so loans are excluded ... It's also not true that cognate pairs exist only between separate languages. If "between" is "cognate" with "two" for example, that's where it gets difficult when we suspect derivation, however long before English even existed, although the prefix might be later. I'm not even sure which stem derived which, if at all.
    – vectory
    Jun 10, 2020 at 20:13
  • "I'm not sure what the paragraph you quote is getting at. I think ..." I think it's trying to redefine the word in the hope of recovering the original intent (as defined by the context of the text under consideration). We can by the way assume that future readers are part of the context, because law is intended to be interpreted. The word was widely used in Latin and has a comparable sense in at least German etc. (Pol. Rus., anyone?) Such cognates would be instructive, for the stem for a start. However, they is rather concerned with the English morphology--but -ing and -ally are hardly cog
    – vectory
    Jun 10, 2020 at 20:24
  • @vectory: yeah, I edited the cognate/ loanword thing, but dinner is ready, so I can't add refs now... thanks Jun 11, 2020 at 1:17

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