I'm working on a paper about derivation, denominalization, zero-affixation and so on and have the following question: If a verb derives from a noun and it used in a past tense, for example boycott - to boycott - boycotted does boycotted still belong to the zero-affixation?

  • This may help. It's a class handout summarizing the terms.
    – jlawler
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


“Boycotted” has no derivational affixes, so it belongs to zero derivation aka conversion. The affix -ed is an inflectional affix, so you cannot generally say “boycotted” is an example of zero affixation, it does have an affix.

It all depends on what you are talking about. If it goes only about derivation mechanisms, then “boycotted” is an example of a zero-affixation derivation, since it is not anything like *boycottized or *boycottified, no derivational affixes are present.

It looks like this point is exactly what you have to come up with in your paper, you have to just find a way of wording to set apart the derivational and inflectional affixes, to make it clear when you write about the former and when about the latter or both together.

  • Thank you so much! That's what I was thinking but then I started doubting my 'conclusion'. So, just to clarify, if I have the noun bridge, I can derive the verb to bridge from it but I can only derive bridged and not bridging from it because the stem of the word changed, right? (Sorry, I couldn't come up with a better example.)
    – Anna
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 17:43
  • You wrote an answer to your own question, it should have been a commentary to my answer. Anyhow. I see no substantial difference between “bridged” and “bridging”, both are just forms of the verb “to bridge”.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 17:55
  • Oh, thanks for letting me out. I have another question... Even though the "e" in bridge is deleted in "bridging", it still is a derivation? I thought that wouldn't be the case. Same with skate/skating or spice/spicing.
    – Anna
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 22:19
  • The “e” is just a letter, a silent one, a spelling convention, no sound is dropped when “-ing” is added, cf. “ski” [ski:] - “skiing” [ˈski:.ɪŋ], it is still zero derivation.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 4:11

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