So, I'm working on this conlang as part of my work and the deliverable is a simple grammar. To facilitate reference, I've divided up the suffixes between inflectional and derivational forms. But of course inflection and derivation are not really binary categories. There are some which are fuzzy. How would you categorize this one, which is used on nouns in 'have' constructions.

four dog-pl-have be-1sg 'I have four dogs.'

cat-have be-1sg-neg 'I don't have a cat.'

This contrasts with the genitive: dog-pl-1poss I-gen 'My dogs'. Based on the languages with which you are familiar, this more inflectional or derivational?

  • How exactly are they differing from the genitive/possessive?
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 5, 2014 at 12:19
  • That looks like a comitative suffix, e.g. papa -tjuta -tjarra ngayulu (dog -PLural -COMitative 1SG) 'I have dogs', very widespread in Australian languages and commonly treated as inflectional. Feb 4, 2015 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


Besides the somewhat nonesense glosses (are you really going to stick a verb as a suffix onto a noun :P), what you marked now for is case; it's possibly a possessive, could also call it genitive. Your possessive construction is basically now noun-POSS copula. This firmly falls into the category of inflection.

Unrelated to the question, I suggest you look at the Leipzig Glossing Rules (LGR); they really help with both conlanging and actual linguistics work.

  • I guess the best gloss would be attributive. Genitive is something else. I edited the Q accordingly.
    – Teusz
    Jul 5, 2014 at 10:35
  • 1
    In your edited question, do you think that now with the possessive suffix you need an added disambiguative genitive pronoun? Anyway, attributive would also be OK I guess
    – Darkgamma
    Jul 5, 2014 at 10:43
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    This reminds me of the Hebrew possession construction. 'I have a book' comes out as There is to-me book. I'd call that a dative, if case were involved. Actually, though, it's just the preposition 'to' with a 1sg px, and the there-is morpheme (yesh in Hebrew) is invariant. So where's the verb 'have'? As far as the original question is concerned, though, it's certainly inflectional. You ought to use paradigms if there's enough inflection in the grammar.
    – jlawler
    Jul 5, 2014 at 14:04

How would you categorize this one, which is used on nouns in 'have' constructions.

From the question, one might figure that if this construction as to be used in a particular syntactic context, this would be inflection.

Derivation would form lexical units for general purpose...

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