Is the natural tendency of the verbs in spoken language towards more or fewer conjugations?

For example, in my language, we use conjugations related to time, person, etc.

In English we have conjugations in some times and for some person, but we can do a lot just by the knowledge of the infinitive forms and using auxiliary verbs, like we know.

But I can't identify whether these conjugations get more or less numerous with time, whether there is a natural tendency in languages about this or if there is any underlying logic at all.

Is there any theory about this subject?

  • Are you asking about time as in present tense and past tense, or are you asking about time as in the evolution of the English language over time?
    – Nicole
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 15:22
  • The evolution over the time.
    – Apprentice
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 15:25
  • Was there any change about person and time, for example, we use S or ES, for the third person of singular, was there any other change, for example when refers to the second person of singular, say with a different suffix? I walk, you (walkef- just a example), she walks...
    – Apprentice
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 15:46
  • 1
    There is no natural process one way or the other. In Romance languages, there is the generally accepted hypothesis (but little evidence) that there was a cycle, complex inflections in Latin, to simplified analytic late Vulgar Latin/proto French or Spanish and then inflections created back again (for verbs).
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


I think it is a natural process in the long run of historical development that systems that become too complicated are simplified because speakers can't handle them anymore. You can see this in irregular verbs. The number of irregular verbs was relatively large, I guess about 250 to 300 a hundred or 200 years ago. But in spoken language only part ot them are used today. Grammatical endings of declension and conjugation have been simplified when comparing Latin, German and English. In English the simplification has been done thoroughly.

As to vocabulary the English vocabulary is so extremely large that no one can handle it. But the normal vocabulary in spoken language is about 7,500 words. (I've read this recently, but have forgotten where.)

  • No one? Are you sure?
    – TimLymington
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 22:14
  • @TimLymington this is not the question here, but as we know that words are rising and falling each moment, so it is impossible for someone know all the vocabulary of any living language. rogermue I think I have seen this information too, in something related with Macmillan Dictionary.
    – Apprentice
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 3:03
  • 1
    @Apprentice - You are right, I think I read it in the Macmillan Dictionary. Thanks for the hint.
    – rogermue
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 3:58
  • 2
    @TimLymington - Do you think that someone can handle 600,000 to a million words.
    – rogermue
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 4:02

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