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Inflection is the morphological marking of properties on words. The crucial difference with word formation is the criterion that inflection does not result in the creation of a new lexeme. Thus, a word may have more than one word form. The forms griem, griemst, griemt, grieme, griemde, griemdest, griemden, griemd and griemen, to take an example, all belong to the verb griemeto make a mess. The endings mark certain properties, and sometimes they may stack. In the form griemden, for instance, we find the suffix -de, which marks the past tense. It is followed by and phonologically merged with the suffix -en, which betrays plurality of the agreeing subject.

We see in this example an important difference in types of inflection. The suffix -en is an instance of contextual inflection. Such a form represents a morphosyntactic feature; it is required by the syntactic context, here by agreement with the accompanying subject. This is in contrast with inherent inflection, where the features are morphosemantic. In that case, the selection of a word form is a matter of choice by the language user dependent on what (s)he wants to communicate. For example, he or she can choose to situate the content of the sentence in the past, thus evoking the suffix -de. A third type of feature is lexical. Lexical features are specified in the lexicon; they are invariant and cannot be manipulated for communicative purposes.

Most cases of inflection are of the inherent type. Next to verbal inflection, we also encounter contextual inflection with adjectives in prenominal position, where the form of the adjective follows the gender, number and definiteness of the noun. The endings that we see after Frisian conjunctions could also be subsumed under the heading of contextual inflection.

Inflection in Frisian is concentrated on the major, open categories noun, adjective and verb. The latter especially shows a fairly complex system. But also minor categories as adverbs, conjunctions and even adpositions display, to a more or lesser extent, characteristics of inflection. These can also be found with articles, pronouns and numerals. It is with these categories in particular that the topics are not only concentrated on the inflectional endings; all kinds of lexical properties and issues of use are also dealt with.

Numerals deserve special mention in this respect. Linguistically, they form a system in its own. It is therefore decided here to treat them in one section of the inflectional part, even if it must be conceded that several aspects of their formation have more traits in common with word formation.

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