Morphology vs Syntax: Difference and Comparison

Morphology deals with how words are structured and formed, while syntax is dedicated to a focused study of the structure of sentences within a given linguistic system.

Key Takeaways

  1. Morphology is the study of the structure of words and how they are formed from smaller units, such as prefixes and suffixes; the syntax is the study of the rules governing the arrangement of words to form phrases and sentences.
  2. Morphology focuses on the internal structure of words and how they convey meaning; syntax examines the relationship between words in a sentence and how they function together to convey meaning.
  3. Morphology deals with forming words from smaller units and the different forms they can take; syntax deals with ordering and combining words to create meaningful sentences.

Morphology vs. Syntax

Syntax is the set of rules designed to form sentences of a particular language. Syntax is about the formation of phrases. Morphology focuses on the formation of words and what meaning the words will convey while defining a linguistic system. In it, words are made by using morphemes.

Morphology vs

Syntax relates to the rules that guide the formation of sentences in a particular linguistic order. Morphology exclusively pertains to studying the structure of words and the related norms of word formation in a given language.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMorphologySyntax
DefinitionMorphology refers to the rules of studying the formation of words in a linguistic system.Syntax refers to the comprehensive rules for studying sentence formation in a linguistic system.
Area of AnalysisMorphology studies word forms.Syntax studies the formation of sentences by analyzing the constituent words.
Basic Units of StudyMorphemes are the basic units of study.Words are the basic unit of study.
Focus of AnalysisPrefixes and suffixes that alter meanings and the overall structure of words.The order of words in a sentence alters meanings.
RequirementNeeded to understand the meaning of words in a linguistic system effectively.I needed to understand the language appropriately.

What is Morphology?

Morphology is an essential part of linguistic studies. Morphology is defined as the study of words in a given linguistic order. It entails analyzing morphemes as the smallest units of meaning creation in a given sentence.

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Choose the word that is a synonym for "hasten":

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I ______ a reply to my letter in the next few days.

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Who is the person in charge at a high school?

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What is the term for a word that shows a relationship between a noun and other words in a sentence?

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Choose the correct word: The problem was finally __________.

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What is the term used to describe words that substitute for nouns?

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What is the term used to describe words that connect clauses or sentences?

8 / 10

He drives quite ________, but his brother drives really ________.

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Choose the synonym for the word "clever":

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Ahmed is 65 kg, and Ali is 50 kg, so Ahmed is _ _ _ _ _ _ Ali.

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They are responsible for the alteration of meanings of words and hence, need to be analyzed. Usually, morphemes are of two types- free and bound morphemes. The latter include prefixes and suffixes, while the former are words that can stand independently in a sentence.

Morphology focuses on how people use words and create meanings in a linguistic system. It investigates the overall structure of words to gain this understanding. Bound morphemes can be subdivided further as derivational and inflectional morphemes.

The former changes the class or meaning of the word upon addition. At the same time, the latter does not do either to the existing word but provides the reader with some valuable grammatical information about the word.

An example of a derivational morpheme:

‘Receive to Receiver,’ where the former is a verb, and the latter is a noun.

An example of an inflectional morpheme:

Dog to Dogs, where the additional ‘s’ indicates the plurality of the word.

What is Syntax?

The syntax is an equally significant part of linguistic systems that deals with the rules of forming grammatically correct sentences. It focuses on the order of words used in a sentence to study the structure of a sentence.

This order has an invariable impact on the meaning of any given sentence. These rules must be followed to learn the language and frame grammatically correct sentences.

Syntax rules are formed by interrogating the relationship between verbs, adjectives, and nouns-i.e., the parts of speech- used in a sentence. The rules of syntax ascertain the subject-object relationship.

Examples of syntax rules:

The hunter killed the tiger.

The tiger killed the hunter.

In the above sentences, the subject-object relationship is presented. Although both sentences use the same words, the meaning of both is significantly different. This is because of syntax rules.

Main Differences Between Morphology and Syntax

  1. The main difference between morphology and syntax is in terms of the meaning of each of these terms and their consequent functionalities in a linguistic system. Morphology is the study of the formation of words in a linguistic system. At the same time, syntax refers to the comprehensive system of rules that govern the formation of sentences in a language.
  2. The unit of study under morphology is a morpheme, while in the case of syntax, the smallest unit of analysis is a word. Morphemes are the smallest units that carry definitive meaning. Hence they become the basis of analysis. As morphemes change the meaning of words, they carry essential meaning.
  3. Morphology focuses on understanding of the forms of words. The syntax is based on understanding the relationship between constituent words used in the sentence.
  4. Morphology analyzes the meaning and formation of words by focusing on their prefixes or suffixes. Syntax focuses on the meaning words form in the sentences that they are used in. It emphasizes the order and use of words in sentences.
  5. The rules of syntax need to be learned to understand a language appropriately. Morphology is needed to understand the meaning of words in sentences of a given language.
References
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781405166348.ch8
  2. https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/16064/07491988-MIT.pdf?sequence=2
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