From Academic Kids

In linguistics, a clitic is a word that syntactically functions as a free morpheme, but phonetically appears as a bound morpheme; it is always pronounced with a following or preceding word. A clitic is either an enclitic, where the clitic is with the preceding word, or a proclitic, which is with the following word.

A word and a clitic attached to it are pronounced like a single word, which respects the usual rules of the language in question. For example, if a word must have one and only one stressed syllable, then a word with a clitic must too (the clitic is usually unstressed). Clitics are often written as separate words.

A clitic is not an affix. An affix syntactically and phonologically attaches to a base morpheme of a limited part of speech such as a verb, to form a new word. A clitic syntactically functions above the word level (i.e. on the phrase or clause level) and attaches only phonetically to the first, last, or only word in the phrase or clause, whichever part of speech the word belongs to.


In the Indo-European languages, some clitics can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European: for example, -kwe is the original form of Latin -que, Greek te, and Sanskrit -ca. This word means "and" and is said after the word being added, e.g. Senatus Populusque Romanus "Senate and People of Rome".

The English enclitics are:

  • The abbreviated forms of be:
    • 'm in I'm
    • 're in you're
    • 's in she's
  • The abbreviated forms of personal pronouns:
    • 'im in give'im a chance
    • 'er in let'er go
    • 'em in go get'em
  • For negation, the abbreviated form of not:
    • n't in couldn't
  • The abbreviated forms of auxiliary verbs:
    • 'll in they'll
    • 've in they've
    • 'd in they'd
  • To express the possessive of a phrase:
    • 's in the girl next door's cat

(It's not just the door's cat.)

And the English proclitics are:

  • a in a desk
  • the in the house

In the Romance languages, the articles and the non-emphatic object pronouns are all clitics. In Spanish, for example:

las aguas ("the waters") = /la'saguas/
lo hicimos ("we made it") = /loi'simos/
dmelo ("give it to me") = /'damelo/

Clitics in other languages:

  • Latin: que and, ne (yes-no question)
  • Greek: te and, de but, gar for (in a logical argument), oun therefore
  • Russian: ли (yes-no question), же (emphasis), не not (proclitic), бы (subjunctive)
  • Japanese: all particles, such as the genitive postpositionno and the topic marker は wa
  • Dutch: 't definite article of neuter nouns and third person pronoun, 'k first person pronoun, je second person pronoun, -ie third person pronoun (this one should not be written as a separate word)

External links

See also

ja:接語 pl:Enklityka


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