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You have variations of Protect such as

  • third-person singular simple present protects
  • present participle protecting
  • simple past and past participle protected

So what would you call protection?

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The first three words cited (protects, protecting, protected) are Inflected forms of the verb protect. Note that they are all the same verb, with the same meaning, just different ones for different purposes. Inflection is a large part of Morphology, but not the only part -- and in English, not a big part at all. There are only 8 or 9 different possible inflections left in English, and this is three or four of them.

The other part of Morphology is Derivation, as in protection, protective, protectiveness, unprotected. Derivation frequently changes the part of speech of a root, so as FF points out, this is a noun, not a verb. It's also irregular, variously productive, and non-paradigmatic, as the ungrammatical forms *protecthood, *protectation, and *protectify show. But there's a lot of it in English.

These and other differences between derivation and inflection are detailed on the first page here.

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Surely there are contexts where, for example, protecting (as a gerund noun) and protection are exact synonyms. It's not obvious to me how useful it is to distinguish between the two forms by saying one is an inflection and the other is a derivation. Is the distinction more relevant in some other contexts? –  FumbleFingers Dec 21 '11 at 23:38
    
As it says in the link, "an affix or other chunk of grammar is usually either derivational or inflectional, though there is a certain grey area between them." **-Iŋ** is a good example. There turn out to be several different kinds of -ɪŋ morphemes, which can be distinguished from one another syntactically. One is a simple noun, another the progressive marker, and still another is the true, the blushful gerund, etc. –  John Lawler Dec 22 '11 at 1:19
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Protection is the noun form derived from the verb. Other common noun suffixes are, for example, -sion, -ment, -ness

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