Is there a word that refers to the different forms of a word, or a word's following four parts of speech—verb, adverb, noun, adjective?

For example:

confuse verb
confusedly adverb
confusion noun
confused, confusing, & confusable adjective

What word should be inserted if I wanted to say:
"I'm looking for all the [forms/parts of speech] of confuse."
"I want to use a [form/part of speech] of startle that is not in the dictionary; bestartlement, for example."

I think the answer to my question might be here Word form dictionary/system/tool, but I couldn't understand the descriptions of Inflection and Conjugation well enough to be certain that either is the word I am looking for.

After reading through the links on declensions and derivational morphology provided by Benjamin Harman and John Lawler respectively, I agree with Lawler that declensions are not what I am talking about. I think I want to refer to the set of any given content word's semantically associated parts of speech, i.e. all the various derivational morpheme altered forms of a given content word (and sometimes to just one of a content word's corresponding forms in a different lexical category).
All these terms are new to me, so I apologize if I used any of them incorrectly.

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    Speechparts. Apr 20, 2021 at 17:27
  • Have you banned prepositions, coordinators, complementisers, interjections, determiners, particles ... (depending on school adhered to)? And if a candidate is not in any dictionary, it's presumptuous to call it a word. Apr 20, 2021 at 17:40
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    No, there's no single word. Lexical categories is a technical term used by grammarians; it means different kinds of words as used in any language, not just Latin or English. There are quite a few, and every language has a different assortment, organized in different ways. "Parts of speech" is the English translation of partes orationis, which is what the Latin grammarians called those categories they knew about, in Latin. They missed some. Apr 20, 2021 at 17:45
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    What is wrong with forms? As far as I know, that is the term that refers to this.
    – Misha R
    Apr 21, 2021 at 14:03
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    @Karl yes, I think 'derivation' is satisfactory. I used to use 'conjugation' before I learned how that is a misapplication.
    – Peter
    Apr 21, 2021 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


Different variations of a non-verb word by parts of speech, by syntactic function, are called "declensions," so "confusedly" is the adverbial declension, "confusion" is the nounal declension, "confused" an adjectival declension. Another word used is "case," like "happy," "happily," and "happiness" are all different cases (i.e., adjective, adverb, and noun, respectively).

When the word is a verb, the variations are called "conjugations."


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    Conjugation and declension are only for paradigmatic affixes, not all variation. Latin (and English) adverbs don't have declensions Apr 20, 2021 at 17:48
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    Yes, they may. In some languages. But for variations to be declensions or conjugations, they have to be paradigmatic -- i.e, the variation has to occur in systematic paradigms, like German cases or Swahili genders. If a feature has no paradigms, like (say) Mandarin nouns or English adjectives, then their variations aren't declensions. I think you may be confusing declension with inflectional or derivational morphology. 'Conjugation' and 'declension' are two special terms for inflections; that's all. Apr 20, 2021 at 17:59
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    'Telescope' (verb) is an 'intercategorial polyseme' of the original (in English) noun formed by 'zero derivation' / 'null derivation', not declension or conjugation. Apr 20, 2021 at 18:20
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    Yep. Derivational morphology like Zero or -ation is non-paradigmatic and declensions or conjugations aren't discussed in their context for that reason. Apr 20, 2021 at 20:22
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    Conjugations and declensions are paradigms; usually they're displayed as tables, like this exercise from an introductory class. Any morphology (prefixes, suffixes, vowel changes, etc) that can be displayed in a table, like a spreadsheet, is paradigmatic. Other stuff that's sporadic and unpredictable is non-paradigmatic. (btw, there are two typos in the Latin paradigm on the exercise. Sigh) Apr 22, 2021 at 16:48

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