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Inflected Forms

In comparison with some other languages, English does not have many inflected forms. Of those which it has, several are inflected forms of words belonging to small, closed groups (as the personal pronouns or the demonstratives). These forms can readily be found at their own alphabetical places with a full entry (as whom, the objective case form of who) or with a cross-reference in small capital letters to another entry (as those, the plural form of that).

Most other inflected forms, however, are covered explicitly or by implication at the main entry for the base form. These are the plurals of nouns, the principal parts of verbs (the past tense, the past participle when it differs from the past tense, and the present participle), and the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs. In general, it may be said that when these inflected forms are created in a manner considered regular in English (as by adding -s or -es to nouns, -ed and -ing to verbs, and -er and -est to adjectives and adverbs) and when it seems that there is nothing about the formation likely to give the dictionary user doubts, the inflected form is not shown in order to save space for information more likely to be sought. Inflected forms are also not shown at undefined run-ons or at some entries bearing a limiting label:

gour·mand . . . noun . . . —gour·man·dize . . . intransitive verb
1fem·i·nine . . . adjectivefem·i·nine·ness . . . noun
2lake . . . nounlaky . . . adjective
2cote . . . transitive verb . . . obsolete : to pass by
crouse . . . adjective . . . chiefly Scottish : BRISK, LIVELY

On the other hand, if the inflected form is created in an irregular way or if the dictionary user is likely to have doubts about it (even though it is formed regularly), the inflected form is shown in boldface, either in full or cut back to a convenient and easily recognizable point. Full details about the kinds of entries at which inflected forms are shown and the kinds at which they are not shown are given in the three following sections. Nouns The plurals of nouns are shown in this dictionary when suffixation brings about a change of final -y to -i-, when the noun ends in a consonant plus -o, when the noun ends in -oo or -ey, when the noun has an irregular plural or a zero plural or a foreign plural, when the noun is a compound that pluralizes any element but the last, when a final consonant is doubled, when the noun has variant plurals, and when it is believed that the dictionary user might have reasonable doubts about the spelling of the plural or when the plural is spelled in a way contrary to expectations:

2spy noun, plural spies
si·lo . . . noun, plural silos
2shampoo noun, plural shampoos
gal·ley . . . noun, plural galleys
1mouse . . . noun, plural mice
moose . . .noun, plural moose
cri·te·ri·on . . . noun, plural -ria
son-in-law . . . noun, plural sons-in-law
1quiz . . . noun, plural quiz·zes
1fish . . . noun, plural fish or fishes
cor·gi . . . noun, plural corgis
3dry noun, plural drys

Cutback inflected forms are used when the noun has three or more syllables:

ame·ni·ty . . . noun, plural -ties

The plurals of nouns are usually not shown when the base word is unchanged by suffixation, when the noun is a compound whose second element is readily recognizable as a regular free form entered at its own place, or when the noun is unlikely to occur in the plural:

1night . . . noun
2crunch noun
fore·foot . . . noun
mo·nog·a·my . . . noun

Nouns that are plural in form and that regularly occur in plural construction are labeled noun plural:

munch·ies noun, plural

Nouns that are plural in form but that are not always construed as plurals are appropriately labeled:

ro·bot·ics . . . noun plural but singular in construction
two bits noun plural but singular or plural in construction

A noun that is singular in construction takes a singular verb when it is used as a subject; a noun that is plural in construction takes a plural verb when it is used as a subject. Verbs The principal parts of verbs are shown in this dictionary when suffixation brings about a doubling of a final consonant or an elision of a final -e or a change of final -y to -i-, when final -c changes to -ck in suffixation, when the verb ends in -ey, when the inflection is irregular, when there are variant inflected forms, and when it is believed that the dictionary user might have reasonable doubts about the spelling of an inflected form or when the inflected form is spelled in a way contrary to expectations:

2snag transitive verb snagged; snag·ging
1move . . . verb moved; mov·ing
1cry . . .verb cried; cry·ing
2frolic intransitive verb frol·icked; frol·ick·ing
1sur·vey . . . verb sur·veyed; sur·vey·ing
2bus verb bused also bussed; bus·ing also bus·sing
2visa transitive verb vi·saed . . . : vi·sa·ing
2chagrin transitive verb cha·grined . . . : cha·grin·ing

The principal parts of a regularly inflected verb are shown when it is desirable to indicate the pronunciation of one of the inflected forms:

learn . . . verb learned; learn·ing
rip·en . . . verb rip·ened; rep·en·ing

Cutback inflected forms are often used when the verb has three or more syllables, when it is a disyllable that ends in -l and has variant spellings, and when it is a compound whose second element is readily recognized as an irregular verb:

elim·i·nate . . . verb -nat·ed; -nat·ing
3quarrel intransitive verb -reled or relled; rel·ing or -rel·ling
1re·take . . . transitive verb -took . . . ; -tak·en . . . ; -tak·ing

The principal parts of verbs are usually not shown when the base word is unchanged by suffixation or when the verb is a compound whose second element is readily recognizable as a regular free form entered at its own place:

1jump . . . verb
pre·judge . . . transitive verb

Another inflected form of English verbs is the third person singular of the present tense, which is regularly formed by the addition of -s or -es to the base form of the verb. This inflected form is not shown except at a handful of entries (as have and do) for which it is in some way anomalous. Adjectives & Adverbs The comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs are shown in this dictionary when suffixation brings about a doubling of a final consonant or an elision of a final -e or a change of final -y to -i-, when the word ends in -ey, when the inflection is irregular, and when there are variant inflected forms:

1red . . . adjective red·der; red·dest
1tame . . . adjective tam·er; tam·est
1kind·ly adjective kind·li·er; -est
1ear·ly . . . adverb ear·li·er; -est
dic·ey . . . adjective dic·i·er; -est
1good . . . adjective bet·ter . . . ; best
1bad adjective worse . . . ; worst
1far . . . adverb far·ther . . . or fur·ther . . . far·thest or fur·thest

The superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs of two or more syllables are usually cut back:

3fancy adjective fan·ci·er; -est
1ear·ly . . . adverb ear·li·er; -est

The comparative and superlative forms of regularly inflected adjectives and adverbs are shown when it is desirable to indicate the pronunciation of the inflected forms:

1young . . . adjective youn·ger; youn·gest

The inclusion of inflected forms in -er and -est at adjective and adverb entries means nothing more about the use of more and most with these adjectives and adverbs than that their comparative and superlative degrees may be expressed in either way; lazier or more lazy; laziest or most lazy.

At a few adjective entries only the superlative form is shown:

3mere adjective, superlative mer·est

The absence of the comparative form indicates that there is no evidence of its use. The comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs are not shown when the base word is unchanged by suffixation or when the word is a compound whose second element is readily recognizable as a regular free form entered at its own place:

1near . . . adverb
un·wary . . . adjective

The comparative and superlative forms of adverbs are not shown when they are identical with the inflected forms of a preceding adjective homograph:

1hot . . . adjective hot·ter; hot·test
2hot adverb