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Particle is a general term for a type words that are not major parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives) and are not inflected.

The term is also used to refer to an element, often a preposition, which combines with an existing verb to form what looks like a complex verb. Verb-particle combinations are quite common in German, Dutch, Polish.


"In nearly all grammars adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections are treated as four distinct "parts of speech," the difference between them being thus put on a par with that between substantives, adjectives, pronouns, and verbs. But in this way the dissimilarities between these words are grossly exaggerated, and their evident similarities correspondingly obscured, and I therefore propose to revert to the old terminology by which these four classes are treated as one called "particles." " (Jespersen 1924:87)


the Dutch particle uit, which is also a preposition, combines with the verb lachen in (i).

(i)  Ik hoorde dat Jan zijn moeder uitlachte
     I heard that Jan his mother out-laughed
     'I heard that Jan laughed at his mother'

Although the particle uit seems to be a morphological part of the verb in (i), it is not in (ii).

(ii) Jan lachte zijn moeder uit

In this example the verb lachte is preposed under Verb Second, and the particle uit is left behind.

See also


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Haegeman, L. 1991. Introduction to Government and Binding Theory, Oxford, Blackwell.
  • Jespersen, Otto. 1924. The philosophy of grammar. London: Allen & Unwin.
  • Kipka, P. 1990. Slavic aspect, MITWPL.
  • Koster, J. 1975. Dutch as an SOV language, Linguistic Analysis 1, .
  • Zwicky, Arnold M. 1985. "Clitics and particles." Language 61:283-305.

Other languages

Chinese: 小品詞
German: Partikel
French: Particule

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