Clitic vs. Affix

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Clitic and Affix is that the Clitic is a morpheme with syntactic characteristics of a word but with phonological dependence on another word; e.g. ⟨-’m⟩ in ⟨I’m⟩ or ⟨-’ve⟩ in ⟨I’ve⟩; the possessive ⟨-’s⟩, the article ⟨a(n)⟩, and the infinitive marker ⟨to⟩ are and Affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word.

  • Clitic

    A clitic (, backformed from Greek ἐγκλιτικός enklitikós “leaning” or “enclitic”) is a morpheme in morphology and syntax that has syntactic characteristics of a word, but depends phonologically on another word or phrase. In this sense, it is syntactically independent but phonologically dependent—always attached to a host. The term derives from the Greek for leaning. A clitic is pronounced like an affix, but plays a syntactic role at the phrase level. In other words, clitics have the form of affixes, but the distribution of function words. For example, the contracted forms of the auxiliary verbs in I’m and we’ve are clitics.

    Clitics can belong to any grammatical category, although they are commonly pronouns, determiners, or adpositions. Note that orthography is not always a good guide for distinguishing clitics from affixes: clitics may be written as separate words, but sometimes they are joined to the word they depend on (like the Latin clitic -que, meaning “and”), or separated by special characters such as hyphens or apostrophes (like the English clitic ’s in “it’s” for “it has” or “it is”).

  • Affix

    In linguistics, an affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word or word form. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes. Affixation is the linguistic process that speakers use to form different words by adding morphemes at the beginning (prefixation), the middle (infixation) or the end (suffixation) of words.

  • Clitic (noun)

    A morpheme that functions like a word, but never appears as an independent word, instead being always attached to a following or preceding word (or, in some cases, within a surrounding word).

  • Affix (noun)

    That which is affixed; an appendage.


  • Affix (noun)

    A bound morpheme added to the word’s stem’s end.


  • Affix (noun)

    A bound morpheme added to a word’s stem; a prefix, suffix{{,}} etc.



  • Affix (noun)

    The complex number a+bi associated with the point in the Gauss plane with coordinates (a,b).

  • Affix (noun)

    Any small feature, as a figure, a flower, or the like, added for ornament to a vessel or other utensil, to an architectural feature.

  • Affix (verb)

    To attach.

    “join|put together|unite|Thesaurus:join”

    “to affix a stigma to a person”

    “to affix ridicule or blame to somebody”

  • Affix (verb)

    To subjoin, annex, or add at the close or end; to append to.

    “to affix a syllable to a word”

    “to affix a seal to an instrument”

    “to affix one’s name to a writing”

  • Affix (verb)

    To fix or fasten figuratively; with on or upon.

    “eyes affixed upon the ground”

  • Clitic (noun)

    an unstressed word that normally occurs only in combination with another word, for example ‘m in I’m.

  • Affix (verb)

    stick, attach, or fasten (something) to something else

    “panels to which he affixes copies of fine old prints”

  • Affix (verb)

    be able to be fixed

    “the strings affix to the back of the bridge”

  • Affix (noun)

    an addition to the base form or stem of a word in order to modify its meaning or create a new word.

Oxford Dictionary

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