Auxiliary Word

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Auxiliary Word


a word that does not have a denominative function in a language but serves to express semantic and syntactic relationships between words with lexical meaning. Unlike words with lexical meaning, auxiliary words are not sentence constituents.

Most auxiliary words originate as a result of a semantic change in words that have lost their lexical meanings. Auxiliary words can be classified as prepositions and postpositions, conjunctions, particles, prepositive and postpositive articles, and the suffix known in Persian as the ezafeh. The ezafeh expresses an attributive relationship; one example is the unstressed -e (after a vowel, -ye) in Persian, as in ketab-e baradar (“brother’s book”). Some linguists regard as auxiliary words the various auxiliary verbs that have only a grammatical function; among the Indo-European languages, these verbs include the Russian byt’, the French être and avoir, the English “be” and “have,” and the German sein and haben. There is some argument as to whether negative verbs in Dravidian and Finno-Ugric languages (Baltic-Finnic, Mari, Permian) are auxiliary words. Auxiliary words are represented to a greater extent in analytic languages, such as the Romance and Germanic languages (especially English), than in synthetic languages, such as Russian. The function of auxiliary words in agglutinative languages is more limited. In languages with an isolating structure, auxiliary words play a large role; in Chinese, for example, they may be used in attributive, relative, adverbial, and modal functions.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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