an inflectional or derivational form in which grammatical meaning is expressed morphologically by means of inflections or affixes included within a single word form; it is in contradistinction to an analytic form. Examples of synthetic forms are Russian domami (“houses,” instrumental plural of dom, “house”) and domik (“little house,” diminutive of dom, “house”).
Synthetic forms are typical of inflected and agglutinative languages. A special type of synthetic form occurs in incorporating languages, in which it is used to express not only morphological categories but also syntactic categories. Synthetic forms may coexist with analytic forms in a single language, for example, Russian napishu (“I shall write,” perfective aspect) and budu pisat’ (“I shall be writing,” imperfective aspect). What may be expressed with synthetic forms in one language, may be expressed analytically in others. In the history of a language, synthetic forms may be replaced by analytic forms, as has happened in English. Synthetic forms predominate in Russian. The quantitative relationship between synthetic forms and analytic forms in a language is one parameter in the typological classification of the language.