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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce inflection (audio)

Dictionary definition of inflection

The way in which the pitch or tone of a person's voice changes when they speak.
"The inflection of his speech changed when he was nervous."

Detailed meaning of inflection

It can also refer to the manner in which the form of a word changes to indicate grammatical information such as tense, mood, person, number, gender, and case.

In the context of speech, inflection refers to the variations in pitch, volume, and intonation that a person uses when speaking, it can indicate emphasis, emotion, or attitude. For example, a question is usually asked with a rising inflection at the end of the sentence, whereas a statement is usually made with a falling inflection.

In linguistics, inflection refers to the changes in the form of words that indicate grammatical relationships, such as tense, mood, person, number, gender, and case. Inflection can be shown by adding suffixes or prefixes to a word, or by changing the internal structure of a word. For example, in English, the verb "to be" changes its form to indicate tense (am, is, are, was, were) and person (I am, you are, he is, etc.) this change of form is an inflection.

In general, inflection is the way in which a word or a sentence can change its form or pronunciation in order to convey different meanings or grammatical information.

Example sentences containing inflection

1. The slight inflection in her voice told me that she was not happy.
2. Inflection in languages is often used to convey specific meanings or tenses.
3. When singing, control over inflection can help to convey a song's emotional nuances.
4. His sudden inflection change made the joke even funnier.
5. The decline of the stock market is a clear inflection point in our economic history.
6. The teacher explained the importance of inflection when learning to read a language.

History and etymology of inflection

The noun 'inflection' has its origins in Latin and is related to the word 'inflectere,' which consists of 'in,' meaning 'in' or 'into,' and 'flectere,' meaning 'to bend' or 'to curve.' In Latin, 'inflectere' was used to describe the bending or altering of the form of words through changes in grammatical endings, a concept central to Latin and many other languages. Over time, 'inflection' took on a broader linguistic sense, referring to the modulation of the pitch, tone, or rhythm of a person's voice when speaking, which can convey nuances of meaning or emotion. The term 'inflection' retains its etymological connection to the idea of bending or altering, as it describes the subtle changes in vocal expression that give language its rich and nuanced character.

Quiz: Find the meaning of inflection

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Further usage examples of inflection

1. She managed to bring life to the characters by using inflection in her narration.
2. Understanding the inflection in the speaker's voice is key to effective communication.
3. The inflection point on the curve showed a significant change in the trend.
4. Inflection can greatly affect the meaning of a sentence in tonal languages.
5. His inflection was filled with sarcasm when he said, "Nice job."
6. The inflection in her tone gave away the surprise.
7. Spanish inflection varies greatly from that in English.
8. The graph displayed an upward inflection, indicating positive growth.
9. The actress's inflection brought authenticity to her role.
10. Spotting the inflection point can be a key to success in investing.
11. An inflection in the voice can express feelings that words alone cannot.
12. The inflection of verbs in Latin can be quite complex.
13. Her voice had an inflection of sadness when she spoke of her home.
14. At the inflection point, the company shifted its marketing strategy.



modulation, monotone, flatness, dullness


SAT 16 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Correspondence and Understanding, Discussion and Argumentation

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