Particle

This is a grammatical term for a word which has little meaning attached to it and does not obviously belong to any of the parts of speech but performs a grammatical or formal function. Examples of these in English are not and the prepositions or adverbs that are in phrasal verbs e.g. look up, look after.  We can see that in this context they don’t perform their usual grammatical function or retain their usual meaning.

Example

"In Chinese there are particles that show that a sentence is in the past or is a question."

Further reading

Carter, R. and McCarthy, M. (2006). Cambridge Grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_particle

 

 

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