Definition of function word in US English:

function word


  • A word whose purpose is more to signal grammatical relationship than the lexical meaning of a sentence, e.g., do in do you live here?

    • ‘Here, it can be assumed that over sentences, contextual constraints were not always suggesting with the same strength the presence of a function word, which would explain the variation in omission rate among the 24 occurrences of des.’
    • ‘Use function words when they are necessary to clarify a relationship between a subheading and its heading.’
    • ‘The missing-letter effect refers to the phenomenon that letters are more difficult to detect in common function words (such as the) than in content words.’
    • ‘When readers are asked to circle all instances of a target letter while reading a prose passage for comprehension, they miss more target letters embedded in frequent function words than in less frequent content words.’
    • ‘The OE function words (pronouns and articles, conjunctions, prepositions, and auxiliary verbs) remained in ME and largely survive to the present day.’
    • ‘Precisely because writers use these function words without thinking about them, they may offer more reliable fingerprints of a writer's style than unusual words do.’
    • ‘However, as already pointed out, function words (but not nouns) in German have a different capitalization depending on their position within the sentence.’
    • ‘Also, Besner found that shape distortion by case alternation impaired the perceptual identification of function words less than that of content words or nonwords.’
    • ‘Each strong position in the previous line is occupied by the stressed syllable of a content word; each weak position is occupied by a prosodically-weak function word, or by the unstressed syllable of a polysyllabic word.’
    • ‘This option is especially likely to present itself in cases where the function word undergoes phonological reduction, or ‘coalesces’ with its host.’
    • ‘The question is whether establishing the structure based on function words is the same as establishing the structure based on the meaning-laden content words.’
    • ‘This requires adding an occasional letter dropped in speech, leveling forms of dialect, deleting verbal punctuation, dropping in an occasional function word, perhaps changing ‘was’ to ‘were.’’
    • ‘Verb word analysis is initially different from function word analysis since verb words can also have prefixes.’
    • ‘There is no clearcut division between the common words "often" and "sometimes," which seem to belong to the function word class, and words like "frequently," "occasionally," or "seldom," which would usually be described as content words although they occupy the same area of meaning.’
    • ‘Granted, sometimes the repeated function word could be helpful, as in Hacker's example from page 91.’
    • ‘The critical function words in German were the definite articles der, die, and das.’
    • ‘To simulate language acquisition, we tested adults on jabberwocky sentences, where function words and prosodic information were preserved, while all content words were replaced by non-words.’


function word

/ˈfəŋ(k)ʃən ˌwərd//ˈfəNG(k)SHən ˌwərd/