What Are Grammatical Accidents? (with Examples)

The grammatical accidents are the changes that can occur in a word when particles are added to the lexeme or inflections thereof, ie, at its root. All lexical units are made up of two basic elements: a lexeme and a morpheme. The first is the base of the word, and is the part that provides the meaning.

The second is an aggregate particle that can give information about gender, number, time, mood, appearance, and person. It is this second part (the morpheme) that creates grammatical accidents.

grammatical accidents

An easy way to understand this concept is to think of word families, for example:


  • Lexema: Cas-
  • Morpheme: -a
  • Derived words: Houses, little house, casota, big house, hamlet, home, among others.

The words that can suffer grammatical accidents in Spanish are:

  1. The nouns, which are modified in gender, number, diminutives and augmentatives.
  2. Adjectives, which are modified in gender and number.
  3. Verbs, which are modified in person, mood, aspect and time.

Grammatical accidents in nouns

Nouns are the words used to name people, objects, and things. For example: house, mountain, Maria, book, eggplant.

Nouns suffer four types of grammatical accidents: gender and number, and diminutives and augmentatives.

Regarding gender, Spanish accepts three inflections: masculine, feminine and neuter (in very few cases). As for the number, the inflections are also two: plural and singular.

For their part, the diminutives are intended to show that an object is small, while the augmentatives report that the object is large. Both inflections can be used to express like or dislike.

Examples of grammatical accidents: gender and number

From now on, the morphemes that generate grammatical accidents will be shown in bold.

Cas a (feminine singular noun).

Carr o (masculine singular noun).

Cas as (plural feminine noun).

Carr os (masculine plural noun).

Doctor (masculine singular noun)

Doctor a (singular feminine noun).

Doctor is (masculine noun / neuter plural).

Doctor as (plural feminine noun).

Psychologist or (singular neuter noun).

Psychologist os (plural noun neuter).

Examples of grammatical accidents: diminutives and augmentatives

Libr ito (small book).

Bob ito (although the noun can be offensive, it can be transformed into an affectionate appellation when the diminutive is used)

Cito fish (small book)

Doctor quote (literally, little doctor, but it can be a derogatory name).

Cucarach ota (large cockroach, can be considered contemptuous).

Cas ota (big house).

Grammatical accidents in adjectives

Adjectives are words that are used to describe nouns. There are several types of adjectives: qualifying and determinative. The determinatives, in turn, are divided into demonstrative, possessive, numeral, indefinite and relative.

Of all these adjectives, only the qualifiers and demonstratives have grammatical accidents.

The grammatical accidents suffered by adjectives are gender and number. Added to this, a few adjectives in Spanish suffer grammatical accidents in their comparative and superlative forms.

Examples of grammatical accidents: gender and number

Good o (qualifying adjective, masculine singular).

Buen a (qualifying adjective, feminine singular).

Buen os (qualifying adjective, masculine plural).

Good ace (qualifying adjective, feminine plural).

Prudent e (qualifying adjective, singular neuter).

Prudent is (qualifying adjective, neuter plural).

Fatal (qualifying adjective, singular neuter).

Fatal is (qualifying adjective, neuter plural).

Examples of grammatical accidents: Comparative and superlative

Grammatical accidents in verbs

Verbs are words that express actions and are divided into two types: auxiliary (such as ser, estar, and haber) and main (such as running, doing, having, playing, among others).

Of the three groups of lexical units that suffer grammatical accidents, the verb is one of the ones that presents the most changes in its form, since they present inflections of person, time, aspect and manner.

Grammatical accident of person

There are six persons: three singular (I, you, him) and three plurals (we, you, them). The form of the verb changes for each person, generating grammatical accidents.

Grammatical accident of time

The time indicates the moment in which the action takes place. In Spanish, there are three verb tenses: past, present and future.


Grammatical accident so

The mode is a grammatical accident that expresses the thought of the speaker before those who are saying. If what is said is true, or is considered to be a fact, the indicative mood will be used. If what is said is an opinion, a wish or a possibility, the subjunctive will be used.

Finally, if what is expressed is an order or a command, the imperative will be used.

The aspect is related to time and refers to the finished or unfinished quality of the action. For example, if you say “I ate” it is because the action has already ended, while if you say “how” the action is in progress.Aspect grammatical accident

In Spanish, two aspects are distinguished: the perfective (for completed actions) and the imperfective (unfinished actions).

Perfective times are all compounds (h e com gone , h opens Safe Journey ado , h nurse inici ado ) and the simple past (com iste , Safe Journey aste , Init IASTE ). All others are imperfective (com ed , Safe Journey to , Safe Journey will arĂ¡ ).


  1. Accidence. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from dictionary.com
  2. Accidence. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from merriam-webster.com
  3. Accidence. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from en.oxforddictionaries.com
  4. Accidence. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from thefreedictionary.com
  5. Accidence. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from en.wiktionary.org
  6. Verbal tenses. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from en.wikipedia.org
  7. Adjectives. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from en.wikipedia.org.

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