Defining Conjugations for a Lexical Type

If you want to be able to enter conjugations for lexical items then you will need to define a conjugation structure for the lexical type that uses them. This is done on the Inflection tab of the New Lexical Type dialog or the Lexical Type Details dialog, both of which are virtually the same.

To start, select Conjugation from the Inflection dropdown. After that, you'll see 2 lists side-by-side, underneath the dropdown. The one on the left defines conjugation names (sometimes called conjugation descriptors) along with whether each name is a singleton. The list on the right defines conjugation forms. Conjugation forms combine with conjugation descriptors that aren't singletons to create groups of conjugations. When entering a new lexical item, for every conjugation descriptor that isn't a singleton, you'll be able to enter a conjugation for each conjugation form. Also, you'll be able enter one additional conjugation for every singleton. This means that if you define 6 forms and 5 descriptors, one of which is a singleton, then a lexical item will contain 25 possible conjugations (6 forms ´ 4 normal descriptors + 1 singleton).

This may seem confusing until we take a look at an example. When defining the conjugation structure of a verb, a conjugation descriptor is almost always a verb tense, sometimes combined with a mood. Examples of possible descriptors are Present, Past, Present Subjective, Future, etc. Conjugation forms are almost always pronouns that are conjugated differently in each tense, i.e. I, you, he/she/it, they, etc. Examples of singleton descriptors would be Past Participle and Gerund. Of course, the exact tenses will depend on the language that you're learning and, unless you're learning English, you should probably use tense names and pronouns of that language instead of their English equivalents.

Although defining conjugation inflection is most often done for verbs, you may want to use it for other lexical types. For example, Japanese adjectives perform a type of conjugation based on past or present tense and whether they're used in the affirmative or the negative. The decision whether to define conjugation inflection or define inflection rules boils down to how simple or complex the inflection is for lexical items of that type. If you're learning Japanese and you think you would benefit from typing in each adjective conjugation then go ahead and use conjugation inflection. On the other hand, if you think Japanese adjectives inflect in simple, easily understandable ways then perhaps defining inflection rules is a better choice.

Once you've defined all the conjugation descriptors, you can change the order they appear in by moving them up and down the list using the up and down arrow buttons. This has the effect of changing which descriptors are listed first when view or editing a lexical item's conjugations. Simply select the descriptor that you want to move and click the appropriate direction button. The same can be done with conjugation forms. Generally, it's good practice to put the most commonly used descriptors first, but the order of conjugation forms varies.

If you're modifying a lexical type from a language template, you may see a conjugation form labeled column break, which cannot be removed from the list. The position of this text within the list determines whether conjugations for each descriptor are presented in one column or 2 when viewing or editing a lexical item. If the text appears in the first or last position of the list then the conjugations will appear in one column. But if the column break is in the middle of the list then the conjugations corresponding to the forms before the break will appear in the first column while the remaining conjugations appear in a second column. This is primarily used when defining a verb so that singular conjugation forms like I, you, and he/she/it appear in the first column while plural conjugation forms like we, you (plural), and they are in the second column.

When adding or viewing a lexical item, if you want to show the conjugation forms along side each conjugation then mark the checkbox labeled Show form identifiers for each conjugation. Leaving this uncheck means you will be able to see more conjugations at once because you're saving space in lexicon window. However, you'll have to remember the proper order of the conjugation forms to know which is which.