The Latin term desĭnens, which derives from desinĕre, came to our language as an ending. This concept is used in the field of grammar to name the inflectional morpheme that is added to a root, especially that of a verb.
The ending, therefore, is a phonological segment that is placed next to the root to indicate a certain accident of inflection (the alteration that the terms experience to codify certain grammatical contents). What the ending allows is to add a grammatical value. See Abbreviation Finder for acronyms related to Ending.
The ending can be said to be a variable ending. In a verb, it makes it possible to indicate the person, the tense, the mood and the number. The root or lexeme, on the other hand, is invariable.
Take the case of the verb to eat. The stem of this verb is com. For the construction of the various verb forms, the different endings or morphemes are added. Thus, conjugated verbs can be constructed such as we will eat, ate, they will eat or they eat, for example. As can be seen, eremos, ió, eran or en is added to the root com, depending on the case.
The endings, in short, incorporate the grammatical accidents that provide more information about the verb. The grammatical meaning, in fact, is given by the presence of the ending that complements the root. Returning to the first of the examples mentioned above, the ending eremos, added to the lexeme com, indicates that the verb has a plural number, refers to an action in the future tense and is conjugated in the indicative mood. This leads to the verb form we will eat (com + we will).
In our language, therefore, the ending plays a fundamental role when putting together a sentence of a certain complexity, since without its presence we cannot provide our interlocutor with all the necessary data to decode the message. The person who performs the action, which can be singular or plural, and the tense in which we conjugate the verb are very important in Spanish, although this does not mean that the same thing happens in all languages.
Foreign students who venture into learning our language often mention that verb conjugations are the most challenging aspect for them. This opinion is usually given by those people whose native languages do not have such a level of complexity in the construction of verbs, since there are others where it is even greater, such as French and Hungarian.
It is hard for us to imagine a language in which it is not enough to take a look at a conjugated verb to know if the subject is “I”, “he” or “you”, for example, and if the action is located in the past, in the future or if it is a condition; but there are many that lack a conjugation based on root and ending like ours, and that really need the other types of words to provide that data in a sentence.
In English, for example, although it is possible to conjugate verbs, it is a rather rudimentary aspect of the language compared to Spanish grammar: English speakers do not have proper «verb tenses», since the same conjugation it can serve to reflect times as disparate as being the Past Perfect Simple of the Indicative Mood and the Past Imperfect of the Subjunctive. With few exceptions, to know who performs the action, the context is usually necessary.
Japanese makes it even more difficult to deduce this and other data just by looking at a verb. From the perspective of the Castilian forms, we can say that this language also applies an ending to its verbs to conjugate them; however, neither the person performing them nor the number can be seen in them. This explains why English speakers and Japanese are in the aforementioned group of students who are surprised by the challenges of our verb conjugation.