AskDefine | Define inchoative

Dictionary Definition

inchoative adj : beginning to develop; "inchoative stages" [syn: formative]

User Contributed Dictionary



From inchoate + adjective suffix -ive


  • IPA: /ɪnˈkoʊətɪv/


  1. at the beginning, still in an unformed state
    • 1858: Thomas Carlyle, History Of Friedrich II Of Prussia - Our first Piece is of Winter, or late Autumn, 1771,--while the solution of the Polish Business is still in its inchoative stages;...
  2. aspectually indicating that an action is soon to begin
    Some languages with the inchoative aspect use the same inflection for the inceptive aspect. The inchoative aspect is often translated into English by "to be about [to do something]". See the Wikipedia article on inchoative aspect.
  3. inflected in or relating to the inchoative aspect

Related terms

Extensive Definition

The term inchoative is often confused with inceptive. Inceptive is a phasal aspect that is normally associated with the inception, or beginning of an action. Inchoative on the other hand, refers to a verbal, nominal or adjectival category that describes entering into a state. Some languages have inchoative denominalizing suffixes that, when applied to a noun N, derive a verb that means to become an N. When applied to an adjective A, the resulting verb means to take on the property A. Often, inchoative suffixes can also be attached to stative verbs (V) to derive a new verb that means enter into the state of V, e.g., know-INCHOATIVE would mean come to know, or meet. This usage borders on the function of inceptive aspect, and is, therefore the source of the inceptive/inchoative confusion. Inceptive aspect markers can occur on any kind of verb, stative or dynamic, and are not, generally, uses as denominalizers. Inchoative markers, on the other hand, do not normally function with dynamic verbs, and are often also denominalizers.
The term Inchoative verb is used by generative grammarians to refer to a class of verbs that reflect a change of state. e.g., John aged or The fog cleared.

See also

inchoative in German: Inchoativ
inchoative in French: Aspect inchoatif
inchoative in Swedish: Inkoativ
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