The idea of gramema is used in the field of linguistics to refer to a grammatical morpheme (It is worth mentioning that this is the name it receives in traditional grammar). This is a value linked to a category in the grammar.
A morpheme it is the minimum unit that can be isolated in a morphological analysis. In the case of gramemes, they are morphemes that happen to lexemes (a concept known as base morpheme in traditional grammar) and that allow to point out the grammatical accidents that affect these lexemes. There are grammes of mode, person, time and number.
Precisely, the gramme is a unit of the word that does not have a meaning of type lexicon, that is, it cannot be defined by itself as a word, but rather fulfills a grammatical or syntactic function to complete or specify the meaning of a word.
Take the case of the term “Cats”. This word contains the lexeme “Gat”, the gramema “or” (indicating the masculine gender) and the gram “S” (necessary to indicate the plural). In a similar sense, the term “user” is formed with the lexeme “User” and the gramema “to” (feminine).
It is worth mentioning that in certain words its base morpheme does not require the use of a gramme to indicate its gender, since it does not admit more than one option: while there are «cats» and «cats», there are only «songs». Therefore, the lexeme “song” it only needs to be combined with the gramema “it is” to give rise to the only plural of the word. Furthermore, lexemes can be dependent or independent, while the gramemas are always dependent: the lexeme “And” depends on grammes like “Ar” or “Uve”; the lexeme “Sun” it does not depend on any other morpheme to complete its meaning as “the star at the center of our galaxy”; gramemes cannot be used in isolation in the communication.
Gramemas can also be added to verbs to give them a meaning linked to time, voice and mode. These morphemes do not have morphological independence and must be attached to certain lexemes for the meanings to be specified.
It should be noted that, in addition to adding a meaning to a lexeme, gramemes also allow establishing trademarks that are linked to the agreement between words and phrases.
According to their features, it is possible to classify gramemes as verbal grammes (related to mode, number, person and time), nominal grams (they point to the number and gender), derivative grammes (They do not have morphological independence and must join certain lexemes) and zero gram (no evidence of marks on the lexeme). Derivative grammes, in turn, can be heterogeneous or homogeneous.
We have seen nominal grammes in some of the previous examples, fulfilling their function to complement lexemes for the formation of complete nouns and adjectives, providing their gender and number. This is a fundamental aspect of our language, which distinguishes it from many others in which nouns and adjectives have no gender or, in some cases, no number. Yes, it may seem impossible to imagine but in certain languages, given the word that designates the concept of “cat”, for example, there is no way of knowing if we are talking about one or more or if it is males or females.
Verbal grammes help us to express accidents that in our language they do not correspond to nouns or adjectives, such as the person, the time and the mode, but also for the number. For example: starting from the verb «eat», which itself is composed of the lexeme «com» and the gramme «er», we can say «como», for the first person singular of the present tense of the indicative mood, or «ate» , for the third person plural of the past tense of the subjunctive mood.