from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Under Suppletion (from latin supplere complement 'also Suppletivismus ) is understood in the linguistics the formation of various forms of a word inflectional paradigm using the "different" roots . In contrast, there are non-suppletivic paradigms in which all forms can be traced back to the same root. Supplementary systems occur mainly for frequently used words.



Take three adjectives as an example . In the first line there is a German non-suppletivic paradigm (hell), in the second a German suppletivic (good). In the third line there is a Latin suppletivic adjective ( bonus , which also means “good”) to demonstrate that a suppletive system (short for “suppletivic paradigm”) can extend to the whole paradigm.

positive comparative superlative
German , non-suppletivisch bright brighter the brightest
German, suppletivisch Well better preferably
Latin , suppletivic bonus melior optimus


Many Indo-European languages have supplementary systems in the verbs :

infinitive Present preterite Perfect
German be am was been
English go go went gone
Latin eat sum he at fuisse


In Indo-European languages, suppletion is less common in nouns .

Singular Plural
English person people
German Miner Miners
Breton ki ('dog') chas ('dogs')
Breton buoc'h ('cow') saout ('cows')

Differentiation from other stem changes

Change of stem by umlaut and ablaut

In German and the Germanic languages ​​in general, there is often a change in the stem in the paradigm due to umlaut or ablaut . Even if the stem of the word changes as a result, this is not a suppletion, because the original stem remains the same:

  • strong - stronger - strongest
  • sing - sang - sung

Strain change through sound change

The change from genu s to gen r is (Latin for “birth”, “descent”) is not a suppletion, but is based on a phonetic process: / s / between vowels changed in the pre-classical period to / r / ( Rhotazism ) .


  1. Non-supplementary flexion paradigms do not have to be regular. Think of the Irish bean, nominative plural mná, which is not regular, but can be derived from a single Urindo-European tribe. This is a stem change through sound change .
  2. The Little Stowasser. Latin-German school dictionary, 1991 edition, ISBN 3-209-00225-8 , p. XVII, § 29.


  • Werner Beckmann. Suppletion in Low German (= Low German Studies. Volume 47). Böhlau, Cologne 2002, ISBN 978-3-412-06100-5 .