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In linguistics, a closed class (or closed word class) is a word class to which no new items can normally be added, and that usually contains a relatively small number of items. Typical closed classes found in many languages are [1]:-

  • Closed word classes:
    • Auxiliary verbs
    • Cardinal numbers
    • Clitics
    • Contractions
    • Coverbs
    • Conjunctions
    • Determiners (Articles, Quantifiers, Demonstrative adjectives, and Possessive adjectives)
    • Particles
    • Measure words
    • Adpositions (prepositions, postpositions, and circumpositions)
    • Preverbs
    • Pronouns

Contrastingly, an open class offers possibilities for expansion. Typical open classes such as nouns and verbs can and do get new words often, through the usual means such as compounding, derivation, coining, borrowing, etc. [2]

A closed class may get new items through these same processes, but the change takes much more time. The closed class is normally viewed as part of the core language and is not expected to change. Most readers can undoubtedly think of new nouns or verbs entering their lexicon, but it's very unlikely that they can recall any new prepositions or pronouns appearing in the same fashion.

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