Sound change and alternation


Crasis[1] is a type of contraction in which two vowels or diphthongs merge into one new vowel or diphthong — making one word out of two. Crasis occurs in Portuguese and Arabic as well as in Ancient Greek, where it was first described.



In French, the contractions of determiners are often the results of a vocalisation and a crasis.

For example :

  • de ledu ;
  • de lesdes ;
  • à leau ;
  • en lesès.


In both Ancient Greek and Modern Greek, crasis merges a small word and long word that are closely connected in meaning.

A coronis (κορωνίς korōnís "curved"; plural κορωνίδες korōnídes) marks the vowel from crasis. In ancient times this was an apostrophe placed after the vowel (i.e., τα᾿μά), but today it is written over the vowel and is identical to the smooth breathing (τἀμά). Unlike a coronis, a smooth breathing never occurs on a vowel in the middle of a word (although it occurs on doubled rho: διάῤῥοια diarrhoea).

The article undergoes crasis with various nouns and adjectives starting in a vowel:

  • τὰ ἐμά → τἀμά "my (affairs)"
  • τὸ ἐναντίον → τοὐναντίον "on the contrary"
  • τὸ αὐτό → ταὐτό "the same"
  • τὰ αὐτά → ταὐτά (plural)

καί undergoes crasis with forms of the first-person singular pronoun, producing a long ᾱ (here not written, since it occurs with a coronis):

  • καὶ ἐγώ → κἀγώ "and I", "I too"
  • καὶ ἐμοί → κἀμοί "and to me"

In modern monotonic orthography, the coronis is not written.

Greek contraction

Crasis in English usually refers to merging of words, but in Greek it was more general,[2] and referred to most changes called "contraction" in Greek grammar. (But a contraction in which vowels do not change is synaeresis.)

In Greek contraction, two vowels merge to form a long version of one of the two vowels (e + aā), a diphthong with a different main vowel (a + eiāi), or a new vowel intermediate between the originals (a + oō).

In general, the accent after contraction copies the accent before contraction. Often this means circumflex accent. But for nouns, accent follows the nominative singular. Sometimes this means a different accent from the uncontracted form — i.e., whenever the ending has a long vowel.

Contraction in Greek occurs throughout the present and imperfect of contracted verbs and in the future of other verbs. There are three categories based on the vowel of contraction: a, e, or o.

τιμάω τιμ
τιμάεις τιμς
τιμάει τιμᾷ
τιμάομεν τιμμεν
τιμάετε τιμτε
τιμάουσι τιμσι
φιλέω φιλ
φιλέεις φιλεῖς
φιλέει φιλεῖ
φιλέομεν φιλοῦμεν
φιλέετε φιλεῖτε
φιλέουσι φιλοῦσι
"think right"
ἀξιόω ἀξι
ἀξιόεις αξιοῖς
ἀξιόει ἀξιοῖ
ἀξιόομεν ἀξιοῦμεν
ἀξιόετε ἀξιοῦτε
ἀξιόουσι ἀξιοῦσι

Contraction also occurs in nouns, including the contracted second declension.

ὀστέον ὀστοῦν
ὀστέου ὀστοῦ
ὀστέῳ ὀστ
ὀστέα ὀστ
ὀστέων ὀστν
ὀστέοις ὀστοῖς

S-stem nouns undergo contraction with vowel endings.

-es stem -os stem
γένος   no contraction
γένεος γένους
γένεϊ γένει (synaeresis)
γένεα γένη
γενέων γενῶν
γένεσσι   no contraction
αἰδώς   no contraction
αἰδόος αἰδοῦς
αἰδόϊ αἰδοῖ
αἰδόα αἰδῶ

Some compound nouns show contraction:

  • λειτο-εργίᾱ → λειτουργίᾱ "liturgy"


In Portuguese, the most frequent crasis is the contraction of the preposition a ("to" or "at") with the feminine singular definite article a ("the"), indicated in writing with a grave accent. For example, instead of *Vou a a praia ("I go to the beach"), one says Vou à praia ("I go to-the beach"). This contraction turns the clitic a into the stressed word à.

Crasis also occurs between the preposition a and demonstratives: for instance, when this preposition precedes aquele(s), aquela(s) (meaning "that", "those", in different genders), they contract to àquele(s), àquela(s). In this case, the accent marks a secondary stress.

In addition, the vowel à is pronounced lower than the vowel a in these examples in standard European Portuguese, though this qualitative distinction is generally not made in Brazilian Portuguese.

The crasis is very important and can completely change the meaning of a sentence, for example:

  • Exposta a polícia - The police is exposed
  • Exposta à polícia - She is exposed to the police
  • Glória a rainha - Gloria, the queen
  • Gloria à rainha - Hail the queen!
  • a mulher - Give the woman (to someone)
  • à mulher - Give the woman (something)

See also


  1. ^ κρᾶσις "mixing", "blending": κεράννῡμι "I mix" wine with water; kratēr "mixing-bowl" is related.
  2. ^ "crasis". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Crasis — Cra sis (kr? s?s), n. [LL., temperament, fr. Gr. ????, fr. ???? to mix.] 1. (Med.) A mixture of constituents, as of the blood; constitution; temperament. [1913 Webster] 2. (Gram.) A contraction of two vowels (as the final and initial vowels of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Crasis — (gr.), s. Krasis …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • crasis — index condition (state) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • crasis — noun /ˈkɹeɪsɪs/ a) A mixture or combination. Some men have peculiar symptoms, according to their temperament and crasis, which they had from the stars and those celestial influences [...]. b) The contraction of a vowel or diphthong at the end of… …   Wiktionary

  • crasis — (Del gr. krasis.) ► sustantivo femenino GRAMÁTICA Contracción, fenómeno que consiste en hacer una sola palabra de dos. IRREG. plural crasis * * * crasis 1 f. Gram. *Contracción. 2 Gram. *Sinéresis. * * * ► femenino GRAMÁTICA Contracción muy… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • crasis — /kray sis/, n., pl. crases / seez/. Archaic. composition; constitution; makeup. [1595 1605; < Gk krâsis mixture, blend, equiv. to kra (base of kerannýnai to mix) + sis SIS] * * * ▪ literature       in classical Greek, the contraction of two… …   Universalium

  • crasis — См. crasi …   Пятиязычный словарь лингвистических терминов

  • crasis — sustantivo femenino 1) lengua contracción. 2) medicina constitución, temperamento …   Diccionario de sinónimos y antónimos

  • crasis — n. composition, construction (Archaic) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • crasis — [ kreɪsɪs] noun (plural crases si:z) Phonetics a contraction of two adjacent vowels into one long vowel or diphthong. Origin C16: from Gk krasis mixture …   English new terms dictionary

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