I've heard terms like grammatical category and grammatical feature being used for inflectional properties such as number, person, tense, mood, and so on. Gender is commonly included in this list too, but I see a distinct difference with it. Gender describes the lexeme, while the others describe inflections.

Is there an established term for what I'm calling lexeme-describing grammatical features? Is noun class the term I'm looking for? Does this term really cover all bases, as it refers specifically to nouns? If you take all languages into account, don't you find examples of lexeme-describing grammatical features that describe other words than nouns?

  • 1
    Gender is both: in many languages the gender of adjectives agrees with the gender of their nouns. I'm not sure if there's a general term for lexeme categories. Another category though is possession classes. Aktionsart might be considered one for verbs.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 16, 2016 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


Yes, gender is generally a noun class. If you go outside common European languages, you will find that in languages of the world, there is a whole range of non-gender-based noun categories. Even in IE languages, this can shift from Masculine/Feminine/Neuter to Animate/Inanimate but more famous example is e.g. Japanese with its long thin objects category etc. or in linguistic circles even more famouse Dyirbal with classes for a) animate objects, men; b) women, water, fire, violence; c) edible fruit and vegetables; d) miscellaneous.

As for your query about other lexeme-describing grammatical features for other word classes, it is quite possible but it would help if you defined more specifically what you mean by this term you are trying to establish.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.