What do you call a specific tuple formed by selecting grammatical categories? I mean for instance the combination of "present tense, imperfect, indicative, plural, 3rd person, subjunctive passive voice". Please consider my example regardless of whether it makes sense in English itself, I merely need a term for it.

Basically I am looking for a generalization of the concept of TAV (Tense-Aspect-Mood) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tense-aspect-mood)

As an analogy of what I mean precisely, consider that you have a restaurant with three courses, my particular selection of Soup + Stew + Ice Cream would constitute my order. Similarly, if I (say) select among Tense, Number and Person with a selection of Present + Plural + Third, that selection would be my ...)

  • Why do you think there should be one term? You should clarify whether all of that is marked by one inflection or multiple inflections, because that would make a big difference.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 23:23
  • What is this category intended to describe? A single word? A noun? A verb? Is this set supposed to be an arbitrary subset or one that would completely determine how to synthesize the correct utterance given a root? Can you clarify this in your question?
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 0:50
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    @curiousdannii I would think that it's exactly the other way round: There should be a way to address an abstract feature representation independently of its morphological realisation. Whether the grammatical features are visible in one inflectional morpheme or two or on the surface even not at all is irrelevant to the question of how to account for the underlying feature specification in abstract morpho-syntactic terms. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 11:07
  • @lemontree I agree with that, but perhaps it is a personal view. After all you're getting close to Plato and all that. Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


David Adger (Core Syntax, 2003) calls it (partial or total) feature specification. I would go with that one.

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    @WouterLievens Note that this is not specific to grammatical categories. It is used for any collection of ... well, features that a particular word (semantic), noun (declension), verb (conjugation) or phoneme might have.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 0:45
  • @Mitch Good point, thanks for pointing this out. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 10:59

"Parsing" is the term that is used for this sort of analysis.

  • Sure, but I'm not talking about this sort of analysis. I'm asking for the specific term to denote a combination of grammatical categories. Basically a generalization of Tense-Aspect-Mood for instance (I've put that in the description). Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 20:54
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    I stand to my answer.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 20:56
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    @fdb I have to agree with Wouter Lievens - what you said is not false, but doesn't answer the question in any way. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 20:58
  • fdb: Your answer would be answering "driving" if my question were "what do you call a competition where cars try to reach an objective first". It's not wrong per se, it's just not very helpful. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 21:00

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