There are many named concepts which relate to verbs across many languages.

The three most well known would be tense, aspect, and mood. But person, number, and voice are others, and there must be many more.

But should I call these "properties" of a verb, "charecteristics", "features", "categories"? Is there one term which is mostly used as a cover term for these and other verbal concepts when considered as a whole?

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the terms "TAM" or "screeve" which are used to describe verb inflections that result from the interaction of say tense and mood. I'm talking about what word to use in the sentence "Aspect and mood are two XXX's of verbs". What term belongs in the place of XXX?

It's also possible that the same term might apply to concepts encoded in other parts of speech. For instance "Number and case are two YYY's of nouns"...

  • hippietrail, do you really need to use all of that bold, and bold + italics? There's no hard rule for that, but if bold/italics are meant to highlight important words/concepts, then your use is kind of counterproductive... :P
    – Alenanno
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 19:21
  • @Alenanno: Well the italics was a kind of quoting for terminology and the bold was for highlighting. In this post I found some terms fell into both categories. But feel free to change it if you feel it's not in the spirit of the site. I often bold the main question in my SE posts these days after having some feedback that the questions were hard to find in some cases where I ramble a bit (-: Commented May 30, 2012 at 19:30
  • No no, it doesn't have to do with the "spirit of the site"... It was a general observation that could apply in any online board... :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 22:27

2 Answers 2


You can call them "properties" or "characteristics" in everyday language, but these aren't linguistic terms that imply any particular framework/analysis.

Depending on your analysis, "features" would be a more appropriate linguistic term, though quite general. You could more specifically call them morphosyntactic features.

The term (inflectional/morphosyntactic) dimensions is also sometimes used.


It's not the case that the things you mention (TAM, person, number, voice) are always and/or only expressed on the verb, but it is true to say that this is very common. There is no fixed way within linguistics of talking about this, but it would be pretty typical to refer to these (eg aspect and mood) as functional categories that are commonly expressed formally on the verb. For some languages it would be true to say that (eg) the functional categories of aspect and mood are formally expressed by nominal morphology.

  • Yes I've wondered this question for ages but since I actually asked it here I've been noticing that "category" seems to be more consistently used for some concepts than others. One paper I've been reading lately even seemed to oppose the terms "category" and "property". Commented Jun 2, 2012 at 7:55

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