Please excuse the fact that I'm not an academically trained Linguist.

I am working on a computer program with example sentences and their equivalents in different languages.

The idea I am trying to explore is that by compiling a list of example English sentences that encapsulate common speech patterns, having a native of another language add their language equivalents will give us a list of foreign sentences that encapsulate the same meta-grammar concepts.

For example:

English <-> Turkish

grammatical categories: present tense.

  • Joe is coming <=> Joe geliyor

grammatical categories: present tense, with.

  • I'm walking with her <=> Onunla yürüyorum

grammatical categories: present tense, with, together.

  • I am doing it together with Kayla <=> Kayla'yla beraber yapıyoruz

grammatical categories: present tense, interrogative.

  • Are you running? <=> Koşuyor musun?

I've been using https://glossary.sil.org/term/grammatical-category as a reference, but it's not quite what I'm after.

I'm getting stumped very easily. For example, I don't know what to call the grammatical categories appearing in these sentences:

  • Ders çalışmak zor <=> It is hard to study
  • Bulmak kolay <=> It is easy to find
  • Gitmek zor It is hard to go

My questions are as follows:

  1. What I naively refer to as grammatical categories, am I using the right term, or is there a more suitable academically recognised title for such an idea?
  2. Can you suggest any tips or ideas on how I can identify the grammatical categories in a sentence pattern?
  • 1
    1. Yes, you're doing fine. 2. No, it's your theory, so make up whatever categories seem to work best.
    – Greg Lee
    Aug 28, 2018 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


This is a very broad question, and a difficult one, too.

It is difficult, because languages differ in the grammatical categories that are obligatorily expressed, and they differ in how the categories are exactly defined. For a cross-linguistic approach, I suggest reading something about Universal Dependencies, a currently hot proposal for unified tags across different languages.

When you have digested that, you can probably come up with more specific questions.

  • Very interesting! I've been reading through pages on Universal Dependency. How does it relatre/compare to [Natural Semantic Metalanguage](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_semantic_metalanguage ), are they competing schools of thought? Aug 28, 2018 at 15:40
  • 1
    No relation at all, Universal Dependencies deals with grammatical categories, Natural Semantic Metalanguage deals with semantics, so the two things have different domains. Aug 28, 2018 at 15:50

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