Actually, I want to know what are the factors to notice in determining semantic features of different parts of speech.

I recognize some of them like +/- animate, +/- human, +/- male, and +/- young.

But are there any other features? For example, how can I identify different semantic features for words such as book and notebook?

  • Yes, there are lots of them. Most of them aren't +/- binary features, though. A short list of semantic features (for entities -- aka nouny words -- only) can be found here, and a reading guide to the book it came from can be found here.
    – jlawler
    Feb 23, 2014 at 19:07
  • Thank you jlawler for your reply. I can't access your first link which is about list of semantic features. Could you upload it for me? Thanks a million.
    – zahra
    Feb 24, 2014 at 19:07
  • Sorry; I mistyped the link. Here it is, corrected: umich.edu/~jlawler/meta4/FrawleyEntities.pdf
    – jlawler
    Feb 24, 2014 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


A good start could be to look into how WordNet classifies words. WordNet uses hyponymy and hypernymy to establish semantic relationships between synsets.

For example, if you look for 'book', you get the following derivation:

book < publication < work < product < creation < artifact < unit < object


If you look at Altaic languages (e.g., Korean, Japanese, etc.) you will find that they have highly developed semantic features that may possibly be applied.

In Korean you can find features such as +/- action, +/- abstract, +/- count, etc. The list goes on in Altaic languages, so these may be a good place to look when considering different types of semantic features.

In English, while we do not necessarily have as overt of a semantic feature bundle system, it is not entirely unheard of in the language.

Consider the three transitive verbs 'sit' (e.g., The clock sits on the desk), 'lie' (e.g, The watch lies on the desk), 'stand'(e.g., The vase stands on the desk).

The types of items which can 'sit' might be classified as -animate, +compact (or some designation of the sort). Consider bowls, telephones, etc.

The types of items which can 'lie' might be classified as -animate, + flat. Consider sheets of paper, rulers, shirts, etc..

The types of items which can 'stand' might be classified as -animate, +tall. Consider chairs, tables, lamps, etc.

The idea is that we refer semantically interpret these items in the same manner that we interpret phonological features, which is to say we do it more or less unconsciously.

  • Those verbs identify the orientation of an object, not its type, so they aren't of much use in classifying nouns. Some verbs do identify nouns as abstract/physical or mobile/immobile.
    – amI
    Nov 30, 2018 at 12:49

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