Fundamental Linguistic Knowledge in AX Semantics

For every language, the AX NLG platform provides:

  • Noun containers: combine prepositions, determiners, numerals, adjectives, and nouns in a phrase.
  • Pronoun containers: include a preposition and a pronoun, which replaces a noun
  • Verb containers: verb

The concept of a "lemma" is crucial for the container. It refers to the base form of a word, disregarding inflections. For example, the lemma of the verb "running" is "run", and the lemma for the noun "dogs" is "dog".


Nouns are words that refer to a person, place, thing, etc. Depending on the language, nouns can have various properties such as gender, animacy, and number.


The gender of a noun often affects the grammatical agreement of the determiner, adjective, or pronoun in noun phrases. The concept of gender varies from language to language.

For example, the gender of a German noun is not necessarily related to its biological gender or its meaning. However, in English, only a few nouns have gender-specific forms, such as "actress" for a female actor. In most cases, English nouns are gender-neutral, and the gender of the person or thing referred to is indicated by pronouns or adjectives.

masculineder Schauspieler
(the actor)
the actor
femininedie Schauspielerin
(the actress)
the actress
neuterdas Mädchen
(the girl)
the car

Additionally, genderless languages such as Finnish, Hungarian, and Turkish are languages that do not have grammatical gender.


Animacy is the grammatical distinction between living beings and inanimate objects. Some languages may have a more extensive system of animacy distinctions, while others may have a simpler system or no system at all.

In German and English, animacy is often reflected in the use of pronouns (e.g. he/she vs. it in English). In Polish, animacy is also reflected in the choice of verb conjugation and noun declension, as well as in the use of pronouns and adjectives.

animateDie Männer waren alt.
(The men were old.)
Mężczyźni byli starzy.
(The men were old.)
inanimateDie Tische waren alt.
(The tables were old.)
Stoły były stare.
(The tables were old.)


The concept of number refers to the grammatical distinction between singular, dual or plural forms of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, or verbs. Singular forms refer to a single entity, while plural forms refer to multiple entities. Most languages have two numbers: singular and plural. Some languages also have dual forms that refer to two entities.

singular"ein Buch" (one book)"ena knjiga" (one book)
plural"zwei Bücher" (two books)"šest knjig" (six books)
dual-"dve knjigi" (two books)


The grammatical case is used to show the syntactic or semantic function of a word in a sentence, such as whether it is a subject, object, or possessive one. Different languages use different sets of cases, each with its own specific meanings and functions. You can find all cases used in a language in its languages specific reference. In German, there are four cases: nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. On the other hand, there are six cases in Russian.

Below are examples of grammatical cases for the noun "house" in German ("Haus") and Russian ("дом"):

Nominativeindicate the subject of a sentenceDas Haus liegt an der Straße.
(The house is on the street.)
Дом стоит на улице.
(The house is on the street.)
Genitiveindicate possession or attributionDas Fenster des Hauses ist offen.
(The window of the house is open.)
Окно дома открыто.
(The window of the house is open.)
Dativeindicate the indirect object of a verbIch habe dem Haus neue Vorhänge verpasst.
(I gave the house new curtains.)
Я подарил дому новые шторы.
(I gave the house new curtains.)
Accusativeindicate the direct object of a verbIch sehe das Haus.
(I see the house.)
Я вижу дом.
(I see the house.)
Instrumentalindicate the means or instrument by which an action is performed-Я зарабатываю деньги с домом.
(I make money with the house.)
Prepositionalindicate location or mark the object of a preposition-Я живу в доме.
(I live in the house.)

Head and head noun

The concept of "head" determines the syntactic category of a phrase. For instance, in the phrase "the big red dog", "dog" is the head and determines that the phrase is a noun phrase.

The "head" can be a head noun within a noun phrase or compound, or a head adjective within an adjective phrase or compound. To illustrate, consider the following examples:

die schwarze Katze [the black cat] -> head noun = Katze [cat]
eng verwandt [closely related] -> head adjective = verwandt [related]

Apfelbaum [apple tree] -> head noun = Baum [tree]
feuerrot [firered] -> head adjective = rot [red]

Furthermore, the “head” also defines grammatical information (e.g., gender or number). Thus, assigning a headnoun is helpful when dealing with ambiguous nouns like “Samsung”, where the gender typically mirrors that of the implied common noun.

As an example, in the German phrases below, assigning a headnoun to "Samsung”, such as "Telefon" or "Fernseher", facilitates the use of the corresponding determiners.

das Samsung (headnoun = Telefon [neuter singular])
der Samsung (headnoun = Fernseher [masculine singular])

In summary, the practice of editing a head or assigning a headnoun helps to establish a clear grammatical context.


Adjectives are descriptive words that provide more information about the characteristics, qualities, or attributes of a noun or pronoun. In some languages adjectives can stand before or after the noun, depending on their meaning. They can be influenced by several grammatical features, including grammatical gender, number, case, and animacy.

The example below shows the change of adjectives depending on grammatical gender, number, case, and animacy:

grammatical featureGermanRussian
gender- Masculine: alter Mann (old man)
- Feminine: alte Frau (old woman)
- Masculine: красивый дом (beautiful house)
- Feminine: красивая девушка (beautiful girl)
number- Singular: alter Mann (old man)
- Plural: alte Männer (old men)
- Singular: красивый дом (beautiful house)
- Plural: красивые дома (beautiful houses)
case- Nominative: der alte Mann
- Accusative: den alten Mann
- Dative: dem alten Mann
- Genitive: des alten Mannes
- Nominative: красивый дом
- Accusative: красивый дом
- Dative: красивому дому
- Genitive: красивого дома
animacy-- Animate: [Я вижу] красивого мужчину ([I see] the beautiful man)
- Inanimate: [Я вижу] красивый стол ([I see] the beautiful table)


Determiners accompany a noun and are used to show the specificity of the noun, such as whether it is definite or indefinite, to indicate the quantity of the noun, or to indicate the distance of the noun. They can be used to indicate possession, such as "my" or "his".

Determiners can therefore be divided into different types for different languages, including articles, demonstratives, possessive determiners, quantifiers, and interrogative determiners.

determiner typedefinitionGermanFrench
indefiniterefer to a general or unspecified nounein Mann
(a man)
une voiture
(a car)
definiterefer to a specific nounder Mann
(the man)
la voiture
(the car)
demonstrativedistinguish one object from another or indicate proximity or distancedieser Mann
(this man)
cette voiture
(this car)
distalknown as remote demonstratives, refer to items that are far away from the speaker or listenerjener Mann
(that man)
celle-là voiture
(that car over there)
possessivesindicate possession or ownership of a nounmein Haus
(my house)
ma voiture
(my car)
quantifierindicate the general quantity or amount of a nounjeder Mann
(every Man)
chaque voiture
(every car)
Interrogativeask questions about a nounwelcher Mann
(which man)
quelle voiture?
(which car?)

The form of a determiner can depend on the gender, number, or case of the noun it modifies.

Additionally, several languages do not have the concept of definite and indefinite articles (i.e., Chinese, Russian, Turkish, Slovene, and Finnish). The absence of articles in a language does not necessarily mean that the concept of definiteness or indefiniteness is not presented. In many cases, these concepts are expressed through other means, such as the use of demonstrative pronouns, word order, or context.


Pronouns are words used to replace nouns in a sentence. They can be used to refer back to the noun and avoid redundancy. Pronouns must agree with gender, number, case, or animacy with the noun they are referring to.

pronoun typedefinitionEnglishGerman
personalrefer to a person or peopleI, you, he, she, it, we, you, theyich, du er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie
demonstrative/definitepronouns point to specific things or peoplethis, that, these, thosedieser, jener, diese, jene
possessiveindicate ownership or possession of a nounmine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirsmeiner, deiner, seiner, ihrer, seiner, unserer, euer, ihrer

As shown in the example below, possessive pronouns usually have a possessor: sie/she [fem. sg.] and a possessed object (possessee): Telefon/phone[neut. sg.]. The possessive pronoun ihres/hers can replace "ihr Telefon/her phone".

German: [Sie] besitzt ein [Telefon]. [Ihres] ist schwarz.
English: [She] has got a [phone]. [Hers] is black.

Pronouns can vary greatly between different languages in terms of their forms, usage, and the number of pronouns that exist in a language. For example, Turkish has a separate pronoun for inclusive "we" (including the speaker) and exclusive "we" (excluding the speaker), while other languages, such as English, do not make this distinction.


An adposition refers to a word (or set of words) that is used to express the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. Adpositions can be prepositions, which come before the noun or pronoun, or postpositions, which come after the noun or pronoun.

There are several languages such as Japanese, Hungarian, and Estonian that predominantly use postpositions rather than prepositions. Most languages like German and English mainly use prepositions. The following examples show adpositions in different languages:

preposition"go to school""zur Schule gehen"
(go to school)
postposition"ten years ago""meiner Meinung nach"
(in my opinion)
"az iskola mellett"
(next to school)
"学校行きます" [gakkou ni ikimasu]
(I am going to school.)

Note that on the AX NLG platform, for languages with postpositions the preposition field is used for postpositions and accordingly puts them at the end of the phrase despite its name in the container settings.


Conjunctions are words that connect or link two or more words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence. The use of conjunctions can also be affected by the grammar of the language.

coordinating conjunctions- or: "a sweater or a scarf"
- and: "black and white socks"
- oder: "ein Pullover oder ein Halstuch"
- und: "schwarze und weiße Socken"


A numeral is a word that represents a number, quantity, or measurement. Numerals can be classified into different types based on their function, such as cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers in the below example. Numerals can also vary based on their forms, such as digital numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) and spoken numerals (one, two, three, etc.).

cardinalused for counting and indicating the quantityone, two, three
ordinalused for indicating order or rankfirst, second, third

In some languages, numerals change their form based on the case and number of the noun they are modifying.

For example, in Polish and Russian, the case and number for nouns/adjectives change based on the preceding numeral.


A verb is a word that describes an action, occurrence, or state of being. Verbs have the following grammatical features that allow them to express different aspects of action and time:


Tense indicates when an action takes place (e.g. past, present, or future). In many languages, particularly in European grammar, the term "tense" is applied to verb forms or constructions that express not merely position in time, which might entail the concept of aspect (completion of an action), mood (speaker's attitude is real or hypothetical), and voice (active or passive relationship between subject and action).

On the AX NLG platform, we combine tense with aspect, mood, and voice in the tense field of verb containers as well.

grammatical featuresEnglishGerman
Tense- Past: "I walked to the store yesterday"
- Future: "She will sing in the concert tonight"
- Present: "Ich spiele (I play)"
Aspect- Present Progressive: "I am walking to the store"
- Past Perfect Progressive: "He had been studying for hours"
- Perfect: "Ich habe gespielt (I have played)"
Mood- Indicative: "She is happy."- subjunctive (hypothetical): "Wenn ich glücklich wäre, würde ich feiern. (If I were happy, I would celebrate.)"
Voice- Active: "The cat chased the mouse."
- Passive: "The mouse was chased by the cat."
- Active: "Der Hund beißt den Mann. (The dog bites the man.)"
- Passive: "Der Mann wird vom Hund gebissen." (The man is bitten by the dog.)


"Person" refers to the relationship between the subject and the verb. It indicates who is performing the action described by the verb. Most importantly, verb forms might inflect differently according to person. In English and German, there are three persons: first person, second person, and third person, and each can be in either singular or plural form.

Take English for example:

  • First person singular: "I" (e.g., "I run.")
  • Second person singular: "you" (e.g., "You run.")
  • Third person singular: "he/she/it" (e.g., "He runs," "She runs," "It runs.")
  • First person plural: "we" (e.g., "We run.")
  • Second person plural: "you" (e.g., "You all run.", referring to a group of people)
  • Third person plural: "they", (e.g., "They run.")

Compound Verb

A compound verb is a multi-word verb made up of one or more auxiliary verbs plus a main verb. In a compound verb, the main verb expresses the main action, while the auxiliary verb(s) provides additional information such as tense, aspect, or mood.

See some examples of compound verbs in German below:

"Ich habe gegessen" (I have eaten)
"Sie wird gehen müssen" (She will have to go)
"Wir sind schwimmen gegangen" (We went swimming)

In these examples, the compound verb consists of a conjugated auxiliary verb (haben, müssen, sein) and a main verb.

In Slavic languages such as Polish, Czech, or Slovak, compound verbs are relatively common and can be quite complex.

Phonological phenomenon

Phonological phenomena refer to systematic patterns in the sound systems of languages. These patterns can include vowel harmony or sound shifts in different languages.

Vowel harmonySound shifts
definitionvowel harmony means that inflection suffixes have different variants, that are used depending on what kind of vowels a word containsvowel or consonant changes, such as voicing or place of articulation changes, sound shift includes palatalization and consonant shift/gradation, and consonant assimilation
Finnish examplepöly (dust) + sta (elative suffix) -> pölystä (about dust)lippu (flag, nom sg) -> liput (flags, nom pl)
languageFinnish, Hungarian, Korean, Romanian, Turkey- Sound shift in Icelandic, consonant shift/gradation in Finnish
- Palatalization in Croation , Serbian
- Consonant assimilation in Turkish