Characteristics of the Maltese language in AX Semantics


In Maltese, you need to know the number and gender of a noun to form the accompanying adjectives, determiners, pronouns and numerals correctly.

Maltese has two genders for nouns: masculine and feminine. There are two numbers: singular and plural. Additionally, Maltese only has the nominative case.

grammatical namevaluesexamples
numbersingularkelma tajba
(a good word)
dualżewġ kelmtejn tajbin
(two good words)
pluralkliem tajjeb
(good words)
(the house)
adjectives (noun)after nountuffieħ aħmar
(red apple)
verb tensesimperfectHuwa jikteb
(he writes)
pastHuwa kiteb
(he wrote)

The standard order of a noun phrase in Maltese is the following: preposition + determiner + numeral + noun + adjective. See for example:

dwar   dawn it-tliet kantanti popolari
(about these   three singers  popular)
"about these three popular singers"



Maltese nouns inflect for number. Nouns should be added to the lexicon if they do not inflect regularly.

Lexicon entries for nouns may also be necessary for inflecting determiners and pronouns correctly. They are omitted, if a lexicon entry is required, but missing.


The basic lexicon entry for jum (day) contains:

  • gender: masculine
  • inflection table for number:


In Maltese, adjectives inflect for number and gender. The default position for Maltese adjective is "after noun".


Maltese verbs inflect for tense, number, person, and gender. The most common verbs are encoded in our software. If a verb inflects incorrectly, you should add it to the lexicon.

Container settings


The AX NLG platform supports the following determiners for Maltese: definite, demonstratives (proximal + distal), and possessive. Definiteness is expressed by adding the definite article "il-" before a noun. For example:

kollega (colleague)
il-kollega (the colleague)

Additionally, demonstratives (e.g., dan (this)) require a definite article, for example:

dan il-kollega (this colleague)

Possessive determiners also require a definite article which proceeds the noun while possessives (e.g., tiegħi (my)) stay after it, for example:

il-kelb (the dog)
il-kollega tiegħi(my colleague)

Prepositions and determiners: contractions

On the AX NLG platform prepositions are automatically joined with determiners (e.g. prepositions such as bi, fi, lil, minn, ma, or ta). For example, the preposition ma is contracted with the definite article il-:

mal-mara (with the woman) [ma + il- = mal-]


The AX NLG platform supports the following pronouns for Maltese: demonstrative (proximal + distal), personal, and possessive (third person).


Four types of numerals are possible on the AX NLG platform: cardinal, cardinal as digit, ordinal, and ordinal as digit. Take jum (day) for example:

textdisat ijiem
(nine days)
id-disa’ jum
(the ninth day)
digit9 ijiem
(9 days)
9. jum
(the 9th day)

For Maltese, both cardinal and ordinal numerals are written out until 10 on the platform, otherwise (above 10) the output is in digit form. Take cardinal numerals for example:

għaxar karozzi
(ten cars)
11 karozzi
(11 cars)

Determiner switch

Determiners can be switched according to lexical information. If you set the determiner switch for a specific noun in the lexicon, it will automatically switch to another determiner when you add the determiner you intend to switch in the container. The container setting for Kreta in the first example is the following: preposition="minn", determiner is unset (blank), and case="nominative".

minn Kreta
(from Crete)

In the second example, the container settings for Maldivi (Maldives) are still: preposition="minn", determiner is unset (blank), and case="nominative". However, the determiner switches from none to definite, because it is configured in the lexicon entry for Maldivi. As the result, the preposition minn + definite determiner are contracted to "mill-".

(from the Maldives)


If the lexicon entry of a country includes a switch from none to definite, there is still a way to use the country without the article (e.g., just "Maldives"). The determiner will always remain none by setting determiner=none in the container. Only an unset determiner (blank) triggers the switch from none to another determiner.

Preposition switch

Again, for both examples below the container settings on the AX NLG platform are the same: preposition="għal" and case="nom".

għal Franza
(to France)
lejn l-Istati Uniti
(to the United State)

In the second example, however, the lexical information indicates a preposition switch and changes the preposition from għal to lejn.