Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Lexical Category


A lexical category is a syntactic category for elements that are part of the lexicon of a language. These elements are at the word level.


Lexical categories may be defined in terms of core notions or 'prototypes'. Given forms may or may not fit neatly in one of the categories (see Analyzing lexical categories). The category membership of a form can vary according to how that form is used in discourse.


There are major and minor lexical categories.

Major categories:

Every language has at least two major lexical categories:

Many languages also have two other major categories:

Minor categories:

Many languages have minor lexical categories such as:


Grammatical categories are distinct from formal relational categories such as subject, object and predicate, or functional categories such as agent, topic or definite.

Also Known As: 
Part of speech
Word class
Grammatical category
Grammatical class