spaCy Terms Cheat Sheet

December 22, 2022

I am currently learning to deal with Natural Language Processing (NLP) using spaCy. These are the terms that I often end up having to look up.

I wrote a small bash helper function for myself:

# spaCy explain term
function explain() {
    # activate virtualenv here, if necessary
    python -c "from spacy import explain; print(explain('"$_query"'))"


Extracted from spaCy: and polished up a bit. spaCy license: MIT.

POS tags: Universal POS Tags


Term Explanation
ADJ adjective
ADP adposition
ADV adverb
AUX auxiliary
CONJ conjunction
CCONJ coordinating conjunction
DET determiner
INTJ interjection
NOUN noun
NUM numeral
PART particle
PRON pronoun
PROPN proper noun
PUNCT punctuation
SCONJ subordinating conjunction
SYM symbol
VERB verb
X other
EOL end of line
SPACE space

POS tags (English)

From OntoNotes 5 / Penn Treebank, see

Term Explanation
. punctuation mark, sentence closer
, punctuation mark, comma
-LRB- left round bracket
-RRB- right round bracket
\`` opening quotation mark
" : closing quotation mark
'' closing quotation mark
: punctuation mark, colon or ellipsis
$ symbol, currency
# symbol, number sign
AFX affix
CC conjunction, coordinating
CD cardinal number
DT determiner
EX existential there
FW foreign word
HYPH punctuation mark, hyphen
IN conjunction, subordinating or preposition
JJ adjective (English), other noun-modifier (Chinese)
JJR adjective, comparative
JJS adjective, superlative
LS list item marker
MD verb, modal auxiliary
NIL missing tag
NN noun, singular or mass
NNP noun, proper singular
NNPS noun, proper plural
NNS noun, plural
PDT predeterminer
POS possessive ending
PRP pronoun, personal
PRP$ pronoun, possessive
RB adverb
RBR adverb, comparative
RBS adverb, superlative
RP adverb, particle
TO ‘infinitival to
UH interjection
VB verb, base form
VBD verb, past tense
VBG verb, gerund or present participle
VBN verb, past participle
VBP verb, non-3rd person singular present
VBZ verb, 3rd person singular present
WDT wh-determiner
WP wh-pronoun, personal
WP$ wh-pronoun, possessive
WRB wh-adverb
SP space (English), sentence-final particle (Chinese)
ADD email
NFP superfluous punctuation
GW additional word in multi-word expression
XX unknown
BES auxiliary ‘be’
HVS forms of ‘have’
_SP whitespace

POS Tags (German)

From TIGER Treebank, see

Term Explanation
$( other sentence-internal punctuation mark
$, comma
$. sentence-final punctuation mark
ADJA adjective, attributive
ADJD adjective, adverbial or predicative
APPO postposition
APPR preposition; circumposition left
APPRART preposition with article
APZR circumposition right
ART definite or indefinite article
CARD cardinal number
FM foreign language material
ITJ interjection
KOKOM comparative conjunction
KON coordinate conjunction
KOUI ‘subordinate conjunction with zu
KOUS subordinate conjunction with sentence
NE proper noun
NNE proper noun
PAV pronominal adverb
PROAV pronominal adverb
PDAT attributive demonstrative pronoun
PDS substituting demonstrative pronoun
PIAT attributive indefinite pronoun without determiner
PIDAT attributive indefinite pronoun with determiner
PIS substituting indefinite pronoun
PPER non-reflexive personal pronoun
PPOSAT attributive possessive pronoun
PPOSS substituting possessive pronoun
PRELAT attributive relative pronoun
PRELS substituting relative pronoun
PRF reflexive personal pronoun
PTKA particle with adjective or adverb
PTKANT answer particle
PTKNEG negative particle
PTKVZ separable verbal particle
PWAT attributive interrogative pronoun
PWAV adverbial interrogative or relative pronoun
PWS substituting interrogative pronoun
TRUNC word remnant
VAFIN finite verb, auxiliary
VAIMP imperative, auxiliary
VAINF infinitive, auxiliary
VAPP perfect participle, auxiliary
VMFIN finite verb, modal
VMINF infinitive, modal
VMPP perfect participle, modal
VVFIN finite verb, full
VVIMP imperative, full
VVINF infinitive, full
VVIZU ‘infinitive with zu
VVPP perfect participle, full
XY non-word containing non-letter

POS Tags (Chinese)

From OntoNotes / Chinese Penn Treebank, see

Term Explanation
AD adverb
AS aspect marker
BA 把 in ba-construction
CS subordinating conjunction
DEC 的 in a relative clause
DEG associative 的
DER 得 in V-de const. and V-de-R
DEV 地 before VP
ETC for words 等, 等等
IJ interjection
LB 被 in long bei-const
LC localizer
M measure word
MSP other particle
NR proper noun
NT temporal noun
OD ordinal number
ON onomatopoeia
P preposition excluding 把 and 被
PN pronoun
PU punctuation
SB 被 in short bei-const
VA predicative adjective
VC 是 (copula)
VE 有 as the main verb
VV other verb

Noun chunks

Term Explanation
NP noun phrase
PP prepositional phrase
VP verb phrase
ADVP adverb phrase
ADJP adjective phrase
SBAR subordinating conjunction
PRT particle
PNP prepositional noun phrase

Dependency Labels (English)

From ClearNLP / Universal Dependencies, see

Term Explanation
acl clausal modifier of noun (adjectival clause)
acomp adjectival complement
advcl adverbial clause modifier
advmod adverbial modifier
agent agent
amod adjectival modifier
appos appositional modifier
attr attribute
aux auxiliary
auxpass auxiliary (passive)
case case marking
cc coordinating conjunction
ccomp clausal complement
clf classifier
complm complementizer
compound compound
conj conjunct
cop copula
csubj clausal subject
csubjpass clausal subject (passive)
dative dative
dep unclassified dependent
det determiner
discourse discourse element
dislocated dislocated elements
dobj direct object
expl expletive
fixed fixed multiword expression
flat flat multiword expression
goeswith goes with
hmod modifier in hyphenation
hyph hyphen
infmod infinitival modifier
intj interjection
iobj indirect object
list list
mark marker
meta meta modifier
neg negation modifier
nmod modifier of nominal
nn noun compound modifier
npadvmod noun phrase as adverbial modifier
nsubj nominal subject
nsubjpass nominal subject (passive)
nounmod modifier of nominal
npmod noun phrase as adverbial modifier
num number modifier
number number compound modifier
nummod numeric modifier
oprd object predicate
obj object
obl oblique nominal
orphan orphan
parataxis parataxis
partmod participal modifier
pcomp complement of preposition
pobj object of preposition
poss possession modifier
possessive possessive modifier
preconj pre-correlative conjunction
prep prepositional modifier
prt particle
punct punctuation
quantmod modifier of quantifier
rcmod relative clause modifier
relcl relative clause modifier
reparandum overridden disfluency
root root
ROOT root
vocative vocative
xcomp open clausal complement

Dependency labels (German)

From TIGER Treebank, see

currently missing: ‘cc’ (comparative complement) because of conflict with English labels

Term Explanation
ac adpositional case marker
adc adjective component
ag genitive attribute
ams measure argument of adjective
app apposition
avc adverbial phrase component
cd coordinating conjunction
cj conjunct
cm comparative conjunction
cp complementizer
cvc collocational verb construction
da dative
dh discourse-level head
dm discourse marker
ep expletive es
hd head
ju junctor
mnr postnominal modifier
mo modifier
ng negation
nk noun kernel element
nmc numerical component
oa accusative object
oc clausal object
og genitive object
op prepositional object
par parenthetical element
pd predicate
pg phrasal genitive
ph placeholder
pm morphological particle
pnc proper noun component
rc relative clause
re repeated element
rs reported speech
sb subject
sbp passivized subject (PP)
sp subject or predicate
svp separable verb prefix
uc unit component
vo vocative

Named Entity Recognition

From OntoNotes 5, see

Term Explanation
PERSON People, including fictional
NORP Nationalities or religious or political groups
FACILITY Buildings, airports, highways, bridges, etc.
FAC Buildings, airports, highways, bridges, etc.
ORG Companies, agencies, institutions, etc.
GPE Countries, cities, states
LOC Non-GPE locations, mountain ranges, bodies of water
PRODUCT Objects, vehicles, foods, etc. (not services)
EVENT Named hurricanes, battles, wars, sports events, etc.
WORK_OF_ART Titles of books, songs, etc.
LAW Named documents made into laws.
LANGUAGE Any named language
DATE Absolute or relative dates or periods
TIME Times smaller than a day
PERCENT ‘Percentage, including %
MONEY Monetary values, including unit
QUANTITY Measurements, as of weight or distance
ORDINAL ‘first
CARDINAL Numerals that do not fall under another type

Named Entity Recognition (Wikipedia)

See Article 1 and Article 2

Term Explanation
PER Named person or family.
MISC Miscellaneous entities, e.g. events, nationalities, products or works of art

NER Miscellaneous


Term Explanation
EVT Festivals, cultural events, sports events, weather phenomena, wars, etc.
PROD Product, i.e. artificially produced entities including speeches, radio shows, programming languages, contracts, laws and ideas
DRV Words (and phrases?) that are dervied from a name, but not a name in themselves, e.g. ‘Oslo-mannen’ (’the man from Oslo’)
GPE_LOC Geo-political entity, with a locative sense, e.g. ‘John lives in Spain’
GPE_ORG Geo-political entity, with an organisation sense, e.g. ‘Spain declined to meet with Belgium’