Canonical features and their interaction with Part of Speech categories Greville G. Corbett Often features are presented as clean, neat, simple. This is understandable, since it is the contrast with the disorderliness of lexical entries which gives the intuitive justification for features. But real life and real languages are more complex. There are many instances where we need to ask whether we genuinely have a feature, or feature value. We must recognize that feature systems vary according to how well founded they are and in how they are distributed across the lexicon, sometimes in principled ways, sometimes almost randomly. In order to talk about this difficult area, the penumbra of feature systems, a canonical approach proves helpful. Having justified this approach, we then consider a set of converging criteria for canonical features and values. This gives us a point in the theoretical space from which to calibrate the difficult instances which abound in feature systems. We ask whether the problems we find are feature-specific or whether they recur in the different morphosyntactic features. This leads to the question of whether they can co-exist. Finally, we address the issue of differentiating canonical morphosyntactic features; since they are idealizations they might appear indistinguishable. We show how at an abstract level, minimal differences allow us to differentiate them. It is here that the interaction with parts of speech proves particularly significant.