We explain what a characteristic is and the differences between general, particular, essential, accessory, objective, subjective and more.

The characteristics of an object distinguish it from other similar objects.

What is a feature?

The characteristics of an object, a person or any referent are those traits, conditions or elements that are peculiar to it, recognizable and that serve to distinguish it from other similar referents. Thus, for example, the characteristics of a dog include its color, its size, its breed, its behavior, its age and everything that helps us to distinguish it from the rest of the animals.

The characteristic word comes from the union of the ancient Greek voice kharax (“brand”) with the suffix -ter, which attributes the quality of agent. In other words, a characteristic is something that "marks" a referent, which allows it to be distinguished from the others.

The same meaning has the adjective characteristic or characteristic when we use it to say that something belongs to someone or something. For example, when we say that "the consumption of fried foods is characteristic of tropical cuisine", we are affirming that the consumption of fried foods is a distinguishing feature of tropical cuisine, compared to the cuisine of other regions of the world.

There are all sorts of features, depending on what you mean. Some types can be:

General characteristics and particular characteristics

The general characteristics are shared by the members of a group or a category, while the particular ones are specific to an individual or a smaller category within the first.

For example, we can say that dogs have general characteristics such as four legs, a snout with teeth, a dark nose, a tail at the end of a body covered with hair, and also that they bark. These traits are general because any dog ​​shares them with the rest of its species. On the other hand, if I want to refer to a specific type of dog, I must go to its particular characteristics, such as, for example, saying that poodles are small dogs, with curly white fur, with a sharp bark and a tendency to be playful. In this, a poodle differs from the rest of the dogs that exist.

Essential features and accessory features

The essential characteristics are those that are fundamental or characteristic of a referent, that is, those that are related to its essence or its natural features. On the other hand, the accessory characteristics are those that may or may not occur, without altering the nature of the referent, that is, those that are less decisive.

For example, we can say that a ball is round, that it bounces off surfaces, and that it is made of rubber, all essential or main characteristics that determine that it is a ball and not some other object, for example, a brick. On the other hand, the color of the ball is an accessory or secondary feature, which can perfectly coincide in the ball and the brick (orange) without both objects becoming part of the same category, that is, by the simple fact if they are orange, neither does the brick become a ball, nor does the ball become a brick.

Objective characteristics and subjective characteristics

Objective characteristics are those that do not depend on the point of view or the opinion of the observer, while the subjective ones vary depending on how each person sees it.

For example, we can say that a dog is large, that it is gray in color, that it barks loudly, or that it is missing a hind leg, and any other observer will agree with us when observing the same dog, since these traits have no meaning. to do with my personal opinion of the dog. These are objective characteristics. On the other hand, if I say that the same dog is beautiful, friendly or annoying, it may be that another observer does not agree with this assessment, since these are subjective characteristics.

Exterior features and interior features

Exterior features are those that can perceived at first sight, since they are superficial, while the interior ones require an internal examination, since they are deep.

For example, we can say that a book is thick, that it has hard covers, that it has a colored cover, or that it is from this or that author and/or publisher. These are its exterior features. On the other hand, what typeface it has, how many pages it has, what genre it belongs to or how it is structured is something that we can find out only by opening the book and reviewing its content.

Physical characteristics and psychological characteristics

Physical characteristics are those that have to do with the tangible aspects of a person or an item. Instead, psychological characteristics describe only the way people think and react.

For example, we can say that a person is tall or short, fat or skinny, muscular or not, blonde or redheaded or brunette, and we will be attending to their physical characteristics, that is, to the shape of their body. On the other hand, if we talk about psychological, emotional or behavioral characteristics, we must refer to whether he is someone friendly or hostile, if he is participative or apathetic, if he is honest or a liar, among other traits related to the way of being and not to the physical.

These are just a few examples of possible types of features.Everything around us has remarkable characteristics, and the action of observing and determining the characteristics of an object or referent is called characterizing. Thus, when we characterize someone or something, what we are doing is determining their different types of traits.

Finally, they are synonymous with characteristic: feature, aspect, element, attribute, profile, quality, particularity and property.

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