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Complementary is a sense relation holding between any pair of predicates <P, Q> that fulfills the following conditions: If a referent x has property P, it cannot have property Q, and if x does not have property P, it has property Q:

P → not Q
not P → Q

Complementarity is a special case of incompatibility.


single: married, male: female

Other languages

German Komplementarität Chinese 互补性


  • Lyons, John. 1968. Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Cruse, A. 2004. Meaning in Language. An Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.