A comparative study is presented of language biases employed in specific-to-general learning systems within the Inductive Logic Programming (ILP) paradigm. More specifically, we focus on the biases employed in three well known systems: CLINT, GOLEM and ITOU, and evaluate both conceptually and empirically their strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation is carried out within the generic framework of the NINA system, in which bias is a parameter. Two different types of biases are considered: syntactic bias, which defines the set of well-formed clauses, and semantic bias, which imposes restrictions on the behaviour of hypotheses or clauses. NINA is also able to shift its bias (within a predefined series of biases), whenever its current bias is insufficient for finding complete and consistent concept definitions. Furthermore, a new formalism for specifying the syntactic bias of inductive logic programming systems is introduced.