Parts of Speech

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  • Imagine words as a bustling city. Nouns are the towering skyscrapers, verbs are the lively traffic, adjectives are the colorful street signs, and so on. Each word plays a specific role, and understanding these roles is like learning the city's language. That's what parts of speech are all about!

Introduction to Parts of Speech

Parts of Speech refer to the distinct categories into which words are classified based on their syntactic and semantic functions within a sentence. These categories encompass the various natures of words that collectively contribute to the structure and meaning of what we express, both in spoken and written language.

In other words, Parts of Speech are meant the different nature of all the words which compose a sentenceOpens in new window; or every word that add up what we may either say or write.

In English, Parts of Speech are divided into Eight (8) Categories, they include:

However, some grammarians tend to include the determinerOpens in new window into this group of word-classes. Invariably, English has 9 Parts of Speech.

Mastering parts of speech will not only make you recognize the different parts of speech from which sentences are formed, it would also help you understand basic sentence structure in English language.

We’ll spend the remainder of this study delving briefly into each of the nine parts of speech.

1.     Noun

A nounOpens in new window is a naming word that identifies a person, place, thing, or idea. Examples include:

John, Mary, London, Memphis, Thoughtlessness, box, lion, freedom, etc.

Nouns are often used with articlesOpens in new window (the, a, an) but not always. Proper nounsOpens in new window always start with a capital letter; common nounsOpens in new window do not.

Nouns can occur in singular or plural form and they signal possession by adding 's. In addition, nouns are classed as either concreteOpens in new window or abstractOpens in new window.

Nouns can function in different roles within a sentenceOpens in new window. They can function as subjectOpens in new window, direct objectOpens in new window, indirect objectOpens in new window, subject complementOpens in new window, or object of a prepositionOpens in new window.

See NOUNOpens in new window to learn more.

2.     Pronoun

Pronouns are words such as I, you, he, she, it, we, they, used in place of a noun; so as not to repeat the noun. For example:

John borrowed a book, he borrowed it from Mary.

A pronoun is usually substituted for a specific noun, known as the antecedentOpens in new window. In the sentence above, the antecedent for the pronoun he is John, and the antecedent for it is book.

Pronouns are further defined by type:

Personal pronounsOpens in new window refer to specific persons or things.

Possessive pronounsOpens in new window indicate ownership.

Reflexive pronounsOpens in new window are used to emphasize another pronoun or noun.

Relative pronounsOpens in new window introduce a subordinate clause.

Demonstrative pronounsOpens in new window identify, point to, or refer to nouns   Opens in new window.

See PRONOUNOpens in new window to learn more.

3.     Adjective

An adjectiveOpens in new window is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. For example:

Mary told a secret gossip to John.

Adjectives usually tell something about the nounOpens in new window or pronounOpens in new window; and it answers the question of which one, what kind, or how many.

In the example above, the adjective “secret” gives us idea of what kind of gossip Mary told John.

Some examples of adjectives include: beautiful, active, brave, brilliant, intelligent, yellow, white, honest, happy, glorious, etc.

See ADJECTIVE Opens in new windowto learn more!

4.     Verb

A verbOpens in new window is a word which expresses action or state of being ascribed to the subject of a sentence. For example:

  1. John ran to school (run is an action.)
  2. John is a student. (is, marked the noun John as a state of being [in this case a student])

Most verbs are dependent, and they rely on object to make a complete sense, take for example, the sentence below:

  1. “The boy bought ___” (if we may ask, bought what?) ⇒ The boy bought chocolates.

With the object “chocolates” provided, the sentence now makes sense. Dependent verbs as such are known as Transitive verbsOpens in new window.

Transitive Verbs usually transfer their action to objects—which may be persons or things—to make a complete sense.

See VERBOpens in new window to learn more!

5.     Adverb

An adverbOpens in new window modifies or describes a verbOpens in new window, an adjectiveOpens in new window, or another adverb. Examples include:

  1. Andy speaks quickly.

    (modifying the verb “speaks”)

  2. He spoke so quick

    (modifying the adjective “quick”)

  3. He spoke very quickly.

    (modifying the adverb “quickly”)

Adverbs describe or modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, but never a noun.

Adverbs usually tell when, where, why, how or to what manner or degree something happened. Unlike adjectives, adverbs would almost always appear anywhere in a sentence. See ADVERBOpens in new window to learn more!

6.     Preposition

A prepositionOpens in new window is a word placed before a noun or pronoun to form a phraseOpens in new window, modifying another word in the sentence. For Example:

From the beginning of the term, Gretchen was certain she would make good grades.

The prepositions in this sentence are bolded; and the objects of preposition are underlined. Prepositional phrasesOpens in new window are groups of words beginning with a preposition and generally ending with a noun.

The noun that follows a preposition is the object of the prepositionOpens in new window, as underlined in the example above. See PREPOSITIONOpens in new window to learn more!

7.     Conjunction

ConjunctionsOpens in new window are words such as and, but, if, e.t.c., used to connect clausesOpens in new window, phrasesOpens in new window, or sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause or sentenceOpens in new window.

There are three types of conjunctions (as shown below) that signify different relationships between the joined elements.

Coordinating conjunctionOpens in new window link elements of equal value.

Correlative conjunctionsOpens in new window are connecting words used in pairs to establish a specific relationship between elements of equal value.

Subordinating conjunction   Opens in new window indicate that one element is of lesser value (subordinate) to another element.

See CONJUNCTION Opens in new windowto learn more!

8.     Interjection

InterjectionOpens in new window is a word (or sometimes words) that expresses a spontaneous feeling or some reaction of our mind stimulated by sudden situations. For Example:

  1. Hurrah!, Hip! Hip! Hurrah!

    (joyful exclamation)

  2. Oh!, ah!, alas!

    (Grief or sorrowful exclamation)

Although only used in informal context, interjection helps speakers of English language to express certain feelings or emotions such as excitement, shock, disappointment or any other form of emotional expression. See INTERJECTIONOpens in new window to learn more!

9.     Determiner

Determiners are words that precede head nouns in a noun phrase. They express important characteristics about head nouns, such as definiteness vs. indefiniteness, possession, quantity and the kind of reference of the noun phrase.

Grammarians identify several kinds of determinersOpens in new window. Many of these are listed in 1) through 10) along with some examples.

1.   Articles (a/an, the) Examples:

He met a woman.

The woman got out of an airplane.

See more of ArticlesOpens in new window

2.   Demonstrative determiners (this/that, these/those) Examples:

I want that book not this one.

These sweaters are more expensive than those sweaters over there.

3.   Possessive determiners (my, his/her, our, your, its, their) Examples:

That’s her book

This is my book over there.

4.   Nouns as possessive determiners (John’s, Liam’s) Example:

Kim’s car is older than Jessica’s car.

5.   Quantifiers (all, any, few, many) Examples:

She has all the money.

There are many ways to do it.

6.   Partitives (glass of, loaf of, bit of, acre of) Example:

He bought a loaf of bread.

7.   Cardinal numbers (one, two, three) Example:

She bought three hats.

8.   Ordinal numbers (first, second, next, last) Example:

That is the second time he has done that.

9.   Multipliers (double, twice, three times) Example:

She bought double the amount we need.

10.   Fractions (three-fourths, two-fifths)

See DETERMINERSOpens in new window to learn more!

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