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8 Parts of Speech & Why You Need to Know Them

To learn how to run, you have to learn how to walk first. The same goes for learning English. To speak the language proficiently, you’ll have to master the grammar and the set of rules that go with it.

Words in the English language can be confusing at times because of their ability to have a different meaning. Consequently, for better understanding and analyzing the words and their meaning, we use a term called parts of speech. In traditional English grammar, the label ‘parts of speech implies to the category of words with similar grammatical properties.  

Depending on the circumstances, a single word can function as a different part of speech.  In modern linguistics, the term ‘parts of speechis not commonly used and is often replaced with the term syntactic category or word classes.

In the English language, there are 8 parts of speech: verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection and we will analyze the meaning of each one and share an example of how it’s used in a sentence. 

Noun

Example: woman, dog, happiness, house

 A noun is a word used to specify the name of things, people, places, ideas or actions.  In the English language, nouns make up the largest class of words. There are different categories of nouns, common and proper. Common nouns refer to a place, thing or a person, while, proper nouns refer to the name of a person, thing or place. Nouns can be singular or plural. Singular nouns are often used with an article (a, an, the). In a sentence, nouns can work as a subject, an object, and a subject complement.

How it’s used: Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris.


Verb

Example: run, walk, write, be, are

A verb is a grammatical center and one of the most essential elements of the sentence. Every sentence is composed of a subject and a predicate. A verb is the main component of the predicate and is used to describe an occurrence, action, and mode of being. Verbs are essentially describing what the subject is doing in the sentence. Verbs can be classified most commonly as action verbs and linking verbs.  While the latter of the two helps visualize the action of the subject, the former expresses the being, identity or existence. Verbs change their form and different endings are added to them. These endings show the verb’s relationship to time, known as verb tense.   

How it’s used:  Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris.


Pronoun

Example: she, them, his

A pronoun is the substitute word used to replace a noun in the sentence. Properly, the pronoun is used after a noun has been applied in the previous sentence. Pronouns can be classified into 9 different types, including possessive pronouns used to express ownership, personal pronouns used to refer to a person or object, demonstrative pronouns used to point to the noun, reflexive pronouns used to emphasize another pronoun or a noun and relative pronoun introduce a subordinate clause.

How it’s used: Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris.


Adjective

Example: pretty, big, yellow

An adjective is the modifier of the sentence, it describes the noun or the pronoun. An adjective essentially gives more information about the subject of the sentence. It answers questions like what kind, how many, etc. Adjectives in English have endings to express superlative or comparative. For superlative, there is always an article – the in front of the adjective. Adjectives don’t change or agree with the noun.

How it’s used: Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris. 


Adverb

Example: quickly, greatly

Similar to an adjective, an adverb is used to modify or describe the verb, the adjective or the adverb in the sentence. An adverb usually describes the time, the condition or the state. It often ends in -ly. However, there are some adverbs that don’t end in -ly, like also, never, often, again, too, well, soon and very. The words why, where, when and how are known as interrogative adverbs when used in a question.

How it’s used: Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris.


Preposition

Example: by, about, with, until

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between the noun or pronoun and some other word in the sentence. The relationship that preposition creates can be directional, spatial or temporal. Pronouns linked with nouns or pronouns create word groups known as prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases usually function as an adverb or as an adjective.

How it’s used: Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris.


Conjunction  

Example: but, or, while

A conjunction is a word used for linking the words, clauses or c phrases of the sentence together. It also indicates the relationship between the elements in the sentence. A conjunction can be classified into four groups Coordinating conjunctions, Subordinating conjunctions, Conjunctive adverbs, Correlative conjunctions. Coordinating conjunction is connecting independent clauses(sentences) or words with similar meanings. (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)  Subordinating conjunctions are connecting the subordinate clause to the rest of the sentence known as an independent clause. (because, rather than, before, if, even though, once,). Conjunctive adverbs also known as transitional words are connecting the sentence to another (instead, additionally, moreover, also). Corelative conjunctions combine the coordinating conjunction with another word.

How it’s used: Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris.


Interjection

Example: wow, oh, ah, alas

An interjection is an independent word added to the sentence to express emotion. An interjection is not grammatically related to the sentence, it can either come before or after the main sentence, it stands alone and usually ends with an exclamation point. Interjections are often used in informal writing and can rarely be found in academic writing.

How it’s used: Oh my! Brian and his wife are really enjoying their first date in Paris.


Conclusion

Understanding the 8 parts of speech is beneficial for analyzing the meaning of each word. By learning the 8 parts of speech, you can easily identify a grammatical problem in the sentence, and see whether there is a run-on sentence, a misused pronoun or a problem of the verb agreement.

Learn more about English grammar with our online English courses available for language levels. 

 

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