This page was first created on the 22nd of March, 2014 and last updated on the 4th of March, 2017 by Patrick Carpen.
Tags: English Grammar, English, Parts of Speech.
Everything that comes out of our mouths when we talk to each other is called “speech”. We “speak” and therefore produce something called “speech”.
However, there are a multitude of words that we use in our speech. Each of these words perform a special function. Many of these words perform a similar type of function. For example, words such as run, walk and drive speak of action. They are a special part of speech called “verbs”.
Words such as tree, house and man name things. They make up a special part of speech called “nouns”.
Humans have been able to divide all the words in the English language into eight parts, based on what kind of work they do.
In English, ALL the words (over 250,000 and counting) can fall into one of eight categories, as follows: –
Which category each word falls into depends of what kind of work it does. It is important to note that a word can do one kind of work in one sentence, and another kind in another sentence. For this reason, we try not to label any word as belonging to any part of speech until it is used in a sentence. Based on its usage in the sentence, it can then be assigned a part of speech. This may seem fanatical to you at first, but you’ll agree with this concept once you see how frequently words change their parts of speech.
Noun: A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, idea, etc. Examples: dog, sea, New York, John, power, wisdom.
Verb: Verbs are action words. Examples: run, jump, talk, sit, sleep, drive, ride.
Adjective: Adjective are words which modify nouns. To modify in this case means “to change the meaning slightly” or “to add more meaning to”. The words in red below are adjective and the words in green are nouns which are modified by the adjectives. Examples: red ball, green grass, wet floor, tall man, short lady, big house.
Pronoun: A pronoun is a word which replaces a noun. They are used when we already know what the noun is, but don’t want to repeat it. Examples: he, she, it, they, them, us.
Preposition: A word which shows the relationship between two objects in a sentence. In the sentences below, the words in red are prepositions. The words in green are the two objects for which the prepositions show the relationship.
The child is in the car.
The man is on the road.
The water is in the bucket.
The book is under the table.
Adverb: An adverb is a word which modifies an adjective, verb or other adverb. To modify in this case means “to change the meaning slightly” or “to add more meaning to”. Examples:
Adverbs (in red) which modify adjectives: very big, extremely tall, too small.
Adverbs (in red) which modify verbs (in green):
The boy ran slowly.
The girl walked quickly.
The man drove recklessly.
Adverbs (in red) which modify other adverbs: very slowly, really quickly, extremely diligently.
Conjunction: A conjunction is a word which joins two parts of a sentence. Examples:
John and Jill went up the hill.
We went to the movies and later had dinner.
Interjection: An interjection is a word or phrase which shows strong emotions or expresses an exclamation: Examples: wow! beautiful! how wonderful! ouch!