Parts of Speech
These definitions explain the 8 parts of speech in the English language.
A noun identifies a person, place, thing, or idea.
- Common nouns are generic: girl, boy, city, ship, desk, courage
- Proper nouns are specific: Juliet, Romeo, St. Louis, Titanic
A pronoun renames or refers back to the person, place, thing or idea mentioned earlier
in a sentence.
- Personal pronouns: I, me, you, they, them, she, her, he, him, it, we, us
- Relative pronouns: who, whom, whose, which, that, what
- Interrogative pronouns (used in questions): who, which, what, whose
- Demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these and those
- Indefinite pronouns (a partial list): all, anybody, anyone, both, each, everyone, everybody, many, none, several, someone
A verb expresses action or state of being. “Helping” verbs (such as modals and auxiliary verbs) are used with base verbs to make a verbal phrase.
- Action verbs: see, run, jump, sing, study, dance, cry, shout, buy, sell, fix, think, wonder, etc.
- State of being verbs: am, is, was, were, will be, became, appear, seem, look, feel, etc.
- Modal verbs: can, could, will, would, shall, should, ought, must, may, might, etc. These verbs are found in verbal phrases, seldom by themselves: can see, will run, might study, must sell, etc.
- Auxiliary verbs: am, is, are, was, were, have, had, etc.
- In a verbal phrase, remember that the modal or auxiliary verb may be separated from the main verb, especially in a question:
- Did you hear me call?
- She is not going with us.
- How long have you been working at McDonald’s?
An adjective describes or modifies a noun or pronoun:
- brown eyes
- that person
- ten players
- what kind: brown eyes
- which one: that person
- how many: ten players
An adverb modifies or describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb. It usually answers “question” statements: how? when? where? why? how often? how much? to what degree?
- The orchestra played beautifully. (How?)
- The band has played there. (Where?)
- The choir sang long. (To what extent?)
- He is extremely capable. (How capable?)
- She danced very slowly. (How slowly?)
A preposition shows a relationship between a noun/pronoun and another word. Most prepositions
show motion toward a place or location of an object.
The English language has more than 40 prepositions, including: above, across, behind, below, down, in, off, on, under, through, into, of, on account of, in spite of, etc.
A conjunction joins words or groups of words. There are three major classes of conjunctions in English:
- Subordinate conjunctions: when, while, although, because, since, if, until, even though, etc.
- Coordinate conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
- Correlative conjunctions (used in pairs): neither/nor; either/or; not only/ but also; both/and
An interjection expresses an emotion such as delight, surprise, or disgust. It usually appears at the beginning of a sentence and often is followed by an exclamation point:
- (Delight) Wow! Gosh! Golly! For heaven’s sake!
- (Surprise) Oh! Ah! Yikes! Gee!
- (Disgust) Yuck! Ugh! Bah!
A Word as More Than One Part of Speech
Remember, a word can be used as more than one part of speech. The function of a word determines what part of speech it is.
- Appearances can be deceiving. (Can is a modal verb)
- The tin can of tomatoes is dented. (Can is a noun)
- We should can peaches and plums. (Can is an action verb)
- The French actress danced the can-can. (Can-can is a noun-noun)