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How to Teach The Different Parts of Speech

Updated on June 12, 2013
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge homeschools her children and holds an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Elementary Education, and a BA in History.

Understanding the Parts of Speech helps students become better writers.


What are the Parts of Speech?

Depending upon the way is used, one word may fall into different categories or lists of a parts of speech. There are eight different parts of speech that every word will fall into: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverb, interjections, prepositions, pronouns and conjunctions.


A noun is a word that describes a person, place, thing or idea. For example, the word "mother" describes a person, this is a "common noun" as it describes a general person. A "proper noun" describes a specific person by name, and is capitalized, such as "Debby".


Verbs are "action" words, that describe something being done, observed or a state of "being". For example, the words "swim", "think" and "are" (which is a "linking verb").


Adjectives describe nouns. For example in the sentence "Debby wore a sparkly dress yesterday" the word "sparkly" is the adjective.


Adverbs modify (or give clarification) to verbs. For example, it might tell the reader how or when something was done. In the sample sentence above the word "yesterday" modifies the verb "wore".


Interjections add emotion to sentences, and can actually be a stand alone sentence themselves. For example, the words "Shh!" and "Ouch!" and "Hey" can be stand alone, and do not directly relate grammatically to any other words in the sentence.


Prepositions are relationship-type words that tell you how a noun relates to another noun. For example, in the sentence "The dog slept in the doghouse" the word "in" tells you where the dog was.


Pronouns can take the place of proper nouns; instead of naming a person you could use the word "he". For example, instead of "Pete hit the baseball out of the park" you could say "He hit the baseball out of the park."


Conjunctions are linking words that connect words, phrases or clauses together. Common conjunctions are "and" and "or", however there are several more. For example, the word "and" is the conjunction in the sample sentence, "The pizza had pineapple and pepperoni."

Use a Poem to Teach the Parts of Speech

Since the parts of speech can be a difficult thing for children to understand, you may need to use a common example to help children determine the differences in the terms. Often using the parts of speech in their context to helps students better understand the concept.

One way to teach the parts of speech is to use the words in a common poem or story that everyone in the class is familiar with. For example, use a fill-in-the-blank copy of the poem “Little Miss Muffet” where students recall the poem using the word-help in the parenthesis. See the sample below:

(adjective) Miss Muffet

(verb) on a (noun) ,

Eating her curds (conjunction) whey.

Along (verb) a spider

And sat (adverb) beside (pronoun) .

And frightened Miss Muffet (adverb) .

Buy your own copy of a Mad-Lib book (available at grocery stores, online or at school supply stores) or use an online generator such as from For students more adept at parts of speech, or for a fun review of the concept, consider making your own “mad-lib” with the help of an online generator.

For more information on the parts of speech, visit

Video on The Parts of Speech


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