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Parts of Speech In English

Updated on February 7, 2014

The Parts of Speech In English Language

What are parts of speech? Parts of speech can be defined as the various categories into which the words of the English language are placed according to the function that they perform in a sentence.

Every word in the English language, depending on its function or the work that it does belongs to one or more parts of speech.

There are traditionally eight parts of speech, namely Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Preposition, Conjunction and Interjection.

But these days grammarians have added a ninth one called Articles.

The basic functions of each of the nine parts of speech

Noun – a noun is a word that gives the name of a person, animal, place, thing or idea. Examples of nouns are: John, President, dog, chair, box, stone, soup, computer, blade, lake, salt, London, Lake Volta, Sweden, lawyer, happiness, sadness, etc.There are five types of nouns in English grammar, namely proper, common, abstract, collective and concrete nouns.

Pronoun – a pronoun is a word that is used to replace a noun in a sentence or statement. Examples of pronouns include: he, she, I, me, we, us, they, our, my, mine, his, hers, their, them, etc.

For example: John is a very brilliant student. He has won so many prizes in school.

From the example above, the noun 'John' has been replaced by the pronoun 'he'. Pronouns exist in order to prevent unnecessary repetition of nouns.

There are about eight types of pronouns in English. The eight pronouns are: demonstrative pronouns, personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, indefinite pronouns, reflexive pronouns, reciprocal pronouns, interrogative pronouns, and relative pronouns.

Verb – a verb is a word that identifies action or a state-of-being. Examples of verbs include: jump, run, dance, is, was, talk, enjoy, debate, write, read, are, been, seem, appear, etc.

Example:

  1. John kicked the ball. (The verb 'kicked' is a verb that indicates an action.)
  2. John is sad. (The word 'is' is a verb because although it is not showing an action it is showing a state-of-being.)

Adjective – an adjective is a word that is used to describe a noun or a pronoun. Examples of adjectives include the following: beautiful, tall, short, ugly, handsome, hot, smooth, rough, nice, common, big, cool, etc.

Examples:

The tall boy in my class has been arrested for theft. (The word 'tall' in the sentence is an adjective because it is describing the noun 'boy')

The model-like woman who lives next door came over yesterday. (Model-like is an adjective because it describes the noun 'woman')

Adjectives can also describe pronouns. For instance: She is beautiful. (The adjective 'beautiful' describes the pronoun 'she').

Adjectives always move together with nouns or pronouns. Wherever you find an adjective, you are sure to find a noun or pronoun hanging around. An adjective cannot exist without the presence of a noun or pronoun.

Adverb – an adverb is defined as a word that modifies a verb, an adjective and an adverb itself. Examples of adverbs are: extremely, very, well, fast, slowly, smoothly, carefully, etc.Many adverbs are formed by adding '-ly' to an adjective. For example the adjective 'smooth' can turn into an adverb by adding '-ly' to it. 'Smooth' therefore becomes 'smoothly'.

Examples of adverbs in sentences:

  1. Amanda walks fast. (The adverb 'fast' modifies the verb 'walks')
  2. Janet is very beautiful. (The adverb 'very' modifies the adjective 'beautiful')
  3. He reads extremely slowly. (The adverb 'extremely' modifies the adverb 'slowly')

Preposition – a preposition is a word that comes before a noun or pronoun and shows the relationship between the noun or pronoun and some other word in the sentence. Examples of prepositions in English include: in, behind, over, beneath, under, in front of, along, between, etc.

Examples:

  1. The boy jumped over the wall.
  2. I bought a book for Amanda.
  3. Please give the money to me.

Conjunction – a conjunction joins words, phrases and clauses together. Examples of conjunction are: and, but, although, because, nor, yet, etc.

Interjection – an interjection is a word that expresses strong emotions. Examples include: alas, God, wow, hey, hurray etc.

Articles – an article is a word that comes before a noun. There are two types of articles in the English language, namely the definite article (the) and the indefinite article (a and an). The definite article points to a specific noun whereas the indefinite article does not.

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