8 Parts of Speech
In this article, we are going to discuss parts of speech in English. A part of speech is a class of words categorised based on their meaning, structure, and function in a sentence. There are nine parts of speech or word classes. These nine parts of speech in the English language are noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, interjection and determiner. Some grammarians include only eight parts of speech and do not consider determiners as a seperate word class.
Parts of Speech Table
Now, let’s look in great detail at the nine main parts of speech —nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections and determiners — as well as other categories of words that don’t easily fit in with the rest, such as particles and gerunds.
By understanding the parts of speech, we can better understand how (and why) we structure words together to form sentences.
Nouns are naming words. These are one of the main elements of sentences. These are the words that identify or name people, places, things, activities or ideas. Nouns can function as the subject of a clause or sentence, an object of a verb, or an object of a preposition. Words like cow, pen, book, boy, toy and plane are all nouns.
In English, nouns can be singular or plural.
When a noun means one only, it is said to be a singular Noun.
Examples: cat, boy, book, house, church, box, leaf
When a noun means more than one, it is said to be plural.
Examples: cars, boys, books, houses, churches, boxes, leaves
Q: What is the easiest way to make a singular noun plural?
Ans.: Add an –s or –es to the end of it!
The plural of nouns is usually formed by adding s to a singular noun.
Examples: room, rooms; cat, cats; toy, toys; flower, flowers; pen, pens
Nouns ending in s, z, x, sh and ch form the plural by adding es.
Examples: dish, dishes; topaz, topazes; church, churches
Types of Nouns
Proper Noun: Proper noun is a word used to name a particular person, place, thing, or idea; this noun is usually capitalized.
Common Noun: Common noun names any one of a group of persons, places, things, or ideas, and is not capitalized
Concrete Noun: Concrete noun names an object that can be perceived by the senses (most likely is tangible)
Abstract Noun: Abstract noun names an idea, a feeling, a quality, or a characteristic (cannot be physically touched)
Collective Noun: Collective noun names a group; although it contains individual members, it is identified as a singular noun.
Compound Noun: The noun consists of two or more words used together as a single noun; they may be written as one word, two or more words, or as a hyphenated word. Some examples of compound nouns are gentleman, smartphone, fire-fly, football, tip-cat, full moon, bystander, haircut, train-spotting, check-out, arm-pit, mother-in-law, underworld, bedroom, software, breakfast, lookout, swimming pool, sunrise, upturn, haircut, train-spotting, check-out, mother-in-law, underworld, bedroom.
English Pronoun is very important because its structure is used in everyday conversation. They represent nouns (people, places, or things). Here are some significant points about pronouns.
- A word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause. We can use a pronoun instead of a noun.
- Pronouns allow us to eliminate the repetition and they keep communication going with or without the noun.
- Pronouns come in to keep nouns from getting repetitive or when nouns are not clearly known.
Grammatically, pronouns function in the same ways as nouns; they can function as subjects or objects or complement in a sentence.
Some common pronouns include I, you, she, him, it, himself, everyone, and somebody.
I saw his book on your table.
I would like to tell you something.
She makes me angry.
Pronoun is an important part of parts of speech so let us see clearly
Types of Pronouns
1. Personal Pronouns
The personal pronoun takes the place of a specific person, group, or thing. The personal pronouns in English grammar take various forms according to number, person, case and gender.
- Demonstrative Pronouns
- Indefinite Pronouns
- Interrogative Pronouns
- Intensive Pronouns
- Possessive Pronouns
- Reciprocal Pronouns
- Reflexive Pronouns
- Relative Pronouns
Types and Forms of Personal Pronouns:
First-person: The person who is talking (I, we)
Second person: the person or persons being addressed (you)
Third-person: The person being talked about (he, she, it, they)
Singular: I, me, my, mine, you, yours, he, him, his, she, her, hers, it, its
Plural: we, us, our, ours, you, yours, they, them, their, theirs
Male (he), Female (she) or Neuter (it)
Subject: I, we, you, he, she, it, they
Object: me, you, him, her, it, us, them
Table of Basic Personal Pronouns
Reflexive Pronouns: These are the pronouns that refer back to the subject of a sentence. We often use reflexive pronouns when the subject and the object of a verb are the same.
Singular: Himself, Herself, Itself,
There is no such word as “hisself.” The grammatically correct reflexive pronoun is himself.
Definitions of Types of Pronouns
Interrogative Pronouns– used to begin questions
Interrogative: who, whom, whose, which, what
Demonstrative Pronouns– used to point out a specific person, place, thing, or idea
Demonstrative: this, that, these, those
Indefinite Pronouns– used to refer to people, places, things, or ideas in general; frequently used without antecedents
Indefinite: all, any, either, many, none, etc.
Pronoun and Antecedent
A pronoun usually refers to a noun that comes before it. This noun, called an antecedent, gives the pronoun its meaning.
Example: Thomas closed his book and put it down. his refers to the antecedent “Thomas”; it refers to the antecedent “book”
Pronouns and Antecedents must match in number.
Example: The coach showed the players how they should throw the ball.
They refers to the antecedent “players.” Since players is plural, the plural pronoun must be used.
A pronoun may appear in the same sentence as its antecedent or in the following sentence.
Example: Have the birds flown south yet? They should start migrating soon.
Example: Lee hit a home run. It was his first of the season.
Verbs are very important words. These words describe the actions—or states of being—of people, animals, places, or things. Verbs function as the root of what is called the predicate, which is required (along with a subject) to form a complete sentence; therefore, every sentence must include at least
Verbs include action words like run, walk, write, or sing, as well as words describing states of being, such as be, seem, feel, or sound.
Action Verbs: These verbs express physical or mental activity; it’s what you do!
There are two types of Action verbs: Transitive and Intransitive
Types of Action Verbs
Transitive Verbs: A transitive verb is a verb that requires an object to receive the action.
Example: Neil rang the bell.
Intransitive Verbs– action verbs that express action without passing the action from a doer to a receiver.
Example: The children laughed.
Types of Verbs
Linking Verbs- a verb that connects the subject to a word that identifies or describes it.
Example: The answer is three.
Many linking verbs can be used as action (nonlinking) verbs as well.
Example: The wet dog smelled horrible.
The dog smelled the bread.
Verb phrases consist of a main verb preceded by at least one helping verb (also known as an auxiliary verb)
VP= HV + MV
All forms of the verb be are helping verbs:
- Am Are Were Being
- Is Was Be Been
Besides all forms of the verb be, helping verbs include:
Have Has Had
Do Does Did
Shall Should Will Would May Might Can Could Must
Most common forms of be
Present: Singular Plural
- 1st person, I am…, We are…
- 2nd person You are…, You are…
- 3rd person He/She/It is…, They are …
Past: Singular Plural
- 1st person I was…, We were…
- 2nd person, You were…., You were…
- 3rd person He/She/It was…., They were...
Present tense- there is no distinctive form by which it can be recognized, other than the –e(s) ending used with 3rd person singular pronouns (he, she, it) or the noun for which a 3rd person singular pronoun can substitute
John looks terrific.
He makes toys.
The only two verbs irregular in 3rd person singular are be (is) and have (has).
Past tense– there are typically two main ways to form the past tenses, called regular and irregular
Regular: formed by adding –(e)d
Dictionary form = Past tense form
Pass = Passed
Cough = Coughed
Smile = Smiled
Dread = Dreaded
Irregular: do not add the –(e)d ending but instead change the vowel of the dictionary form
Dictionary form = Past tense form
Dig = Dug
Ring = Rang
Freeze = Froze
See = Saw
Run = Ran
Verb = Tenses
- There are verbs with past tenses that are a mixture of regular and irregular forms, i.e., they have both a vowel change and a regular ending (sell-sold).
- There is a group of verbs that have no distinct past tense form at all; the verbs in this group are single-syllable verbs that end in –t or –d; for example hit-hit; slit – slit; cut-cut; rid-rid; shed-shed.
Is it a VERB?
Two very simple tests:
1. Recast the word in past tense.
2. Add will to form a future tense.
Sentence: The children love New York.
Past tense: The children loved New York.
Will: The children will love New York.
Sentence: Children love spinach.
Past tense: Children love spinached.
Will: Children love will spinach.
Adjectives are describing words. These are the words that modify or qualify (add description to) nouns and (occasionally) pronouns by providing descriptive or specific detail. Unlike adverbs, adjectives do not modify verbs, other adjectives, or adverbs. Adjectives usually precede the noun or pronoun they modify. Adjectives do not have to
agree in number or gender with the nouns they describe. Adjectives answer the following questions: What kind? How many?,
or Which ones?
Example: Tom bought a used car. (used describes what kind of car Tom bought.)
Sally baked ten pies for the school bake sale. (ten tells how many pies Sally baked.)
Bob climbed that tree in the backyard. (that specifies which tree Bob climbed.)
Types of Adjectives
A descriptive adjective names a quality of the noun or pronoun that it modifies.
Example: brown dog bigger house fluffy cat
A proper adjective is derived from a proper noun.
Example: French class Spanish food European car
A limiting adjective restricts the meaning of the word it modifies.
Example: that car, this room, the tree
An interrogative adjective is used to ask a question.
Example: Whose book is this?
A coordinate adjective consists of two or more adjectives separated by a comma instead of by a coordinating conjunction.
Example: a cold, rainy day
To determine if you can replace the coordinating conjunction with a comma, see if the adjectives can be reversed or if
and can be added between the adjectives without changing the meaning. If the adjectives can be reversed, they are
coordinate and a comma can be used.
The clowns arrived in a bright, shiny car.
The clowns arrived in a shiny, bright car. (Reversing bright and shiny does not change the meaning.)
The clowns arrived in a bright and shiny car. (Adding and between bright and shiny does not change the meaning.)
However, if the adjectives cannot be reversed or if and cannot be used, a comma cannot be used.
Example: The clowns arrived in two colourful cars.
The clowns arrived in colourful two cars. (Reversing two and colourful changes the meaning.)
The clowns arrived in two and colourful cars. (Adding and between two and colourful changes the meaning.)
Compound adjectives consist of two or more words that function as a unit. Depending on its position within the
sentence, the compound adjective is punctuated with or without a hyphen. When a compound adjective comes before the noun it modifies, use a hyphen to join the adjectives. When a compound adjective follows the noun it modifies, do not use a hyphen to join the adjectives.
She is taking a class on nineteenth-century literature. (The adjective nineteenth-century precedes
the noun literature so a hyphen is used.)
She is studying literature from the nineteenth century. (The adjective nineteenth century comes
after the noun literature so no hyphen is used.)
Determiners, such as articles, pronouns, and numbers, can function as adjectives. When a determiner is used as an adjective, it restricts the noun it modifies, like a limiting adjective. Determiners functioning as adjectives tell Which one?, How many?, and Whose?
Articles (a, an, the)
Possessive pronouns (my, our, your, his, her, its, their)
Relative pronouns (whose, which, whichever, what, whatever)
Demonstratives (this, these, that, those)
Indefinite pronouns (any, each, other, some, etc.)
Cardinal Numbers (one, two, three, etc.)
Ordinal Numbers (last, first, second, etc.)
Possessive proper nouns (Bob’s, Sarah’s)
Example: Bob’s house is only three blocks from that house. (Bob’s answers the question: Whose house? Three
answers the question: How many blocks? That answers the question: Which house is three blocks from
Placement and Order of Adjectives
A single noun can be described as a list of adjectives. When more than one adjective is used to modify a noun, it is important to consider the order in which the adjectives appear. Generally, the adjectives most important in completing the meaning of the noun are placed closest to the noun.
Following is the usual order of adjectives in a series:
1. Determiners: articles (a the), demonstratives (this, those), and possessives (his, our, Mary’s, everybody’s), quantifiers (one, five, many, few), order (first, next last)
2. Coordinate adjectives (subjective evaluations or personal opinions): nice, nasty, packed, pitiful
3. Adjectives describing size: big, huge, little, tiny
4. Adjectives describing shape: long, short, round, square
5. Adjectives describing age: young, old, modern, ancient
6. Adjectives describing colour: blue, green, red, white
7. Adjectives describing nationality: Italian, French, Japanese
8. Adjectives describing architectural style or religion: Greek, Gothic, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim
9. Adjectives describing material: cardboard, plastic, silver, gold
10. Nouns functioning as adjectives: soccer ball, cardboard box, history class
- a big brick house (article, size, and material)
- these old brown cardboard boxes (demonstrative, age, colour, material)
- a beautiful young Italian woman (article, personal opinion, age, nationality)
Adverbs are an important part of speech. An adverb is a word that tells us more about a verb. It “qualifies” or “modifies” a verb, adjective, clause, or another adverb.
An adverb indicates manner, time, place, cause or degree and it usually answers questions such as how? where? when? how often? and how much?.
She speaks softly. (How does she speak?)
I saw the movie recently. (When did you see the movie?)
They are talking outside. (Where are they talking?)
Adverbs can also modify adjectives or even other adverbs.
Modify an adjective:
He is really beautiful (really modifies beautiful)
Modify another adverb:
He drives incredibly slowly. (incredibly modifies slowly)
Depending on what they modify (and how), adverbs can appear anywhere in the sentence.
Identification of adverbs
Adverbs usually will answer at least one of the following SIX questions:
Example: Ali may sit here.
Example: I will go there tomorrow.
Example: He teaches English beautifully.
Example: He eats fruits in order to stay healthy.
5. How often?
Example: I go for a walk daily.
6. How much?
Example: She is extremely talented.
Adverbs are often formed by adding –ly to an adjective.
Example: beautiful – beautifully, careful – carefully
There are some basic rules about spelling for -ly adverbs. See the table below:
Changing Adjective Word Forms to Adverb Word Forms (suffixes)
ADJ. FORM + LY
(For most words, add -ly to the end of an adjective form to create an adverb word form)
quick = quickly
nice = nicely
sole = solely
– LE to – LY
(For words with more than one syllable ending in -le, replace the -le with –ly)
Able = Ably
capable = capably
regrettable = regrettably
–Y to – ILY
(For words with more than one syllable ending in -y, replace the -y with -ily.)
angry = Angrily
easy = easily
happy = happily
– IC to – iCALLY
(For words ending in –ic, replace –ic with –ically.)
Academic = Academically
Acoustic = Acoustically
Magi = Magically
What is a Preposition?
Preposition is important when constructing sentences. Prepositions are words that express a relationship between a noun or pronoun (known as the object of the preposition) and another part of the sentence. Together, these form prepositional phrases, which can function as adjectives or as adverbs in a sentence. Some examples of prepositional phrases are: on the table, in the shed, and across the field. (The
prepositions are in bold.)
The relationships include time, direction, place, manner and amount.
A preposition links nouns, pronouns, Gerund and phrases to other words.
Preposition + Noun, Pronoun, Gerund or Clause
I will meet you on Monday (before Noun)
He received it from me (before Pronoun)
I’m looking forward to seeing you soon. (before Gerund)
The following words are the most commonly used prepositions:
- There was a look about her that said everything.
- It’s never happened to me before.
- Aileen is proud of her family for their support.
- She began to walk away from him.
- He got in his car and drove off.
- He banged his head on a beam.
- She ran away on Friday and we haven’t seen her since.
- Leave it with me.
Conjunctions are words that connect other words, phrases, or clauses, expressing a specific kind of relationship between the two (or more) elements. The most common conjunctions are the coordinating conjunctions: and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet.
I play cricket and football.
I play tennis but John does not play.
Types of Conjunctions
There are two kinds of conjunctions
It joins words, phrases, and clauses that are of equal importance in a sentence.
There are seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, or, so, yet, for, nor.
The mnemonic acronym FANBOYS can be used to remember the coordinators (For And Nor But Or Yet So)
Each coordinating conjunction expresses a specific meaning:
For – Used to introduce the reason for something mentioned in the previous statement.
I went to the grocery store, for I was out of sugar
I believed her, for surely she would not lie to me.
And – Used to connect words or parts of sentences. “and” is between two nouns
I like tea and coffee.
Rahim and I left early.
Do it slowly and carefully?
Can you read and write in English?
Nor – Nor is used when the alternative is negative
She seemed neither surprised nor worried.
He wasn’t there on Monday. Nor on Tuesday, for that matter.
He did not stop running, nor did he look back over his shoulder
The elderly lady did not see the car nor did she hear the horn.
But – used to introduce a word or phrase that contrasts with what was said before
His mother won’t be there, but his father might.
I asked everybody but only two people came
By the end of the day, we were tired but happy
Or – Used to introduce another possibility
Is your sister older or younger than you?
Are you coming or not?
Is it a boy or a girl?
It can be black, white or grey.
Yet – despite what has just been said
He has a good job, and yet he never seems to have any money
I thought I knew you, yet how wrong I was.
So – used to show the reason for something
It is still painful so I am going to see a doctor
What is a Subordinating Conjunction?
Subordinate conjunctions connect two unequal parts (a dependent clause and an independent clause).
Subordinating conjunctions introduce dependent clauses
Interjections are words, phrases, or sounds used to convey emotions such as surprise, excitement, happiness, or anger. They are grammatically unrelated to any other part of a sentence, so they are set apart by commas. They are also often used alone as minor sentences. Interjections are very common in spoken English, but they appear in written English as well.
Primary interjections are interjections that are single words derived not from any other word class, but from sounds. Nonetheless, primary interjections do have widely recognized meaning. Some common primary interjections are:
Secondary interjections are interjections derived from words that do belong to another word classes—they may be adjectives, nouns, or entire clauses. Again, they have nothing to do
with the grammar of the sentences that come before or after them. Some common secondary interjections are:
oh my God
Curse words (vulgar or offensive words; also called swear words) are also considered interjections when they are not linked grammatically with another part of a sentence.
Interjections are more commonly used in speech; however, we sometimes do need to express them through writing, especially if we are trying to capture dialogue. Usually, the interjection is placed before the sentence that explains the cause of the emotion. For example:
• “Ooh, that’s a beautiful dress.”
• “Brr, it’s freezing in here!”
• “Oh my God! We’ve won!”
“Wow! What a great achievement!”
Other Parts of Speech
In addition to the seven parts of speech above, there are several other groupings of words that do not neatly fit into any one specific category—particles, articles, determiners, gerunds, and interjections.
Many of these share characteristics with one or more of the eight primary categories. For example, determiners are similar in many ways to adjectives, but they are not completely the same, and most particles are identical in appearance to prepositions but have different grammatical functions. Because they are harder to classify in comparison to the seven primary categories above, they’ve been grouped together in this guide under the general category Other Parts of Speech.