Parts of Speech

In previous posts, I have discussed the passive voice and various moods of the English language. However, I realized that I have never done a post on the Parts of Speech. This post will remedy that and hopefully make future and past posts easier to understand. If anyone would like to know what part of speech specific words are, feel free to ask. We’re always open to questions.

Nouns

Nouns are people, animals, places, things, ideas, or events. They are the simplest parts of speech and tend to be the first that English-speaking children learn. Nouns include words like: Bob, dog, kite, elephant, festival, science, and school.

James kicked the ball.

Holly couldn’t stand that people knew about her birthday.

In the first sentence, James and ball are the nouns. A person kicks a thing, and both people and things are noun. In the last sentence, Holly, people, and birthday are nouns. Holly and people are both people, and a birthday is an event.

Verbs

Verbs are action words. They’re used to describe something that’s being done, some variety of action, whether it’s mental or physical. They’re also used to describe states of being. State of being or “to be” verbs include: be, being, been, is, was, were, am, and are.  These “to be” verbs aren’t very strong verbs, and in writing many people suggest that you replace many of them with stronger verbs. Examples of verbs include: walk, kick, climb, and defenestrate. The last one is one of my favorites, and literally means “to throw someone out of a window”, coming from the Latin word for window, “fenestra”.

Sally punched Carl.

Frank thought about his cute new puppy.

Molly is a dancer.

In the first sentence, “punched” is the verb. It’s what Sally is doing to Carl. In the second sentence, “thought” is the verb. It’s what Frank is doing. In the last sentence, “is” is the verb because it’s giving a state of being.

Adjectives

Adjectives are words used to describe nouns. They can be words to describe color, size, shape, texture, number, or pretty much anything else about a noun. Examples of adjectives include: green, ten, rough, dark, fuzzy, and tall.

Sally has three brown dogs.

The small, shiny acorn rolled off the shelf.

Bob wanted more cookies.

In the first sentence, “three” and “brown” are adjectives, because they describe the color of the dogs and how many of them there are. In the second sentence, “small” and “shiny” are the adjectives. And in the last sentence, “more” is the adjective.

Adverbs

Adjectives are words used to describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs are typically used to describe how something is done. Adverbs include words like “quickly”, “gracefully”, and “sneakily”, in addition to words like “very”.

George moved stealthily through the forest.

Molly’s horse pranced gracefully across the ground.

The dog was very cute.

In the first two sentences, “stealthily” and “gracefully” are the adverbs. They describe how an action is being done. In the third sentence, the adverb “very” is describing an adjective, in this case “cute”.

Pronouns

Pronouns are words that can replace nouns. When pronouns replace a noun, the noun it’s replacing is called the antecedent. Pronouns include the words: I, you, he, she, it, we, and they, and all forms of these words.

James is mad at his mother.

We need our movie tickets to get into the movie.

In the first sentence, “his” is the pronoun and James is the antecedent, or the noun being replaced. In the second sentence, “we” and “our” are the pronouns. The antecedent would be whoever “we” refers to, although in this case it isn’t said.

Prepositions

Prepositions are words used to describe a location or a location in time. Examples of prepositions include, but are not limited to: under, since, throughout, over, below, above, near, far, left, and right.

James sat on the bench to wait during his sister’s interview.

Sally sat under the apple tree while she ate lunch.

In the first sentence, “on” and “during” are both prepositions. They say where something is in space and time. In the second sentence, “under” and “while” are prepositions for the same reasons.

Conjunctions

Conjunctions are connecting words that join clauses, phrases, and words together. Examples of conjunctions include: “yet”, “but”, “or”, “nevertheless”, “though”, and “so”.

Bob wanted to go play with his friends, but he had homework.

Sally wanted a cat and a dog.

Molly wasn’t sure if she wanted an apple or an orange.

In the first sentence, “but” is the conjunction that connects the two statements. In the second sentence, the word “and” lets the reader know that Sally wants both a cat and a dog without the need for separate sentences. In the last sentence, “or” acts much the same way as the “and” in the previous sentence.

Interjections

Interjections are words that express strong emotions. They’re called interjections because often they are sudden and interject into whatever is going on. Examples of interjections include: ouch, ow, hey, hooray, and yippee.

Ouch! Stop that.

Hey! Watch where you’re going.

Yay, we get to go to Disney.

In these sentences, the first words are all interjections, whether the person is hurt, annoyed, or elated about what is occurring.

Articles

An article is technically a kind of adjective, but I thought it worth it to include it here, especially given that its short description would be useless as its own post. There are only two articles in the English language: the and a(n). These words are used to describe nouns by telling a reader something about them. For instance, when a child’s mother tells the child that they can have “a cookie” that child knows that they can have one. The word “a(n)” is used for something isn’t specific, and “the” is used for things that are. For instance, if a teen is going to get on a bus, they don’t know which one they’re getting on quite yet. If they’re riding the bus, then they’re hopping onto a specific bus that they already know of. There aren’t many articles, but they are used extremely often in the English language.

~Victoria

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