The Eight Parts of Speech

Posted: July 31, 2008 in Education

English grammar uses words based on eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction,and the interjection. Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used. The same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in the next.

The verb is perhaps the most important part of the sentence. A verb or compound verb states something about the subject of the sentence. The verb depicts actions, events, or states of being.

A noun is a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, or abstract concepts. A noun can function in a sentence as a subject, a direct object, an indirect object, a subject complement, an object complement, an appositive, an adjective or an adverb.

Pronouns as a part of speech can replace a noun, another pronoun, noun phrases and perform most of the functions of a noun.

An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifying words. Many consider articles: “the, a, an” to be adjectives.

An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, or a complete clause by indicating manner, time, place, cause, or degree.

A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence.

Conjunctions link words, phrases, and clauses.

An interjection is a part of speech used to show or express emotion or illustrate an exclamation.

Additional Parts of Speech Forms and Functions

VERBS

A transitive or sometimes called an action verb passes action on to a direct object.

An intransitive verb does not indicate a transfer of action.

A linking verb joins a subject with a word that describes it.

A main verb indicates the primary or principal activity.

An auxiliary verb helps the main verb describe an action or state of being.

A modal verb indicates ability, obligation, permission, or possibility. Modal examples: can, may, must, should, could, might, ought, would.

A finite verb describes a definite and limited action or condition.

A non-finite verb shows an unfinished action or condition.

A ditransitive verb takes two complements, an indirect object and a direct object.

Monotransitive verbs take one complement, usually a direct object

An intransitive verb does not have any complements. Examples: Fred cried. Sally slept.

A prepositional verb is a multi-word verb consisting of a verb and preposition.

Phrasal-prepositional verbs are multi-word verbs consisting of a verb, adverb and preposition.

Verb Forms called Verbals

Infinitives are the word ” to + verb” and they act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

Participles in past or present tenses act as adjectives

Gerunds in the “present tense participle form” act as nouns.

NOUNS

Proper nouns are capitalized and include: name of a specific person, place, or thing, days of the week, months of the year, historical documents, institutions, organizations, religions, holy texts and religious followers.

A common noun is a noun referring in general to a person, place, or thing.

A concrete noun is a noun which names everything (or everyone) that you can perceive through the physical senses of touch, sight, taste, hearing, or smell.

An abstract noun is a noun that names anything that you can not perceive through your five physical senses.

A countable noun (or count noun) names anything (or anyone) that you can count and is a noun with both a singular and a plural form.

A non-countable noun (or mass noun) is a noun which does not have a plural form, and which refers to something that you could (or would) not usually count.

A collective noun is a noun naming a group of things, animals or persons.

A possessive noun indicates ownership or possession.

PRONOUNS

A personal pronoun refers to a specific person or thing and changes its form to indicate person, number, gender, and case.

A subjective personal pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as the subject of the sentence. The subjective personal pronouns: I, you, she, he, it, we, you, they”.

An objective personal pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as an object of a verb, compound verb, preposition, or infinitive phrase. The objective personal pronouns: “me, you, her, him, it, us, you, them”.

A possessive pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as an indication of possession and defines who owns a particular object. The possessive personal pronouns: “mine, yours, hers, his, its, ours, theirs”.

A demonstrative pronoun points to and identifies a noun or a pronoun. The demonstrative pronouns: “this, that, these, and those”.

An interrogative pronoun is used to ask questions. The interrogative pronouns: “who, whom, which, what”.

Relative pronouns link one phrase or clause to another phrase or clause. The relative pronouns: “who, whom, that, which.”

An indefinite pronoun refers to an unspecified person or thing. An indefinite pronoun depicts the idea of all, any, none, or some. The most common indefinite pronouns: all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone.

The reflexive pronouns identify the “self” such as: “myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.”

An intensive pronoun is a pronoun used to emphasize or highlight an attribute.

ADJECTIVES

An adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun which it modifies. Gradable adjectives have a base, comparative and superlative form. The adjective happy is intensified in the following examples: “very happy, extremely happy, quite happy, happier, and happiest”. Adjectives can have stative or dynamic and inherent or non-inherent properties.

An adjective can be modified by an adverb or by a phrase or clause functioning as an adverb. Some nouns, many pronouns, and many participle phrases can also act as adjectives.

A possessive adjective is similar to a possessive pronoun. The possessive adjective modifies a noun or a noun phrase.

The demonstrative adjectives “this, these, that, those, what” are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but are used as adjectives to modify nouns or noun phrases.

An interrogative adjective such as “which or what” is like an interrogative pronoun. The interrogative adjective modifies a noun or noun phrase rather than standing on its own.

An indefinite adjective is similar to an indefinite pronoun. The indefinite adjective modifies a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.

ADVERBS

Adverbs have a complex grammatical relationship within the sentence or clause as a whole. An adverb can be found in various places within the sentence. An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, a clause or entire sentence. Adverbs are gradable with intensification and comparison.

A circumstantial adverb indicates manner, time or place.

A degree adverb specifies the degree or cause to which some property applies and answers questions such as: how, when and where.

The conjunctive adverb can join two clauses together. The most common conjunctive adverbs: “also, consequently, finally, furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, still, then, therefore and thus.”

A disjunct adverb comments on the sentence as a whole. Example: Honestly, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

An interrogative adverb is used to construct interrogative sentences and “wh-questions” example: Why did you do that?

PREPOSITIONS

A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence.

The most common prepositions: “about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, but, by, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, out, outside, over, past, since, through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, until, up, upon, with, within and without.”

Complex prepositions consist of more than one word: along with, out of, up to.

CONJUNCTIONS

Conjunctions are a part of speech and are a closed word class which includes coordinating words such as “and, but, and or”, and subordinating words such as “because, if, and when”. Some conjunctions can also appear as prepositions or as adverbs.

Coordinating conjunctions “and, but, or, nor, for, so, or yet” are used to join individual words, phrases, and independent clauses. The conjunctions “but” and “for” can also function as prepositions.

A subordinating conjunction introduces a dependent clause and indicates the nature of the relationship between the independent clause(s) and the dependent clause(s). The most common subordinating conjunctions: “after, although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, than, that, though, till, until, when, where, whether and while”.

Correlative conjunctions always appear in pairs — you use them to link equivalent sentence elements. The most common correlative conjunctions: “both… and, either…or, neither…nor, not only.., but also, so…as, and whether…or.” Usually correlative conjunctions consist of a coordinating conjunction linked to an adjective or adverb.

INTERJECTIONS

Interjections are used in speech to indicate emotion or transition. Interjections such as “yuk, ouch, eh” are used as exclamations in conversation.

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