tagHow ToEnglish 101: Parts of Speech

English 101: Parts of Speech


English 101 is brought to you by Lindiana, who holds her Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education/English.

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In the English language, there are eight parts of speech:

The Noun

The noun is a word that is used to name a person, place, thing or idea. Nouns are classified as one of three types: proper/common, abstract/concrete or collective.

A proper noun is the name of a particular person, place or thing. Proper nouns are always capitalized.

A common noun is a word that does not name a particular person, place or thing. Examples of a common noun would be words like town, house and lady.

An abstract noun names a quality, characteristic, or idea. In other words, it is a word used to describe something abstract and arbitrary.

A concrete noun names an object that can be perceived by one of the five senses.

A collective noun names a group.

The Pronoun

The pronoun is a word used in place of one or more nouns. Pronouns fall into one of the following categories: personal, reflexive, intensive, relative, interrogative, demonstrative and indefinite.

Personal pronouns are used in place of a proper noun. The personal pronouns are as follows: I, me, you, he, him, she, her, it, we, us, they and them.

Possessive pronouns are used to indicate possession: my book, his house, their dream.

Reflexive and intensive pronouns are used conjunctly. They are words combined with either self or selves and can be used reflexively (the action of the verb is directed BACK at the subject) or intensively (emphasizes back upon the subject).


Reflexive-Justin cut himself.

Intensive-Justin himself was cut.

Relative pronouns are used to introduce subordinate clauses. A subordinate clause is a group of words that contains a subject and predicate and is used as part of a sentence but cannot stand alone as a sentence by itself. The relative pronouns are as follows: who whom, which, that and whose.

Interrogative pronouns are used in questions. The interrogative pronouns are as follows: who, whom, which, what and whose.

Demonstrative pronouns are used to specifically point out certain persons or things. The demonstrative pronouns are: this, these, that and those.

Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that do not fall into one of the classes as listed above. Most, but not all, indefinite pronouns express the idea of quantity. Here is a list of the most commonly used indefinite pronouns: all, each, most, other, another, either, neither, several, any, everybody, nobody, some, anybody, everyone, none, someone, anyone, few, no one, somebody, both, many, one and such

The Adjective

The adjective is a word used to modify or describe a noun or pronoun. In this instance, to modify means to limit or make more definite. This can be done in one of three ways:

1.) Telling what kind:

green eyes, small town

2.) Pointing out which one:

that man, this classroom

3.) Telling how many:

several poets, fourteen freshmen

The normal position of an adjective is directly before the noun or pronoun it is modifying. Adjectives may be used after however and often are used as such by writers.

A predicate adjective is separated from the noun or pronoun it modifies by a verb.

Also note that the same word can be used in different capabilities. Some pronouns and nouns can also function as adjectives. Most of the indefinite pronouns can also be used as adjectives.

Example: Both girls wanted to go to the dance. (Both as adjective)

Both of you want it? (Both as pronoun)

Here is an example of a noun functioning as an adjective: litter box

In this instance the word litter is being used as an adjective, not a noun.

The Verb

It is commonly known that the verb is the action word. The verb in a sentence can also help to make a statement. The action described may be physical or mental.

Transitive vs Intransitive Verbs

Action verbs may or may not take or refer to an object. Those verbs that are linked to an object are called transitive: example, He finished the poem. Those verbs that can express an action without a noun are called intransitive: example, The writer quit.

Some intransitive verbs help to make the sentence complete by expressing a state or condition. These verbs are linked to the word that it is describing. Therefore, they are called linking verbs. The most common linking verb is the word be and its forms: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been and phrases that end in a form of be. Other common linking verbs are: appear, grow, seem, stay, become, look, smell, taste, feel, remain and sound.

Helping verbs are also used. These are verbs that help the main verb to express action or make a statement. The common helping verbs are: am, has, can (may) have, are, had, could (would, should) be, is, can, could (would, should) have, was, may, will (shall) have been, were, will (shall) be, might have, do, will (shall) have, might have been, did, has (had) been, must, have, can (may) be, must have and must have been.

The Adverb

The adverb is used to modify a verb, adjective or another adverb. It functions much like an adjective does for a noun. It usually will tell how, when, where or to what extent the action of the verb is done. Some adverbs are used mostly to emphasize. On occasion, nouns will be used adverbially. An example: Lindiana taught us yesterday.

Here the word yesterday is being used as an adverb, not a noun.

The Preposition

The preposition is used to show the relation of a noun or pronoun to some other word within the sentence. Here is an example: She enjoys writing in the library more than working on her laptop.

In the above sentence, in and on are prepositions. In is used to link the ideas of writing and the library. On is used to link the ideas of working and laptop.

Prepositions always appear in a phrase and are usually located at the beginning.

The noun or pronoun at the end of the phrase is called the object of the preposition. As well, a group of words may function as a preposition. Following is a list of common prepositions: about, at, but (meaning except), into, throughout, above, before, by, like, to, across, behind, concerning, of, toward, after, below, down, off, under, against, beneath, during, on, underneath, along, beside, except, over, until, amid, besides, for, past, unto, among, between, from , since, up, around, beyond, in, through, upon, with, within and without.

The Conjunction

The conjunction is used to join words or groups of words. There are three kind of conjunctions: coordinating, correlative and subordinating.

The coordinating conjunctions are as follows: and, but, or, nor and for.

The correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs. They are as follows: either/or, neither/nor, both/and, not only/but (also) and whether/or.

The subordinating conjunctions are used to begin subordinating clauses. A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and predicate and is used as a part of the sentence. A subordinate clause is a clause that cannot stand alone as a sentence in and of itself. The following is a list of the most commonly used subordinating conjunctions: after, before, provided, unless, although, how, since, until, as, if, than, when, as much as, in order that, that, where, because, inasmuch as, though and while.

The Interjection

The last part of speech is the interjection. It is a word used to express emotion and has no grammatical relation to other words in the sentence. Common examples we see used often are: Oh! Ah! Ouch! Alas!

There you go. The eight parts of speech made simple.

Reference: Warriner's English Grammar and Composition, Complete Course

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