Parts of Speech
In Basic English Grammar, there are 8 parts of speech that are essential to master if you want to become affluent in the language. These eight parts of speech are: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection.
Learning a new language
Can be a lot of fun. A new language opens a whole new world to those who try to add a second or third language to their native tongue. A lot of excitement can rise up in a person when they realize the full potential a new language brings.
They can communicate with millions of new potential friends. They can read articles, stories and other words written by the native speakers of that new language and understand what they are trying to say.
A new language helps people cross cultural barriers and see that the people of another nation are just like themselves. It builds bridges as well, making friends out of old enemies. Plus, you can protect yourself by knowing what strangers are saying about you.
The benefits of learning a new language are many. But it is not always easy to learn a different language because the parts of speech are different. The rules of sentence structure are different, and it takes a lot of time, dedication and patience to learn the new language.
In this article, we will tell you about those aspects of the English language as well as a few related items that help you use those parts of speech correctly.
The 8 Parts of Speech
The definition of a noun is that it applies to a person, place or thing. The trick is that that is not all that nouns are about. They have several features to them. A noun can be proper, common, possessive, compound, and collective.
The difference between a proper noun and a common one is that the proper noun is always capitalized-
e.g. Common Noun: You broke my favorite vase. Proper Noun: I can’t believe you broke my Linus vase.
Common Noun: I want a new pair of jeans. Proper Noun: I really want to buy a new pair of Lee’s jeans.
A collective noun refers to a group of people, animals or things. Some examples of collective nouns are as follows: Flock, Committee, Choir, Team, group & crowd
Some examples are- for people:
- A class of students
- A crowd of people
- A gang of thieves
- A team of players
- A panel of experts
- An army of ants
- A flock of birds
- A herd of deer
- A hive of bees
- A litter of puppies
- A bunch of flowers
- A fleet of ships
- A forest of trees
- A galaxy of stars
- A pack of lies
Then a possessive noun simply shows ownership. This is usually indicated by an ‘s or if the word ends in an ‘s’ then you just need the apostrophe. Some people can be finicky and demand that an ‘s is added to words ending in ‘s’ but it is not necessary to do so
Some examples are: Mabel’s, dog’s, business’
Finally, a compound noun is a noun that is made up of two or more words joined together. They can also be made up of 2 nouns, an adjective & a noun, a verb & a noun, and a noun & a verb. Here are examples of each, they are in the same order as described:
While you’re at the store, please pick up some toothpaste
Please erase the blackboard for me.
Be sure to add bleach to the washing machine.
He always gets up before sunrise
As you can see, while simple, nouns have a lot of uses. There are a lot of ways to describe a person, place or thing. It just takes time to learn and master it all. Then to complicate things, nouns can be used as a subject, direct object, indirect object, subject complement, or object of a preposition.
One example: The young girl brought me a very long letter from the teacher, and then she quickly disappeared.
A partial list of nouns can be found at this link
These are small words used to replace nouns. Usually they replace specific nouns. These specific nouns are also called antecedents. Pronouns, like nouns, have several categories to them. There are personal pronouns, possessive ones, relative, reflexive and demonstrative pronouns. They all have their specific duties.
- personal pronouns- these are divided into two categories. First are subject pronouns which replace names in sentences- I, You, He, She, It, They, We
Second are objective pronouns which replace the object in the sentence- Me, You, Him, Her, It, Us, Them
Personal pronouns give us options and help us not repeat the same noun over and over. You just need to get the right pronoun in the right part of the sentence and you will be fine. The difficult issue with personal pronouns is when to use I and when to use me.
A couple of examples may help to clarify when to use them:
#1. Jody and I are going to San Francisco in July
We do not use ‘me’ here as the pronoun ‘I’ is part of the subject of the sentence.
#2. They gave the award to me
In this case the pronoun ‘I’ is not used as ‘me’ is the object in the sentence.
- Possessive pronouns- like possessive nouns, these pronouns declare ownership of a person, place or thing. These pronouns are- my, mine, his, hers, her, our, ours, yours, your, theirs, their, and its.
e.g. that is my bag
that is her bag
iii. Relative pronoun- this word introduces a relative clause. There are 5 of these- who, whom, whose, which, that
e.g. The person who phoned me last night is my teacher.
- Reflexive pronoun- is preceded by the adverb, adjective, pronoun, or noun to which it refers.
e.g. I was in a hurry, so I washed the car myself.
- Demonstrative pronoun- is used to point to something specific within a sentence. There are 4 of these- these, those, this or that. The first two are for plural use and the second two are for singular use
e.g. That looks like the car I used to drive.
These are nice shoes, but they look uncomfortable.
To use demonstrative pronouns correctly, you must follow 3 rules:
- They always identify nouns
- They usually used to describe animals, places, or things, however they can be used to describe people when the person is identified
- Do not confuse demonstrative adjectives with demonstrative pronouns. The words are the same, but they have different purposes.
These may be the easiest section of the 8 parts of speech. There are not multiple types of verbs to learn and master. Verbs have only one function and that is to describe action. There are a lot of verbs in the English language but only a few will be given here as examples- running, climbing, talking, jumped, sat
The key to using verbs is that they must agree with the subject in number. They cannot disagree. If the subject is plural, then the verb is plural. If the subject is singular, then the verb is singular.
Also, there are two types of verbs- regular and irregular.
- regular verbs- these use the standard forms used by other words in the sentence to mark past tense, present tense, plural and so on. You just add ‘s’, ‘ed’, ‘es’, or ‘ing’. There are rules to follow when adding these suffixes to a word.
words ending in e simply get an ‘s’ added to them
e.g. Move > moves
words ending in vowels not ‘e’ get ‘es’ added to them
e.g. box > boxes
words ending in the letters s, -z, -ch, -sh, and -x get ‘es’ added to them
e.g. church > churches
words ending in the letter ‘y’ you have to change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ then add ‘es’
e.g. hurry > hurries
Add ‘ed’ to words ending in consonants and vowels not ‘e’
e.g. Box > boxed
Just add ‘d’ to words ending in ‘e’
e.g. Tone > toned
For words ending in ‘y’, change the ‘y’ ‘i’ then add ‘ed’
e.g. Hurry > hurried
Adding ‘ing’ to a word
Add ‘ing’ to all words not ending in ‘e’
e.g. laugh > laughing
when the word ends in ‘e’, drop the ‘e’ then add ‘ing’
e.g. hone > honing
For words ending in ‘y’, just add the ‘ing’ ending
e.g. hurry > hurrying
A list of regular verbs can be seen by clicking the word here
- Irregular verbs- do not follow the above rules. They have their own way of expressing the right tense. If you want to see a list of most irregular verbs, just click here. Some examples are: brought, bought, taught, took, bound
e.g. She bought the computer at the second-hand store
You can’t master the 8 parts of speech without mastering the use of adjectives. These little words describe a noun or a pronoun. Sometimes you can use the articles ‘a’, ‘an’, & ‘the’ with adjectives.
Some examples of adjectives are: young, old, long, short, tall, thin
e.g. The young girl was not impressed by the behavior of the fat man
Colors can also be used as adjectives.
e.g. the black and white cat ran up the tree
As you learn vocabulary you will pick up on which words are used as adjectives quite easily. Also, adjectives usually answer the questions of which one, what kind, or how many and other similar questions.
For a list of common adjectives, click here
Sometimes it can get confusing when you are trying to learn the different eight parts of speech. The words are similar as are their functions. Adverbs have a similar function to adjectives. Except that instead of describing nouns, they describe verbs.
One key in using an adverb is that they never describe the noun. That is the job f the adjective and the two do not cross over. The job of the adverb is to answer specific questions like: when, where, how, why, under what conditions, or to what degree
These words can end in ‘ly’ but not always.
e.g. she ran quickly down the hall
the boys fought ferociously
A list of adverbs can be found here
Even though other parts of speech have multiple categories to master, the hardest part of speech to mater has been the use of prepositions. These little words are the first to be forgotten or misused out of all the words of the English language.
Part of the problem is that many prepositions have more than one meaning. This makes their use a little complicated as you got to know all the meanings in order to use the propositions correctly in a sentence.
Another part of the problem is that prepositions describe a variety of locations, directions and other items in the English language.
e.g. he went to the store
she wondered what the painting was all about
The key to being fluent in English is that if you want to make sense in your communication, you cannot leave these words out. They are vital to clear communication.
Look the plane the sky
Look at the plane in the sky
The house is post office
The house is next to the post office
You can see how important those little words are. Not only do they save the listener some time in trying to guess what you said and figure out what you are saying, they save you time. You do not have to repeat yourself or explain what you are trying to say.
When you are studying the different parts of speech, you need to spend a little extra time studying prepositions. They are not large words, but they carry a very large impact on your English.
The use of prepositions tells the listener how fluent you are in the English language. You can get a list of prepositions at this link.
You have all heard the minister, priest or religious person say at a wedding, “we now join this man and this woman together…” Well that is what conjunctions do. They join words, phrases, or clauses together and then indicate the relationship between those words, phrases and clauses.
Conjunctions are found in two forms- coordinating and subordinating.
- Coordinating conjunctions- these words connect grammatically equal elements of a sentence. Some of the words used in this form are- and, but, nor, for, so, yet…
e.g. I have looked and I have looked
She must have been tired, for she fell asleep the moment she laid down
- Subordinating conjunctions- these do the other work that needs to be done in a sentence. They connect grammatically unequal parts of sentence. The most common words used here are- because, although, while, since, etc.
e.g. As Sherri blew out the candles atop her birthday cake, she caught her hair on fire.
Sara begins to sneeze whenever she opens the window to get a breath of fresh air.
There are also 2 functions performed by subordinate conjunctions:
- it demonstrates the importance of the independent clause
- it provides a transition between two ideas in the same sentence
One word about that transition function. This is always talking about place, time, or cause and effect relationship.
e.g. We looked in the decorative canister, where Ginger hides her money.
The most commonly used conjunctions can be found here
These may be the last of the eight parts of speech, but they are just as important as the other 7. The duty of the interjection is very simple. It expresses a person’s emotion. It could be anger, surprise, amazement or shock, interjections handle it all.
Also, these words are not restricted to just one word like WOW!. They can be made of up a few words as well. Most are one word and they clearly state the emotional impact of the words, behavior or event that a person has heard, seen or witnessed.
If you ever watched the original Batman television series, you would have seen Robin use a variety of interjections in his reaction to what his partner said- Holy cow, holy smoke, wow, eureka. OMG, are some of the more common interjections used by people today.
When writing interjections, the punctuation depends solely on the context of the sentence it is used in.
e.g. Ohh! That’s a beautiful dress.
Hey, why did you let the dog in here?
And yes, derogatory terms like swear words would count as interjections if used as such. We do not recommend their use, but many people use them anyways. Another way to recognize an interjection is the intonation used when it is expressed.
The sound of a person’s voice will be the key clue if the word is being used as an interjection. A list of interjections can be found here.
Tips on learning the 8 parts of speech
They say that the English language is one of the more difficult languages you can try to learn. You can see why by just examining the above description of the 8 parts of speech. But all is not lost. Here are some tips to help you learn and master the English language
- Be patient– Rome was not built in a day and you won’t learn English in a day either
- It takes time– unless you are a whiz at learning languages, you can expect to master English in a few years, not a few months
- It takes dedication– you have got to stick to it even when the lessons get tough.
- Don’t quit– the moment you quit, you lose. Very few people celebrate or follow quitters. They like to celebrate those who succeed and hang in there.
- Follow the rules– many students of English try to use the rules of their native language to learn English. It doesn’t work. You have to learn and follow the rules for English to master the language
- Use resources– there are a lot of good books on sale that will help you learn the English language correctly Use dictionaries, thesauruses, and other resources to make sure you are learning and using the language correctly
- You are not alone– there are over 1 billion people who use English as their native language or have learned it as a second or third language. If you are struggling, you can get help from someone who has gone through what you are going through
Some pointers in learning & using the parts of speech
- Don’t try to learn all 8 parts of speech at once. You will become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. This experience may cause you to quit and give up
- Divide the information up in sizes you are comfortable in studying. Then do one section at a time. It doesn’t matter if you have 4 to 8 sections for nouns and only 1 for adverbs. Then study one section at a time until you have mastered it. After a while, you will look back and see how much you have learned
- Set goals– give yourself realistic goals to reach. For example, one section on nouns, give yourself a week to master it. It is okay if you do not make it, just adjust the time length of your goals when you don not learn as fast as you hoped. But stay realistic
- Reward yourself– when you make your goals, give yourself a reward and keep yourself motivated for the next section
- Understand key features of the parts of speech– for example, the words this and these indicate that you are standing near what you are talking about or holding the items in your hand. When you use the words that and those, you are not near them but pointing towards the items you are talking about. These key points will help you grasp the use of the different parts of speech.
- Don’t rush– everyone learns at their own pace. Don’t try to keep up with faster learners as this will discourage you. Also, do not try to keep pace with slower learners. This will only hold you back. Pick a pace that is right for you and stick with it
Pronouncing the words of the eight parts of speech
Part of mastering the English language is saying the words correctly. If you want people to understand what you are saying you need to practice speaking the words till you get it right.
Use a mirror, a tape recorder or a native English speaker to help you master pronouncing English words. They say that practice makes perfect and that is true when one is trying to learn a language. You need to practice and follow the right tips to get saying English words correctly.
Here are some tips on how to pronounce the words found in the 8 parts of speech:
- When a word has only 1 vowel & it comes at the beginning or between two consonants, the vowel is usually short
- “The letters ‘c’ and ‘k’ share the work of the /k/ sound. The ‘c’ works with the vowels ‘a’, ‘o’ & ‘u’ while the ‘k’ works with the vowels ‘e’ & ‘i’
- “The Q-q always has the vowel ‘u’ next to it. They make the same sound as /kw/.”
- “The X-x sound is made by saying the consonants k & s. The X-x is usually at the end of words.”
- “When there are 2 vowels in a word, the first vowel says its long sound and the second vowel is silent.”
- “These are the vowel blends that make up the long A-a sound: a, ai, a_e, & ay.”
- “These are the vowel blends which make up the long E-e sound: e, ea, ee, & ey.”
- “These are the vowel blends which make up the long I-i sound: i, i_e, ie & y.”
- “These are the vowel blends which make up the long O-o sound: o, oe, oa, o_e & ow.”
10 “These are the vowel blends which make up the long U-u sound: u, ui, u_e, ew.”
11.“When e, i, & u are followed by the r, they make the same sound.”
- A long word may be divided between two consonants. The 2 consonants will usually keep the first vowel short.”
- “The vowel a makes the same sound as o as in frog when it is followed by an l, w or u.
- “The consonant g makes the hard sound of g when the vowels a, o, & u come after it.”
- “When the y is the only vowel in a word, it has a long i sound, as in fly. When a y follows another vowel, it is usually silent, as in day. When there are other vowels in the word, then y has the long sound, as in baby.”
The benefits of learning English
There are a lot of personal advantages you get when you study English or any other language, for that matter. Here are a few of those benefits that come when you expand your body of language knowledge:
- Your brain activity improves- you sharpen your brain keeping it mentally fit as you grow older
- Makes you employment valuable- learning another language provides you with more job opportunities or promotions
- Expand your business- you can communicate in a different language opening a whole new market for your products or services
- Widen your internet activities- learning English opens up a majority of internet content for you to read and respond to
- Travel is made easier- wherever you go in the world, including North Korea, you will find English speakers. This will make your travel much easier. Plus, airport signs are usually written in the native language of the country you are in and English. That makes airport navigation smoother and easier
- Better education opportunities- top schools use English and you can expand your search for the right school to pursue your studies. Studies will be easier as you know the language in use
- Immigration is easier- if you are a native English speaker this won’t matter as much but to others, to immigrate to an English-speaking country, you may have to pass an English test first
- You understand more- this is very important. Understanding what people are actually saying to you will either avid conflict or allow you to respond correctly to those people insulting you. You will also understand slang terms better and not embarrass yourself
Some final words
By now you may be thinking that learning is not worth it. There is just too much work involved in learning the English language. But do not lose hope. Once you mastered the English language you can have confidence in yourself and your abilities to communicate well.
Having some self-confidence is vital as then you can see that you can achieve a goal. This attitude will help you in all areas of life, including business, sports, or even romance. The key is not to overdue it and be overwhelmed.
You do not have to learn all the English language at once. As you can see, you can start with the basics, so you can get a solid foundation to build the rest of your language learning on.
Having a good foundation, like learning the 8 parts of speech, is a great way to stay motivated and build your confidence. Just do it a little at a time according to your language learning capabilities.
Take your time and make sure you get everything correct. Don’t forget to invest in some good resources. These resources provide you with the proper way to use the 8 parts of speech. They give you the fundamentals, so you can be fluent in English and use the language like a native.
The key is not to give up.