Parts of Speech

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Parts of Speech

A knowledge of the parts of speech

will help you understand how your



• Nouns name something, a person, place,

or thing.

• Nouns may be abstract or concrete.

• Something may be classified as a noun if

you can put an article (a, an, or the) or a

possessive pronoun (my, her, him) in front

of it.

Examples: advertising, philosophy, doctor,

computer, honest, lion.


Pronouns – stand in place of


There are many kinds of pronouns. Personal:

Subjective: I, you, he, she, we, they Objective: me, you, him, her, us, them Possessive: my, your, her, our, their

Absolute possessive: mine, yours, his, hers, ours,



More pronouns:

Reflexive or Intensive:

myself, yourself, themselves, and so on.

Frankenstein’s creature was shocked when he

looked at himself in the mirror. (reflexive)

I did it by myself. (intensive)


Even more pronouns. . .

Relative: These pronouns connect

subordinate clauses to main clauses.

who, which, that, whose, whoever,

whomever, whichever, and so on

The best friends are those who know when to


Interrogative and Demonstrative


Interrogative pronouns begin questions.

Who, whom, which, what. What do you mean by that?

Demonstrative pronouns point to someone or


This, that, these, those, such. Such is life.


Indefinite and Reciprocal


Indefinite pronouns stand for an indefinite

number of people or things.

Any, some, each, every, few, everyone, everybody, someone, somebody. Everybody loves somebody sometime.

Reciprocal pronouns express a reciprocal


Each other, one another Scott and Zelda hated each other intensely.



• A verb is an action word or a word that

describes a state of being.

• It may be composed of an auxiliary verb

and a main verb.

• Verbs may be transitive or intransitive

(some verbs may be either) or linking.


More about verbs . . .

A transitive verb needs an object to be


Winston shut the door.

An intransitive verb is complete without an


Rita yawned.

A linking verb connects the subject to a state

of being.


Helping Verbs

• There are twenty three helping verbs in

English: forms of have, do, and be, which also may function as main verbs;

• and nine modals which function only as helping verbs. They are: can, could, may, might, must,

shall, should, will, and would.

The forms of have, do, and be change form to indicate tense; the nine modals do not.

Forms of have, do, and be include:

do, does, did


Main Verbs

The main verb of a sentence is always the kind of word that would change form if put into these sentences.

Base form: Usually I (walk, ride).

Past tense: Yesterday I (walked, rode). Past participle:

I have (walked, ridden) many times before. Present participle:

I am (walking, riding) right now.


More about verbs. . .

• If a word doesn’t change form when slipped into these test sentences, you can be certain it is not a main verb. For example, the noun revolution, though it may seem to suggest an action, can never function as a main verb. Try to make it behave like one …. Today I revolutioned. . .

Yesterday I revolutioned. . . and you’ll see why. • When both the past-tense and the past-participle

forms of a verb end in –ed, the verb is regular (walked, walked). Otherwise the verb is irregular (rode, ridden).


Even more about verbs. . .

• The verb


is highly irregular, having

eight forms instead of the usual five; the

base form be; the present-tense form am,

is and are; the past-tense form was and

were; the present participle being; and the

past participle been.

• I am here. They are here.

• They were here. He was here.

• I have been there before.



• Adjectives describe or modify nouns.

• They can come before the noun or pronoun they modify or they can follow a linking verb.

• Adjectives answer the questions: Which one? What kind of? How many?

1. A delicious meal awaited us. (delicious modifies the noun meal – It answers the question what kind of?)

2. A devilish apparition appeared in the doorway. (devilish modifies apparition. It answers the question what kind of?

3. Her performance was wooden. (wooden modifies performance – it

follows the linking verb was and it answers the question What kind


4. Twenty students boarded the bus. (twenty modifies the noun students and it answers the question How many?)

5. That hat belongs to me. (That modifies hat and it answers the question



• Adverbs describe or modify verb, adjectives, and other adverbs. • They often end in –ly.

• Adverbs answer the questions: When? Where? How? Why? Under what conditions? And to what degree?

1. The party ended too soon. (too modifies the adverb soon which modifies the verb ended.)

2. Read the best books first. (Read when?)

3. She was extremely good and very lonely. (extremely and very intensify and limit the intensity respectively of the adjectives good and lonely.)

4. I am not happy. I am never sad. (not and never are used as negators and are classified as adverbs. In these cases they limit or modify the adjectives happy and sad respectively)



• The preposition is a linking word that is always followed by a noun or a pronoun.

• It is a phrase that modifies another word in the sentence.

• The prepositional phrase nearly always functions as an adverb or adjective.

• The road to hell is paved with good intentions. (To hell functions as an adjective modifying the noun

road; with good intentions functions as an adverb modifying the verb phrase is paved.)


More about prepositions. . .

• Choosing the right preposition may cause problems in written English.

• Some common prepositions are: about, above, across,

after, against, along, among, around, at, as, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, concerning, considering, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, next, of, off, on, onto, opposite, out, outside, over, past, plus, regarding,

respecting, round, since, than, though, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, unlike, until, unto, up, upon, with, within, without.

• Some prepositions are more than one word: along with,


Prepositions are always part of a

phrase . . .

• We ran down the street when we heard the bell

of the ice cream truck. (down the street and of

the ice cream truck are both prepositional



• Conjunctions are used to join two words, phrases, or clauses and they indicate the relation between the elements joined.

• Coordinating conjunctions: connect grammatically equal elements

and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet.

• Correlative conjunctions: pairs of conjunctions the connect grammatically equal elements

either. . .or, neither . . . nor, not only . . . but also,


More about conjunctions. . .

• Subordinating conjunctions introduce subordinate clauses and indicate their relation to the rest of the sentence.

after, although, as, as if, because, before, even though,

if, in order that, rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, where, whether, while.

• Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs used to indicate the relation between independent clauses.

accordingly, also, anyway, besides, certainly,

consequently, finally, furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile,

moreover, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, similarly, specifically, still, subsequently, then, therefore, thus.


Some sentences using

conjunctions. . .

The office sent invoices to those who owed money and greeting cards to those who did not. (And is the

coordinating conjunction showing the

relationship between those who owed money and those who did not. )

After the war was over, Ashley returned to Melanie.

(After is a subordinating conjunction showing the relationship of the first clause to the second.

Since the subordinate clause begins the sentence it is followed by a comma. )



• Interjections are exclamatory words or

phrases that interrupt a sentence.

No, I don’t want to go to the dentist.


Phrase and Clause

• A phrase is a group of words

In the house, by the bridge, over the moon,

playing doctor,

• A clause is a group of words with a subject

and a verb.

We were playing doctor in the tree house.

We were by the bridge when we saw the cow




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