PARTS OF SPEECH
The parts of speech explain how a word is used in a sentence.
There are eight main parts of speech (also known as word classes): nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.
Most parts of speech can be divided into sub-classes. Prepositions can be divided into prepositions of time, prepositions of place etc. Nouns can be divided into proper nouns, common nouns, concrete nouns etc.
It is important to know that a word can sometimes be in more than one part of speech. For example with the word increase.
Increase can be a verb e.g. Prices increased
and increase can also be a noun e.g. There was an increase in the number of followers.
The eight main parts of speech in English are:
1. NOUN - (Naming word)
A noun is the name of a person, place, thing or idea.
Examples of nouns: Daniel, London, table, dog, teacher, pen, city, happiness, hope
Example sentences: Steve lives in Sydney. Mary uses pen and paper to write letters.
Different types of nouns
Common nouns are used to name a GENERAL type of person, place or thing.
Common nouns can be divided into smaller classes such as countable and uncountable nouns, concrete and abstract nouns and collective nouns.
Examples of common nouns: girl, city, animal, friend, house, food
Proper nouns are used to name a SPECIFIC person, place or thing. In English, proper nouns begin with a capital letter. Proper nouns do not normally have a determiner before them (e.g.
the London, the Mary etc.) though there are some exceptions (e.g. Is she the Mary that we met at the conference?).
Examples of proper nouns: John, London, Pluto, Monday, France
Compound nouns are two or more words that create a noun. Compound nouns are sometimes one word (haircut), words joined by a hyphen (son-in-law) or as separate words (bus stop). The main stress is normally on the first part of the compound word (sunglasses, swimming pool)
Examples of compound nouns: toothbrush, rainfall, sailboat, mother-in-law, well-being, alarm clock, credit card
Countable nouns are nouns that CAN be counted. They have a singular and a plural form and can be used with a number. Sometimes countable nouns are called count nouns.
Examples of countable nouns: car, desk, cup, house, bike, eye, butterfly
See more information about Countable vs Uncountable Nouns.
Uncountable nouns are nouns that CANNOT be counted. These are sometimes called Mass Nouns. Uncountable nouns often refer to:
- substances: paper, wood, plastic
- liquids: milk, oil , juice
- gases: air, oxygen
- abstract ideas: happiness, time, information
Examples of uncountable nouns: water, coffee, cheese, sand, furniture, skin, wool, gold, fur
See more information about Countable vs Uncountable Nouns.
Collective nouns are words that refer to a set or group of people, animals or things.
Examples of collective nouns: staff, team, crew, herd, flock, bunch
See our list of Collective Nouns
Concrete nouns are nouns which refer to people and things that exist physically and that at least one of the senses can detect (can be seen, felt, heard, smelled/smelt, or tasted).
Examples of concrete nouns: dog, tree, apple, moon, coin, sock, ball, water
Abstract nouns are nouns that have no physical existence and are not concrete. They refer to ideas, emotions or concepts so you CANNOT see, touch, hear, smell or taste something that is an abstract noun. Many abstract nouns are uncountable.
Examples of abstract nouns: love, time, happiness, bravery, creativity, justice, freedom, speed
A gerund, sometimes called a verbal noun, is a noun formed from a verb. Since all gerunds end in -ing, they are sometimes confused as being a verb (present participle).
Example: Running is good for you.
Here running looks like a verb because of its -ing ending but it is a noun (gerund) because we are talking about the concept of running, we are talking about a thing.
Examples of gerunds: reading, writing, dancing, thinking, flying
2. PRONOUN - (Replaces a Noun)
A pronoun is used in place of a noun or noun phrase to avoid repetition.
Examples of pronouns: I, you, we, they, he, she, it, me, us, them, him, her, this, those
Example sentences: Mary is tired. She wants to sleep. I want her to dance with me.
These pronouns are used to demonstrate (or indicate). This, that, these and those are all demonstrative pronouns.
- This is the one I left in the car.
(In this example, the speaker could be indicating to a mobile phone, in which case, the pronoun this replaces the words mobile phone.)
More on demonstrative pronouns...
Unlike demonstrative pronouns, which point out specific items, indefinite pronouns are used for non-specific things. This is the largest group of pronouns. All, some, any, several, anyone, nobody, each, both, few, either, none, one and no one are the most common.
- Somebody must have seen the driver leave.
(somebody – not a specific person)
- We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. (Oscar Wilde)
- I have nothing to declare except my genius. (Oscar Wilde)
More on indefinite pronouns...
These pronouns are used in questions. Although they are classified as pronouns, it is not easy to see how they replace nouns. Who, which, what, where and how are all interrogative pronouns.
- Who told you to do that?
- Which dog won the race?
More on interrogative pronouns...
The personal pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we, they, and who. More often than not (but not exclusively), they replace nouns representing people. When most people think of pronouns, it is the personal pronouns that usually spring to mind.
- We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.
- I bought some batteries, but they weren't included.
More on personal pronouns...
Possessive pronouns are used to show possession. As they are used as adjectives, they are also known as possessive adjectives. My, your, his, her, its, our and their are all possessive pronouns.
(In this example, the pronoun her replaces a word like Sarah's.)
More on possessive pronouns...
Relative pronouns are used to add more information to a sentence. Which, that, who (including whom and whose) and where are all relative pronouns.
- Dr Adam Sissons, who lectured at Cambridge for more than 12 years, should have known the difference.
(In this example, the relative pronoun who introduces the clause who studied at Cambridge for 12 years and refers back to Dr Adams Sissons.)
- The man who first saw the comet reported it as a UFO.
(In this example, the relative pronoun who introduces the clause who first saw the comet and refers back to the man.)
More on relative pronouns...
Absolute Possessive Pronouns
These pronouns also show possession. Unlike possessive pronouns (see above), which are adjectives to nouns, these pronouns sit by themselves. Mine, yours, his, hers, ours and theirs are all absolute possessive pronouns.
- The tickets are as good as ours.
- Shall we take yours or theirs?
More on absolute possessives...
Reciprocal pronouns are used for actions or feelings that are reciprocated. The two most common reciprocal pronouns are each other and one another.
- They like one another.
- They talk to each other like they're babies.
More on reciprocal pronouns...
A reflexive pronoun ends ...self or ...selves and refers to another noun or pronoun in the sentence (usually the subject of the sentence). The reflexive pronouns aremyself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves.
(In this example, the intensive pronoun itself refers back to the noun the dog.)
- Are you talking to yourself?
More on reflexive pronouns...
Intensive (or Emphatic) Pronouns
An intensive pronoun (sometimes called an emphatic pronoun) refers back to another noun or pronoun in the sentence to emphasize it (e.g., to emphasize that it is the thing carrying out the action).
- John bakes all the bread himself.
(In this example, the intensive pronoun himself refers back to the noun John.)
- The cat opened the door itself.
3. ADJECTIVE - (Describing word)
An adjective describes, modifies or gives more information about a noun or pronoun.
Examples: big, happy, green, young, fun, crazy, three
Example sentences: The little girl had a pink hat.
1. Adjectives of Quality - These adjectives are used to describe the nature of a noun. They give an idea about the characteristics of the noun by answering the question ‘what kind’.
Honest, Kind, Large, Bulky, Beautiful, Ugly etc.
Sheila is a beautiful woman.
2. Adjectives of Quantity - These adjectives help to show the amount or the approximate amount of the noun or pronoun. These adjectives do not provide exact numbers; rather they tell us the amount of the noun in relative or whole terms.
All, Half, Many, Few, Little, No, Enough, Great etc.
They have finished most of the rice.
3. Adjectives of Number - These adjectives are used to show the number of nouns and their place in an order.
One, Two, Twenty, Thirty-Three etc. also known as Cardinals.
First, Second, Third, Seventh etc. also known as Ordinals.
Some, Many, Few, Any, Several, All etc.
E.g.: There were many people present at the meeting.
.Either, Neither, Each, Another, Other etc.
Taxes have to be paid by every employed citizen.
4. Demonstrative Adjectives - These adjectives are used to point out or indicate a particular noun or pronoun using the adjectives - This, That, These and Those.
That bag belongs to Neil.
Try using this paintbrush in art class.
5. Interrogative Adjectives - These adjectives are used to ask questions about nouns or in relation to nouns, they are - Where, What, Which and Whose.
Where did he say he was going?
What assignment did I miss out on?
4. VERB - (Action Word)
A verb shows an action or state of being. A verb shows what someone or something is doing.
Examples: go, speak, run, eat, play, live, walk, have, like, are, is
Example sentences: I like Woodward English. I study their charts and play their games.
5. ADVERB - (Describes a verb)
An adverb describes/modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb. It tells how, where, when, how often or to what extent. Many adverbs end in -LY
Examples: slowly, quietly, very, always, never, too, well, tomorrow, here
Example sentences: I am usually busy. Yesterday, I ate my lunch quickly.
Descriptive adjectives describe the characteristics of a noun. They can tell you about a noun’s size, color, shape, taste, and more. Some examples are small, red, round, friendly, and salty. For example: “The large, yellow house is on the corner.” Here large and yellow are descriptive adjectives that describe the house.
Quantitative adjectives describe the exact or approximate amount of a noun. Some examples include all, no, few, many, and little.
Numeral adjectives are quantitative adjectives that give exact number amounts (e.g. two, seven, thirty, first, and ninth). For example: “There are five boys in her class.” In this case, five is a numeral adjective that describes the number of boys.
Demonstrative adjectives answer the question which one? They point out particular nouns. Some demonstrative adjectives are this, that, these, and those. For example: “He bought that sweater.” Here, that is a demonstrative adjective that describes which sweater we’re referring to.
6. PREPOSITION - (Shows relationship)
A preposition shows the relationship of a noun or pronoun to another word. They can indicate time, place, or relationship.
Examples: at, on, in, from, with, near, between, about, under
Example sentences: I left my keys on the table for you.
7. CONJUNCTION - (Joining word)
A conjunction joins two words, ideas, phrases or clauses together in a sentence and shows how they are connected.
Examples: and, or, but, because, so, yet, unless, since, if.
Example sentences: I was hot and exhausted but I still finished the marathon.
8. INTERJECTION - (Expressive word)
An interjection is a word or phrase that expresses a strong feeling or emotion. It is a short exclamation.
Examples: Ouch! Wow! Great! Help! Oh! Hey! Hi!
Example sentences: Wow! I passed my English test. Great! – Ouch! That hurt.