We can categorize English words into 8 basic types called “parts of speech” or “word classes”. It’s quite important to recognize parts of speech. This helps you to analyze sentences and understand them. It also helps you to construct good sentences. In English, the main parts of speech are nouns, verbs, articles, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. Let’s learn what these parts of speech do and how they fit into English sentences.
Nouns are words that represent a person, place, concept, or object. Nouns can be used as a subject, an object or an object of a preposition.
Nouns fall into two categories: common nouns and proper nouns. Common nouns are general names for things, like dogs or shows. Proper nouns are specific names for individual things, like a Golden Retriever or Scrabble.
Pronouns replace the noun itself. In the English language, there are 9 types of pronouns.
|Personal Pronouns||Personal pronouns substitute for people, animals and objects. There are two types of personal pronouns, subject and object personal.|
|Possessive Pronouns||Possessive pronouns are the pronouns that help us talk about possession and ownership (who owns what).|
|Demonstrative Pronouns||Demonstrative pronouns are the pronouns we use to refer and point to specific people, animals and things.|
|Indefinite Pronouns||Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that refer mainly to non-specific people, animals, things and quantities.|
|Object Pronouns||Object personal pronouns function as objects.
There are three types of objects in English (direct, indirect and prepositional).
|Relative Pronouns||They are called “relative” because they refer to the noun described or modified by the relative clause.|
|Interrogative Pronouns||This group of pronouns does not describe or give information about a noun.|
|Reflexive Pronouns||The reflexive pronouns are used when a person, animal or object performs (does) an action on themselves, such as bathing or washing (oneself).|
|Intensive Pronouns||The intensive pronouns are used to add emphasis or importance to the subject or antecedent of a sentence.|
Nouns and Pronouns will share the same sentence structure.
|Subject+ Verb+ Object||People like money.
The girl ate an apple.
She went to Japan.
Verbs are words that express the action or state of being in a sentence. Most verbs are action verbs that have one or more parts (run, is running, has been running, etc…) The most common state of being (no action)verb is the verb “to be”. Verbs usually follow a subject and can be followed by an object. Let’s take a look at the sentence patterns to know where we can place the verbs.
|Subject+ Verb+ (Object)||He likes her.
Maria is a teacher
Be here at 12pm.
Adjectives are words that describe nouns. Adjectives give information about the noun’s color, shape, size, etc. They have two common patterns in English. Please take a look at the chart below.
|Adjective + Noun||The beautiful flower.|
|To be+ Adjective||The flowers are beautiful.|
Articles are words that describe the specificity about the nouns you are talking about. Just like nouns there are two kinds of articles. Definite and Indefinite.
The definite article “The” is used to express a specific noun. For example:
I want the red books.
Here I’m requesting a specific group of books.
The indefinite article (a or an), on the other hand, describes the nouns in a general sense. For example:
I want a book.
Here I’m requesting any kind of book.
To use the indefinite article “a” the word has to start with a consonant sound. And when using the indefinite article “an” the word has to start with a vowel sound.
|Article + Noun||A person likes money.
The girl ate an apple.
Adverbs are words that can describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs and even other complete sentences. Most adverbs will end in the suffix “-ly” but not all. There are five basic types of adverbs in the English language, namely that of Manner, Time, Place, Frequency, and Degree.
|ADVERB + VERB||I often go to the gym.|
|VERB + ADVERB||I speak Japanese fluently.|
|VERB + ADVERB + VERB||John is quickly preparing dinner.|
|ADVERB + ADJECTIVE||This is very shiny.|
|ADVERB + ADVERB||I’m doing really well.|
|ADVERB + SUBJECT+ VERB+OBJECT||Actually, I like cold days.|
|SUBJECT+ VERB + OBJECT + ADVERB||I like cold days, actually.|
Prepositions are words that show the relationship of other nouns. They can express the relationship between locations, time, destination, etc.
|Preposition + Noun||I’m going to school.
My birthday is in July.
I’m at home.
Conjunctions are words that link other words, phrases, or clauses together.
|SVO + conjunction+SVO.||My brother likes Ana, but he never says a word to her.|
|Verb object + Conjunction + Verb object||She brushes her teeth and washes her face before bed.|
|Noun + Conjunction + Noun||I ate cake and ice cream.|
|Verb + Conjunction + Verb||You can call or text me.|
|Adjective + Conjunction + Adjective||Our dog is cute and energetic.|
|Adverb + Conjunction + Adverb||The singer sang beautifully and gracefully.|
Understanding the parts of speech is beneficial for analyzing the meaning of each word. Also, by learning them you can easily identify a grammatical problem in the sentence, and see whether there is a run-on sentence, a misused pronoun or a problem of the verb agreement. For more practice check out our ESL group classes here on TakeLessons Live.