What are the Parts of Speech in English


Anyone who wants to write properly in English needs to be able to form grammatically correct sentences. In order to do this, it is imperative that he learn the basics.

The first thing that needs to be learned is what are the parts of speech in English?  We also need to learn how many of them there are and how to use them.

In the following paragraphs, I will do my best to answer these questions for you.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in and learn all about “The Parts of Speech in English”.

There are nine parts of speech in the English language.  If you think about it, it’s kind of awesome that all those thousands of words fit into just 9 categories.

The part of speech tells us how the word functions within the sentence both grammatically and in meaning.  A word can function as more than one part of speech depending on the sentence. Understanding the parts of speech is fundamental in determining the correct definition of a word.


The 9 Parts of Speech   

 

1.  Noun

A noun is the name of a person, place, thing or idea.  Tom, Calgary, door, courage are all examples of nouns.  Sometimes nouns need articles before them but not always.  Proper nouns such as the names of people or places are always capitalized while common nouns are not.

Nouns can be either singular or plural, abstract or concrete. Depending on the position of the noun within the sentence it can be the subject, a direct or indirect object,  an object of a preposition or a subject complement

Let’s look at some examples.

  •  The boy likes to play with his friends.

In this sentence, the noun boy is the subject of the sentence.  It answers the question “who” likes to play with his friends?


  • The boy threw the ball to his friend.

In this sentence, we can see the nouns functioning in 3 different ways. The noun boy is the subject of the sentence.  In other words, he is who is doing the action.  The ball is the direct object because it answers the question what is being thrown.  It receives the action of the verb.  The noun friend is the indirect object because it’s the recipient of the direct object.

It’s important to note that only action verbs have direct objects.


  • Karen sits behind Mary in English class.

In this sentence, Karen is a noun (the subject of the sentence) and behind is a preposition.  The noun Mary is the object of the preposition.  


2.  Pronoun

A pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun.   Pronouns are divided into types.

  • Personal pronouns refer to specific persons or things.

Example:

  • Karen is a good girl.
  • She is a good girl.

In these examples, she is the personal pronoun that takes the place of the noun, Karen.


  • Possessive pronouns are the words that indicate ownership or possession.

Example:

  • Karen has a dog.
  • It’s her dog

In the first sentence, we are saying that the girl, Karen has a dog. In the second sentence, we have used the possessive pronoun her to show that she owns the dog.


  • Reflexive pronouns are used to add emphasis.

Example:

  • I moved the box myself.

Here the reflexive pronoun myself is used to emphasize that no one helped me move the box, that I completed the job alone.


  • Relative pronouns are used to introduce a clause that talks about a noun in a sentence.

Example:

  • Miss Michaels is the teacher who helped me the most.

In this example the word who is a relative pronoun that introduces the clause (A clause is the group of words, within the sentence, with its own subject and verb).  Other examples of relative pronouns are which, what, whose, etc.


  • Demonstrative pronouns identify, point to, or refer to a specific person, place or thing (noun).

Example: this, these, that, those

  • That is a wonderful band.

Here the pronoun that is making reference to the noun band.


3.  Verb 

The verb is the action word in the sentence.  In a sentence, we always have the main verb but sometimes we also have helping verbs. The main verb must always agree with the subject in number (singular or plural).

Example:

  • The girl can dance.

In the example illustrated above, dance is the main verb and can is the helping or auxiliary verb.


 4.  Adjective

An adjective is a word that modifies or describes a noun or pronoun. Usually, it answers the question what kind, which one, or how many.

Example:

  • The tall, blond boy is very handsome.

In this sentence, we have two adjectives tall and blond. They talk about or describe the noun boy.


 5.  Adverbs

Like adjectives, adverbs are also modifiers but in this case, they describe or talk about a verb, an adjective or another adverb but never a noun.   Adverbs usually answer the questions how, where, when, under what conditions, to what degree or why.

Example:

  • He probably wanted help with his homework.

In the example sentence probably is the adverb.  Some other common adverbs are almost, always, angrily, beautifully, bravely, carefully, closely, deeply, especially, extremely, gently, gracefully, innocently, joyfully, kindly, lovingly, openly, truthfully, tenderly and many more.


6.  Preposition

A preposition is a word that is placed before a noun or pronoun and it shows the relationship between the noun or pronoun, and some other word in the sentence.

Example:

  • Mike is taking the bus to school.

The word to is the preposition in the sentence above.


There are many different types of prepositions in the English language.

  • Simple prepositions are used in simple sentences.

Examples: on, at, to, from, on, with, over, under, etc.  

He is going to school.


  • Compound prepositions are used to join two phrases, pronoun or nouns.

Examples:  about, above, inside, between, before, beneath, etc.

I want to talk about your friend Robert.


  • Double prepositions are made up of two prepositions put together.

Examples: into, onto, because of, outside of, inside of, etc.

Tom lost the baseball game because of the dog that got in the way.


  • Participle prepositions are actually participles that act as prepositions.  Just to refresh our memories, participles are adjectives or adverbs which are formed by adding ed or ing to the infinitive verb.

Examples:  assuming, considering, regarding, etc.

I get sick very often during the winter months.


  • Phrase prepositions are groups of words made up of prepositions which indicate the relationship between elements in the sentence.

Examples: in spite of, in front of, in order to, with reference to, in addition to, etc.

She works hard in order to keep her job.


  • Prepositions of place are used to show where something is located.

Examples: under, over, near, between, beside, behind, etc. 

My house is near Lake Ontario.


  • Prepositions of time are used to show the time when the action takes place.

Examples: in, on, at

Roy’s birthday is in April.


  • Prepositions of direction are used to show direction.

Example:  into, to, over, under, etc.

She is driving her car under the bridge.


7.  Conjunction

A conjunction is a word that joins words, phrases, and clauses together and shows the relation between them.

There are 3 main types of conjunctions we will talk about.

 

  • Coordinating conjunctions are used to link 2 phrases of equal importance together.  Both phrases are complete.

Examples:  for, and, nor, but, or, yet and soon

Jessy does not want to eat or to drink.

In the sample sentence, we are joining 2 complete ideas into one sentence.  Jessy does not want to eat. Jessy does not want to drink.


  • Subordinating conjunctions are used to join an independent, complete clause to a dependent one.  The dependent clause can come before or after the independent clause but the subordinating conjunction always comes before the dependent clause.

Examples:  since, because, although, once, until, etc.

The children love recess because they can play with their ball.


  • Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions used in the same sentence to join words and phrases together.

Examples:  either/or, neither/nor, not only/but, whether/or, etc.

She lost both her pen and her pencil.


 

 8.  Articles

An article is a word used to modify a noun.  There are 2 types of articles, definite and indefinite.

  • A definite article is used when referring to a specific noun. There is one definite article: “the”.
  • Indefinite articles are used when referring to a non-specific noun.  There are two indefinite articles.  They are “a” and “an”.

Examples:

  • Give me the blue pen.
  • I want a pencil.
  • She wants an apple.

  9.  Interjection

An interjection is a little word used to show emotion and it’s usually followed by an exclamation mark.

Examples: Oh!, Wow!, Oh my,  Hey!, etc

Wow!, that’s a very beautiful car.

 

 


Final Thoughts

There you have it.  The 9 parts of speech.

Now you are equipped with the basics to be able to form proper sentences in English and write great essays and awesome stories.

So, don’t waste time, jump in and start writing using your new found knowledge about the parts of speech in English.

If you have any questions or if there is anything you wish to add, feel free to do so in the comments bellow and I will get back to you real soon.

I update regularly so visit the site often!

14 Comments

    • No, I’m not but I do teach English to Spanish-speakers on a part-time basis and have been doing so for about 8 years.
      I’m glad you found the article informative.

  1. Hello Chris! This is brilliant! Thank you. Wow!
    Just thought I would get some of your teaching in here ;-).

    Seriously, this is really great stuff. I enjoy writing, but, I do not always put my punctuation marks at the right places. I love exclamation marks and I often stick them anywhere, often inappropriately.

    Your knowledge of English is excellent. If you are a writer of stories, it should make for interesting reading.

    • Hi EJ,
      Thank you so much for your comment. My knowledge of grammar is not too bad however, spelling is my weak point.
      The truth is that English is not the first language I learned. I was born in a Spanish speaking country but I moved to Canada as a child. I love English and Literature. I think that the fact that I had to learn the language as a non-native made me aware of many aspects that native speakers don´t really pay attention to. I love teaching and helping others to improve their English.
      With regards to writing stories, it has been one of my dreams since I was a teenager but I always thought I was not good enough to write fiction so I decided to try blogging instead. Who knows maybe someday I will actually write a novel or short stories to publish.
      Thank you so much for your kind words which have encouraged me and revived the desire to become an author.

      • Hello Chris, as for spelling being your ‘weak point’ there are tools to help you. Even your computer will help to a limited extent. Don’t let that stop you.

        Blogging does go some way towards ‘your dream’. As for you ‘not being good enough to write fiction’, forgive my bluntness, but you are being lied to by that ‘inner self-talk’. You are better than that. Most of us are.

        That ‘dream since you were a teenager’. Maybe you should pull it up and FEEL how it feels! 😉

        • Thank you for the encouragement EJ. I might just decide to give it a try.
          With regards to spelling, yes, I always type in word documents because of the spell check included. I do use online dictionaries a lot to check if I’m not sure and I’ve started to use Grammarly for my blogging. I think it’s a great tool if you know what you are doing and what you want to say. Great help with punctuation too. Sometimes when typing fast I forget some commas but it’s there to remind me.

  2. Very informative post! You clearly list out the very basic but very important things that want to learn English. This is all the foundation to start learning a Good English.

    • Thank you Dino. I’m glad you found it informative. Yes, it is the very basics but something that a new English learner needs to be clear on before he can move on to more advanced English. Just like you said, it is the foundation to start learning proper English.

  3. Thanks for the lesson Chris, I really learned a lot from this. Although I am an English speaker I really never understood about nouns, pronouns, adjectives, etc. it was all so strange to me.

    But this guide simplified it for me, especially highlighting the keyword. I have bookmarked this site so that I can read this post again. It will take a while for it to sinkin.

    • Hi Owain,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I’m really glad you found the article helpful and yes, it is a simple guide. I didn’t want to go into the parts of speech too deeply since that would take a full post to explain each individual one. I already wrote one on articles and I’m planning to write other, more in-depth articles for each individual part of speech.

  4. Hi Chris, great article about what is a part of speech. I love the sentence structures and sample sentences you have provided here.
    I always see my writing assignments as a big tiger.
    Perhaps, the main reason is my mother didn’t allow me to learn English during my childhood.
    As a foreigner, I would like to know what is the best way to learn English?
    Please suggest. I will come back for more tips.

    • Hi Maun,
      Thank you for reading my post and for your comment. I’m really happy that you liked it and found it helpful.
      I understand your thoughts about seeing your writing assignments as the big, bad tigers but you shouldn’t. You should simply write without fear. The important thing is to get your message across to your reader. I’ve looked at your site and your writing is good with minor mistakes. So, you are doing a good job. Just keep writing and you will improve. A really good trick is to also do a lot of reading. The more you read, the better you will become at writing but make sure you read published works so you can be assured that the grammar usage is correct. So, keep writing and reading. I’ll continue posting more lessons so if you visit the site you’ll be able to brush-up on your knowledge and get some review.
      If you have the time check out my post about articles. It might help you understand a little better when to use them.
      Regards,

    • Hi Maria,
      First of all, I want to thank you for reading my article and taking the time to comment.
      I’m glad that you found the helpful and I’m always ready to provide any assistance if I can.
      Secondly, I know that native speakers sometimes have issues with their grammar since they don’t really pay attention to it and speak as they learned from listening as they were growing up. But this happens to people all over the world no matter what their native language is. And of course, we never stop learning a language.

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