Parts of Speech
What are the parts of speech?
The parts of speech are the primary categories of words according to their function in a sentence.
English has seven main parts of speech. We’ll look at a brief overview of each below; continue on to their individual chapters to learn more about them.
Nouns are words that identify or name people, places, or things. Nouns can function as the subject of a clause or sentence, an object of a verb, or an object of a preposition. Words like cat, book, table, girl, and plane are all nouns.
Pronouns are words that represent nouns (people, places, or things). Grammatically, pronouns are used in the same ways as nouns; they can function as subjects or objects. Common pronouns include I, you, she, him, it, everyone, and somebody.
Verbs are words that describe the actions—or states of being—of people, animals, places, or things. Verbs function as the root of what’s called the predicate, which is required (along with a subject) to form a complete sentence; therefore, every sentence must include at least one verb.
Verbs include action words like run, walk, write, or sing, as well as words describing states of being, such as be, seem, feel, or sound.
Adjectives are words that modify (add description to) nouns and (occasionally) pronouns. They can be a part of either the subject or the predicate. Common adjectives are red, blue, fast, slow, big, tall, and wide.
Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, or even entire clauses. Depending on what they modify (and how), adverbs can appear anywhere in the sentence. Adverbs are commonly formed from adjectives by adding “-ly” to the end, as in slowly, quickly, widely, beautifully, or commonly.
Prepositions are words that express a relationship between a noun or pronoun (known as the object of the preposition) and another part of the sentence. Together, these form prepositional phrases, which can function as adjectives or as adverbs in a sentence. Some examples of prepositional phrases are: on the table, in the shed, and across the field. (The prepositions are in bold.)
Conjunctions are words that connect other words, phrases, or clauses, expressing a specific kind of relationship between the two (or more) elements. The most common conjunctions are the coordinating conjunctions: and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet.
Because they are harder to classify in comparison to the seven primary categories above, they’ve been grouped together in this guide under the general category Other Parts of Speech.
- part of speech (encyclopedia)