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.

Other Parts of Speech

In addition to the seven parts of speech above, there are several other groupings of words that do not neatly fit into any one specific category—particles, articles, determiners, gerunds, and interjections.
Many of these share characteristics with one or more of the seven primary categories. For example, determiners are similar in many ways to adjectives, but they are not completely the same, and most particles are identical in appearance to prepositions but have different grammatical functions.
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.

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