Every word in English can be classified as one of eight parts of speech. The term part of speech refers to the role a word plays in a sentence. And like in any workplace or on any TV show with an ensemble cast, these roles were designed to work together.
Read on to learn about the different parts of speech that the words we use every day fall into, and how we use them together to communicate ideas clearly.
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The 8 parts of speech
A noun is a word that names a person, place, concept, or object. Basically, anything that names a “thing” is a noun, whether you’re talking about a basketball court, San Francisco, Cleopatra, or self-preservation.
Nouns fall into two categories: common nouns and proper nouns. Common nouns are general names for things, like planet and game show. Proper nouns are names or titles for specific things, like Jupiter and Jeopardy!
>>Read more about nouns
Pronouns are words you substitute for specific nouns when the reader or listener already knows which specific noun you’re referring to.
You might say, “Jennifer was supposed to be here at eight,” then follow it with “She’s always late; next time I’ll tell her to be here a half hour earlier.”
Instead of saying Jennifer’s name three times in a row, you substituted she and her, and your sentences remained grammatically correct. Pronouns are divided into a number of categories, and we cover them all in our guide to pronouns:
>>Read more about pronouns
Adjectives are the words that describe nouns. Think about your favorite movie. How would you describe it to a friend who’s never seen it?
You might say the movie was funny, engaging, well-written, or suspenseful. When you’re describing the movie with these words, you’re using adjectives. An adjective can go right before the noun it’s describing (“I have a black dog”), but it doesn’t have to. Sometimes, adjectives are at the end of a sentence (“My dog is black”).
>>Read more about adjectives
Go! Be amazing! Run as fast as you can! Win the race! Congratulate every participant who put in the work and competed!
Those bolded words are verbs. Verbs are words that describe specific actions, like running, winning, and being amazing.
Not all verbs refer to literal actions, though. Verbs that refer to feelings or states of being, like to love and to be, are known as nonaction verbs. Conversely, the verbs that do refer to literal actions are known as action verbs.
>>Read more about verbs
An adverb is a word that describes an adjective, a verb, or another adverb.
I entered the room quietly.
Quietly is describing how you entered (verb) the room.
A cheetah is always faster than a lion.
Always is describing how frequently a cheetah is faster (adjective) than a lion.
>>Read more about adverbs
Prepositions tell you the relationships between other words in a sentence.
You might say, “I left my bike leaning against the garage.” In this sentence, against is the preposition because it tells us where you left your bike.
Here’s another example: “She put the pizza in the oven.” Without the preposition in, we don’t know where the pizza is.
>>Read more about prepositions
Conjunctions make it possible to build complex sentences that express multiple ideas.
“I like marinara sauce. I like alfredo sauce. I don’t like puttanesca sauce.” Each of these three sentences expresses a clear idea. There’s nothing wrong with listing your preferences like this, but it’s not the most efficient way to do it.
Consider instead: “I like marinara sauce and alfredo sauce, but I don’t like puttanesca sauce.
In this sentence, and and but are the two conjunctions that link your ideas together.
>>Read more about conjunctions
A pear. The brick house. An exciting experience. These bolded words are known as articles.
Articles come in two flavors: definite articles and indefinite articles. And similarly to the two types of nouns, the type of article you use depends on how specific you need to be about the thing you’re discussing.
A definite article, like the or this, describes one specific noun.
Did you buy the car?
From the above sentence, we understand that the speaker is referring to a specific previously discussed car.
Now swap in an indefinite article:
Did you buy a car?
See how the implication that you’re referring back to something specific is gone, and you’re asking a more general question?
>>Read more about articles
Figuring out parts of speech
Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell which part of speech a word is. Here are a few easy hacks for quickly figuring out what part of speech you’re dealing with:
- If it’s an adjective plus the ending –ly, it’s an adverb. Examples: commonly, quickly.
- If you can swap it out for a noun and the sentence still makes sense, it’s a pronoun. Example: “He played basketball.” / “Steve played basketball.”
- If it’s something you do and you can modify the sentence to include the word do, it’s a verb. Example: “I have an umbrella.” / “I do have an umbrella.”
- If you can remove the word and the sentence still makes sense but you lose a detail, the word is most likely an adjective. Example: “She drives a red van.” / “She drives a van.”
And if you’re ever really stumped, just look the word up. Dictionaries typically list a word’s part of speech in its entry, and if it has multiple forms with different parts of speech, they are all listed, with examples.
That brings us to another common issue that can confuse writers and language learners.
When a word can be different parts of speech
Just like y is sometimes a vowel and sometimes a consonant, there are words that are sometimes one part of speech and other times another. Here are a few examples:
- “I went to work” (noun).
- “I work in the garden” (verb).
- “She paints very well” (adverb).
- “They are finally well now, after weeks of illness” (adjective).
- “I dropped a penny into the well” (noun).
- “I cooked breakfast and lunch, but Steve cooked dinner” (conjunction).
- “I brought everything but the pens you asked for” (preposition).
And sometimes, words evolve to add forms that are new parts of speech. One recent example is the word adult. Before the 2010s, adult was primarily a noun that referred to a fully grown person. It could also be used as an adjective to refer to specific types of media, like adult contemporary music. But then, at right about the turn of the 2010s, the word adulting, a brand-new verb, appeared in the internet lexicon. As a verb, adulting refers to the act of doing tasks associated with adulthood, like paying bills and grocery shopping.
Open and closed word classes
The parts of speech fall into two word classes: open and closed.
The open word classes are the parts of speech that regularly acquire new words. Language evolves, and usually, that evolution takes place in nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. In 2022, new words added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary included dumbphone (noun), greenwash (verb), and cringe (adjective).
The closed word classes are the parts of speech that don’t readily acquire new words. These parts of speech are more set in stone and include pronouns, conjunctions, articles, and prepositions.
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There are eight parts of speech in the English language: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. The part of speech indicates how the word functions in meaning as well as grammatically within the sentence.What are the 8 parts of speech explain with examples? ›
There are eight parts of speech in the English language: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. The part of speech indicates how the word functions in meaning as well as grammatically within the sentence.What are the rules of parts of speech? ›
Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection. Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used.What is a sentence that uses all 8 parts of speech? ›
The sentence, “Wow, his monkeys really jump so high up” appears to use all eight parts of speech once.What are the 8 parts of speech *? ›
What is a Part of Speech? Parts of speech can be defined as categories of words that perform different roles or serve a similar grammatical purpose in a sentence. In the English language, the 8 basic parts of speech would be nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.What is an example of an adverb? ›
What are some examples of adverbs? Quickly, slowly, yesterday, last week, here, there, today, daily, never, rarely, extremely, annually, etc., are some examples of adverbs.How many rules are there in speech? ›
There are in total, 8 parts of speech. It is essential to learn them as you cannot learn the words in isolation. It is necessary to hold them in a line through grammar rules. That's why you need to learn the 8 parts of speech of the English language.What is an example of a conjunction? ›
And, or, so, since, for, because, as, but, yet, still, while, as soon as, therefore, moreover, in case, though, although, even though, etc. are some examples of conjunctions.What are the examples of adjectives? ›
Adjectives are words that are used to describe or modify nouns or pronouns. For example, red, quick, happy, and obnoxious are adjectives because they can describe things—a red hat, the quick rabbit, a happy duck, an obnoxious person.What is an example of an adverb in part of speech? ›
An adverb is a word that modifies (describes) a verb (“he sings loudly”), an adjective (“very tall”), another adverb (“ended too quickly”), or even a whole sentence (“Fortunately, I had brought an umbrella.”). Adverbs often end in -ly, but some (such as fast) look exactly the same as their adjective counterparts.
How many words in a paragraph? As you can expect, there is no fixed number of words that a paragraph should have. A rule of thumb: the paragraphs are usually about 100 to 200 words long, which is about 6-8 sentences.What is an example of a preposition in part of speech? ›
A preposition is a word or group of words used before a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, time, place, location, spatial relationships, or to introduce an object. Some examples of prepositions are words like "in," "at," "on," "of," and "to."Why is 8 parts of speech important? ›
Understanding the eight basic parts of speech (noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, conjunction, interjection, and preposition) will help you determine how words function in a sentence and ultimately, enable you to construct correct sentences. Constructing better sentences will make you a better communicator.What is a noun example sentences? ›
A noun can be used as the subject of a sentence, or in another capacity as an object: John is nice. – John is the subject of the sentence. I saw John – John is the simple (direct) object of the sentence. I gave John the phone.What is an example of a noun? ›
A noun is a word that represents a person, thing, concept, or place (e.g., “John,” “house,” “affinity,” “river”). Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun.What is grammar and examples? ›
At a high level, the definition of grammar is a system of rules that allow us to structure sentences. It includes several aspects of the English language, like: Parts of speech (verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, modifiers, etc.) Clauses (e.g. independent, dependent, compound)What is a noun and a pronoun example? ›
Nouns are one of the four major word classes, along with verbs, adjectives and adverbs. A noun identifies a person, animal or thing. Pronouns are words like he, she, yourself, mine, who, this and someone. Pronouns commonly refer to or fill the position of a noun or noun phrase.What are 8 examples of adverbs? ›
Very, too, extremely, much, more, most, little, less, incredibly, totally, greatly, hardly, deeply, barely, etc. Conjunctive Adverbs: Conjunctive adverbs perform a little differently from the other types of adverbs.What are the 10 examples of adverb sentences? ›
- He swims well.
- He ran quickly.
- She spoke softly.
- James coughed loudly to attract her attention.
- He plays the flute beautifully. ( after the direct object)
- He ate the chocolate cake greedily. ( after the direct object)
ADJECTIVE: Describes a noun or pronoun; tells which one, what kind or how many. ADVERB: Describes verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs; tells how, why, when, where, to what extent.
Other common prepositions are about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, close to, down, during, except, inside, instead of, into, like, near, off, on top of, onto, out of, outside, over, past, since, through, toward, under, until, up, upon, ...What are the examples of pronoun? ›
Some examples of personal pronouns are I, you, he, she, we, they, him, her, he, she, us and them. Subject Pronouns are pronouns that perform the action in a sentence. Some examples of subject pronouns are I, you, we, he, she, it, they and one. Object Pronouns are pronouns that receive the action in a sentence.What are the 10 examples of conjunction sentences? ›
- You can eat either pizza or pasta for dinner.
- He was neither happy nor sad about the news.
- You can either save your money or spend it all.
- You can either watch a movie or read a book tonight.
- “Do or die”.
- You can either go to the beach or go hiking this weekend.
The most common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so; you can remember them by using the mnemonic device FANBOYS. I'd like pizza or a salad for lunch.What are 15 examples of prepositions? ›
Prepositions are common in the English language. There are about 150 used with the most common being: above, across, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, by, down, from, in, into, near, of, off, on, to, toward, under, upon, with and within.What are the 8 examples of prepositions? ›
|Examples of Prepositions|
As prepositions, both over and above can mean "at or to a place that is higher than someone or something," but over is somewhat more common: A light hangs over/above the table. He raised his arms over/above his head. She rents an apartment over/above a bookstore.What is a noun example? ›
A noun is a word that represents a person, thing, concept, or place (e.g., “John,” “house,” “affinity,” “river”). Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun. Nouns are often, but not always, preceded by an article (“the,” “a,” or “an”) and/or another determiner such as an adjective.What are 10 examples of personal pronouns? ›
What are the examples of personal pronouns? I, me, you, we, us, he, him, she, her, they, them and it are called personal pronouns as they take the place of a particular person or thing in a sentence or a context.What are 10 examples of adjectives of number? ›
Indefinite numeral adjectives: Some, few, many, all, no, several, any, most, more, too, much, none, too many, certain, and so on are examples of indefinite numeral adjectives. Distributive numeral adjectives: Each, every, neither, either, and so on.
- They live in a beautiful house.
- Lisa is wearing a sleeveless shirt today. This soup is not edible.
- She wore a beautiful dress.
- He writes meaningless letters.
- This shop is much nicer.
- She wore a beautiful dress.
- Ben is an adorable baby.
- Linda's hair is gorgeous.
- Able. Having what is required (e.g., money or skills) to do something. ...
- Angry. Being very annoyed or upset. ...
- Bad. Unpleasant; causing problems. ...
- Best. Superior to all others. ...
- Better. Superior to someone or something else. ...
- Big. Large in size. ...
- Busy. Occupied with activities or work. ...
- Clear. Very obvious.