Parts of Speech

The Parts of Speech in English and Their Functions in a Sentence

There are 8 parts of speech recognized by English grammar. Each has a specific function in a sentence. It is discussed below:
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
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Traditional grammar categorizes English words into 8 basic types, which are known as parts of speech. It is very important to learn the parts of speech in order to construct grammatically correct sentences in the English language. They are elaborated below:

A verb is a word that denotes the action done by the subject. The verb is the most important part of any sentence and is used to express actions or a state of being.

For example consider the sentence 'A dog bites his victim on the leg'. In this case the word 'bites' is the verb, as it conveys the action performed by the dog (subject). Consider the example as follows: 'He was running yesterday'. In this case the verb 'was running', tells us about an action that was done in the past. Walk, jump, is, and do, are some examples of verbs.

A noun is a word that refers to a person, thing, place, animal, or an abstract idea.

Consider the sentence, 'Peter is very poor'. The word 'Peter' represents the name of a person. In the sentence, 'The bear caught a fish in the stream', the word 'bear' is used to name the animal. Now in the sentence, 'It is essential to plant trees' the word 'trees' is a noun as it refers to an object or a thing. The words mother, orange, bus, and man are examples of nouns.

A pronoun is a word used to substitute a noun. The following sentences will help you to understand the concept of pronouns:

Maria is a rich girl. She is beautiful and talks very politely. In this case, the word 'she' is the pronoun. This is because the word 'she' replaces the noun 'Maria' in the next sentence. Instead of repeating the word 'Maria' in the second sentence, it is better to use the pronoun 'she'. Some commonly used pronouns in English language include I, me, he, it, you, and him.

Adjectives are commonly used to elucidate something about a noun or pronoun. Adjectives are defined as words that allow us to know more about a noun used in a sentence. The adjective may describe the feature or quality of the noun. Consider the following sentence:

The lazy bear sat on the carpet. The word 'lazy' provides more information about the noun 'bear'. That is why the word 'lazy' becomes the adjective. Consider the following sentences:

Tom is very thin. The tree is tall. In these sentences words 'thin' and 'tall' are adjectives as they are used to describe the characteristic features of the nouns 'Tom' and 'tree' respectively. Some examples of adjectives are big, small, and large.

An adverb is a word that expresses something about a verb. It describes the verb in a sentence. In short, the adverb describes the action more precisely. It often indicates the manner in which the action was done.

Consider the following sentence: He is running quickly. If you notice, the word 'quickly' tells how the person was running. In other words, the adverb 'quickly' describes the verb 'run'. Some common examples of adverb are easily, boldly and often.

A conjunction is a word that is commonly used to join two words, phrases or sentences.

Consider the following example: Ben will not come to the office because he is not well. Here the word 'because' is a conjunction as it joins two sentences 'Ben will not come to office' and 'He is not well'. Other examples of conjunctions are but, and, or, since, while, and until.

A preposition indicates relationships between nouns, pronouns and other phrases. In a sentence, a preposition generally occurs before a pronoun or noun.

Consider the example. The pen is on the table. Here the word 'on' links two nouns, pen and table. The word 'on' locates the noun 'pen'. In the sentence 'She came to the school by bus', the word 'by' links the nouns 'she' and 'bus'. The word 'by' also shows the manner in which she came to school. Hence, the words 'by' and 'on' are prepositions.

An interjection is a word that denotes emotion. It is a word that shows excitement or expresses one's own physical pain. Usually interjections are followed by an exclamation mark (!). Here are some examples of interjections. The words that are underlined are interjections.
  • Hey! Don't take my bag.
  • Ouch! You stepped on my toes.
  • Wow! That is a wonderful sight.