Parts of speech

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Parts of speech [1] are types of word in grammar. There are many different word categories: they are called 'lexical categories'. The most common are these:[2]

Part of Speech Function Example Words Example Sentence(s) Notes
Verb Identifies an action or state. (to) be, have, do, like, work, sing, can, must London is a big city. I like London.
Noun Identifies a person, place or thing. pen, dog, work, music, town, London, teacher, John New York City is very beautiful.
Adjective Describes a noun. a/an, the, 2 (two), some, good, big, red, well, interesting The cat is black and white. A/an, the, some, many are known as determiners.[3]
Adverb Describes a verb, adjective or adverb. quickly, silently, well, badly, very, really The giraffe eats slowly, but when he is very hungry, he eats really quickly. Slowly describes the verb eat, very describes the adjective hungry and really describes the adverb quickly.
Pronoun Replaces a noun. I, you, he, she, some, it She is very good at playing the piano.
Preposition Links a noun to another word. to, at, after, on, but The dog is under the table.
The man ran over the bridge.
Under links the noun dog to the noun table.
Over links the verb ran to the noun bridge.
Conjunction Joins clauses, sentences or words. and, but, when, or I like apples and oranges, but I don't like grapes.
Interjection Short exclamation. oh!, ouch!, hi!, well Ouch! That really hurt!

Verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and interjections are called open classes because they are parts of speech that can easily add new words. On the other hand, pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions are closed classes because new words cannot be added easily. For example, since pronouns are a closed class, there are fairly few pronouns: I, me, my, mine, myself, you, you, your, yours, yourself, he, him, his, his, himself, she, her, her, hers, herself, it, it, its, its, itself, we, us, our, ours, ourselves, they, them, their, theirs, themselves. Since pronouns are used to replace whole noun phrases, there is no need to have many kinds of pronouns. Instead of saying "The Earl of Sandwich introduced the Earl of Sandwich's favorite food, the sandwich", one uses the pronoun "his" to replace "the Earl of Sandwich's" to make the sentence not repeat itself when it doesn't have to, thus the sentence becomes "The Earl of Sandwich introduced his favorite food, the sandwich". New nouns, on the other hand, can easily be made, and are constantly being added into the English language.

References[change | change source]

  1. also called a word class, lexical class or lexical category.
  2. "Parts of Speech". English Club. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  3. "Determiners". English Club. Retrieved 12 December 2013.