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Boring… but Essential Grammar Parts of Speech – A Quick Guide How to Identify What is What in a Sentence

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You may ask why it is important to know what the function is of the different words in a sentence.

Consider this:

1 It will help you understand sentences better.

2 You will make better sentences yourself.

This is essential in order to be able to communicate with English-speaking people. If your sentences are incorrect, no one will understand you…

3 It gets easier to learn a new language.

Should you wish to learn a third language (or a fourth or a fifth…), learning those languages will only get easier if you know these so-called parts of speech. I myself speak five languages, so I tell you this from my own experience.

Besides that, I can also tell you that my best students, and the ones who learn English the quickest, are interested in parts of speech and want to know what each word is doing in a sentence.

So here we go:

We won’t learn all the parts of speech in this article, but only some of them (the most important ones).

What’s a noun? 

A noun can be a person, an animal or a thing. Nouns can also be abstract. Examples of nouns are: man, woman, child, lion, dog, book, love, friendship, chair.

Tip: You can always put “the” before a noun.

What’s a pronoun?

Pronouns are special kinds of nouns, you could say. They can mean a person, a thing or an animal, but without saying what it is exactly. Examples of pronouns are: I, you, he, she, we, they, it, us, him, her, my, mine, its.

Instead of a noun you can use a pronoun, as long as you make sure everybody knows what you’re talking about. For instance, if I’ve been talking about a painting, I can use “it” to talk some more about the painting, and the people that I talk with will know I’m still talking about this painting (That is, if they have a brain :-)).

Tip: You can’t put “the” before a pronoun.

What’s a verb?

Verbs are action words. There must be a verb in every English sentence.

Examples of verbs are: speak, is, are, talk, jump, deciding, travelled, finished, done.

You can learn more about the function of verbs in sentences here.

What’s an adjective?

Adjectives say something about a noun.

If I see a black cat, “black” is an adjective, because it says something about the cat, which is a noun.

If I say that the pianist is great, “great” is an adjective because it says something about “pianist” which is a noun.

You can read more about adjectives here.

What’s an adverb?

Adverbs describe a verb, or an adjective or another adverb.

Here is an example: Paula sings beautifully. “Beautifully” is the adverb, because it describes “sings,” which is a verb.

And here is an example where it describes an adjective: The song is very beautiful. “Very” is an adverb because it describes “beautiful.” (And beautiful is an adjective.)

Lastly, here is an example where the adverb describes another adverb:

Paula sings very beautifully. “Very” and “beautifully” are both adverbs.

What’s a preposition?

Prepositions are (usually) little words that indicate a position or relationship of a noun or pronoun. They can help to show place and time.

Examples of prepositions are: in, of, at, from, under, after, before, for, near, about.

Okay, have you got that?
Now let’s look at a couple of example sentences and determine their parts of speech.

After that, you can try the quiz.

The beautiful beaches of Hawaii are famous all over the world.

What is each word here?

The – article (we’ll talk about those some other time)

Beautiful – adjective (because it describes beaches, which is a noun)

Beaches – noun

Of – preposition

Hawaii – noun (proper noun, which means it is a name)

Are – verb

All over – preposition

The – article

World – noun

 

Have a look at this sentence as well:

Until what time will you be going out with Alison tonight?

Until – preposition

What – relative pronoun (there are plenty articles on the blog about these. Have a look here first).

Time – noun

Will be going – verb

You – pronoun

Out – preposition

With – preposition

Alison – proper noun (name)

Tonight – adverb (it describes going out)

 

Are you ready for the quiz?

Quiz – written by Miranda Carter

Read each sentence and determine whether the word or phrase in square brackets [] is a noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, or preposition. Choose the correct answer.

Follow the link to do the quiz online and check your answers immediately.

1. Greg looked at his [watch] to make sure he was on time.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

2. Amanda [walked] to the movie theater.

A. Noun          B. Pronoun      C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

3. Last summer, [we] went to the Grand Canyon.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

4. I think the pencil is [on] the table.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

5. Julia loved to read. “[Reading] is my favorite hobby,” she explained.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

6. [Everyone] wanted to go to the baseball game.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

7. Before the test, I went [up] to the library to study.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

8. “I have never been to Africa,” said Mary. “I would [honestly] enjoy a safari.”

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

9. My friends and I like to go [shopping] on weekends.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

10. [I] didn’t want to go home but I was feeling sick at work.

A. Noun           B.  Pronoun     C. Verb            D. Adverb        E. Adjective     F. Preposition

Did you like this quiz? For a small fee you can order more here.

Former English teacher Miranda Carter is a professional writer from St. Louis, US. Should you need copy for your website, brochures, ads, I recommend you check out her services: http://www.midwestcopyhouse.com/index.html. Modest rates!

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