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Curriculum and Student Achievement

Parts of Speech

All languages are made up of words, each of which has a specific function, a part to play, in creating the sentences in that language. We call these functions the parts of speech. The eight parts of speech in English are nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions and interjections.


**Note: Remember, the part of speech depends entirely upon how the word functions—how it is used—not upon any quality within the word itself. So when we try to determine what part of speech a specific word may be, we must look at it within a context. For example, the word book can be a noun, an adjective, or a verb, depending upon how it is used in relation to other words.


Ex. Jon Jones is a reputable book dealer. (In this sentence, book is an adjective because its function is to describe the noun dealer.)


Ex. That book has the most beautiful hand-tooled leather cover I have ever seen. (In this case, book is a noun because its function is to name the thing that is the subject of the sentence.)


Ex. Did you book my tickets for the trip? (Here, the word book is a verb because its function is to name an action taken in the sentence.)


At this point it is probably a good idea to give brief descriptions of what the parts of speech do. We can also group them according to their basic purposes.


First let’s talk about that group whose purpose is to name or identify: nouns, pronouns, and verbs. This group forms the core of every sentence and every language--and probably the core of every thought.


Noun: A word used to name a person, place, thing or idea.


Pronoun: A word used to stand in for or take the place of a noun.


Verb: A word used to name an action or a state of existence.

The next group’s purpose is to describe or qualify.


Adjective: A word used to describe or qualify a noun or pronoun.


Adverb: A word used to describe or qualify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.


The remaining parts of speech cannot be grouped as they have distinctive purposes.


Preposition: A word used to show how a noun or pronoun is related to some other word in the sentence.


Conjunction: A word used to join words or groups of words and to indicate their relative importance.


Interjection: A word used to express emotion, often indicating some excitement.