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Part 2 Grammar Skills Review

How Our Words Work Together: Parts of Speech

very word in every sentence has a job to do. Like a Lego from one of the kits you can purchase, each word builds on another to create something you wish to communicate. Like those Lego pieces, where one piece in one kit connects to other pieces to create something, yet in another kit, that same piece connects with other pieces to create something entirely different, our words are used differently from one sentence to another.

For example, in the sentence, “I work at noon,” the word “work” is used as the action or the thing I do. However, in the sentence, “I am late for work,” the word “work” is used as a thing or a place. This use is what we mean by the Parts of Speech.

Below are listed most of the Parts of Speech in the American English language.

  1. Nouns – Nouns are words that name persons, places, things, and ideas. Nouns can be subject and objects in sentences. There are two types of nouns: common and proper.

Common Nouns – Common Nouns are general names for persons, places, things, or ideas.

Ex. girl, house, rope, dog, school

Proper Nouns – Proper Nouns are the specific names for persons, places, things, or ideas. They are always capitalized.

Ex. Susan, Communism, Rover, Lansing Community College

  1. Pronouns – Pronouns substitute for nouns. They are a specific grouping of words and will almost always be used as pronouns. Each pronoun must match the noun for which it substitutes. For example, in the sentence below, the word “they” matches the plural noun, dogs.” This is called pronoun/antecedent agreement.

Ex. The dogs barked wildly, so they were brought inside.

Subject Pronouns – These are pronouns that can serve as subjects in sentences.

I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they

Object Pronouns – These are pronouns that can serve as objects in sentences.

me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them

Possessive Pronouns – These are pronouns that show ownership.

my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their

  1. Verbs — The basic definition of a verb is the action in the sentence.
  1. Adjectives – Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns.

Their only job is to add to words that already exist in a sentence. Sometimes groups of words can act like adjectives. See Prepositions and Noun Phrases for a further explanation. They will answer one of three questions:

What kind? Jason watched the magnificent eagle fly overhead.

How many? Julia returned eight books.

Which one? Marcus took that route to school.

  1. Articles – The articles are actually a subset of adjectives. They are a, an, the and will always come before nouns. An always comes before words that begin with vowels (a, e, i, o, u) or vowel sounds (h, y). A always comes before words that begin with consonants. The is more specific than a or an.

Ex. Virginia ate an egg before taking the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment.

  1. Adverbs – Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Sometimes even groups of words can act like adverbs. See Prepositions and Noun Phrases for a further explanation. Like adjectives, adverbs will always add to words that already exist in sentences.

When Adverbs describe verbs, they will answer one of four questions: how, when, where, and to what extent. The verb has been underlined.

Ex. The girl danced gracefully. (how)

The boy came late. (when)

The dog barked outside. (where)

The man thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream. (to what extent)

  1. When Adverbs describe adjectives, they will answer how. The adjective is in italics.

Ex. The very beautiful girl danced gracefully. (How beautiful?)

The extremely lazy boy came late. (How lazy?)

The exceptionally elderly man thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream. (How elderly?)

  1. When Adverbs describe other adverbs, they will answer how or how much. The adverb being described by another adverb is in italics.

Ex. The girl danced so gracefully. (How gracefully?)

The boy came very late. (How late?)

The dog barked just outside. (How much outside?)

NOTE: You can create an adverb out of an adjective by just adding –ly to the end. Therefore, please note that a lot of adverbs end in –ly.

Ex. Loud becomes loudly; poor becomes poorly.

  1. Conjunctions – Conjunctions join words, phrases, sentences, and clauses.

The Coordinating Conjunctions join similar things, like two words, two phrases, two sentences, or two clauses. They are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

Ex. The children baked a pizza and ate it all in one sitting.

Kathy loves baseball, so she attends as many games as she can.

I have a sled, yet it rarely snows where I live.

When Coordinating Conjunctions join two complete sentences, this creates a Compound Sentence.

Ex. Last year the teacher found a new position, so she left Marigrove Elementary School.

In the example, Last year the teacher found a new position is an Independent Clause (complete sentence) because it has a subject (teacher) and a verb (found) and it expresses a complete idea. She left Marigrove Elementary School is also an Independent Clause (complete sentence) because it has a subject (she) and a verb (left) and it expresses a complete idea. In this case, so joins those two Independent Clauses to create the Compound sentence.

The Subordinating Conjunctions join clauses, creating Complex Sentences. Clauses are groups of words that have a subject and a verb. Independent clauses have subjects and verbs and also express complete ideas; therefore, they are complete sentences. Dependent clauses have subjects and verbs, but they do not express complete ideas and are dependent upon independent clauses to complete them.

Some common subordinate conjunctions are:

After, although, as, as if, as though, as long as, as soon as, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order that, now that, once, since, provided that, rather than, so that, than, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while, why

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To the extent possible under law, Cheryl McCormick, Sue Hank, and Ninna Roth have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to How Our Words Work Together: Parts of Speech, except where otherwise noted.

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