Back to: Basic Grammar
8 PARTS OF SPEECH
In most languages, all words have groups into which they go. In English there are 8 groups, or ‘parts of speech’ as they are more commonly known.
These are broken into:
VERBS - words which show: an action, an idea, a thought, a feeling,
ADJECTIVES - words which describe nouns.
NOUNS - Words which describe places, people, objects, all things.
CONJUNCTIONS – words which join parts of a sentence together.
ADVERBS – words which change verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
PREPOSITIONS – words which introduce nouns, and also connect nouns or pronouns together.
PRONOUNS - words which replace nouns.
INTERJECTIONS - words which show pain, emotion, anger etc..,
A good way to remember the parts of speech is to remember the letters ‘VANCAPIP’ (There is no meaning to theses letters; they help you to remember all the 8 parts of speech).
Remember this sentence: Verbs and nouns can always play in pairs.
Let’s look at each part of speech.
Verbs are either actions ( I GO to work every day. She PLAYS tennis on Sundays. We DO our homework in the evenings). All of the bold words in the 3 sentences indicate an action. These are the verbs.
THESE ARE CALLED ACTION VERBS.
Verbs can also be states, ideas, emotions. (I THINK I know her. They KNOW the Prime Minister. He UNDERSTANDS Russian). All of the verbs indicate no action, only a thought, feeling or state.
THESE ARE ALSO CALLED NON-ACTION VERBS OR STATIVE VERBS.
Adjectives describe nouns. (The nouns are in blue, the adjectives are in red).
There are 2 ways we use adjectives: Adjective + noun, or Noun is adjective.
The tall dark handsome man. (Adjective + adjective + adjective + noun).
The man is tall dark, and handsome. ( Noun + is + adjective, adjective, and adjective).
We use the verb “to be” before the adjectives ( is/are/am)
Example: The runners (plural noun) are (verb “to be”) cold (adjective) and wet (adjective).
The cold (adjective), wet (adjective) runners (plural noun).
Nouns are used to describe “things”
There are 5 main types of nouns.
PROPER NOUNS. These are the names of specific things. The Empire State Building. London, Brazil, Steve, John, Jane. These can be people or objects. They MUST have capital letters.
COMMON NOUNS. These are everyday objects. There are many of them and we are not talking about a specific one. A cat, a pencil, a ball , a cake, a chair, a car. All of these things are around us all the time. We are not talking about a specific cat, or ball, or pencil, just any one.
ABSTRACT NOUNS. These are described as things “we cannot see, feel or touch”
They are often the nouns of things we use more as verbs or adjectives.
Example: His hatred of smokers is well known. (We often use the verb. He hates smokers.)
Hatred is an abstract noun. We cannot see it smell, touch, or feel it.
His idea on how to fix the problem, was very good. (There is no verb for ‘idea’)
An idea is an abstract noun. It is inside of someone’s mind. You cannot see, feel, or touch it.
COLLECTIVE NOUNS. These are groups of things.
Examples: A ‘herd’ of cows. A ‘pack’ of cards. A ‘pride’ of lions. A ‘shoal’ of fish. When we use collective nouns, we are saying a ‘group’ of something, but we only use the word ‘group’ for a few things. Example: a group of people. A group of objects.
COUNTABLE & UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS.
These are nouns which we can count if separated, or cannot be counted if separated.
Countable: egg, ball, dog, table. We can count each item seperately (1 egg, 2 eggs, etc...,)
Uncountable: water, butter, traffic, information, coffee. We cannot say "1 coffee, 2 coffee, etc...,)
We will look at this later in the course.
Conjunctions join words, phrases, and clauses together. (A clause or phrase is a part of a sentence).
Examples of conjunctions are: and, but, because, so, or, yet.
Example sentences: He likes sport, and he loves photography.
She goes jogging every morning because it is good for her health.
We could have fish for lunch, or we could have a salad.
(There are more conjunctions, but these are the most commonly used ones).
Adverbs are one of the most difficult parts of speech.
Adverbs ‘modify/change’ verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.
Adverbs are grouped into 5 categories.
Adverbs of time (used for when)
Adverbs of place (used for location)
Adverbs of frequency ( used for repeated or habitual actions)
Adverbs of degree (used to indicate strength)
Adverbs of manner (used to indicate how much)
I saw Steve yesterday. (yesterday is an adverb of time. It describes ‘when’)
Let’s meet here at 1pm. (here is an adverb of place. It describes ‘where’)
I usually have breakfast at around 7am. (usually is an adverb of frequency. It describes ‘how often’)
It was too dark for her to walk home alone. ( too is an adverb of degree. It describes ‘how dark’)
They ran quickly along the street. ( quickly is an adverb of manner. It describes ‘ how’ they ran)
Pronouns replace nouns in English. It makes us repeat things less and makes what we say more interesting.
There are several types of pronouns:
(There are more pronouns but these are the most commonly used).
We use pronouns after we have introduced the subject noun.
John works with me at the bank. He is an accounts manager. (subject pronoun)
John works in my office. I sit next to him. (object pronoun)
John lives near me. His house is about 200 metres away from mine. (possessive pronoun)
John drives himself to work every day. (reflexive pronoun)
John saw someone waiting outside the bank yesterday. (indefinite pronoun)
Prepositions are used to ‘introduce’ objects, places, and people, into sentences. They also can give ‘place’ ‘time’ ‘direction’ ‘agent’ (who did something) ‘device’ (what did something).
The young couple sat in the park. (place)
He goes to work at 7.30am. (time)
The train went through the tunnel. (direction)
He learnt English by himself. (agent)
Most cars are now made by robots (device)
Interjections are not related to any part of a sentence. They are exclamations of emotions (pain, excitement, joy, sadness etc...,) they usually come with an exclamation mark.
Hey! Stop doing that.
Ouch! That really hurt.
Oh! I forgot my keys again.
Hurray!! We won.
Wow! She is beautiful.
As we go through the book, you will see various examples of all of the different parts of speech used in examples of everyday conversations and speaking.
Practice using them in sentences to understand how they are used and how they all fit together.
In the next lesson we are going to look at syllables.