Parts of Speech – Easy Learning Grammar
Sentences are made up of words. A sentence can be made up of any number of words.
- He left us.
- The man in the corner lowered his newspaper.
- Whenever I see Tammy I worry about how I look.
- Until tomorrow then.
We can put words together in many ways to make new sentences.
- I can help you.
- Can I help you?
Grammar describes how we put words together. Each word in a sentence belongs to a particular set or class, depending on how it is used. These classes are called parts of speech.
All sentences begin with a capital letter and end in either a full stop, a question mark, or an exclamation mark. When we talk about these marks, e.g. commas, semicolons, full stops, brackets, and so on, we are talking about punctuation.
The term clause is used to describe a group of words that contains a verb, the subject of that verb, and, often, some other words such as an object.
- I live in Sussex.
- …where I live.
- Jessica lived in Manchester at first.
- He was living in Rome that year.
- …when he had eaten breakfast.
A sentence can contain one or more clauses.
- I can help you if you will let me.
- Whenever you need to talk to someone, just pop in and see if I’m here.
Many sentences are made up of a single clause. Single clause sentences are called simple sentences.
- He arrived on Friday.
- My brother loves his skateboard.
A clause always contains a verb.
A sentence, however, does not always have to be a clause. See Sentences and clauses for more about clauses.
- Certainly not.
- Until tomorrow then.
A phrase is just a group of words. The term is usually kept for words which go together naturally.
- the other day
- my friend Henry
- in spite of
- over the hill
- would have been walking
Many words can refer to one thing only or to more than one. We use the terms singular and plural for this. A more general term is number. Pronouns and nouns can be singular or plural in grammatical number. See Pronouns.
When we want to identify the speaker or the person spoken about in grammar, we use first person to mean the speaker, second person to mean the person who is spoken to, and third person to mean the person who is spoken about. For example, we talk about ‘first person plural’ or ‘third person singular’.
|1st person2nd person3rd person||Iyouhe, she, it||weyouthey|
|nouns||the mana girl||the mentwo girls|
A verb tells us about an action or a state of being. Ordinary verbs are called main verbs.
A main verb is sometimes called a ‘doing word’. A special group of verbs are called auxiliary verbs. These can be put together with main verbs to form different tenses.
- I am thinking.
- She has seen the film already.
- I can help you.
- We might need to.
A noun is a word that labels a thing or an idea. Nouns are sometimes called ‘naming words’.
If we do not want to repeat the same noun in a sentence or a paragraph we can replace it with a pronoun. A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun phrase or a noun.
- Gary saw Sue so he asked her to help him.
- Ross was hungry so he stopped at a burger bar.
An adjective gives more information about a noun. Adjectives help us describe or pick out which particular thing among many is being referred to. Adjectives are sometimes called ‘describing words’.
|a man||a tall man|
|their TV||their new wide-screen TV|
|the cat||the fat black-and-white cat|
A determiner is used to point more precisely to the person, thing, or idea that is being talked about. Examples of determiners are definite and indefinite articles and possessives.
|the cat||a man|
|my aunt||their TV|
An adverb gives information about the way that an action is carried out or when and where it takes place.
- She ran quickly down the path.
- The children laughed hysterically.
- He lifted the box carefully.
Some adverbs can also be used before adjectives,
- He was a rather tall man.
- This cake is quite nice.
- It was fairly good.
- It’s a very hot day.
or to introduce a sentence. Many adverbs are formed from adjectives by adding -ly.
- Fortunately, the rain stayed away.
- Honestly, I can’t help it.
A preposition is one of a small group of words that can be used with nouns and verbs. Prepositions give information about position or movement.
|on the bridge||over the rooftops|
|in the morning||at the gates|
When a preposition is used in front of a noun, the two together do the work of an adverb.
- He is coming now.
- He is coming in the morning.
- I found him there.
- I found him near the gates.
A conjunction joins two or more nouns or clauses to each other. Conjunctions are sometimes called ‘joining words’.
- I went to the shop and bought some bread.
- I bought some bread, but I forgot to get the milk.
Many words can act as more than one part of speech. It is not unusual for an English word to be a noun in one sentence and a verb in another sentence.
- Jamal scored several runs.
- She runs half a mile each morning.
- I’ve been chosen for the school play.
- Christopher and Angus play golf together on Fridays.