What Are the Parts of Speech in the English Language?

Learning the parts of speech is an important part of your education.

The English language has eight parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, interjection and pronoun. Each part of speech is used in a different way; sometimes a word can be understood as more than one part of speech, depending on the context. Understanding the parts of speech can help you learn grammar and improve your reading and writing skills.

1 Noun

A noun is a person, place or thing. A word for a feeling or idea is also classified as a noun. Within the noun category are proper nouns, which are the specific names for people, places and things. Take the following sentence as a example: "The girl moved to Seattle." In this sentence, "girl" and "Seattle" are nouns.

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2 Verb

A verb is a word used to express action. Conjugate verbs in English into five tenses: present, past, future, present participle and past participle. For example, conjugate the verb "walk" in each tense as follows: I walk, I walked, I will walk, I am walking and I have walked. Another example shows the irregular verb "run" conjugated in each tense: I run, I ran, I will run, I am running and I have run.

3 Adjective

An adjective describes or modifies a noun. Use an adjective to tell more about the person, place or things you are describing. In the sentence "I picked the pretty red flower," the words "pretty" and "red" are adjectives describing the noun "flower." At times words that are commonly known as different types of speech, such as pronouns, can be used as adjectives, such as in the sentence "He can't find his book." In this sentence "his" functions as an adjective modifying the noun "book."

4 Adverb

Use an adverb to describe a verb. Look for the common telltale adverb ending of "-ly" when you try to identify this part of speech. Answer the questions how, where, when and how much with an adverb. For example, the adverb "slowly" tells you how the boy walked in the following sentence. "The boy walked slowly home from school."

5 Preposition

Use a preposition to tell the relationship between a noun and another noun, a verb or an adverb. A preposition usually tells where something is in relationship to something else, such as "The book is on the table." The preposition in this sentence is "on." Some common prepositions are on, above, under, beneath, over, beside, about, below and between.

6 Conjunction

Conjunctions are linking words. Use a conjunction to link groups of words. Memorize the list of common conjunctions: and, but, or, for, so and yet.

7 Interjection

Add an interjection to your sentence to convey emotion. Interjections often are followed by an exclamation mark to show the strong feeling of the word. You will often find interjections as short words or phrases at the beginning of sentences, such as "wow!," "hey!" or "oh, no!"

8 Pronoun

Use a pronoun in place of a noun. Pronouns are short, simple words that take the place of a person, place, thing, idea or feeling. Types of pronouns include personal pronouns (he), possessive pronouns (mine), demonstrative pronouns (this), indefinite pronouns (many) and reflexive pronouns (myself).

Kimberly Hurd is a high-school teacher and has been writing professionally since 1999. She mainly focuses her writing on issues related to parenting, family life, cooking and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Oregon and a Master of Teaching from the University of Portland.