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Parts of Speech

Written by Jacob C. Herman

"Parts of speech" are the different ways words can be used in sentences. Understanding the parts of speech makes it easier to write and understand sentences in English class. The five most basic parts of speech are nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and exclamations.

Nouns

  • A noun is a word for a person, place, thing, or idea.
  • Nouns can be either common or proper.
  • Common nouns refer to general things. Dog, cat, sun, and thought are all common nouns.
  • Proper nouns refer to specific things, usually names, titles, or places. Pete, Golden Gate Bridge, and Burpee Museum are all proper nouns.
  • Proper nouns start with capital letters. Common nouns start with lower case letters unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Nouns that represent one thing are called singular nouns.
  • Nouns that represent two or more things are called plural nouns.

Examples of Nouns Representing Things

Singular:

  • The dog ate his dinner.
  • The car drove on the road.
  • The voicemail answered the call.

Plural:

  • The dogs caught balls.
  • The cars whizzed by fast.
  • The baseball players hit the balls at practice.

Examples of Nouns Representing People

    Singular:

    • Sally rode with her dad.
    • She works at the call center.
    • Our mailman comes at noon.

    Plural:

    • The three friends laughed.
    • Girls like to play outside.
    • Doctors help people feel well.

    Examples of Nouns Representing Places

    Singular:

    • We went to the park.
    • They enjoyed visiting Yellowstone National Park.
    • I will do it when I get home from school.

    Plural:

    • Airports are busy places.
    • We visited three museums.
    • I have lived in four states.

    Examples of Nouns Representing Ideas

    • They are in love.
    • We will practice responsibility.
    • A virtual pbx is very important.

    Adjectives

    • Adjectives are words that modify, or describe, nouns.
    • Adjectives often come before the nouns they modify.
    • Sometimes adjectives come at the end of a sentence.
    • Adjectives answer one of these questions: What kind? Which one? How many? Whose?

    Examples of Adjectives

    Adjectives Answering What Kind:

    • I enjoyed the most delicious apple.
    • Please choose the tallest sunflower.

    Adjectives Answering Which One:

    • The after-hours call was forwarded to this answering service.
    • That friendly brown kitten snuggled close to little girl.

    Adjective Answering How Many and Whose:

    • I had three pennies in my pocket.
    • A few children enjoyed the teacher's snack.

    Verbs

    • Verbs are the action words in sentences.
    • Verbs tell what the nouns are doing.
    • Some verbs show a state of being. (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been)
    • Verbs show the time frame of the sentence. (past tense, present tense, future tense)

    Examples of Verbs

    Action Verbs:

    • The cat is sitting on the porch. (Present tense)
    • We checked our voice mail. (Past tense)
    • She will talk to your teacher. (Future tense)

    State of Being Verbs:

    • We are a loving family.
    • He is my friend.

    Adverbs

    • Adverbs are words that modify, or describe, verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.
    • Adverbs often end in –ly.
    • Adverbs answer these questions: How? When? Where? How Often? To What Extent?

    Examples of Adverbs

    Adverbs That Answer How:

    • The play went well.
    • The woman answered my question cheerfully.

    Adverbs That Answer When:

    • We arrived early to dinner.
    • Soon it will be Christmas!

    Adverbs That Answer Where:

    • We work upstairs.
    • Let's play outside.

    Adverbs That Answer How Often:

    • The new baby was constantly crying.

    Adverbs That Answer to What Extent:

    • She is completely ready for her math test.
    • He is totally out of money.

    Exclamations

    • Exclamations are words or phrases in a sentence that show strong feeling.
    • Exclamations are followed by exclamation points.

    Examples of Exclamations:

    • Wow! That was an exciting game!
    • Oh no! I cannot believe I forgot my homework.
    • Hurray! We are going to Disney World!

    Additional Resources:

    The Parts of Speech – An extensive discussion on the eight parts of speech

    Parts of Speech Games – Games designed to reinforce the parts of speech for elementary students

    Parts of Speech with Examples – Shows several examples of the parts of speech

    What Is a Noun? – Extensive resource describing the different types of nouns

    What Is a Verb? – An easy to understand guide to verbs complete with examples

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