Basic information about parts of speech

(General usage of word classes in the English language)

Table of contents – parts of speech

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Explanation parts of speech
  2. Further explanations and exercises

What are parts of speech? Which ones can be found in English?

As it is also the case in many other languages, in English every single word can be assigned to a certain category or class. These groups are then called parts of speech and describe the grammatical meaning of every single word in a sentence. In this way, an adjective, for example, refers to a noun or pronoun and adds more information to it.

Being able to determine the part of speech of a word is important, as every word has to fulfil a certain task in a clause. If that task is not known, a correct sentence or statement cannot be formed correctly and so may lead to problems in understanding. Even though the determination of parts of speech in simple sentences does not appear to be very difficult, it can be quite complicated in complex sentences.

Attention: Be careful not to confuse parts of speech with constituents of a sentence.

The English language offers ten parts of speech (sometimes merely eight or nine if some categories are joined as determiners). In order to illustrate parts of speech in the most complete way, all ten groups are listed in the following. Compare with examples:

  • Nouns:
    • mountain, fun, car, people, Mike
  • Adjectives:
    • big, fast, nice, exciting, lazy
  • Pronouns:
    • you, he, his, theirs, ourselves, its
  • Verbs:
    • go, fly, know, decorate, understand
  • Adverbs:
    • fast, interestingly, hardly, sometimes
  • Prepositions:
    • under, on, in, across, by
  • Articles or determiners:
    • a, an, the
  • Conjunctions:
    • and, because, but, so, or
  • Numerals:
    • fifteen, zero, second, twenty-first
  • Interjections:
    • really, well, oh dear, alright

Further explanations related to the ‘Parts of speech’

The following explanations relate to the topic ‘English parts of speech / general usage of word classes’ and could also be interesting:

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