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:
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 belongs to a particular 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 essential, as every word has to fulfil a specific 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). For reasons of a comprehensive illustration of the parts of speech, they are divided into all ten groups in the following. Compare with examples:
- mountain, fun, car, people, Mike
- big, fast, nice, exciting, lazy
- you, he, his, theirs, ourselves, its
- go, fly, know, decorate, understand
- fast, interestingly, hardly, sometimes
- under, on, in, across, by
- Articles or determiners:
- a, an, the
- and, because, but, so, or
- fifteen, zero, second, twenty-first
- really, well, oh dear, alright