What are the parts of speech?

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Answered by: Tandra, An Expert in the Grammar and Composition - General Category
The eight parts of speech in English grammar are the ways that define how a word is used. Individual words themselves are not one only part of speech or another, but can be used as various parts. For example, the word "run" can be used as both a verb and a noun. In the sentence, "I will run a marathon this weekend," run is used as a verb. In the sentence, "I went for a run this morning," the verb is "went" and "run" is the noun. Understanding how the parts of speech work is crucial to understanding the complexities of English grammar.

A verb is a word or set of words that describes an action or a state of being. An action verb is simple and tells readers exactly what is going on -- "Jane walks to the store." The action verb is "walks." A state-of-being verb helps identify something or someone -- "I am a student." The verb in this sentence is "am" and identifies the "I" speaker as a student.

Nouns are words that identify a person, place, thing, or abstract idea. They can function in a sentence as the subject, direct object, indirect object, appositive, subject complement, object complement, adverb, or adjective. Nouns may also be possessive, proper or common, collective, concrete or abstract, and have plurality and gender.

Pronouns are words that replace nouns in a sentence. They make speech and writing less repetitive by removing the need to repeat a specific noun multiple times to identify it. For example:

“Jane went to the store and bought milk, which Jane needed to make a cake.” In this sentence, the second occurrence of “Jane” can be replaced with “she.”

“Jane went to the store and bought milk, which she needed to make a cake.”

Adjectives are words that can be used to describe, quantify, or identify nouns or pronouns. “My red shirt is missing.” The adjective here is “red,” which describes the noun “shirt.”

Adjectives may also be indefinite, possessive, demonstrative, or interrogative.

Adverbs are used to modify adjectives, adverbs, phrases, clauses, and other adverbs. Most can be identified by an -ly ending. Adverbs identify how much, when, where, and how. Adjectives are more complex than other parts of speech because they can be found in different parts of a sentence and may appear as clauses or conjunctives.

Prepositions are linking words that connect phrases, nouns, and pronouns with the object of the preposition. Prepositions indicate space, such as where a noun or pronoun is in relation to another object. For example:

“The desk is beside the bed.” The preposition in this sentence is “beside,” and it links the noun “desk” with the object of the preposition, “bed.”

Interjections are words or phrases that add emotion. They are not linked grammatically to other parts of speech and may be set off with commas or exclamation points.

Conjunctions are another form of linking words. Coordinating conjunctions may link individual words or phrases as well as separate independent clauses. Correlative conjunctions function in pairs, while subordinate conjunctions indicate a relationship between an independent clause and a dependent clause in a sentence.

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