Thursday, December 26, 2013

Notes on the Parts of Speech

The parts of speech provide the essential vocabulary for discussing grammar and good writing. 


A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing.

A concrete noun names something that you can physically see, touch, taste, hear, or smell.  An abstract noun names something that is nonphysical that you cannot readily perceive through any of your five senses (freedom, era, nationalism, love).

Singular nouns name one person, place, or thing. Plural nouns name more than one.

Nouns that name groups of people or things are called collective nouns.

A noun that is composed of two or more words acting as a single unit is called a compound (snake dance, sister-in-law, dragonfly).

A common noun names any one of a class of people, places, or things. A proper noun names a specific person, place, or thing.

Pronouns are words that stand for nouns or for words that take the place of nouns.

Antecedents are nouns for which pronouns stand.

Personal pronouns are used to refer to the person speaking (I, we), the person spoken to (you), or the person, place, or thing spoken about (he, she, it, they).

Reflexive pronouns are used to add information to a sentence by pointing back to a noun or pronoun near the beginning of the sentence. Intensive pronouns are use simply to add emphasis to a noun or pronoun. Both pronouns have the same form (myself, yourself, themselves).

Demonstrative pronoun is used to point out a specific person, place or thing (this, that).

A relative pronoun is used to begin a subordinating clause and relate it to another idea in the sentences (that, which, who).

An interrogative pronoun is used to begin a direct or indirect question (what, which, who).

Indefinite pronouns are used to refer to persons, places, or things often without specifying which ones (everyone, anybody, something, both, others, all, some, none, most).


A verb is a word or group of words that expresses time while showing an action, a condition, or the fact that something exists.

An action verb tells what action someone or something is performing. A linking verb connects its subject with a word generally found near the end of the sentence.
EXAMPLE:        The man looks busy. (linking verb)
The man looks at the display. (action verb)

A verb is transitive if it directs action toward someone or something named in the same sentence. A verb is intransitive if it does not direct action toward someone or something named in the same sentence.
EXAMPLE:        The birds flew. (intransitive, the birds flew what? None)
The birds ate the seeds.  (transitive, the birds ate what? The seeds)


An adjective is a word used to describe a noun or pronoun or to give it a more specific meaning.  An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.


A preposition relates the noun or pronoun that appears with it to another word in the sentence. These relationships are spatial, directional, and chronological.

A conjunction is a word used to connect other words or group of words.  Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect similar parts of speech of equal grammatical weight (and, for, but, nor, or so). Correlative conjunctions come in pairs that also join elements of equal grammatical weight (both-and, either-or, neither-nor, not only-but also, whether-or). Subordinating conjunctions join two ideas by making one of the ideas subordinate or dependent of the other (as, because, lest, if, whenever, in order that, though, while).

Interjections is a word that expresses feelings or emotions and functions independently (ah, aha, alas, oh, ouch).

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