The Eight Parts of Speech

The eight parts of speech are verbsnouns, pronouns, adjectivesadverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. 

Verbs show action or state of being.

Every sentence and clause must have a subject (noun or pronoun) and a verb; ask, be, become, begin, call, can, come, could, do, feel, find, get, give, go, have, hear, help, keep, know, leave, let,…


Nouns are the names of persons, places or things or an idea

There are two kinds of nouns; Common nouns are words used to name general items rather than specific ones.

Examples; man, mountain, state, ocean, country, building, cat, airline dog, boy, school


Proper nouns - specific persons, places, or things.

Examples; Bob, Martha, New Year’s Day, Woolworth, Google, Mr. John Smother, New York, Mealtimes, Vista Heights, Atlantic Ocean, Mount Fuji


Pronouns take the place of nouns, and help you avoid using the noun over and over again:

Therese asked John if Therese could borrow John’s car, so Therese could go to Therese’s doctor’s appointment.


Pronouns take the place of nouns. Pronouns take the place of nouns.

Therese asked John if she could borrow his car, so she could go to her doctor’s


Personal Pronoun              Object Form

I                                               Me

You                                         You

He                                           Him

She                                         Her

It                                             It

We                                         Us

They                                       Them 


Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns, this means that they describe, limit, or in some way give a more definite meaning to a noun or pronoun.



A limiting adjective points to the exact noun or pronoun and shows quantity:

That book, Twenty dollars, The ticket -- More Examples; which, whose, what kind, and how many.


A descriptive adjective tells us the quality or the condition of the noun or


short man

The excited dog

A hot meal


An entire phrase can be an adjective:

The mug with the rainbow painted on it broke.

The invitation that was addressed to John got lost.


An adjective can modify a noun phrase:

Driving to work can be hazardous. Here, driving to work is the noun phrase, and

hazardous is the adjective.

Adjectives come in degrees: positive, comparative, and superlative.

The positive degree is the adjective in its simplest form: fast

The comparative form adds “er”: faster

The superlative form adds “est”: fastest


Sometimes adjectives are easy to identify because of their suffix:

-able: forgettable

-al: musical

-ary: stationary

-en: harden

-ful: plentiful

-ible: incorrigible

-ic: cosmic

-ish: devilish

-ive: furtive

-less: hopeless

-like: ladylike

-ous: hazardous

-some: handsome

-y: merry


Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs and tell how, when, where, and how much.

Verbs are found in every sentence. They show action or clarify the subject of the sentence. There are two kinds of verbs: action and linking. Here are examples of an action verb in a sentence with the verb underlined:

ate the entire box of chocolates.

Harry drove his car to the park.

Linking verbs do not express action; rather they connect the subject to information about the subject. Here are two examples:

Juan is really smart.

Karen can be late at times.

Adverbs can also modify adjectives. Adjectives are words that modify or describe nouns and pronouns. Two examples are:

That is a lovely hat.

The red car is missing. 

Lastly, adverbs can modify other adverbs. Here are a few examples of adverbs:

Cheetahs can run fast.

You type slowly.


Adverbs can answer questions, start questions, give more information, and connect parts of a sentence. Here are the explanations of different types of adverbs with examples.

Adverbs can be sorted into the kinds of questions they answer.

Adverbs of manner answer the question, “How?” She watched the children carefully.

Adverbs of time answer the question, “When?” I always arrive early for my appointment.

Adverbs of place answer “Where?” Why don’t you play outside?

Adverbs of degree answer “How much?” After the trip, I was totally exhausted.

Adverbs of frequency would answer the question “How often?” We watch movies occasionally.

Conjunctive adverbs can connect clauses or sentences. Here is a short list of some conjunctive adverbs:

also, besides, finally, however, instead, nevertheless, next, now, otherwise, still, then, therefore, and thus. 

If conjunctive adverbs connect two independent clauses (sentences), a semicolon is used, like in:

The kids are in bed. Finally, I can get some work done. 

If the conjunctive adverb is within a clause, commas are used to separate it, like:

She would not go out with him the first time he asked. The young man, nevertheless, refused to give up.

Interrogative adverbs come at the beginning of a question, like:

How did you do that?  Why are you smiling?


When young children learn about adverbs, they often just think all you have to do is add an “ly” to a word and it becomes an adverb. This is true for many adverbs, but not all. Many adjectives can easily become adverbs, like slow = slowly, soft = softly, and precise = precisely.

Clauses can function as adverbs. A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb. Independent clauses are called sentences. So when you ask, “What does the adverb modify?” you need to realize that a clause may be functioning as an adverb. Here are some examples:

After dinner is over, we will see a movie. (When?)

She got additional training, so she would get a promotion. (Why?)

Prepositional phrases and infinitive phrases can also act as adverbs. Here are two examples:

She gets a part time job during the summer. (When?)

He had to run to catch the train. (Why?)


Prepositions must have an object and show a relationship between its object and some other word in the sentence.  Aside from providing information about the location in place and time, this part of speech usually comes before a noun or a pronoun to describe its relationship to another word or part of the sentence.

The child quickly hid under the thick covers.

The word “under” is a preposition which links the nouns “child” and “covers,” and shows the relationship between the two.

My kite soared above the building.

In this sample sentence, the preposition “above” shows the relationship between the kite and the building.

I think it’s a vessel for weapons

The italicized word “for” is a preposition which describes the relationship between the words “vessel” and “weapons.”

Preposition + Modifiers (not required) + Noun or Pronoun (object of the preposition)

Some Examples of Prepositional Phrases:

Above the dark skies

Above= preposition; the and dark= modifiers; skies= noun

In New York

In= preposition; New York= noun

From my father

From= preposition; my= modifier; father= noun

Since there are so many possible relationships and locations in time and place that need to be indicated, there is actually a long list of prepositions that can be used in sentences. 

…with, at, from, into, during, including, until, against, among, throughout, despite, towards, upon, concerning, of, to, in, for, on, by, about, like, through, over, before, between, after, since, without, under, within, along, following, across, behind, beyond, plus, except, but, up, out, around, down, off, above, near,…

Conjunctions join words, phrases, and clauses.

Common Conjunctions; And, As, Because, But, For, Just as, Or, Neither, Nor, Not only, So, Whether, Yet, 


I tried to hit the nail but hit my thumb instead.

I have two goldfish and a cat.

I’d like a bike for commuting to work.

You can have peach ice cream or a brownie sundae.

Neither the black dress nor the gray one looks right on me.

My dad always worked hard so we could afford the things we wanted.

I try very hard in school, yet I am not receiving good grades.



Interjections show feeling and are punctuated with either a comma or an exclamation point.

Here are some interjections with an accompanying sentence:

Ahh, that feels wonderful.

Alas! I’m lost in the wilderness.

Bah! That was a total waste of time.

Bless you, I couldn’t have done it without you.

It’s time for me to go. Cheerio!

Congrats! You finally got your Master’s degree.

Crikey! Do you ever think before you speak?

Gesundheit! Are you starting to get a cold?

Good grief! Why are you wearing shorts in the winter?

Grrr! I’m going to get back at him for that.

Humph, he probably cheated to make such good grades.

Oh dear! I don’t know what to do about this mess.

Pip pip! Let’s get moving.

Shoot! I forgot my brother’s birthday.

Well, duh! That was a stupid thing to do!

Yowza! That is a beautiful ball gown.


Components of a sentence can include:

  • Subject: Who or what the sentence is about. The person doing the action
    • I (pronoun) applied (adjective) to the university (noun) as a new student.
  • Predicate: Verb or action being done
    • applied
  • Direct Object: Something/someone the action is done to
  • Indirect Object: The person/thing the action is done to or for
  • Prepositions: Relationship words that provide information about how the other parts of the sentence fit together
  • Modifiers: Words that provide additional detail about a subject, action or object in the sentence
  • Articles: Words that modify nouns
  • Dependent/subordinate clauses: Clauses that can't stand alone

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