The words we use when we communicate can be divided into nine parts, also known as word classes. The nine parts of speech refer to the different types of words and the functions they serve. In this post, we’ll detail each of the nine parts of speech and provide examples for each.
You may remember learning that a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. We use nouns all the time – sometimes they’re the subject of the sentence, and sometimes they’re the object. If a noun is proper, meaning it’s an official name, you should capitalize it in your writing. In the following examples, the nouns are in bold:
Can you pick up some apples from the store?
The interview with Jack went great.
We traveled to Hawaii over the summer.
These words are generic stand-ins for the noun in a sentence. They allow us to avoid repeating the name of something over and over. Certain pronouns refer to people or animals (he, she, we, who, us, etc.), while others can be used for inanimate things (it, this, which, etc.), as seen in the following examples:
This was fun. Thanks for inviting us!
Who made this pie? It is delicious.
We will have to look out for each other.
Verbs are action words. They tell us what’s happening, whether it’s physical (run, walk, dance, etc.), non-physical (agree, believe, assume, etc.), or a state of something (become, was, etc.). They change form depending on the tense – past, present, or future – like in the examples below:
Sally visited yesterday.
We’re going home tomorrow.
Let’s eat before the food gets cold.
These words are used to describe nouns and pronouns. Not only do they describe things in terms of the five senses – how something looks, feels, smells, sounds, and tastes – they also specify quantities of things, types of things, etc. Speech would be pretty boring and nondescript without adjectives!
We’ll try the chocolate cake first.
Hand over the blue sweater.
There are three possibilities.
Adverbs describe verbs and adjectives. Often, they end in –ly, but not always! If you want to describe how, where, when, why, how often, or to what extent something happens, you’ll use an adverb.
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This type of fish swims quickly.
The Eiffel Tower sparkles periodically.
It rains in the desert sometimes.
There are many prepositions in the English language. These words indicate physical relationships between words. They refer to spatial, temporal, or role dynamics between a noun and the other words around it. For example:
The boys climbed over the fence.
Stir the dry ingredients into the batter.
The wind is working against us.
Conjunctions are like joints. They connect or coordinate words, phrases, and clauses. Like prepositions, they indicate relationships, but not in a physical sense. They can indicate a cause-and-effect relationship or a contrast (e.g., because, though, since), or they can coordinate words (e.g., and, but, or).
Should we go to the mountains or the beach this weekend?
I drink both tea and coffee.
The picnic is canceled because it’s raining.
These words specify and modify nouns, and they’re necessary for a sentence to be grammatically correct. The most common articles are the, a, and an. Determiners identify and quantify nouns (e.g., these, those, which).
These books are newer than those books.
A girl walked by, but she wasn’t the girl you’re looking for.
I’m only making enough food for a few
Interjections are short phrases and words that stand on their own. They contain a complete thought or feeling without needing to be worked into a sentence. We use them all the time, often without realizing it! Some examples include:
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