I figured that we probably needed to cover the basics at some point. Most people already know most of the basics, but everyone can use a refresher every now and then. If you don’t think you do, go play a game of MadLibs.
There are eight parts of speech.
Nouns—this is your standard person, place, or thing (Dave, Barcelona, Car). You’re already an expert, so I’ll leave it at that.
Pronouns—a pronoun takes the place of a noun. There are many different pronouns (that, who, these, you, he, us, her, my, ours, etc.). Pronouns improve writing by eliminating the repetition of nouns. Without pronouns, we’d end up doing this: Dave lost Dave’s car keys for Dave’s car. Yuck.
Verbs—this is another easy one. A verb is a word or group of words that expresses an action, shows a state of existence, or links a subject to the rest of the sentence. Simply put, the verb is the doing of the sentence. Every sentence requires a verb. In fact, a verb is the ONLY part of a sentence that absolutely must be spoken or written. You can often leave the subject (in other words the noun/pronoun) of a sentence out if it is implied. Examples: Run!!!, Go get a cookie., Stop! When you have an implied subject, your sentence is often a question or command.
Adverbs—adverbs modify verbs, verb forms, adjectives, or other adverbs. Often, adverbs will end in “-ly” but that is not always true (such as Very, Fast, Far). The best way to distinguish an adverb from an adjective is to figure out what it modifies. If it modifies the verb, another adverb, or an adjective, it is an adverb. ALWAYS!
Adjectives—adjectives modify nouns and pronouns. That’s it. They never have the common “-ly” ending of adverbs. One way to figure out an adjective is to try and tie it to a noun. For example, “fast” can be both an adjective and an adverb. To figure out which one it is, tie it to the noun in the sentence. If your sentence is “Dave runs fast,” fast is describing “runs” not Dave. It’s an adverb. But if your sentence is “Dave is fast,” fast is describing how Dave is. It’s an adjective.
Prepositions—prepositions connect nouns and pronouns to another word or words in a sentence. The common rule for identifying a preposition is if it is something that you can do to a log or a barn. For example, you can stand IN a barn, ON a log, BEHIND a barn, UNDER a log, NEXT TO a log. There are, of course, some prepositions that are a touch harder to identify such as Instead Of, Because Of, For, Except, Concerning, etc. Prepositions improve writing by adding detail, but be careful! Long lists of prepositions and their related phrases can create tedious sentences, such as Dave sat on the log behind the barn by the tree in the Johnson’s field near Greenville under the big blue sky. There are six prepositions in that sentence; can you find them?
Conjunctions—you all know the song, but what are they? Conjunctions are words that connect other words, phrases, or clauses in sentences. There are two kinds of conjunctions, Coordinating and Subordinating. Just know that anything that connects parts of a sentence together is a conjunction. Common conjunctions include: and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet.
Interjections—this is the one most people forget even though it is one of the more common parts of spoken English. Interjections are basically any words used as exclamations. Examples include: Oh!, By the way, Hey!, Hot snot!, and basically your wide range of swear words. If you use it to get someone’s attention or call attention to what you are saying, it’s probably an interjection. If you think about it, even non-words can be interpreted as interjections. A heavy sigh, a sudden intake of breath, a grunt… Those could all be interpreted as interjections.
There you have it. Now you are all experts on the Eight Parts of Speech. Go impress your friends!