In this lesson, we are going to learn the eight parts of speech, which are:

  • Noun,
  • Verb,
  • Pronoun,
  • Adjective,
  • Adverb,
  • Conjunction,
  • Preposition, and
  • Interjection.

If we examine the words in any sentence, we observe that they have different tasks or duties to perform in the expression of thought.

Savage beasts roamed through the forest.

In this sentence, beasts and forest are the names of objects; roamed asserts action, telling us what the beasts didsavage describes the beasts; through shows the relation in thought between forest and roamedthe limits the meaning of forest, showing that one particular forest is meant. Thus each of these words has its special office (or functionin the sentence.

In accordance with their use in the sentence, words are divided into eight classes called parts of speech,—namely, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.


A noun is one of the parts of speech. It is the name of a person, place, or thing.


  • Lincoln,
  • William,
  • Elizabeth,
  • sister,
  • engineer,
  • Chicago,
  • island,
  • shelf,
  • star,
  • window,
  • happiness,
  • anger,
  • sidewalk,
  • courage,
  • loss,
  • song.

You can refer to the Nouns lesson for more details



A pronoun is one of the parts of speech. It is a word used instead of a noun. It designates a person, place, or thing without naming it.

In “I am ready,” the pronoun I is a convenient substitute for the speaker’s name. In “You have forgotten your umbrella,” the pronouns you and your designate the person to whom one is speaking. Other pronouns are: 

  • hehishim;
  • shehersher;
  • itits;
  • thisthat;
  • whowhosewhomwhich;
  • myselfyourselfhimselfthemselves.

Since pronouns stand for nouns, they enable us to talk about a person, place, or thing without constantly repeating the name.

Nouns and pronouns are called substantives.

Nouns and pronouns are very similar in their use. The difference between them is merely that the noun designates a person, place, or thing by naming it, and that the pronoun designates, but does not name. Hence it is convenient to have a general term (substantive) to include both these parts of speech.

The substantive to which a pronoun refers is called its antecedent.

  • Frank introduced the boys to his father. [Frank is the antecedent of the pronoun his.]
  • Eleanor is visiting her aunt.
  • The book has lost its cover.
  • The trappers sat round their camp fire.
  • Washington and Franklin served their country in different ways. [Their has two antecedents, connected by and.]


An adjective is one of the parts of speech. It is a word which describes or limits a substantive.

This it usually does by indicating some quality.

An adjective is said to belong to the substantive which it describes or limits. It also limits a substantive by restricting the range of its meaning.

The noun box, for example, includes a great variety of objects. If we say wooden box, we exclude boxes of metal, of paper, etc. If we use a second adjective (small) and a third (square), we limit the size and the shape of the box.

Most adjectives (like woodensquare, and smalldescribe as well as limit. Such words are called descriptive adjectives.

We may, however, limit the noun box to a single specimen by means of the adjective this or that or the, which does not describe, but simply points out, or designates. Such words are called definitive adjectives.



A verb is one of the parts of speech. It is a word which can assert something (usually an action) concerning a person, place, or thing.

  • The wind blows.
  • The horses ran.
  • The fire blazed.
  • Her jewels sparkled.
  • Tom climbed a tree.
  • The dynamite exploded.

Some verbs express state or condition rather than action.

  • The treaty still exists.
  • The book lies on the table.
  • Near the church stood an elm.
  • My aunt suffers much from headache.

A group of words may be needed, instead of a single verb, to make an assertion.

A group of words that is used as a verb is called a verb-phrase.

  • You will see.
  • The tree has fallen.
  • We might have invited her.
  • Our driver has been discharged.

Certain verbs, when used to make verb-phrases, are called auxiliary (that is, “aiding”) verbs, because they help other verbs to express action or state of some particular kind. (Read more about auxiliary verbs)

Thus, in “You will see,” the auxiliary verb will helps see to express future action; in “We might have invited her,” the auxiliaries might and have help invited to express action that was possible in past time.

The auxiliary verbs are is (arewaswere, etc.), maycanmustmightshallwillcouldwouldshouldhavehaddodid. Their forms and uses will be studied in connection with the inflection of verbs.

The auxiliary verb regularly comes first in a verb-phrase, and may be separated from the rest of it by some other word or words.

  • Where was Washington born?
  • The boat was slowly but steadily approaching.

Is (in its various forms) and several other verbs may be used to frame sentences in which some word or words in the predicate describe or define the subject.

  1. Gold is a metal.
  2. Charles is my friend’s name.
  3. The colors of this butterfly are brilliant.
  4. Iron becomes red in the fire.
  5. Our condition seemed desperate.
  6. Bertram proved a good friend in this emergency.
  7. My soul grows sad with troubles.—Shakspere.

In the first sentence, the verb is not only makes an assertion, but it also connects the rest of the predicate (a metal) with the subject (gold) in such a way that a metal serves as a description or definition of gold.

In sentences 4–7, becomesseemedproved, and grows are similarly used.

In such sentences is and other verbs that are used for the same purpose are called copulative (that is, “joining”) verbs.

Is in this use is often called the copula, that is, the “joiner” or “link.”

The forms of the verb is are very irregular. Among the commonest are: amisarewaswere, and the verb-phrases has beenhave beenhad beenshall bewill be.


An adverb is one of the parts of speech. It is a word which modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

To modify a word is to change or affect its meaning in some way. Thus in “The river fell rapidly,” the adverb rapidly modifies the verb fell by showing how the falling took place. In “I am never late,” “This is absolutely true,” “That is too bad,” the italicized words are adverbs modifying adjectives; in “He came very often,” “He spoke almosthopefully,” “The river fell too rapidly,” they are adverbs modifying other adverbs.

Most adverbs answer the question “How?” “When?” “Where?” or “To what degree or extent?”

Observe that adverbs modify verbs in much the same way in which adjectives modify nouns.

bright fire burned.The fire burned brightly.
fierce wind blew.The wind blew fiercely.

A word or group of words that changes or modifies the meaning of another word is called a modifier.

Adjectives and adverbs, then, are both modifiers. Adjectives modify substantives; adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.



A preposition is one of the parts of speech. It is a word placed before a substantive to show its relation to some other word in the sentence.

The substantive which follows a preposition is called its object.

A preposition is said to govern its object.

In “The surface of the water glistened,” of makes it clear that surface belongs with water. In “Philip is on the river,” on shows Philip’s position with respect to the river. In, or near, or beyond would have indicated a different relation. Water is the object of the preposition of, and river is the object of the preposition on.

A preposition often has more than one object.

  • Over hill and dale he ran.
  • He was filled with shame and despair.


A conjunction connects words or groups of words.

Conjunction differs from a preposition in having no object, and in indicating a less definite relation between the words which it connects.

In “Time and tide wait for no man,” “The parcel was small but heavy,” “He wore a kind of doublet or jacket,” the conjunctions andbutor, connect single words,—timewith tidesmall with heavydoublet with jacket. In “Do not go if you are afraid,” “I came because you sent for me,” “Take my key, but do not lose it,” “Sweep the floor anddust the furniture,” each conjunction connects the entire group of words preceding it with the entire group following it.


An interjection is one of the parts of speech. It is a cry or other exclamatory sound expressing surprise, anger, pleasure, or some other emotion or feeling.

Interjections usually have no grammatical connection with the groups of words in which they stand; hence their name, which means “thrown in.”


  • Oh! I forgot.
  • Ah, how I miss you!
  • Bravo! Alas!

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