Parts of Speech

Adjective Adverb Article Conjunction Interjection
Noun Preposition Pronoun Verb Verbal

Rationale for this unit

You will not study this unit merely so that you can label each word in a sentence as a particular part of speech. That would be a boring and futile exercise.

However, if you want to write and speak correctly, it is important that you know whether a word is a noun, an adjective, a verb, or some other part of speech.

If you understand the function of each part of speech, then you will understand why one expression is wrong and another one is right.

 My employer did not approve of me going to the convention.
 My employer did not approve of my going to the convention.

It is difficult to explain to you why the first sentence is grammatically incorrect unless you understand the concept of a prepositional phrase.

In the prepositional phrase of my going, the preposition is of and the object of the preposition is the gerund going. A gerund is an ing form of a verb used as a noun. Therefore the word me or my modifies the noun going. The pronoun I has three cases: subjective I, possessive my, and objective me. In this case we have to use the possessive case, so that is why the second sentence is correct.

When you speak or write the contents of the first sentence, you are telling others that you do not understand the basics of the English language. You are showing them your lack of education. Is that the impression you want to convey to your readers or your audience?

If not, then you know why the topic parts of speech is important for you to study and comprehend.

General comments

1. To understand each part of speech, you need to know the function that it serves in the sentence, whether it is used as the subject of the sentence, the object of a preposition, or a modifier of a noun. Then you will know which of the three cases (subjective, objective, or possessive) to use.

2. The same word can be used as different parts of speech. Its function in the sentence will assist you in determining the part of speech.

We get water from the well. (noun)
He does not look well. (adjective)
The student did well on his test. (adverb)
Well, I don't know about that. (interjection)

3. The word modifies is used extensively throughout this unit and other units. It means to affect the meaning of another word, usually by describing or limiting it.

Tom's cousin answered the doorbell.
Tom's cousin quickly answered the doorbell.

The adverb quickly provides more information about how the cousin answered the doorbell. It suggests he was anxious to see who was at the door or that he was anxious to meet Tom. Therefore, we say that the adverb quickly modifies or describes the verb answered. He did not just answer the door but answered it quickly.

Studying this unit on the different parts of speech should help you improve your communication skills.