top of page

PARTS OF SPEECH

In every language, every word has a role to play in a speech or sentence:

'The terrible thief managed to walk swiftly through the crowd.'

In the above sentence, each word might tell us who

the sentence is about, what happened, where the action took place, when it took place and how the activity was performed. These are the grammatical functions of the words.

Each word can therefore be categorized according to its grammatical function. The classification is what we call Parts of Speech.

As with many other systems, parts of speech (also called classes of words) was invented by the Ancient Greeks, copied by the Romans and later adopted into English by scholars who were well versed in Latin.

Understanding these parts of speech will certainly go a long way in understanding sentence structure and in using the language effectively. Besides, grammar, sometimes known as English usage is a very important area of study tested in exams.

With a strong knowledge base in Grammar, one can easily avoid grammatical errors, improve sentence construction and communicate clearly.

In English there are generally considered to be eight parts of speech: Noun, Pronoun, Adjective, Verb, Adverbs, Preposition, Conjunction and Interjection.

There is a useful piece of doggerel that helps to remember what each did:

There are a few other words that are categorized as articles or determiners. They also play important roles in sentences. They are; 'the', 'a' and 'an'- we will delve more into them in another related article.

Words from each of the parts of speech are used as building blocks. They add meaning by modifying or qualifying one another.

Shall we we have a look at the sentence below?

'Sonia listened attentively to the noise from the large crowd.'

The above sentence is talking about a Noun, Sonia, who is doing something (Verb - listening’). The sentence shows how she is listening ( that is attentively). What is she listening to? A noise. Where is the noise? The noise is coming from crowd. How is the crowd? It is ‘large’.

Meanwhile, the sentence does not cover all the parts of speech. So we can add a few more words.

'Sonia listened attentively to the noise from the large crowd, but alas, she was overtaken!'

The conjunction 'but' tells that we are joining another thought to the previous one. The Interjection 'alas' shows a sudden feeling and so an exclamation. 'She' is a Pronoun replacing the Noun 'Sonia'.

We will look at these building blocks in detail on subsequent related articles.