The 8 parts of speech are important to know to understand English grammar. Each type of word is defined by the function it has in a sentence. When we talk about language, we need words to describe the words we are talking about. This is the purpose of defining the eight parts of speech. I tell my students that knowing the names of the 8 parts of speech is like knowing the names of the parts of a car.
New! Try our quiz on the 8 parts of speech
How could my mechanic fix my car if he didn't know that the problem was the carburetor, not the fuel pump? The 8 parts of speech are like that. By knowing the 8 parts of speech, you can recognize when there is a problem of verb agreement, or a run-on sentence, or a misused pronoun. The 8 parts of speech are: verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
Here are the definitions of the eight parts of speech and links to pages that give more details about them. The eight parts of speech are:
The verb: Verbs are words that name an action. It can be an active action such as run, jump, or take. Verbs can also describe a state of being, such as "is" or "has." Notice that verbs change depending on who is doing the action: I jump, but he jumps. Verbs also convey the time of the action, such as whether it is past or present. I am jumping; I will jump tomorrow; I jumped yesterday. Verbs never use apostrophes.
The noun: Nouns are words for people, places and things. Nouns can name feelings or ideas as well. Nouns only change in two ways: either we add an "s" at the end to signify that there is more than one, or we add an apostrophe plus an "s" to signify a relationship of possession. Nouns are the only one of the 8 parts of speech that take apostrophes. If you are confused about how to use an apostrophe, click here.
The pronoun: Pronouns stand in for nouns. He, she, or it, are pronouns that are used instead of the name of the person or the object. Unlike nouns, pronouns never take apostrophes.
The adjective: An adjective provides information about a noun. An adjective describes the noun. Words like big, small, fast, and slow are adjectives. Sometimes a whole phrase can be an adjective, if it is giving information about a noun.
The adverb: Like adjectives, adverbs provide information. Except this time they provide information about verbs. They can be a single word or a phrase. Often adjectives end in -ly.
The preposition: prepositions can have many functions. They can tell us the position of an object (on, under, in). They can tell us a relationship between objects (of, before, after).
The conjunction: Conjunctions are joining words, such as or, and and.
And the interjection. Shoot! I haven't made a page for interjections. Darn! Interjections are words that express surprise. They often come with an exclamation mark.
See below for examples of the usage of all the 8 parts of speech.
In fact, the same word can be a verb in one sentence and a noun or adjective in the next.
Here are a couple of examples where the word changes function.
Here are examples of the 8 parts of speech used in sentences. In the following sentences, the main verb is in red , any nouns are in blue , pronouns in green , adjectives in yellow , adverbs in purple, prepositions in orange , conjunctions in brown , and interjections in grey .
Hurray! Spain won the World Cup!
My investments doubled last year and I bought a yacht . Yippee!
Susan was accepted into an Ivy League school because of her excellent scholarship .
Yo! I love to listen to modern rap music because I enjoy the wild rhymes . Word!
What about the word in black? It is an auxiliary (helper) verb. Technically the whole main verb is "was accepted" because it is conjugated into a passive voice past tense, but I didn't want to confuse you. Oops .
And the words in sky blue ? They are articles. In fact "a," "an," and "the" are articles--the nineth part of speech. So, in fact, there are not eight parts of speech in English, there are nine parts of speech in English.
Here's a link to a list of words which I see mangled in my editing work as well as some suggested by friends, colleagues and clients. Use the "Ask a Question" link to contribute more.