The Parts of Speech

The parts of speech explains the ways words can be used in various contexts. Every word in the English language functions as at least one part of speech; many words can serve, at different times, as two or more parts of speech, depending on the context.

adjective A word or combination of words that modifies a noun (blue-green, central, half-baked, temporary ).

adverb A word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb (slowly, obstinately, much ).

article Any of three words used to signal the presence of a noun. A and an are known as indefinite articles; the is the definite article.

conjunction A word that connects other words, phrases, or sentences (and, but, or, because ).

interjection A word, phrase, or sound used as an exclamation and capable of standing by itself (oh, Lord, damn, my goodness ).

noun A word or phrase that names a person, place, thing, quality, or act (Fred, New York, table, beauty, execution ). A noun may be used as the subject of a verb, the object of a verb, an identifying noun, the object of a preposition, or an appositive (an explanatory phrase coupled with a subject or object ).

preposition A word or phrase that shows the relationship of a noun to another noun (at, by, in, to, from, with )

pronoun A word that substitutes for a noun and refers to a person, place, thing, idea, or act that was mentioned previously or that can be inferred from the context of the sentence (he, she, it, that ).

verb A word or phrase that expresses action, existence, or occurrence (throw, be, happen ). Verbs can be transitive, requiring an object (her in I met her ), or intransitive, requiring only a subject (The sun rises ). Some verbs, like feel , are both transitive (Feel the fabric ) and intransitive (I feel cold , in which cold is an adjective and not an object).

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