Parts of Speech

Learning about the parts of speech is a must if you want to expand upon grammar and become a better writer. Here are the eight basics, to get you started!


A verb is a word denoting action, occurrence, or existence. Multiple words can also make up the verb phrase. A word is probably a verb if:

  • You can use will, shall, can, could, may, might, must, should, or would in front of the word.


The President met with foreign diplomats on Tuesdays.

I will be presenting my research at the conference.


A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, idea, animal, quality, or action. A word is probably a noun if:

  • You can make if plural or singular.
  • You can make it possessive.
  • You can place the words a, an, or the in front of it.
  • It can follow a prepositional phrase.


Edwin, my brother, is a professional musician.

Students who study hard usually do well in Biology 101.


A pronoun is a word that takes the position of a noun and functions as nouns do. A word is probably a pronoun if:

  • You can substitute the word for a noun.


He attended a luncheon in his honor on Wednesday.

Who went to lunch with you?


An adverb is a word that modifies verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. A word is probably an adverb if:

  • There is an –ly suffix.
  • The word or phrase can be logically moved to another place in the sentence.


Susan reluctantly agreed to serve on my committee.

This beautifully illustrated manuscript is worth nearly $1 million.


An adjective is a word that modifies, qualifies, or describes nouns and pronouns. A word is probably an adjective if:

  • You can add –er  or –est  to the word.
  • You can use more or most in front of it.
  • You can use the words very or quite  in front of it.


A big brown dog jumped at me from behind the blue car.

The painting is truly spectacular.


An article is a type of adjective that is used before a noun, and it determines whether the noun is specific or general.

“The” is the definite article, and it tells us that the noun is specific (the speaker is talking about a specific person, place, thing, etc.). “A/An” is the indefinite article, and it tells us that the nouns is general.


The bees that were on the flowers stung Kay.

A man gave us directions to the airport (“A” is used before a consonant sound).

An article in the paper caught my attention (“An” is used before a vowel sound).


A preposition is word that establishes a relationship between an object and something else. A word is probably a preposition if:

  • It is followed by a noun/object.
  • It is not an article of the noun/object (“The” or “A/An”) 
  • It explains the relationship between two things


Jack sat beside Jill on the bus.

To get to Grandma’s house, we have to go over the river and through the woods.

She did it for Rachel.


A conjunction is a word that functions as a connector between words, phrases, and clauses.  A word is probably a conjunction if:

  • The word serves as a connector between words, phrases, or clauses


I work part-time although I don’t need money.

Alice needed to go to the dentist, so I drove her there.


An interjection is an exclamation expressing emotion. A word is probably an interjection if:

  • The word can stand alone.
  • The word is followed by an exclamation mark (!).


Wow! Look at all the snow.

Ouch! That hurt.


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