All the words in English can be divided into 8, 9 or more groups according to their function in the language. These groups are traditionally called parts of speech, and are today also referred to as lexical categories or word classes. The names of each part of speech comprise the most basic grammar terminology every English user must be familiar with in order to understand how the language works to create meaning.
Nouns (success), verbs (succeed), adjectives (successful), adverbs (successfully) and interjections (wow!) are parts of speech that can be sub-grouped as “content words”- words that provide the concepts and ideas conveyed by the sentence. Content words are constantly being added to or removed from general English use due to changes in culture and society, and technological and scientific innovations, which bring new words into common use.
Determiners (the), pronouns (we), prepositions (at) and conjunctions (and) are parts of speech that can be sub-grouped as “structure words” - words that tie the content words together into a grammatically correct sentence and reflect the inner grammar rules of the language. Structure words remain fairly constant in language use over time.
Words as Different Parts of Speech
To make things more confusing, some words can function as different parts of speech depending on their role in the sentence structure. This affects the word’s meaning, making it important to confirm whether you are using the correct part of speech in the correct position in the sentence.
The defendant’s lawyers object to any claims made by the prosecution.
[ object is a verb, meaning to oppose ]
They also showed an object found in the scene of the crime as exhibit A.
[ object is a noun, meaning a physical item ]
Knowledge of the parts of speech and their function is a tremendous help for any English user, providing the terminology to study and analyze the language and identify mistakes in writing. Being familiar with these terms will help you learn how to use English more efficiently and quickly.
We will be publishing a range of lessons going into further detail on each part of speech, so keep checking our user profile for more lessons.
This article was contributed by WhiteSmoke, leader in English writing software.