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Parts of Speech

Parts of Speech

Author: Martina Shabram

Identify the parts of speech used in a sentence.

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Source: [image of dogs, public domain,] [image of soccer player, public domain,]

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Hello, students. My name is Dr. Martina Shabram. And I will be your instructor for today's lesson. I'm genuinely excited to teach you these concepts. So let's get started.

Today we're going to talk about the parts of speech. In our lesson, you'll learn how to spot the parts of speech, how to match words with their function, and how to break down a sentence so that you know exactly what purpose each word is serving within that sentence. So let's start by considering what function or job each word does in a sentence.

We call these jobs the parts of speech. Now why does this matter? Well, in order to build sentences that are clear, well-organized, and grammatically correct, it's really helpful to know how to recognize those parts of speech. In fact, the parts of speech are essential to grammar, which is the rules that govern a language.

There are many different kinds of jobs, different parts of speech that is, in English. So for now, in order to prepare you to write really effective sentences, we're going to focus on the four most important and basic parts of speech-- verbs, nouns, and pronouns, and adjectives.

We'll start by talking about verbs, which are words that define actions or indicate a state of being. Some of my favorite verbs are climb, talk, and sing. Verbs are great clues to tell you what's going on in a sentence. So when you're identifying the parts of speech, always start by finding the verb in that sentence.

Well, how do you find the verb? Look for the action. Read this sentence and ask yourself, what kind of action is happening here. For example, Steven sings all the time. What's the action? But what about Steven is hungry? Here, the action is a be verb.

It can be easy to miss those be verbs because sometimes they're paired with other verbs like is and singing. So keep an eye out for be verbs, especially these ones, which are the most common.

So let's talk about nouns now. A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, or idea. For example, some common nouns are president, California, and happiness. So you can easily find a noun by asking, who or what in a sentence is doing the action described in the verb.

For example, the action is talking, right. So who is doing the talking in this sentence? Teachers. So when you're identifying nouns and verbs, start by finding the action and then match it with the noun that's doing that action. You'll even notice that verbs often come right after nouns in a sentence.

And OK, not all sentence have only one noun, right. More complex sentences may have multiple nouns. For example, here we have four nouns. The teachers are one, the classroom is another, grammar is a third, and lunch is the fourth. So which noun is matched with the verb here? Well, it's still teachers because teacher is the only one of those nouns that can talk.

So now let's get to pronouns, which are words that take the place of a noun in a sentence. All right, how do they do that? Let's take that same sentence again, but make it a little more complex. In the first half of the sentence, the noun is teachers.

Well, what about that second half? We could say because teachers think grammar is fun, but we can also replace teachers with they-- that's a pronoun. Now there are two kinds of pronouns-- personal and indefinite. Personal pronouns include he, she, it, they, and we. Indefinite ones refer more broadly. So they can include everyone, someone, nobody, and everything.

Now when we use a pronoun, it's therefore replacing a specific noun within that sentence. And we'll call that noun the antecedent. So pronouns work just like nouns. And you can find them in the same way. They even tend to come before a verb, just like a noun does.

So let's practice in another sentence. So what's the pronoun? Just as you did when you found the noun, ask yourself, what is the action here and who's doing it. We know that barks is the verb that my dog is doing. So what pronoun replaces my dog? She.

Last but not least, adjectives. Adjectives are words that modify nouns. This means that adjectives add more detail about that noun. For example, I've already told you that my dog barks when she wants something. Well, what if I gave you more information about this situation? What new information do you have in this sentence?

Well, now you know that my dog is brown. So you have a more detailed picture of her. Therefore, you know that brown is an adjective modifying the noun. Adjectives are easy to find, then, because all you have to do is look for the noun and point out words that offer extra info about that noun. And usually, adjectives come right before nouns. Some common adjectives are small, round, and difficult.

So now you know about those four essential parts of speech, let's practice breaking down a sentence and finding each part of speech inside of it. Pause and take a moment to find the verb, the noun, the pronoun, and the adjective. Go ahead and press play when you have the answers.

All right. What did you do first? You probably asked yourself, what is the action in order to find the verb. So what's the action? Played. Now that you've figured out the verb, you've probably ask yourself, who or what is doing that action. Well, that's the dogs.

So now since you know that there's a pronoun taking the place of the noun in this sentence, you probably looked to see if there was a word that replaced that noun, that antecedent. And that's they.

All right, so we're also looking for an adjective. So we might look for a noun and see if there's a descriptive word before it. I see here that dogs doesn't have any descriptive words in front of it, but the noun rope is preceded by the word big. So that's our adjective.

As you can see, there will probably be more than one noun in many sentences. You might end up finding sentences with more than one verb or more than one adjective. But now that you know how to break a sentence down, finding the parts of speech should be a breeze.

So what did we learn today? Well, we learned about the jobs that each word performs in a sentence. And we call those the parts of speech. We got specific about the four most essential parts of speech-- verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. And we learned how to identify those parts of speech within a sentence.

Well, students, I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thank you.

Terms to Know

A word that modifies a noun.


The rules that govern a language.


A word that names a person, place, thing, or idea.

Parts of Speech

The jobs or functions that words perform in a sentence.


A word that takes the place of noun in a sentence.


A word that defines actions or indicates a state of being.