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Parts of Speech - The keys to writing

Parts of Speech - The keys to writing

Author: Jill Walter
  1. Explain what parts of speech are.

  2. Explain what nouns are and how they usually function in a sentence (e.g. as subject or object)

  3. Explain what verbs are and how they usually function in a sentence (e.g. subject-verb agreement)

  4. Explain what adjectives are and where they are usually found in a sentence.

  5. Explain what adverbs are.

  6. Explain what conjunctions are and how they function in a sentence.

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English grammar and who is confused about the different parts of speech. It will also explain why it is helpful to be able to identify parts of speech.

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Parts of Speech - Overview

Turn the key!  Learn about parts of speech...

Words are divided into one of the following groups: noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection.  Parts of speech are one of the fundamental facts of our grammar and how we write.  This is why they are KEY to our success as writers.  When we know grammar and we know and understand how words are used in sentences, we have the power to improve our writing, to add more flavor to our writing, and to better meet the needs our audience.

A word may function as more than one part of speech.  This where it gets tricky!  

You may spell a word (noun).

Write a word picture (adjective). or

Word a message (verb).

This shows us that you just can decide just by simply looking at the word to determine what part of speech it is.  We, therefore, need to know what function (or job) it does and how it is used in the sentence.

When we become masters in knowing parts of speech, we have better command of our writing.  This is the goal of good writers.  This, for writers, is KEY!  


Source: Jill Walter

Parts of Speech - Introduction

Learn the names of the five basic parts of speech

Source: Jill Walter


Learn the basics about nouns

Source: Jill Walter

Noun Functions


Noun - functions as a subject or an object in a sentence.

The FIVE jobs of a noun - 

  1. Subject
  2. Direct Object
  3. Indirect Object
  4. Object of the Preposition
  5. Predicate Noun (Predicate Nominative)

What does this mean exactly?  A noun can have up to five jobs in a sentence.  This is why a noun is more tricky than what a beginning writer might think.  A noun can be a subject in the sentence - the thing/person doing the action of the sentence.  A noun can be an object in a sentence.  This means that the noun can function as a direct object, an indirect object, an object of the preposition, or predicate noun (nominative).

The apple tasted delicious. subject

Kay gave the apple to me. direct object

Kay gave Emma the apple. indirect object = Emma  and apple = direct object

The juicy apple dripped onto my shirt. object of the preposition

Kay is my friend.  predicate noun (nominative)

Source: Jill Walter


Learn about verbs.

Source: Jill Walter

Functions of a Verb


Verb - functions as action or state of being (helping or linking) in a sentence.

Margaret laughed as the carousel went round and round. action

She is happy to be at the fair. state of being - linking


Let's talk about the difference between action verbs and state of being verbs.  When trying to identify verbs, always look to see if the verb is something you can do.  Can you jump? Run? Skip?  Laugh?  These are all actions.  If you can do, it is a action.  Of course there will be a couple exceptions to the rules, too (more to come on that in a bit).  

We jump on the trampoline.

I run to feel in shape and to prepare for races.

I skip to science class because it is my favorite.

We laugh at the silly circus clown.

State of being verb show what something is or has. The verb does not convey any type of action, but rather, will tell the state of something.  

The sky is blue.

I have been there.

Her hair has beautiful highlights.

She feels warm.**

He acts mean.**

**HINT** The words "feels" and "acts" are things we can do, right?  I can feel something,  I can act something.  Well, NO!  Be careful!  If you are ever, ever uncertain about if a verb is action or state of being, use this replace it rule.  If you can replace the verb with "is" or "was" or "are" or "were" and the sentence makes sense, it is a state of being verb.  

Let's try that again.

She feels warm - - - replaced with "is" becomes SHE IS WARM.  Makes sense, so it has to be a state of being verb.  

He acts mean  - - - replaced "was" becomes HE WAS MEAN.  Makes sense, so it has to be a state of being verb.

Use this trick to guide you through determining action from state of being verbs.


Source: Jill Walter


Learn about adjectives.

Source: Jill Walter

Adjective Functions


Adjective - functions as a modifier in the sentence and adds color/flavor to the details.

An adjective is a word that describes. Adjectives share a sense of whichwhat kind, or how many/much. Adjectives describe nouns and even pronouns.

Her dress was a soft and silky fabric.

Four large pumpkins grew on one vine in the garden.

His angry view on life got him in lots of trouble.

The sweet corn tasted delicious.

Notice that adjectives in the English language are located in front of the noun or pronoun they work to modify.  This clues readers in on the details even before they find out what is being described!  Talk about getting a mental picture!

Good writers work to include strong and descriptive adjectives

in order to engage their audience!

Source: Jill Walter


Learn about adverbs.

Source: Jill Walter

Adverb Functions


Adverb - functions as a modifier (to verbs, adjectives and other adverbs) in the sentence.

Adverbs are descriptive words (or are modifiers) that convey a sense of howwhenwhere, or why. An adverb's descriptiveness can be applied to a verb, an adjective, or to another adverb.

She happily did what she was told.

The meal was tastefully simple for the occasion.

Our favorite camping spot is nearby.

Indeed, that was an interesting thought.

That is too much for me to think about.



Source: Jill Walter


Learn about conjunctions.

Source: Jill Walter

Conjunction Functions


Conjunction - functions as a connector in a sentence: but, or, yet, so, for, and, nor are all common ones used.

In our language, we have a set of words that we call conjunctions that allow us to gracefully transition from one part of a sentence to another part of the sentence. 

I walked to work today, but I decided I will bike tomorrow.

Ana and Tate were enjoying the warm, yet they were thankful to have air conditioning in the house.

**NOTE: when you use a conjunction to combine two independent clauses, you must use a comma before the conjunction.

Here's a hint - - 

To remember the most common conjunctions just use the acronym BOYSFAN; it stands for but, or, yet, so, for, and, nor.


Source: Jill Walter

Parts of Speech - the keys to writing

You will success in your writing and enjoy others' writings more when you see the importance of their word choice and in many cases, that is the basis of choices made with parts of speech.  This is key to good writing.  

Good luck!

Source: Jill Walter