Quick, can you name all eight? No need to self-flagellate if you can’t – unless, of course, that’s your thing. Even I struggle to list all eight when I throw myself a pop quiz while lying in bed at night. Yep. My life is just that exciting.
So I realized that I haven’t covered the absolute basics of English grammar, our beloved eight parts of speech. Most of us learn the parts of speech in elementary school and then promptly relegate them to the backs of our minds, where they hang out with fractions, plant anatomy and all the different varieties of clouds.
Unlike fractions, stamens and cirrus clouds, most of us use those eight parts of speech every day, so I though it might be a good idea to refresh our collective memories.
1. Verb: A verb expresses actions, events or states – it tells us something about the subject of the sentence.
- Mary cursed like a sailor. The contractions were five minutes apart now.
2. Noun: A noun names a person, animal, place, thing or abstract idea.
- Joseph really needed a stiff drink. He was pretty sure he could get one at the inn.
3. Adjective: An adjective modifies a noun or pronoun by describing, quantifying or identifying it.
- The plump innkeeper told them there were zero rooms available.
4. Adverb: An adverb describes a verb, adjective or adverb. It answers the questions of how, when, where and how much by indicating time, place, cause or amount.
- The donkey was sweating profusely. He trotted quickly towards the stable at the end of the street.
5. Pronoun: A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun. Pronouns reduce redundancy and make sentences less cumbersome.
- Mary glared at Joseph when the next contraction started. “Don’t look at me,” Joseph said defensively, “it’s not my fault, it’s His.”
6. Preposition: A preposition connects nouns and pronouns to other words in a sentence. It typically indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship between its object and the rest of the sentence.
- Joseph placed the newborn baby in the manger. Mary had a nap on the pile of hay.
7. Conjunction: A conjunction connects words, phrases and clauses. As we learned in a previous post, there are many different ways to use conjunctions.
- Mary woke up because she was hungry. She was surprised to find not only a crowd of animals in the stable, but also a trio of strange men carrying presents.
8. Interjection: An interjection is a short exclamation — sometimes standing on its own, sometimes added to a sentence — to convey emotion. Typically, an interjection precedes an exclamation mark.
- “Jesus Christ!” exclaimed one of the strange men. “Quiet!” Mary scolded, “don’t wake the baby.”