Grammar - Parts of Speech

Parts of Speech

Student need to know the following parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns.

 A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, or idea.  A noun can be common or proper, singular or plural.

  • A common noun is the general name for a person, place, thing, or idea.  Common nouns are not capitalized.


            person:     child          niece          writer

            place:        beach        valley         theater

            thing:        balloon      dream        computer

            idea:          wisdom     truth          help

  • A proper noun names a particular person, place, or thing.  Proper nouns always begin with a capital letter.


            person:      Michael Jordan          Sally Ride

            place:         Cambridge                 America

            thing:         Apollo 13                    Olympics

  • A singular noun names one person, place, thing, or idea.

            singular:     parent          desert         radio

  • A plural noun names more than one person, place, thing, or idea.  Most nouns form the plural by adding s.


            plural:         parents       deserts        radios

  • A possessive noun shows possession, or ownership.  Form a singular possessive noun by adding 's.  Form plural possessive nouns by adding an apostrophe to nouns that end in s.  If the plural does not end in s, add 's.

           singular:     Meg went to her friend's house.

           plural:         The boys' soccer team won five games.

                               The men's team lost the same five games.

 A verb shows action or links the subject to another word in the sentence.

  • An action verb tells what action the subject does or did.

            Birds fly overhead every day.

            One eagle soared into the sky.

  • Sometimes the verb is more than one word.  The main verb tells the most important action.  The helping verb helps the main verb state an action or show time.

            Eli has run on our track team for two years.

            Eli can run several laps.

            Eli is running right now.

            He will run in the next track meet.

            He might run in the next track meet.

  • A linking verb connects the subject of a sentence to a noun or adjective in the predicate.  Linking verbs tell what the subject is or is like.  The most common linking verbs are forms of the verb beAm, are, is, were, was, and been are the ones most often used.

            Luis's pet is a rabbit.

  • A verb tense tells when the action of a verb takes place.  The three common tenses are present, past, and future.  Changes in a verb's tense are shown by adding endings or using helping verbs.

             present tense:  taking place now

                                       Maya performs in a local band.

             past tense:  took place in the past

                                  Maya joined our band last night.

             future tense:  will take place later

                                     Our band will perform ten concerts this year.

  • The subject and verb of a sentence must agree in number.  If the subject is singular, make the verb singular.  If the subject is plural, make the verb plural. 

              singular:  Our school band plays at the school football games.

              plural:  Sometimes, other bands play at the games as well.

 An adjective is a word that describes a noun.  Adjectives add information and make what is written clearer and more interesting.

  • Common adjectives are words that describe people, places, things, and ideas.  They tell what kind, how many, which one, or how much.

              Two panthers crept through the forest.

              Their sharp, alert ears suddenly pricked up.

  • A comparative adjective shows how two people, places, things, or ideas are alike or different.  Add er to short adjectives and use the word more with longer adjectives.

              This spaghetti is thinner than the other one.

              Rita's tuna salad tastes more delicious than mine.

  • A superlative adjective can be used to compare more than two of something.  Add est to short adjectives, and use the most with long adjectives.

              Ali is the nicest student in the class.

              Carlos is the most talented writer in our grade.

 An adverb describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.  Adverbs can add details that tell how or how much.

  • Describes a verb:  I swiftly packed my books.
  • Describes an adjective: I had a very important meeting.
  • Describes an adverb: I very carefully walked outside.
  • Most adverbs tell where, when, how, or how much an action happens.


             where:  He walked inside and closed the door.

             when:   This morning, Tim left early.

             how:     Hal walked slowly to the classroom.

             how much:  I am extremely happy with my new bike.

  • Many adverbs end in ly, but not all do.  Several common adverbs that do not end in ly are seldom, always, quite, soon, then, and often.

              Cindy is seldom late for class.

              Marcus is always late for class.

              I am quite prompt for class.

 A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun.  Some pronouns replace the subject or the object of a sentence.  Others are used to show ownership or to ask questions.

  • A subject pronoun replaces a noun in the subject part of the sentence.  Subject pronouns include I, you, he, she, it, we, you, and they.

              I went to the game with a friend.  We enjoyed it.

  • An object pronoun replaces a noun that follows an action verb.  Object pronouns include me, you, it, him, her, us, you, and them.  An object pronoun is also used after prepositions, which are words such as to, for, in, and with.

              Jo went to the game with me.  We enjoyed it.

  • The most common mistake made using pronouns is when we use I or me.  I is a subject pronoun and me is an object pronoun. 

               incorrect:  Ben and me went to the movies.

               correct:     Ben and I went to the movies.

               incorrect:  This is just between you and I.

               correct:     This is just between you and me.

  • Possessive pronouns show ownership.  Some possessive pronouns come before a noun.  Others replace a noun.

                I talked to Nikki about her book.

                The red book is theirs.

                before a noun: my, your, his, her, its, our, their

                alone: mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs

  • Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions.  Common interrogative pronouns are who, whose, which, and what.

                 Who will drive us to the game tomorrow?

                 Which of our parents can go on the class trip?

                 What places will we visit?



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