English Parts Of Speech

English Parts Of SpeechA recent FPSC report revealed that most failing candidates commit grave grammar mistakes while writing the answers.

The report highlights the importance of a sound knowledge of grammar. It is to be understood that the most crucial element of writing is to structure a sentence clearly. Jumbled syntax fuddles the examiner and the writer’s point is not properly conveyed which results in failure. To avoid such an embarrassing situation, learning grammar is inevitable.

As you probably remember from elementary school, a noun is the name of a person, place or thing. It might be easier to remember as something you can point to or something you can have. Chair, town and happiness are all nouns. Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns, and there are a limited number of them: he, she, it, we, they, you are the ones that can be used as subjects of sentences, and him, her, us, them are those that can be objects. These are the two primary uses of nouns and pronouns: they perform an action (subjects) or have an action imposed upon them (objects).

Two main types of verbs are important in English: linking verbs and action verbs. Linking verbs, also called ‘be’ verbs, focus on a state of being: am, is, are, was, were, are the big five. Other verbs are an ‘action’ — something you can perform, such as talk, sit, smile, etc. If you are trying to decide if a word is a verb, ask yourself if you can stand up and do it. If you can’t, it’s probably not a verb.

An adjective modifies or describes a noun. It might be a word that explains colour, size, or type. Any word you can put in the blank here would be an adjective: the _____ dog. It might be a big dog, purple dog, electric dog, neighbour’s dog.
A special type of adjective is the article, of which there are only three: a, an, the.

Adverbs are busier than adjectives. They modify pretty much everything else in a sentence: verbs (casually walked), adjectives (incredibly stupid) and other adverbs (really well). These are the words that typically answer the question “how” and end in -ly.

Prepositions can be difficult to find, so writers should find a strategy to help reveal them. Here again, a fill-in-the-blank can be very helpful, such as this sentence: “The squirrel ran _____ the tree.” Any word you can put in here is a preposition: between, in, up, down, through. Prepositions usually are not by themselves but function as part of an entire phrase. This phrase begins with the preposition and continues through the object, which can be found by asking “what” about the preposition. For example, looking the “the squirrel” sentence and using the preposition up, I would ask myself, “The squirrel ran up what?” The answer to my question is “the tree,” so “up the tree” is the prepositional phrase. That object in that phrase must be a noun or pronoun.

Conjunctions come in lots of different types. What they all have in common is that they are connecting words; what they connect differs. For instance, the coordinate conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) can connect single ideas or complete sentences, things that are on an equal level of importance. “She plays softball and basketball” would be an example. Adverbial conjunctions (such as however, therefore, consequently, next) serve as transitional devices, words that explain a certain causal or time relationship between ideas. For example, “She is not an English major; however, she knows grammar very well.” Finally, subordinate conjunctions (like while, since, because) indicate that one clause is less significant than another. “Although he is taking French, Russian literature is his major” is an example here.

Interjects are easier to learn than the other parts of grammar because they are so different. These are the words that express surprise or some other strong emotion and are typically written with an exclamation mark if alone: wow!, ouch!, darn!, are examples.

Learning the basics of grammar helps writers know where to best place the various parts of speech. Knowing the labels for grammar, as well, helps writers have cogent conversations with others about how to improve syntax. Good communication is the key to good grades, good jobs, and good potential. Good grammar is the key to all.

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