Parts of Speech Definitions and Examples – A ‘Must Learn’ to Write Correct English

We went through some examples of parts of speech earlier and also took some exercises on it. Yet I thought it would be good to go back to the subject once more and understand the basics clearly. Alongside, we shall take more exercises. So, here you get to revise parts of speech definitions and examples once more.

After all, this aspect of grammar is so important to write and speak English confidently.

The methodology here, will be understanding the examples first and then creating a definition thereof.

Nouns

Observe these sentences:

  1. Benito is a brilliant baseball player.
  2. Some rivers in India flow from west to east.
  3. Detroit is the automobile capital of the world.
  4. Her joy knew no bounds.

The underlined words in these sentences name a person, a place, an object or an intangible emotion. Such words are called nouns.

Pronouns

Look at the following sentences:

  1. Sumi is good at mathematics. She scored hundred marks in the last test.
  2. Mahatma Gandhi was an icon of truth. He always advocated non-violence.

In the second sentence of the first example, the word ‘she’ replaces the noun ‘Sumi’.

In the second sentence of the second example, the word ‘he’ replaces the noun ‘Mahatma Gandhi’.

The words that replace nouns are called pronouns.

Adjectives

Read these sentences carefully:

  1. I saw a girl with brown hair on the door.
  2. Copper is a malleable metal.
  3. He is invincible.

You will observe that the word ‘brown’ in the first sentence and the word ‘malleable’ in the second sentence describe the nouns that follow them, that is, ‘hair’ and ‘metal’ respectively. In the third sentence, the pronoun ‘he’ is being described by the word ‘invincible’.

The words that provide details of nouns or pronouns are called adjectives. They either specify or modify the quality, size, shape, color, texture etc. of a noun or pronoun.

Verbs

The sentences below will help us understand what verbs are:

  1. He went to London by the morning flight.
  2. Radha seems happy about her husband’s decision.
  3. They are preparing a queer solution.

In the first sentence, the word ‘went’ shows an action by the subject ‘he’. The second sentence shows that the subject ‘Radha’ is in a state of happiness and her ‘being in that state’ is expressed by the word ‘seems’. In the third one again, the word ‘preparing’ shows an action by the subject ‘they’.

The words showing an action or ‘the state of being’ are called verbs.

Adverbs

Read the following sentences:

  1. Hockey is a very good game.
  2. She readily accepted the proposal.
  3. When Amit heard the news, he ran unusually fast.

In sentence 1, ‘good’ is the adjective that describes the game. The word ‘very’ describes the adjective itself, i.e. answers ‘how good’?

The word ‘readily’ in sentence 2 tells us something about the verb ‘accepted’.

In the last sentence, ‘ran’ is the verb. The word ‘fast’ is an adverb that describes the verb ‘ran’. Now, the word ‘unusually’ modifies the adverb ‘fast’ itself. How fast? Unusually fast.

The words that describe or modify an adjective or a verb or an adverb are called adverbs.

Preposition

The following sentences will help us understand prepositions:

  1. Write a letter to your friend in 200 words.
  2. The cup is on the table.
  3. Claudia jumped over the wall.
  4. The train is running past Paddington.
  5. You must arrive before five.

Observe the underlined words in the above sentences. The words generally lie preceding the object (noun or pronoun – friend, table, wall, Paddington, importance) and express relations to other words or phrases in the sentence with respect to time (before), space (on, over, past), direction (to) etc.

The words which are usually placed before the object and express spatial, temporal or directional relations with other parts of the sentence are called prepositions.

Conjunction

Let us learn from these sentences:

  1. They hired a trainer and a physio.
  2. We may alight before Faridabad or after New Delhi.
  3. We met a poor girl who was smiling.
  4. The sepoy mutiny was not successful because the rebels were not united.
  5. I saw Nisha and Raghav on the way.

Look at the underlined words. They are joining different parts of a sentence or two sentences. Their joining functions are detailed below:

1- word to word 2-phrase to phrase 3- clause to clause 4- sentence to sentence 5- word to word

The words that act as joiners and combine words, phrases, clauses and sentences are known as conjunctions.

Determiner

Look what we can say about the underlined words in the following sentences:

  1. This is an example from the history of India.
  2. The Himalayas act as a protective shield for the northern boundary of India.
  3. These crops are a symbol of agricultural prosperity of the state.
  4. Mr. Smith who lives in Madrid is my uncle.
  5. Many movies have been nominated for the academy awards.

The underlined words are placed just before nouns. They act as articles (an, the) or quantifiers (many) and define possession (my). Thus they are modifying nouns.

The words which are placed before nouns to modify them by specifying, identifying or quantifying are called determiners.

Interjection

The following sentences contain a word each that expresses a strong emotion or feeling:

  1. Oh! that looks awesome.
  2. Hurrah! we’ve won the trophy.
  3. Alas! his mistake cost us the game.
  4. Ouch! it’s really heart breaking.

An interjection is a word that expresses a strong feeling or emotion and is generally (not always) followed by an exclamation mark.

Test your knowledge on adjectives and degrees of comparison

Exercise on Parts of Speech Definitions and Examples

A. Identify the parts of speech for the underlined words:

  1. Bravo! she has broken all the old records.
  2. I have not seen one of my puppies for the last three days.
  3. They reached there quickly but found no one.
  4. I can climb the ladder fast.
  5. Can she write a sonnet?

Answers:

  1. Bravo! – Interjection, broken – verb, old – adjective
  2. My – determiner, puppies – noun
  3. They – pronoun, quickly – adverb, but- conjunction
  4. Climb – verb, fast – adverb
  5. She – pronoun, a – determiner, sonnet – noun

B. Identify the parts of speech for each of the words in the following sentence:

Oh! we had never thought this petty matter would cost us so dearly and who knew it would consume two full days.

Answer

  1. Oh! – interjection
  2. We – pronoun
  3. Had – verb
  4. Never – adverb
  5. Thought – verb
  6. This – determiner
  7. Petty – adjective
  8. Matter – noun
  9. Would – verb
  10. Cost – verb
  11. Us – Pronoun
  12. So – Adverb
  13. Dearly – Adverb
  14. And – conjunction
  15. Who – pronoun
  16. Knew – verb
  17. It – pronoun
  18. Consume – verb
  19. Two – determiner
  20. Full – adjective
  21. Days – noun

C. Match the following with respect to proper parts of speech for the underlined words:

Sl.No.Sentence (word)Parts of speech
1.A war can be won even without bloodshed.Determiner
2.They made an exit really quick.Verb
3.The jury adjudged my performance as mediocre.Adverb
4.Brothers and sisters stood behind their father in the queue.Preposition
5.He went to London to further his own career.Conjunction
Match the underlined words in the second column with their correct ‘parts-of-speech’ label

Answer

  1. Without – preposition
  2. Really – adverb
  3. My – determiner
  4. And – conjunction
  5. Further – Verb

What Next?

We had a good look at the parts of speech definitions and examples. However, remember that this is only a preliminary piece of knowledge in the vast sea of the subject. So, we shall dive deep into each of the parts of speech elements later.

This is a series and I will keep updating it. The methodology will be same. That is, examples first, definitions later.

For more practice on parts of speech, you may visit the following link if you have not already gone through the earlier article:

Practice with more exercises on Parts of Speech Definitions and Examples