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Parts of Speech
Chapter 1 Introduction

Learning about the parts of speech is the first step in  grammar study just as learning the letters of the alphabet is the first step to being able to read and write.  From learning the parts of speech we begin to understand the use or function of words and how words are joined together to make  meaningful communication.  To understand what a part of speech is, you must understand the idea of  putting similar things together into groups or categories.  Let's look at some examples of categories.

Colors, fruits, drinks, and languages are categories.  If I tell you that Grebo is a language, you would understand exactly what Grebo is.  If we did not have the category language, it would be hard to explain what is meant by the word Grebo.  It is very convenient to have categories to talk about similar things.  Let's look at some more examples of categories.  In the list below, which does not belong with the others?

    a) violin
    b) hammer
    c) drums
    d) piano
    e) guitar

If  you chose hammer, you are right.   Violin, drums, piano, and guitar are used to make music, but a hammer is not used to make music.  Hammer doesn't fit with the other words because it is a tool and all of the others are musical instruments.

Let's try another example.  Which of these does not belong with the others?

    a) hammer
    b) saw
    c) violin
    c) screwdriver
    d) wrench

This time, the word violin does not belong because it is not a tool.  It is very useful to have categories like musical instruments and tools to organize our ideas.  The parts of speech are categories used to organize or classify words according to how they are used.  We use parts of speech as a way to make it easier to talk about language.

The philosopher Aristotle and later scientists studied animals and classified them according to what they have in common.  For example, eagles, robins and sparrows are kinds of birds; sharks, salmon and tuna are kinds of fish; and dogs, horses and elephants are kinds of mammals.  Aristotle and others also studied language and classified words according to what they have in common.  We usually use 8 categories or parts of speech to classify all the words we use in English.  This classification is not perfect.  Sometimes it is hard to tell which category a word belongs in.  The same word may belong in different categories depending on how it is used.  There may be better ways to classify English than by using the 8 parts of speech.  But this classification has been used for a long time and many grammar books use it, so it is easier to keep on using it.  It is possible to speak or learn a language without  knowing the parts of speech, but for most of  us, knowing about  parts of speech makes things easier.

Here is an example of  how it can be helpful to know about the parts of speech.  Look at  the sentence:  The man surreptitiously entered the room.   You probably don't know the meaning of the word surreptitiously, but if you know about parts of speech, you will recognize that it is an adverb and that it tells you something about how the man entered the room.  You may still not understand the exact meaning of the word, but you can understand the whole sentence better than if you did not know about parts of speech.

When you look up a word in a dictionary, you will find not only the meaning of the word but also what part of speech it is.  This information is very helpful in understanding the full meaning of the word and knowing how to use it.

The 8 parts of speech that are used to describe English words are:


This set of lessons will teach you about each of the parts of speech and show how they are different from each other.  They will help you recognize which part of speech each word in a sentence is and that will help you become a better reader.  Review this lesson as many times as you want, and when you are ready, take the pop quiz on this chapter.


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©1999 INTERLINK LanguageCenters - Created by Mark Feder


Pop Quiz for Chapter 1


1)  Which does not belong with the others?

September March Wednesday October April

2)  Which does not belong with the others?
apple cherry peach lettuce lemon

3)  Which does not belong with the others?
car radio train airplane bus

4)  Which does not belong with the others?
woman mother daughter aunt cousin

5) Which does not belong with the others?
adjective article category pronoun adverb

6)  Which is not a part of speech?

conjunction noun preposition verb classification

7)  Which philosopher is known for classifying animals and words?
Socrates Pythagoras Aristotle Diogenes Heraclitus

8)  Which word means to put into categories?

belongexplain classify name 

9)  Which of the following is the name of the category that the other words belong to?
philosophy history geography math subject

10)  Which is a part of speech?

subject preposition object imperative clause 

End of Pop Quiz for Chapter 1
Table of ContentsQuitGo to Chapter 2

©2002 INTERLINK LanguageCenters - Created by Mark Feder