The Parts of Speech – Definitions and Examples

The different parts of speech are the breakdown and classification of words in English that show their unique functions and properties. In core language, a single word can function as two or more parts of speech.

Differentiating between the 9 parts of speech is the first step to building your grammar skills and writing tools. Keep reading to learn the definitions and examples of each category!

What are the 9 Basic Parts of Speech?

1. Noun

A noun is any place, person, idea, or thing. Some examples of nouns include:

  • Man.
  • Stranger.
  • Street.
  • Givenchy.
  • Birthday.

There are various classifications of nouns you can use in your writing. Proper nouns are specific names for places, persons, ideas, or things. Meanwhile, common nouns are generic class nouns. A possessive noun is another type of noun that demonstrates belonging. 

We can also classify this part of speech as an abstract noun, concrete noun, count noun, and uncountable noun.

The placement of the noun in a sentence also determines its function. A noun can be in the nominative or objective case. The nominative functions include subject and subject complement. And the types of objects are direct object, indirect object, and object of a preposition.

2. Pronoun

A quick introduction to pronouns shows they are classes of words that take the place of nouns. Some examples of pronouns include he, that, whoever, myself.

This quick guide to pronouns shows they can be classified as: 

  • Personal pronoun (I, he, she, you, etc.)
  • Demonstrative pronouns (that, those, these, this, etc.).
  • Interrogative pronouns (what, when, why, how, etc.).
  • Relative pronouns (who/whom, whose, which, etc.).
  • Indefinite pronouns (anybody, everybody, somebody, everything, etc.).
  • Reflexive pronouns (myself, yourself, herself, etc.).
  • Intensive pronouns (myself, yourself, herself, etc.).

Pronouns can further be divided into first-person pronoun, second-person pronoun, and third-person pronoun.

3. Verb

A verb is a word that conveys time while showing a condition, an action, or the fact that something exists. All complete sentences should contain at least one verb unless using an interjection.

Verbs can be treated as either lexical verbs/action verbs (study, love, drink) or auxiliary verbs (seem, is, have). 

A verb phrase combines verbs with linking verbs and lexical categories of verbs. Some examples include:

  • Must eat.
  • Has become.
  • Does need.

Phrasal verbs are forms of verbs that consist of two or more words. Here are some examples:

  • Go away.
  • Put up with.
  • Calm down.

When you add “up with” after the simple verb “put,” you create a brand-new verb with a new meaning. Therefore, phrasal verbs should be treated as complete verbs because of their unique definitions.

Some verbs are reflexive. A reflexive verb is where the subject and object are one since the sentence uses reflexive pronouns like “himself” or “itself.”

Whether you’re using a lexical or auxiliary verb, this part of the speech always expresses time through the different tenses. For instance, the verb “eats” is a present-tense verb, and its past form is “ate.”

4. Adjective

Another part of speech is the adjective, which modifies or describes a noun or a pronoun. It typically answers the questions “what kind,” “which one,” or “how much.” For example:

  • Blue
  • Pretty
  • Same

The articles “a,” “an,” and “the” are sometimes categorized as adjectives. “The” is a definite article, and “a” and “an” are indefinite articles.

Adjective classes include:

  • Absolute adjectives.
  • Appositive adjectives.
  • Attributive adjectives.
  • Predicative adjectives.
  • Compound adjectives.
  • Qualitative adjectives.
  • Denomial adjectives.
  • Participial adjectives.
  • Demonstrative adjectives.

5. Adverb

Adverbs are a word class that modifies adjectives, verbs, and fellow adverbs. One frequent adverb marker is the suffix -ly, such as “healthily,” “badly,” and “swiftly.”

But the discussion of adverbs goes beyond words that describe actions. There are also adverbs of degree, place, time, and frequency. The English language also considers “most days,” “to visit my friend,” “very loudly,” and other adverbial phrases as adverbs.

Adverbial phrases are under the phrasal categories, including verb phrases, adjective phrases, etc.

6. Conjunction

A conjunction is a word that binds words, clauses, and phrases. “And,” “but,” “because,” and “consequently” are some examples of conjunctions.

Conjunctions make it easy to construct more complex sentences because you can easily add new clauses. The category distinctions of this part of speech are:

  • Coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, etc.)
  • Subordinating conjunctions (after, although, unless, since, if, etc.)
  • Correlative conjunctions (not only… but also, either… or, etc.)

7. Preposition

Prepositions show relations of space, time, and role between nouns, pronouns, and other words. They are at the start of prepositional phrases. Here are some examples of prepositions:

  • Up.
  • Over.
  • By.
  • For.
  • Into.
  • Close to.
  • Apart from.
  • Across.

8. Determiner

A determiner is like an adjective because it also modifies nouns. However, these words are essential for proper syntax as opposed to adjectives. They can be classified as indefinite and definite. New grammar rules now treat articles as determiners. Examples of determiners include:

  • A.
  • An.
  • The.
  • These.
  • This.
  • That.
  • Enough.
  • Few.
  • Much.
  • Which. 

9. Interjection

The last part of speech is the interjection which may have standalone functions in sentences. “Whoops,” “ouch,” “ah,” and “hooray” can be an entire sentence on their own.

Parts of Speech Chart

Analyzing the parts of speech is different for every individual language. Here’s an overview of the different categories in English.

Part of SpeechFunctionSentence examples
NounPerson, thing, place, or eventShe is the new assistant.
PronounReplaces a nounShe is the new assistant. My bag is missing.
VerbExpresses time while demonstrating a condition, action, or the fact that something existsShe is the new assistant. I remember what she said that day.
AdjectiveModifies a noun or a pronounShe is the new assistant. Jane is selling her one-bedroom apartment.
AdverbModifies a verb, adjective, or fellow adverb.Gently remove your makeup.
ConjunctionConnects clauses, words, or sentencesI like candles and I like reed diffusers. She asked me not to attend because she won’t be there.
PrepositionConnects a noun to another wordMy dog went inside the neighbor’s house.
DeterminerDetermines a nounA buzzcut suits your face shape.
InterjectionShort exclamationWow! That was an impressive performance.

When A Word is Also Two Different Kinds of Speech

Sometimes, words have more than one role in the English language. For example, some nouns can also act as adjectives called adjectival nouns. In the phrase “race car,” “race” modifies “car,” so its usage is as an adjective instead of a noun.

A noun can be used in verbal senses. Consider the word “work” in these sentences.

  • My new work is more promising than the old one. (noun)
  • Shew works in a new industry. (verb)

Open and Closed Word Classes

The two classifications of the parts of speech include open and closed classes. The open classes can be changed and added as the language changes. 

  • Nouns.
  • Verbs.
  • Adjectives.
  • Adverbs.

Meanwhile, closed classes are parts of speech that do not change. These include:

  • Pronouns.
  • Prepositions.
  • Conjunctions.
  • Articles and determiners.
  • Interjections.

In some languages, verbs and adjectives form closed classes. This closedness of verbs is common in Basque and Persian verbs.

Linguistics, or the study of language, does not recommend the label “part of speech” anymore. Instead, the discipline favors “syntactic category” or “word class.”

What Part of Speech is With?

In the stricter sense, the only use of “with” is as a preposition. You can find it before a noun or a pronoun to form prepositional phrases. Use it to show togetherness, associations, and connections between people and objects.

What Part of Speech is And?

The conjunction “and” connects words, clauses, and phrases. It can also combine sentences that need to be presented at once.

What Part of Speech is My?

“My” is a possessive pronoun that can also act as an adjective, determiner, or interjection.

Are You Using the Parts of Speech the Right Way?

This guide has shown you the nine parts of speech and their grammatical functions. By now, you should already be able to give definitions and examples of each category, so they make sense. 

To correctly use the parts of speech, ask yourself, “what is the function of this word in the sentence?” Keep practicing until you master the traditional grammar rules of English!