Advanced English Grammar



Identifying Parts of Speech

When identifying parts of speech you should to learn to ask some important questions. When the questions are answered, you will have a pretty good idea of what part of speech you are dealing with.

That's right, with some practice and a little bit of work on your part... you will be identifying parts of speech easily, as opposed to struggling with the task.

Now, (that is, if you haven't done it yet) it's probably best to start with the parts of speech definitions which are found on the eight parts of speech page which is clearly marked in the Parts of Speech MENU at the left.

If you already know the definitions and are ready to start learning how to identify the parts of speech, simply read the advice below.

So, how is identifying parts of speech done?

The word is probably a VERB if you can use a modal with it. For example, if you can use will, should, would, may, must, might, have to, ought to, and can... then the word is probably a verb.

Example: He (might stay, will go, should come, must leave) home. Where stay, go, come, and leave are all verbs.

The word is probably a NOUN if you can... count it (one dog, two dogs) or make it possessive (the dog's tail, the car's tires) or if it can take an article in front of it (a house, an apple, the store) or if it can follow a prepositional phrase (from the ___ , to the ___ , with the ____ )

The word is probably a PRONOUN if you can substitute the word for a noun.

Example: Tom gave the book to John. OR with pronouns... He (Tom) gave it (the book) to him (John).

The word is probably an ADJECTIVE if you can add (er) or (est) to the word. (big--bigger--biggest) Or, if you can use more or most in front of it (beautiful--more beautiful--most beautiful) Or, if you can use the words very or quite in front of it. (I'm very thirsty, he's quite short)

The word is probably an ADVERB if it has an ly suffix (happily, strangely) or if the word or phrase can be moved to another place in the sentence and still make sense.

Example: He usually gets home at five o'clock. Usually, he gets home at five o'clock. He gets home at five o'clock, usually.

The word is probably a PREPOSITION if it is followed by a noun object. He stood between them. He climbed over the fence.

The word is probably a CONJUNCTION if it serves as a connector between words, phrases, or clauses.

Example: He was not tall, yet he was a very successful basketball player. (remember FANBOYS)

The word is probably an INTERJECTION if it adds emotion to a sentence.

Example: (Ouch, that hurt! Oh no, I forgot my homework.)

For more information about identifying parts of speech and how it is done click on the preceding link.

For information on a variety of grammar items, plus many free exercises designed to help you improve your knowledge of English grammar, please visit our home page.

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