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The Parts of Speech

Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction and the interjection.

Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used. In fact, the same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in another. The next examples show how the part of speech of a word can change from one sentence to the next. Following these examples is a series of sections on the individual parts of speech and an exercise.

Example Explanation
Books are made of ink, paper and glue. In this sentence, books is a noun, the subject of the sentence.
Joe waits patiently while Bridget books the tickets. Here books is a verb and its subject is Bridget.
We walk down the street. In this sentence, walk is a verb and its subject is the pronoun we.
The letter carrier stood on the walk. In this example, walk is a noun that is part of a prepositional phrase describing where the letter carrier stood.
The town council decided to build a new jail. Here jail is a noun, which is the object of the infinitive phrase to build.
The police officer told us that if we did not leave immediately he would jail us. Here jail is part of the compound verb would jail.
The parents heard high-pitched cries in the middle of the night. In this sentence, cries is a noun acting as the direct object of the verb heard.
Their colicky baby cries all night long and all day long. Here cries is a verb that describes the actions of the subject of the sentence, i.e. the baby.

The next sections explain each of the parts of speech in detail. When you have finished looking at them, you might want to test yourself by trying the exercise.

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