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HomeUncategorizedBasic English Grammar: The Parts of Speech Taken Apart

The Parts of Speech

Just as the body is comprised of systemic components like skeletal, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive, so also is language comprised of its individual components. It has letters that form words; words that combine to form phrases; phrases that can expand to form clauses; clauses that combine to form paragraphs; and paragraphs that merge themselves and develop into theses, dissertations, stories, scripts, news commentaries, novels, and anything else that is used to persuade, inform, or entertain. In essence, every word uttered can be classified as any one of eight (8) arbitrarily, though logically, assigned categories. Since writing is visually recorded speech, and speech is a compilation of useful utterances, it is only logical that analysis of writing and speech results in a table of parts conveniently then called the parts of speech.

1. The largest group is the NOUN.

2. Every noun can be replaced by a PRONOUN.

3. Words that modify, change, tell more about, or otherwise describe nouns or pronouns are ADJECTIVES.

4. An important group of words tells what those nouns or pronouns are or do. These are VERBS.

5. Words that modify, change, tell more about, or otherwise describe verbs are ADVERBS. They also modify, limit, tell more about, or describe adjectives as well as other adverbs.

6. A small group of words that is indispensable is that one consisting of PREPOSITIONS.

7. Another small but important group contains the various kinds of CONJUNCTIONS, words that join other words, phrases, or clauses.

8. The last group, by far the smallest, consists of those words that express emotion — INTERJECTIONS.

The names of the eight groups are all derived from Latin and describe by their names the functions they perform. Each section will address the etymology of the name as well as give definitions and examples of the terms and how they fit into the greater grammatical scheme of communication.

Each of these eight groups will be treated separately since every one of them has so many facets that deserve individual attention. Besides, small bites will encourage more healthful digestion of the content which has caused so much ulceration in those who have attempted to swallow it all in one gulp only to regurgitate un-masticated chunks of grammar matter. A quick look (somewhat analogous to peeking at a menu before a festive banquet) might whet the appetite for the massive doses that are to follow. Succinctly, here are the eight categories with minuscule [also spelled miniscule] samplings of applications.

General principles:

All words perform any one or more of the following:

1. Name persons, places, things, or ideas (nouns):

John – common first name for male person [person]

John – uncommon last name for singer, Elton. [person]

St. John – popular biblical entity; uncommon last name for actress, Jill. [person]

john – popular name for evening client [person]

john – common name for bathroom utility [thing or place]

bat – night mammal that flies [thing]

bat– wooden instrument to hit flies (balls) [thing]

verbaphobia – fear of words [idea]

Paris – nice place in France [place]

Coney Island – nice place for franks [place]

franc – basic coin of France (and 23 other places) [thing]

writer – one who does what I do [person]

writing – what this is (in printed form) [thing]

writing – what this is (in written form) [thing]

onomatopoeia – words that suggest meaning from their spelling (Buzz, murmur)[idea]

Aloha – hello, farewell [verbalized idea]

adieu – goodbye (good-bye or good-by) [verbalized idea]

2. Take the place of nouns (pronouns):

I – takes the place of the individual from his own point of view (“I love you,” Joe said.)

it – takes the place of things or ideas (We don’t believe it.)

she, her, hers – take the place of feminine gender nouns (She gave Lucinda what was not hers to give to her.)

anyone – takes the place of unnamed individuals (Doesn’t anyone know what I am talking about?)

3. Show action or state of being (verbs):

eat – take in food (Animals and plants need to eat to survive.)

drink – take in liquid (Animals and plants need to drink to survive.)

dine – take in food and drink in sophisticated environs (Shall we dine at leisure tonight?)

feast – take in that food in more sophisticated environs at greater expense.

be – exist (Where will you be tonight?)

feel – (transitive) touch (You are too far away. I cannot touch you.)

feel – (intransitive) sense (How do you feel after winning the game?)

jump – spring off the ground in one motion (We needed to jump over the tidal wave to avoid getting wet.)

sense – perceive (I sense that you are incensed with my negative response to your request.)

4. Describe nouns or pronouns (adjectives):

big – (of large size) big truck (The Freightliner is a big truck.)

little – (of small size) little truck (In comparison, the Ford F-10 is a little truck.)

red – having the specific hue or tint with a particular radiant frequency of 630 – 750 nanometers in the visible spectrum (The girl wore a little, red, riding hood.)

wild – uncontrolled (The wolf she saw had a wild, uncontrollable appetite.)

hungry – desiring food (The little girl wasn’t as hungry as the wolf was.)

broken – not functioning as it was intended (She wailed, “My toy is broken!”)

silent – without a sound (This is a silent night.)

bright – high on the scale of emitting luminescence (The sun is too bright to look at directly.)

5. Describe the action of verbs or the quality of adjectives and other adverbs (adverbs):

hungrily – with animal voraciousness (The wolf looked hungrily at Little Red Riding Hood.)

very happy – more than just happy (We are always very happy to see your mother.)

silently – without a sound (Walk silently through the night.)

bright – having greater brilliance (Bright red is easier to see than dull red.) Also can function as the adjective as in He is not very bright.

diligently – in a watchful manner (The executioner proceeded diligently with his task.)

6. Connect words to each other with special relationships (prepositions):

in the water – surrounded by dihydrogen oxide. (Fish are in the water.)

into the water – entering dihydrogen oxide from outside of its essence (We fell into the sea.)

with water – having dihydogen oxide in the company of other substances (Wash with soap and water.)

under – in a lower position (She gets under my skin.)

against – in contact with (He slammed the bat against the ball which caromed against the wall in left field for a triple.)

7. Connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences under coordinate, subordinate, or correlative conditions (conjunctions):

and – [equal value] (Eating and drinking are essential to life.)

but – [on the contrary] (I like spinach but I hate squash.)

Either… or – [conditional choices] (You will either do as I say or you will feel my wrath.)

unless – [conditional] (We will not go to the beach unless you finish your (yuk!) squash.

if – [conditional] (if you like this, we will do it some more.)

8. Show emotion (interjections):

Yuk! – Yuk! This is horrible.

Wow! – Wow! You look wonderful.

Whoopee! – Whoopee! We won.

All of the above are mere samples of each of the words that could be in that group. A complete least is available for all the words and their usage. Webster puts this list out as does Random House and Oxford University. These lists are called Dictionaries, or list of all components of diction (speech).

The most important common denominator for learning any language is that a quantitative vocabulary base is essential. Without knowing the words, understanding the grammar would be impossible. How does one acquire an extensive vocabulary? Memorize. Read. Listen. Speak. Imitate. Write. Practice over and over until the words come natural. It is not an easy task, but it is certainly easier for a child whose brain is more receptive to new ideas than any of us who have spent generations immersed in one language.

Grammar is a system whose components, individually, are not difficult to grasp; but when the whole system is looked upon as a unit, it appears to be an insurmountable task to manage proficiently. Hundreds of texts have attempted to organize the feast of English into digestible chunks. This is just another one that might be more didactic, analytical, and informative than the others.

Source by Larry Lynn


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