Parts of speech
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Parts of Speech. Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Conjunction, Article, Preposition, Interjection. Opening Tip.

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Parts of Speech

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Parts of speech

Parts of Speech

Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Conjunction, Article, Preposition, Interjection

Opening tip

Opening Tip

  • The best way to identify a word’s part of speech is to consider what the word means. Next, look at the word in its context and decide what that word means in conjunction with other words.

  • I want you to know these terms only insofar as I will be referring to them when I speak about writing; this is not a linguistics course.

  • I am hoping this will all be review for you….

Parts of speech


  • Person, place, thing or idea

  • E.g.: sailor, Edmonton, chair, love

  • Noun test: Nouns can be made into plural and possessive forms

  • In sentences, nouns represent “things” that “do” (“doing” is represented by verbs)

Noun types

Noun Types

  • Common noun: the basic category of nouns: general things or groups of things. E.g., dog, fruit, height, thought

  • Proper noun: A name (must be capitalized). E.g., Edmonton, Dave Chapelle, Asia

  • Collective noun: Noun that represents a group of things but is still considered “singular.” E.g., group, team, herd

Noun types cont

Noun Types (cont.)

  • Count noun: Noun that represents things that can be counted and therefore has a plural form. E.g., one pen, three pens

  • Non-count noun: Noun that represents things that cannot be counted and therefore do not have plural forms. E.g., flour, traffic, hopelessness, meat

Noun cases

Noun Cases

  • In English, nouns have three forms (cases): singular, plural and possessive

  • Singular is the regular form. E.g., dog, dish, sheep, ox

  • Plural (more than one): add -s or -es to the end. E.g., dog dogs; dish  dishes

Noun cases cont

Noun cases (cont.)

  • Some nouns have irregular plurals. E.g., plural of sheep = sheep; plural of ox = oxen

  • Non-count nouns tend not to have plurals (they are always singular). E.g. hope  hopes (WRONG)

Noun cases cont1

Noun cases (cont.)

  • Possessive (ownership): Both singular and plural nouns can have possessive cases.

  • Form the possessive of a singular noun by adding -’s to the end. E.g., dog  dog’s

  • Form the possessive of a plural noun by adding -’. E.g., dogs  dogs’

  • Note: The apostrophe is not optional.



  • A substitute for a noun.

  • Sometimes the substitute is implied. Other times, the substitute is explicit.

  • The noun that the pronoun substitutes is called that pronoun’s antecedent. An antecedent is usually explicit but can be implicit.

Pronoun cont

Pronoun (cont.)

  • E.g., I am going for lunch with Jane. She is my former supervisor.

  • I does not have an explicit antecedent. The person who is speaking calls himself or herself I (whom the reader may or may not know).

  • Sheis a pronoun that replaces Jane. Jane is the (explicit) antecedent for she.

Pronoun types

Pronoun types

  • There are an alarming number of pronoun types. Start with these for now.

  • 1. Personal pronoun: substitute for a specific person or thing. English has four cases of pronouns: subjective (I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they), objective (me, you, him, her, it, us, them, you), possessive (my, your, his, her, our, their), and reflexive (myself, yourself, herself, etc.)

Pronoun types cont

Pronoun types (cont.)

  • E.g., He saw me. I saw him. They saw her. She saw them. It saw you. You saw it. (all subjective or objective pronouns)

  • E.g., Her dog ate his homework. Their dog ate your homework.

Pronoun types cont1

Pronoun types (cont.)

  • Relative pronouns introduce adjective clauses. They refer to the noun (or even pronoun) that the clause modifies (we will talk about adjectives and clauses soon….)

  • The relative pronouns are who, whom, which, that, whose.

Pronoun types cont2

Pronoun types (cont.)

  • E.g., The dog that ate my homework lives next door. My neighbour, who is a close friend, apologized.

  • The antecedent of that is the dog. The antecedent of who is myneighbour.

  • The relative pronouns save you from having to write this: The dog ate my homework. The dog lives next door. My neighbour apologized. My neighbour is a close friend.

Parts of speech


  • A word that denotes action (or a state of being.)

  • E.g., I went for lunch with Jane. She is my former supervisor.

  • Verbs also help indicate time. The different verb tenses communicate when actions occur. E.g. swim, swam, swum.

Verb continued

Verb (continued)

  • A verb has several conjugated forms.

  • E.g., be =am, is, are, was, were, been, being = conjugated

  • In many verb tenses, the conjugated form has two or more words. In those tenses, all the words must be present to be complete (and correct).

Verbs cont

Verbs (cont.)

  • E.g., I am going for lunch with Jane. I have seen my friend’s car.

  • WRONG E.g., I am for lunch with Jane. I seen my friend’s car.

  • WRONG E.g. I going for lunch with Jane.



  • Modifier of a noun or pronoun

  • Adjectives specify the characteristics of a noun or pronoun.

  • E.g., black dog, gentle giant, concentrated formula, homeopathic cure

  • E.g., She is my former supervisor.



  • Modifies or specifies the nature of a verb, adjective, adverb or clause.

  • Adverbs give information about the time, place, reason and manner of an action.

  • Adverbs are the “adjectives” for verbs. But they also modify adjectives, other verbs, or even clauses.

  • Tip: Many adverbs end with “ly”



  • E.g., The dog quickly ate my homework.

  • E.g., The very rude dog ate my homework.

  • E.g., The dog ate my homework quickly.

  • Adverb test: adverbs that modify verbs, phrases or clauses can occur in several places in a sentence.

Adverb types

Adverb types

  • Of particular interest are the conjunctive adverbs: they function like coordinating conjunctions (see upcoming), but they are not really conjunctions because they can move around in a sentence.

  • E.g., The man likes dogs; however, he also like cats.

  • E.g., The man likes dogs; he also likes cats, however.

  • E.g., The man likes dogs; he also, however, likes cats.

Adverb types cont

Adverb types (cont.)

  • Conjunctive adverbs are not punctuated like coordinate conjunctions.

  • E.g., Moby is an interesting musician, but he is not as interesting as Miles Davis.

  • WRONG E.g., The man likes dogs, however he also like cats.

  • CORRECTED: The man likes dogs; however, he also likes cats.

Adverb types cont1

Adverb types (cont.)

  • Some conjunctive adverbs:accordingly, also, besides, consequently, finally, furthermore, hence, however, moreover, nevertheless, now, still, subsequently, then, therefore, thus

  • Distinguishing conjunctive adverbs from conjunctions will help you avoid run-on sentences and improper punctuation.



  • A word that joins words or word groups

  • The conjunction’s meaning specifies what relationship exists between the words or word groups it joins.

  • FYI: Improper conjunction use leads to many writing problems.

  • There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating,subordinating and correlative.

Conjunction types

Conjunction types

  • A coordinating conjunction indicates that connected words or ideas are equal in importance.

  • There are only seven of them: FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).

  • E.g., Moby is an interesting musician, but he is not as interesting as Miles Davis.

  • E.g., I like coffee and tea.

Conjunction types cont

Conjunction types (cont.)

  • A subordinating conjunction indicates that one group of words (or an idea) depends on another group of words (or an idea) for a sentence to make sense.

  • Some common subordinating conjunctions:

    after, although, as, as if, because, before, even though, if, in order that, once, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, where, whether, while

Conjunction types cont1

Conjunction types (cont.)

  • Subordinating conjunctions connect subordinate (dependent) clauses to main (independent) clauses (more on these later….)

  • E.g., If you look in your mailbox, you may find some mail.

  • We decided to walk because we missed the bus.

Conjunction types cont2

Conjunction types (cont.)

  • Correlative conjunctions present pairs (showing choice or absence of choice).

  • Two words always make up correlative conjunctions (so as to highlight the options): both-and, either-or, neither-nor, not only-but also. (You need both words).

  • E.g., Either I will meet you at home, or I will meet you at the theatre.

  • E.g., Both Phil and Morris will meet us.



  • An article precedes a noun and indicates the specificity of the noun.

  • The = definitive (indicate the noun is a specific or recognizable individual)

  • A/an =indefinite (indicates the noun is meant to refer to a general group or to something not before encountered).

Article cont

Article (cont.)

  • E.g., The dog is eating my homework. (The speaker means a specific dog--knows the dog).

  • E.g., A dog is eating my homework. (The speaker does not know the dog.)

  • E.g. An annoying dog is eating my homework. (Use “an” before vowels or unvoiced “h”).

Article cont1

Article (cont.)

  • Plural nouns that in their singular form would take the indefinite article take no article at all.

  • E.g., The dogs are eating my homework. (A group of known dogs, perhaps belonging to a neighbour)

  • E.g., Dogs are eating my homework. (A pack of unknown dogs have converged upon the homework.)

  • FYI: Some words have irregular usage in this regard.



  • a word that connects nouns or pronouns to other words

  • Don’t confuse prepositions with conjunctions (though they have similar “connecting” functions): prepositions deal with nouns and pronouns

  • Some prepositions: about, above, at, by, during, for, in, into, of, off, on, to, toward, with, within

Preposition cont

Preposition (cont.)

  • E.g., A prepositional phrase ends with a noun or pronoun.

  • E.g., In one gulp, the dog ate my homework.

  • Unfortunately, some prepositions double as subordinating conjunctions….

  • E.g., I never wake up before 7 o’clock.

  • E.g., Before you go to bed, feed the dog.



  • a word or group of words that expresses emotion

  • E.g., alas, oh, gosh, ouch.

  • Punctuate them like sentences or initial adverbs.

  • E.g., Gosh! I didn’t know that

  • E.g., Oh, I didn’t know that.

  • PS: Formal writing rarely uses these.



  • To write well, you must have a good grasp of these terms..

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