Parts of Speech

Hey everybody!

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Did you enjoy your golden week?  I hope so!

Today I’d like to talk about a really important aspect of grammar called parts of speech.  No, parts of speech have nothing to do with making speeches!  They are a way of categorizing different words.  It helps us know how to use those words.  So let’s take a look at the parts of speech right now:

Nouns
Words that are things, people, places or ideas Pen, car, dog, café, teacher, music, experience
Verbs
Words that are states or actions Feel, have, do, go, try, collect, experience
Adjectives
Words that describe nouns Big, tall, expensive, convenient, strict, soft, interesting
Adverbs
Words that describe verbs or adjectives Quickly, carefully, really, very, somewhat
Prepositions
Words that tell us the time, location or direction of something; also separates two words In, at, on, for, with, to, of
Pronouns
Words that replace nouns I, you, he, she, it, they, them, we, us, me
Conjunctions
Words that connect other parts of speech or sentences And, or, but, because, since, when
Interjections
Words or expressions that are used alone Hey, huh, oh, ah, oops, ouch
Articles
Words that go with nouns to indicate which or how many The, a, an, no

Many teachers consider pronouns a separate category, but some teachers consider it part of nouns as well.

Ok, so what?  Why are parts of speech so important?

On a very basic level, they tell us how to use words.  For example, what is wrong with this sentence?

“The dog floor.”

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That’s right, there’s no verb connecting the two nouns!  If someone said this to you, what would you do?  If we don’t apply the parts of speech properly, it’s hard to understand other people.

How about this one?

“I ate pizza my house.”

In this case, it is missing a preposition to separate the two nouns (“pizza” and “my house”).  Without the preposition (I ate pizza at my house) it’s very difficult to understand.

More importantly though, sometimes the same word is a different part of speech in different languages.  For instance, the word “confuse” is a verb (a transitive verb), so it connects a subject and an object like this:

“This book confuses me.”

But in Japanese, it is only an adjective – ややこしい – so it is used differently:

この本がややこしい。

So very often when my students try to translate this into English, they say something like:

“This book is confuse me.”

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Do you see the problem there?  Both “is” and “confuse” are verbs, so the sentence pattern became S-V-V-O, which is incorrect!  As you can see, recognizing parts of speech in the language you are studying is important.

So when you learn new vocabulary, be sure to find out what part of speech it is and practice using it with other parts of speech!

Knowing these eight categories is very helpful, but as your English improves, you will need to know more about each one!  There are different types of nouns and verbs and prepositions.  If you know about each type, you can use them even more naturally and become even more fluent!

Probably the most difficult part of speech is prepositions.  Many of my students hate prepositions, and I don’t blame them!  There are about 150 prepositions in English.  We only use about half of those in common speech, but that’s still a lot!  Japanese doesn’t have nearly as many.  They are a big challenge, so in the near future I’ll talk a little bit about a few of the most common prepositions and how to use them naturally.  Hope to see you then!

Would you like more resources on parts of speech?  Check out these links:

In English

http://www.english-grammar-revolution.com/parts-of-speech.html

http://www.edb.utexas.edu/minliu/pbl/ESOL/help/libry/speech.htm

In Japanese

http://www.kilc.co.jp/english/hinshi.php

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%93%81%E8%A9%9E#.E8.8B.B1.E8.AA.9E.E3.81.AE.E5.93.81.E8.A9.9E

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