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Parts of Speech (Part II)

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Grammar deals with the formulation of the proper methods of verbal expression and communication. “Grammar In A Nutshell:” Three little words you often see/Are articles -- A, An, and The.

/A noun’s the name of anything/As school, or Garden, Hoop or Swing./Adjectives tell the kind of noun/As Great, Small, Pretty, White or Brown./Instead of Nouns the Pronouns stand/her head, his face, your arm, my hand./Verbs tell something being done/to Read, Count, Laugh, Sing, Jump or Run./How things are done the Adverbs tell/as Slowly, Quickly, Ill, or Well/Conjunctions join the words together/as men and women, wind or weather/The Preposition stands before/a noun, as In or Through a door./The Interjection shows surprise/as Oh! How pretty! Ah! How wise!/The whole are called Nine Parts of Speech/which reading, writing, speaking teach. (Anonymous)

These parts of speech work as players on a sports team. The Four “Stars” Are Nouns (Including Pronouns), Verbs, Adjectives, And Adverbs. The “support” players -- called “function words” because of what they do in helping to make a meaningful sentence -- are prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. The “reserves” are determiners (noun modifiers e.g. any, both, whose, or articles e.g. the a, an), auxiliaries (helping verbs -- like is, was, were, has, had, shall, will, would, could -- which combine with the main verb to form verb phrase like “he has arrived”); subordinators (dependent clauses that cannot stand alone as a full sentence, like when, while, as, since, because, whereas); relatives (referring to or qualifying something that has just gone before, as the pronoun “who” in “the man who left” or whose, whom, that, which); intensifiers (a word that adds emphasis but not additional meaning -- much, really, too, very, so); and sentence-starters (such as well, now, oh, why). Syntax involves understanding what role each word plays in the arrangement of parts of a sentence.

Traditionally, the parts of speech go back at least as far as Aristotle (384-22 B.C.). Since then the elements of English have become far, far more complicated. So to complete the parts of speech, the following will be only “get acquainted” comments. Adjectives (“not standing alone”) are words used to modify a noun or pronoun. To modify is to restrict, limit, or make more definite the meaning of a word. Most sentences have two parts -- the subject (a noun or pronoun which tells what the sentence is about) and the predicate (which tells what is said about the subject or what the subject does). A predicate contains a verb or an adjective that describes the subject. Descriptive adjectives tell “what kind” -- e.g. little, hot, red. Limiting adjectives tell “which one” and “how many.” Put another way, an adjective is a word, phrase, or clause (a group of words containing a subject and a predicate) that describes, or modifies, or limits a noun in its meaning in some way.

An Adverb (“added word”) is a word, phrase, or clause that modifies or qualifies the meaning of a verb (or adjective or another adverb). Many adverbs are formed by adding “-ly” to an adjective, as in kind, kindly. Adverbs are used to denote place (where, there); time (now, then); or manner (thus, poorly). A Preposition (“put before”) is a word showing the relation of a noun or pronoun to some other word in the sentence -- e.g. of, by, for, with, over, under, beyond: “hit the nail with a hammer.” Conjunction (“join”) is a word joining words -- and, but, either/or, for, yet, still, nor, before, until, where, as. An Interjection (“something thrown in or into”) is a word that expresses emotion but has a grammatical relation to other words in the sentence. Examples: Bravo! Ha! Hurray! Ouch! Gosh! and similar exclamations.

Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D