Dr. Nicholas Correa
ELT Trainer, Ratnasagar Publication
Grammar: Fun with Parts of Speech
Parts of speech are the basic types of words
that are used in English. All the words in
English language must belong to one or the
part of speech.
Just as there cannot be a number without 0
to 9 and a melody without the notation Do,
re, mi pa so la ti so also there cannot be any
word in English language that doesn’t come
under jurisdiction of parts of speech.
It is important to recognize and identify
the different types of words in English,
so that one can understand grammar
and use the right word form in the
The word ‘ noun’ is derived from Latin
word nomen which was the translation of
Greek onoma, which means name.
A noun is a naming word. It names a person, place,
thing, idea, living creature, quality, or action.
Types of Nouns
1. Proper Nouns
2. Common Nouns
a. Concrete nouns
i. Countable nouns
ii. Uncountable nouns
iii. Collective nouns
b. Abstract nouns
A proper noun has two distinctive features:
1) It names a specific [usually a one-of-a-kind] item.
2) 2) it begins with a capital letter no matter where
it occurs in a sentence.
Common nouns are general names. They are used to
name general persons, animals, places, things or ideas.
They are not capitalized unless they begin a sentence or
are part of a title.
Common Nouns can be further classified into concrete
and abstract nouns.
One can experience concrete nouns with one’s five
can see them, hear them, smell them, taste them,
and feel them.
One cannot feel abstract nouns through one’s five
What is a Concrete Noun?
Objects and substances that can be experienced
through our senses are referred to as concrete
That means we can touch, feel, smell, taste or hear
Examples of Concrete Nouns
The vast majority of nouns are concrete nouns.
Take all animals and people for example. You can
touch, feel, see, and hear them.
You can do the same for objects. We take in with
our eyes all the sights of places we visit.
A noun that denotes an abstract or intangible concept,
such as envy or joy.
An abstract noun is a noun that you cannot sense, it is
the name we give to an emotion, ideal or idea.
They have no physical existence, one can't see, hear,
touch, smell or taste them. The opposite of an abstract
noun is a concrete noun. Example:
Love, sadness, laughter, hunger, pleasure, poverty,
Concrete nouns are further classified into
1. Countable Nouns
2. Uncountable Nouns
3. Collective Nouns
Countable nouns are easy to recognize. They are
things that we can count.
For example: "pen". We can count pens. We can
have one, two, three or more pens.
Here are some more countable nouns:
•dog, cat, animal, man, person
•bottle, box, litre
•coin, note, dollar
•cup, plate, fork
•table, chair, suitcase, bag
Uncountable are substances, concepts etc that
we cannot divide into separate elements.
We cannot "count" them. For example, we
cannot count "milk". We can count "bottles of
milk" or "litres of milk", but we cannot count
Here are some more uncountable nouns:
Example: rice, sugar, butter, water, electricity,
A collective noun is a word for a group of specific
items, animals or people.
For example, a group of ships is called a fleet, a
group of cows is called a herd, a group of lions is
called a pride, a group of baseball players is called a
team, and a group of ants is called a colony.
Pronouns are words used instead of nouns
or the words that substitute nouns.
An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by
describing, identifying, or quantifying words.
An adjective usually precedes the noun or the
pronoun which it modifies.
In the following examples, the highlighted words
The truck-shaped balloon floated over the treetops.
Mrs. Morrison papered her kitchen walls
with hideous wall paper.
The small boat foundered on the wine dark sea.
The coal mines are dark and dank.
Many stores have already begun to
play irritating music.
A battered music box sat on
the mahogany sideboard.
The back room was filled with large, yellow rain
1. Adjectives of Quality -
These adjectives are used to describe the
nature of a noun. They give an idea about
the characteristics of the noun by answering
the question ‘what kind’.
Honest, Kind, Large, Bulky, Beautiful, Ugly
New Delhi is a large city with many
Sheila is a beautiful woman.
2. Adjectives of Quantity - These adjectives
help to show the amount or the approximate
amount of the noun or pronoun.
These adjectives do not provide exact
numbers; rather they tell us the amount of
the noun in relative or whole terms.
o All, Half, Many, Few, Little, No, Enough,
They have finished most of the rice.
Many people came to visit the fair.
3. Adjectives of Number - These
adjectives are used to show the number of
nouns and their place in an order.
There are three different sections within
adjectives of number; they are -
Definite Numeral Adjective - Those which
clearly denote an exact number of nouns or
the order of the noun.
One, Two, Twenty, Thirty-Three etc. also
known as Cardinals.
First, Second, Third, Seventh etc. also known
Indefinite Numeral Adjective - Those
adjectives that do not give an exact
numerical amount but just give a general
idea of the amount.
Some, Many, Few, Any, Several, All etc.
E.g.: There were many people present at
Distributive Numeral Adjective -Those
adjectives that are used to refer to individual
nouns within the whole amount.
Either, Neither, Each, Another, Other etc.
Taxes have to be paid by every employed
4. Demonstrative Adjectives - These
adjectives are used to point out or indicate a
particular noun or pronoun using the
This, That, These and Those.
o That bag belongs to Neil.
o Try using this paintbrush in art class.
o I really like those shoes.
o These flowers are lovely.
5. Interrogative Adjectives - These
adjectives are used to ask questions about
nouns or in relation to nouns, they are –
Where, What, Which and Whose.
o Where did he say he was going?
o What assignment did I miss out on?
o Which is your favourite author?
o Whose pen is this?
Verbs are doing words. A verb can express a physical
action, a mental action, or a state of being.
•A physical action (e.g., to swim, to write, to
•A mental action (e.g., to think, to guess, to
•A state of being (e.g., to be, to exist, to
Lots of Verbs Express Physical Actions
Here are some sentences with the verbs highlighted.
(These verbs express physical actions.)
•She sells pegs and lucky heather.
(In this example, the word sells is a verb. It expresses
the physical activity to sell.)
•The doctor wrote the prescription.
(In this example, the word wrote is a verb. It expresses
the physical activity to write.)
•Alison bought a ticket.
(The word bought is a verb. It expresses the physical
activity to buy.)
Verbs Express Mental Actions Too
As we covered at the start, verbs do not necessarily express
physical actions like the ones above. They can express mental
She considers the job done.
(The word considers is a verb. It expresses the mental activity to
•Peter guessed the right number.
(The word guessed is a verb. It expresses the mental activity to
•I thought the same thing.
(The word thought is a verb. It expresses the mental activity to
Verbs Express a State of Being
A small, but extremely important group of verbs do not
express any activity at all. The most important verb in this
group – arguably of all – is the verb to be. As already
mentioned, this is seen in forms like is, are, were, was, will be,
Some real examples:
•Edwina is the largest elephant in this area.
(The word is is a verb from the verb to be.)
•It was a joke.
(The word was is a verb from the verb to be.)
(The word am is a verb from the verb to be.)
(Point of interest: I am is the shortest sentence in English.)
Types of verbs
There are three types of verbs:
linking verbs, and
Action verbs are words that express action (ex: give,
eat, walk, etc.) or possession (have, own, etc.).
can be either transitive or intransitive
A transitive verb always has a noun that receives the action of the
verb. This noun is called the direct
EXAMPLE: Sheela raises her hand.
(The verb is raises. Her hand is an object receiving the verb’s
action. Therefore, raises is a
Transitive verbs sometimes have indirect objects,
which name the object to whom or for whom the
action was done.
EXAMPLE: Jantzen gave Becky the pencil.
(The verb is gave. The direct object is the pencil.
[What did he give? the pencil].
The indirect object is Becky. [To whom did he give it?
An intransitive verb never has a direct or indirect
Although an intransitive verb may be followed
by an adverb or adverbial phrase, there is no object to
receive its action.
EXAMPLE: Sheela rises slowly from her seat.
(The verb is the word, rises. The words, slowly from
her seat, modify the verb. But there is no object that
receives the action.)
A linking verb connects the subject of a sentence to a
noun or adjective that renames or describes it.
This noun or adjective is called the subject
EXAMPLES: Jason became a business major.
(The verb, became, links the subject, Jason, to its
complement, a business major.)
Lisa is in love with Jason.
(The verb, is, links the subject, Lisa, to the subject
complement, in love with Jason, which
The most common linking verb is the verb to be in all of its forms
(am, are, is, was, were, etc.).
This verb may also be used as a helping verb (see next section).
Two other common linking verbs, to become and to seem, are
always used as linking verbs.
Other verbs may be linking verbs in some cases and action verbs in
others: to appear, to feel, to look, to remain, to stay, to taste, to
continue, to grow, to prove, to sound, to smell, to turn,
LINKING: Libby appeared happy. (Appeared links Libby to the
subject complement, happy.)
ACTION: Deon suddenly appeared. (Here, appeared is an
intransitive action verb.)
Helping verbs are used before action or linking verbs
to convey additional information regarding aspects of
possibility (can, could, etc.) or time
(was, did, has, etc.). They are also called auxiliary
verbs. The main verb with
its accompanying helping verb is called a verb phrase.
EXAMPLES: Teju is (helping verb) going (main verb) to
The trip might (helping verb) be (main verb)
The following words, called modals, always function as
can may must shall will
could might ought to should would
EXAMPLES: Tanya could learn to fly helicopters. (Could
helps the main verb, learn.)
Janine will drive to Idaho tomorrow. (Will helps the
main verb, drive.)
In addition, the following forms of the verbs to be, to
do, and to have sometimes serve as helping verbs.
Note: In other cases, they may serve as action or
linking verbs.) am be being do had have was are been
did does has is were
HELPING: Jana is moving to a new house.
LINKING: Jana is ready to go.
HELPING: Dustin did eat his vegetables!
ACTION: Dustin did his homework last night.
HELPING: Erin has jumped off the cliff.
ACTION: Erin has a good attitude. (transitive verb)
An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective,
another adverb, a phrase, or a clause. An
adverb indicates manner, time, place, cause,
or degree and answers questions such as
"how," "when," "where," "how much".
Types of adverbs
Adverbs of Manner
Adverbs of Manner tell us the manner or way in which
something happens. They answer the question
"how?". Adverbs of Manner mainly modify verbs.
He speaks slowly. (How does he speak?)
They helped us cheerfully. (How did they help us?)
James Bond drives his cars fast. (How does James Bond
drive his cars?)
We normally use Adverbs of Manner
with dynamic (action) verbs, not with stative or
He ran fast. She came quickly. They worked
Adverbs of Place
Adverbs of Place tell us the place where something
happens. They answer the question "where?".
Adverbs of Place mainly modify verbs.
Please sit here. (Where should I sit?)
They looked everywhere. (Where did they look?)
Two cars were parked outside. (Where were two cars
Adverbs of Time
Adverbs of Time tell us something about the time
that something happens. Adverbs of Time mainly
They can answer the question "when?":
He came yesterday. (When did he come?)
I want it now. (When do I want it?)
Or they can answer the question "how often?":
They deliver the newspaper daily. (How often do
they deliver the newspaper?)
We sometimes watch a movie. (How often do we
watch a movie?)
Adverbs of Degree
Adverbs of Degree tell us the degree or extent to
which something happens. They answer the
question "how much?" or "to what degree?".
Adverbs of Degree can modify verbs, adjectives and
She entirely agrees with him. (How much does she
agree with him?)
Mary is very beautiful. (To what degree is Mary
beautiful? How beautiful is Mary?)
He drove quite dangerously. (To what degree did he
drive dangerously? How dangerously did he drive?)
A conjunction is a word that "joins". A conjunction
joins two parts of a sentence.
Here are some example conjunctions:
Coordinating Conjunctions Subordinating Conjunctions
and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so although, because, since, unless
A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other
words in asentence. The word or phrase that the
preposition introduces is called the object of the
Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand
in front of nouns (sometimes also in front of gerund
A preposition usually comes before a noun, pronoun or
noun phrase. It joins the noun to some other part of the
Examples: on, in, by, with, under, through, at
Interjections are words or phrases used to exclaim or
protest or command.
An interjection is a word added to a sentence to convey
an emotion or a sentiment such as surprise, disgust, joy,
excitement, or enthusiasm. It is not grammatically
related to any other part of the sentence.
They sometimes stand by themselves, but they are often
contained within larger structures.
•Wow! I won the lottery!
•Oh, I don't know about that.
•I don't know what the heck you're talking about.
•No, you shouldn't have done that.