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Grammar: Parts of Speech & Examples

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

There are eight parts of speech that you should be aware of. We’ll go through each in turn, consider what it is, and look at some examples.

Nouns

Nouns are objects, concepts, places, people – things. In general, you would expect a noun to be preceded by an article, like a, the, an. Remember that there are both nouns and proper nouns. A proper noun starts with a capital letter, whereas nouns don’t. A proper noun designates a particular person, place, or thing. For example, a reverend is a noun – as there are lots of vicars. On the other hand, Reverend Thomas would be capitalised, as we are discussing a particular reverend.

Let’s look at a sentence:

The dog jumped over the fence, and realised that the girl was watching him escape.

Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that we use instead of a noun. Examples are:
I, you, she, he, it, we, they

There are different types of pronouns too – a possessive pronoun shows ownership (mine, his, etc) whereas a personal pronoun refers to a specific person (him) and reflexive pronouns emphasise another pronoun (himself). Looking at an example:

The dog brought the ball back to him, before running off into the bushes. When he returned, he had something for himself too.

In this example we have both a personal pronoun and a possessive pronoun.

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Verb

A verb is a doing word – it expresses that an action is taking place, or that something is existing or being. You may find one verb or multiple verbs in a given sentence. Remember that verbs need to agree with their subject, and that verbs take different tenses. As an example, we say, ‘he runs’ rather than ‘he run’ – these are rules that you will be instinctively aware of. You should be aware of tense as well – we will go into this in more detail in a separate guide.

Let’s look at an example:

I ran down to the river, where I found that I was able to catch a fish.

Adjective

An adjective describes a noun or a pronoun, or somehow modifies it. Adjectives will therefore ascribe quantity, quality, number, or other attributes to a noun. Let’s look at an example:

The tall boy knelt down, and picked up the little rat. Amongst the rippling green grass, he had almost lost the tiny creature.

All the words underlined are adjectives – they all qualify the nouns. They provide more information on them, allow us to better picture them, or allow us to understand exactly what the noun is like.

Adverbs

Adverbs are rather like adjectives, except that they modify verbs, rather than describe nouns. In fact, you can string adverbs together too (like we did with the adjectives above). You will find that adverbs very often end in -ly.

Let’s look at an example:

Running quickly down the hill, the boy paused suddenly. What was that in front of him? He began to march towards it boldly.

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Prepositions

A preposition is a word that we put before a noun, or a pronoun, to form a phrase. It modifies the noun. A preposition is therefore always part of something called a ‘prepositional phrase.’ Common prepositions include with, by, from, about.

Let’s look at an example:

Wondering about the bill that he had managed to rack up, the man sat idly, staring at the ceiling. He would sit there until the waiter came back, hopefully with information that might shed some light on where his money had gone…

Conjunctions

Conjunctions are joining words – they can be used to join together words, or phrases. They will therefore provide some context as to the relationship between the phrases. As an example, the conjunction, ‘but,’ shows that there is a contrast, whilst ‘and’ shows agreement rather than contrast. Other common conjunctions include although, since, because, despite.

Let’s look at an example:
‘He wanted to, but knew that he couldn’t in the current economic climate. He had to save money, and keep it locked away in the bank.

Interjections

An interjection is a short word that expresses attitude or emotion. Common examples include:
Wow! Oh!

Interjections are often followed by an exclamation mark.

Here’s an example:

‘Oh no! That means that I’ll have to walk the whole way!’
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