The Grammar Rodeo: Parts of Speech


We have already discussed common mistakes made in grammar, and there are a million posts on blogs about those mistakes littering the Internet. Let’s take it up a notch. Before I jump into any complex or strange rules of grammar that no one understands, I am going to focus on parts of speech today. Sure, you may think you know your parts of speech, but lets just give it a refresher because it is fun to get to know your language on a deeper level. For example, did you know that there is a name for everything? Seriously. You know that little dot above every lower case i and every lower case j? That has a name. It is called a tittle. And since I told you that little bit of useless knowledge you might as well know that the horizontal line that crosses your t is called a crossbar.

Okay, back to parts of speech. Let us start with the most popular members of our parts of speech:


A noun is a person, place, or thing. Pretty easy, right? Except I was always caught up by the word “thing” in this definition. It is kind of a catch all term. Really a noun can be anything. That bucket that is outside? That sucker is a noun. This keyboard? You better believe this keyboard is a noun. The screen you are reading this on? Also a noun. You are surrounded by nouns. And you always will be. They are the high school quarterbacks of the English language. Aren’t they dreamy?

nouns and verbs


If nouns are the quarterbacks, then surely verbs are the prom queens. Pretty much everybody knows what a verb is. A verb is an action. It is something you can do. Read, write, count, sing, jump, run, sleep, fart, laugh because you farted. All of these are verbs. It is what you are doing. Probably learned these in third grade. Let’s move on to some that you might have forgotten.


You don’t have to think about this too hard. If you remember correctly an adjective is a descriptive word. Specifically, an adjective describes a noun. That bucket is large. That team sucks. Your feet smell. You get the idea.


Like adjectives, adverbs are descriptive words. Specifically, adverbs describe verbs. They tell us how something is being done. I ran quickly. She laughed loudly. Most of these end in –ly, although the one that is typically underused is well. As in “How are you doing?” “I am doing well.” Most people say they are doing “good.” Don’t do that. Do not allow adjectives to invade your adverbs.


Now we are getting into the abstract. All the words in between the important words. You know the song about train that hooks shit up and makes it sound good (yes, good is used correctly in that sentence). Conjunctions join words together. I will give School House Rock a run for their money with a little acronym I found for conjunctions: FAN BOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.


Prepositions are words that stand before a noun. If it can go here: “The lizard ran ________ the tree” then it is a preposition. Did you try it? You probably used words like up, under, through, into, around, etc. Someone once told me that really good writing has very little prepositions. I am not sure if that is true, but after writing that last sentence I am now incredibly self conscious that someone will go back and count my prepositions.


Wow! These are my favorite to teach because my students get to shout. Interjections are words that show surprise. Interjections need an exclamation point to follow them. Here are some examples: What?! Yay! No! Why?! Whoopee! Woohoo! What do you mean you lost my dry cleaning?!



I saved these for last because they are easy: a, an, and the. There you go.

These are pretty easy to remember. Except that they are not. Sometimes a word can be a noun and a verb. Or sometimes words start as one thing and end up being another. This is the case with the word email. It started as a noun. “I will send you an email.” Now we have verberized it, “I will email you later.” Same goes for the word text. It becomes even more confusing when silly people make up words; like “verberized.”

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