One way to begin studying basic sentence structures in English is to identify the traditional parts of speech (also known as word classes). Here you'll learn the names and basic functions of these eight sentence parts.
As you study the table below, note that only interjections ("Hooray!") have a habit of standing alone (or alongside complete sentences). The other parts of speech--nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions-- come in many varieties and may appear just about anywhere in a sentence. To know for sure what part of speech a word is, we have to look not only at the word itself but also at its meaning, position, and use in a sentence.
- Bosco showed up for work two hours late. [The noun work is the thing Bosco shows up for.]
- He will have to work until midnight. [The verb work is the action he must perform.]
- His work permit expires next month. [The attributive noun work modifies the noun permit.]
Don't let this variety of meanings and uses discourage you. Keep in mind that learning the names of the basic parts of speech is just one way to understand how sentences are put together.
Now review the parts of speech listed below, and for each one see if you can provide examples of your own. (Click on each term to visit a glossary page where you'll find additional examples and more detailed explanations.) You'll grow more familiar with the parts of speech as you practice using them in other lessons on this site.
GETTING STARTED WITH SENTENCES
Basic Sentence Parts and Structures
The Parts of Speech
|PART OF SPEECH||BASIC FUNCTION||EXAMPLES|
|noun||names a person, place, or thing||pirate, Caribbean, ship|
|pronoun||takes the place of a noun||I, you, he, she, it, ours, them, who|
|verb||identifies action or state of being||sing, dance, believe, be|
|adjective||modifies a noun||hot, lazy, funny|
|adverb||modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb||softly, lazily, often|
|preposition||shows a relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and other words in a sentence||up, over, against, by, for|
|conjunction||joins words, phrases, and clauses||and, but, or, yet|
|interjection||expresses emotion||ah, whoops, ouch|