Instructional Systems
Traditional English Grammar

Unit One
Parts of Speech Continued:

Summary of the Parts of Speech and
Some Additional Errors to Avoid


Occasionally a word always acts as the same part of speech in every situation. It is dependable. For example:

Most words, on the other hand, can be used as more than one part of speech:

Thus, the function of a word in its sentence is the only real proof of its part of speech. Here are brief statements of the functions of each of the parts of speech:

A verb tells what the subject is or does: "Hortense is the quarterback. She throws the football."

A noun is a person, place, or thing that acts as a subject (telling what or who is or does the meaning of the verb) or as a complement (telling what or who completes the meaning of a verb or a preposition).

A pronoun is a word used in the place of a noun: "Mortimer, who loved Prunella dearly, could not muster the courage to speak to her, and thought himself to be anything but happy."

An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun: "Hotspur is happy because he just bought a bright red Packard station wagon."

An adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb: "Isadore quietly left the entirely distraught Prince, who was very slowly turning into a frog."

A preposition joins its noun object to the rest of the sentence: "Igor threw the ball into the stands."

Coordinating conjunctions join equal grammatical elements: "John and Marsha argue and fight night or day."

Subordinating conjunctions join independent clauses to dependent clauses: "Igor has been lonely since he left Transylvania."

An interjection expresses a strong feeling although it has no grammatical connection with the rest of the sentence: "Well, here we go!"


The following errors occur frequently in student writing because of lack of experience or understanding of the parts of speech. Here are some errors pertaining to the misuse of verb forms and confusion between certain adjective/adverb forms. Other potential errors that can be avoided with a clear understanding of the parts of speech will be presented in subsequent chapters.

Verb Forms (Marking Symbol VF)
If You are a native speaker of English, your language experience to date should be adequate to provide you with the correct principal part or tense form for almost all of the verbs that you use frequently. If English is your second language, you must be careful to use the correct verb form. If you are uncertain of a verb form, a past participle, for example-look it up in a good dictionary. You might also consult the tense forms given in this chapter to be sure that you are familiar with each form. Be especially careful with these words:

Adjective/Adverb Errors (Marking Symbol Adj/Adv)

Errors of misuse of adjectives and adverbs occur usually with only a few words; real/really, good/well, and sure/surely are the chief offenders. Make certain that these adjective forms (real, good, and sure) clearly modify nouns and that the adverb forms (really, well, and surely) clearly modify verbs, adjectives or adverbs.

When you have studied this material to your satisfaction, you are ready to take the comprehensive "Parts of Speech" quiz which completes Unit One. Take the test when you are ready.

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