Parts of Speech + Parts of a Sentence

Posted November 1, 2011 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 0 Comments

Whenever I teach grammar, I push the importance of recognizing, and understanding the functions of, the parts of speech and parts of a sentence. My students always resist at first, and while they may never like dealing with parts of speech, they learn to appreciate how their knowledge helps them with writing.


I usually break down parts of speech into eight different categories. I have tried to keep the following explanations very basic and simple. I could write individual posts for each part of speech if I was so inclined, but grammar should be fun, right? We will keep it easy for now.

1. Noun
Most people understand a noun to be a person, place, thing, or abstract concept. That covers the majority of nouns, and is a relatively accurate explanation. Nouns are usually the doers or receivers of verbs.

2. Pronoun
Pronouns replace nouns. Instead of saying, “Amanda” repeatedly for example, you can use the pronoun she to replace Amanda.

3. Verb
There are two types of verbs: action and stative. Action verbs are self-explanatory. Stative verbs indicate a state (e.g., she seems fine today)

4. Adjective
Words that describe a noun are adjectives. For example, in the phrase, “The pretty girl,” pretty describes the noun (girl), which makes pretty an adjective.

5. Adverb
Adverbs are the eccentrics of the parts of speech. They have the ability to modify anything except a noun–because if it modified a noun, it would be an adjective. Adverbs often address time or the manner of an action. e.g., I go to the grocery store often, or I walked quickly down the street.

6. Article
There are two types of articles: determinate, or specific, (the) and indeterminate, or general (a/an). They are always used to modify a noun.

7. Conjunction
There are two types of conjunctions: coordinating and subordinating. Coordinating conjunctions join two like parts of speech (or clauses) together (e.g., and, or), and subordinating conjunctions join an independent clause and a dependent clause (e.g. because).

8. Preposition
Prepositions (e.g., of, from, for, since, etc) are always partnered with a noun. They usually help to add additional information such as location or time. (e.g., in the drawer, on Monday, at 5pm)


The parts of a sentence are a little bit less complicated. There are three parts to English sentences. Every sentence must contain the first two parts.

1. Subject
The noun phrase doing the verb, whether it is an action or stative verb.

2. Verb
An action or stative verb.

3. Object
The receiver of the verb. Like the subject, the object will be some kind of noun. Unlike the subject, not all English sentences require an object.

But that is not it! There are a few more pieces of information necessary to the parts of a sentence discussion.

Clause Types:

1. Independent clause
A subject and a verb (plus an optional object) that can stand alone; they make sense without help from any other clause.

2. Dependent clause
A subject and verb (plus an optional object) that does not make sense without the help of an independent clause.

Types of Sentences:

1. Simple
An independent clause.

2. Complex
An independent and a dependent clause that is connected by a subordinating conjunction (e.g., because).

3. Compound
Two complete sentences (either simple OR complex) that have been connected by a coordinating conjunction (e.g. and, or).

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