The eight parts of speech in the English language determine how a word is functioning in a sentence both in terms of the simple math and in terms of the word’s meaning. [Image: JJ Ying | Unsplash]
DEFINITIONS TO REMEMBER:
• Verb = action
• Noun = a person, place, or thing
• Pronoun = takes the place of a noun
• Adjective = modifies a noun
• Adverb = typically modifies a verb
• Preposition = shows relationship between a noun and another word
• Conjunction = links different parts of a sentence together
• Interjection = an exclamation
“More than your background, education, title, or credentials, your ability to communicate clearly, thoughtfully, and without careless errors tells me how much you respect your work, your ideas, and your peers.” Tiffany Butler, Principal, Whole Brain Creative
RULES TO REMEMBER:
1. The noun that a pronoun replaces is called the antecedent of the pronoun. For example, in the sentence The dog ate his food, dog is the antecedent of the pronoun his.
◦ Whenever Jamie arrives in the classroom, she smiles broadly and plops her books in a pile at one of the front-row desks. (antecedent of she = Jamie)
2. A subject pronoun includes I, we, you, he, she, and they, and will often be the main subject of the sentence.
◦ We ran as quickly as we could. (we = subject pronoun)
3. An object pronoun is the object of the verb, which means the action happens to the pronoun rather than by the pronoun.
◦ She decided to write it down before she could forget. (she = subject pronoun; it = object pronoun)
4. Most indefinite pronouns require a singular verb: anyone, no one, someone, everyone, anybody, nobody, somebody, everybody, anything, nothing, something, everything, either, another, each, one, and any.
◦ Everything is going to be just fine.
◦ Either is fine with me.
5. Reflexive pronouns include myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, and themselves. Reflexive pronouns can never replace the subject of a sentence.
◦ I decided to sew the button on myself rather than ask him to do it for me.
◦ He drove himself to the airport.
6. Possessive pronouns include my, mine, our, ours, your, yours, his, her, hers, its , their, theirs, and whose. Possessive pronouns replace possessive nouns (his car instead of Luke’s car), and
possessive pronouns never take apostrophes.
◦ Her chair has violet flowers stitched across the surface.
◦ Is this your pen?
7. Relative pronouns include that, which, who, whom, whoever, whomever, whose, and what. Who is a subject pronoun, which means it can be the subject of a sentence: Who is riding the bike this morning? Whom is an object pronoun, which means it is the direct or indirect object of the verb or a preposition: For whom did you bring flowers today? While we often ignore whom in spoken speech, we do not in written English. When in doubt, substitute he or him for the relative pronoun to see which sounds correct to you:
◦ Who/whom did you help move last week? (1) Change the question to a statement: You helped who/whom move last week. (2) Substitute the personal pronouns he and him: You helped he move last week or You helped him move last week. (3)
If he sounds correct, the answer is who; if him sounds correct, the answer is whom: Whom did you help move last week?
◦ Who begins a clause that refers to people, that begins a clause that refers to a thing, and which begins a clause that refers to a thing and that is preceded by a comma:
▪ Margaret is the babysitter who always brings candy when she visits.
▪ I am going to stand under the tree that has green leaves and wide branches.
▪ He asked me to meet him near our neighbor’s fence, which is listing to one side and badly in need of repair.
8. Demonstrative pronouns include this, that, these, and those. Be careful of using a demonstrative pronoun without ensuring that your reader clearly understands what antecedent it refers to.
◦ Unclear: This is my favorite.
Revised: This website is my favorite.
◦ Unclear: Those are the tools that we need.
Revised: Those written exercises are the tools that we need.
9. Adjectives typically answer questions like which one? what kind? and how many?
◦ He swallows 14 blue and purple vitamins every morning.
◦ Her first horse was a flaxen-maned, chestnut Arabian mare.
10. Adverbs can modify a verb, adjective, or additional adverb. The easiest rule to remember is that they typically modify verbs and often end with –ly.
◦ She ran quickly across the field.
◦ The eagle swooped down suddenly and snatched the field mouse with its talons.
11. Prepositional phrases often tell where or when and show relationship. Remember that a main subject will never fall within a prepositional phrase.
◦ I hope you will remember to roll the sheets in a neat bundle before you pack them in that box.
◦ The sky is blue with purple streaks tonight.
12. Conjunctions can be coordinating, correlating, and subordinating.
◦ Coordinating conjunctions include the seven conjunctions often remembered by the acronym FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. These conjunctions link equal elements in a sentence.
▪ The bird flew into my yard, and it landed on my birdbath.
◦ Correlative conjunctions are used in pairs to connect words or phrases of equal grammatical value: as…as, either…or, neither…nor, both…and. Be sure the two parts of the pair are grammatically parallel.
▪ She plans to spend her Saturday either working in the yard or cleaning the kitchen cabinets.
◦ Subordinating conjunctions are used to demonstrate that the meaning of one phrase in a sentence is subordinate to another. Subordinating conjunctions include after, although, because, before, since, where, while, and many more.
▪ Because his stomach is still hurting, he will be an hour or two late to the meeting this morning.
▪ We will plan to have dinner at 8 p.m. tonight since everyone will be home from meetings by then.
13. Interjections are single words that express a sudden burst of emotion, such as oh, yeah, shhh, yes, ha, or oops. Interjections are frequent in colloquial speech but should be avoided in professional or academic writing.
• Relying on instinct rather than identifying the part of speech. Once you learn to identify the eight parts of speech, use that knowledge to determine whether a sentence you have written is achieving the depth of meaning that you intend.
• Assuming that the rules of the English language are
subjective and ever-changing. English teachers can be subjective, but the rules are not. And while the rules may change over time, that change is typically painstakingly slow. The rules are finite and objective, and the internet allows you immediate access to them. When in doubt, look it up.
• Trusting your ear to know best. If you grew up in a home where everyone spoke proper English and you surround yourself now with people who speak proper English, your innate sense of the mathematics of language may be excellent. But must of us have not been so fortunate. Colloquial or spoken English typically breaks rules where written English cannot. Learn the simple math so your written English always achieves the effect you intend.
Identify and correct the errors in the following sentences.
1. Her and my uncle have been married for 10 years now.
Identify and correct the errors in the following sentences.
1. I have never understood why my girlfriend and me were not invited to his wedding.
Identify and correct the errors in the following paragraph.
When Alicia visited the Chicago Art Institute, she was surprised to see so many themed exhibits which were available for viewing only during the summer months. She wanted to get the most for her money, so she looked fora museum aide that would be able to answer her questions. Once she found a young woman willing to help, she asked whether she should take the stairs or ride the escalator. The young woman, which wore a bright blue museum jacket and nametag, suggested that Alicia join her in a private elevator. Together they rode to the contemporary exhibit on the third floor, and Alicia and her strolled through the artwork together. Alicia was surprised to learn about the donors who the woman described, and she wondered what kind of people had that kind of money to spare. Her and the aide stopped in front of a Picasso display. Alicia wanted to move slow through the exhibit, but the woman encouraged her to walk more quickly because there was still so much more to see. As she turned a corner, Alicia paused to admire a sculpture which was perched on the edge of a stairwell. When the aide and her parted ways just before lunch, Alicia thanked her new friend for a morning well spent.
|Answer Key Exercise 5.1
|1. She and my uncle have been married for 10 years now.
2. My children and I are ready for an adventure this summer.
3. Will you please send the email to Clarence or me as soon as you’re able?
4. She has never been one of those people who slinks into the room.
5. I asked him to sit in the chair that is closest to the stage.
6. This past year has been financially difficult for my husband and me.
7. Every time I contact that company, the operator gives me the runaround.
8. Their family plans to meet at the campsite that is surrounded by Douglas firs.
9. Arnold gave his snack to the kid who is on his right.
10. Have you decided whom you will choose for the A team?
|Answer Key Exercise 5.2
|1. I have never understood why my girlfriend and I were not invited to his wedding.
2. Do you know who wrote that beautiful love poem?
3. She is the kind of person for whom family will always come first.
4. You have to believe in yourself if you hope to do well.
5. Maria sat with her legs neatly crossed as she waited for her brother and me.
6. The bushes that are browning on the edges are the ones we will need to replace next.
7. If we finish our work quickly, we can go to the mall.
8. He always plays well in the second half of the competition.
9. Whom are you waiting for?
10. Boaz will either run into the bushes or jump into my arms.
|Answer Key Exercise 5.3
|When Alicia visited the Chicago Art Institute, she was surprised to see so many themed exhibits that were available for viewing only during the summer months. She wanted to get the most for her money, so she looked for a museum aide who would be able to answer her questions. Once she found a young woman willing to help, Alicia asked whether she should take the stairs or ride the escalator. The young woman, who wore a bright blue museum jacket and nametag, suggested that Alicia join her in a private elevator. Together they rode to the contemporary exhibit on the third floor, and Alicia and she strolled through the artwork together. Alicia was surprised to learn about the donors whom the woman described, and she wondered what kind of people had that kind of money to spare. She and the aide stopped in front of a Picasso display. Alicia wanted to move slowly through the exhibit, but the woman encouraged her to walk more quickly because there was still so much more to see. As she turned a corner, Alicia paused to admire a sculpture that was perched on the edge of a stairwell. When the aide and she parted ways just before lunch, Alicia thanked her new friend for a morning well spent.