We cannot however admit without question that the eight parts of speech inherited from the past will be the most satisfactory for present-day English.

The linguistic evidence drawn from our grammatical study gives every reason to subdivide the whole of the English vocabulary into eleven parts of speech; in point of fact, eight of them are notional words which make up the largest part of the vocabulary and five are "function words", comparatively few in actual number of items, but used very frequently. Notional or fully-lexical parts of speech are: nouns, adjectives, verbs., adverbs, pronouns, numerals, modal words and interjections. Prepositions, conjunctions and particles are parts of speech largely devoid of lexical meaning and used to indicate various functional relationships among the notional words of an utterance.

Generally speaking we can say that all nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs are capable of making direct reference and are the main units which carry the burden of referential information, and that all other words provide functional information.

Oppositional relations between different parts of speech may be thus shown as follows:


Autosemantic   Synsemantic
noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, numeral   preposition, conjunction, particle, auxiliary verb, copula
Function Words
Syntactic Functions   Morphological Functions
preposition, conjunction, particle, copula   article, auxiliary verb

Content or Function Word? To determine whether a word is a content word or a function word, write it down in a sentence or find it used in a sentence and examine it. If the word provides meaning to the sentence, can be changed by adding a prefix or suffix or is identified by a signal word (article) such as "a," or "the," it is most likely a content word. If, on the other hand, the word simply serves to provide structure to other words in the sentence, to connect words or is a signal word, it is probably a function word

Classifying Content Words If the word is a content word, then it must be a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. Nouns name a person, place, thing or idea. Words such as "dog," "Ohio" and "happiness" are all nouns. "Ohio," or any noun that names a specific place, is considered a "proper" noun. Verbs express action or a state of being; words such as "run," "jumped," "sat" and "seemed" are all verbs. Adjectives describe nouns, and include words like "pretty," "dark" and "yellow." Adverbs describe verbs, and usually answer questions such as how, when, where, and why

Classifying Function Words If the word to be classified is a function word, then it is a pronoun, preposition, conjunction, determiner or interrogative. Pronouns are words that substitute or represent nouns; "you," "she" and "I" are all pronouns. Prepositions mark the beginning of a prepositional phrase, which is a group of words containing a noun and its object. "After one hour" is a prepositional phrase in which "after" is the preposition, and "hour" is the object. Conjunctions, such as "and," "but" and "so" are words that join sentences, phrases or clauses. Determiners, or signal words, signal to the reader that a noun is about to follow. Words such as "some" or "the" are determiners.Interrogatives introduce questions and include words like "what," "how" and "why."

Parts of Speech, words classified according to their functions in sentences, for purposes of traditional grammatical analysis (see Grammar). Eight parts of speech are usually identified: nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, verbs, and interjections.

A noun (Latin nomen, name) is usually defined as a word denoting a thing, place, person, quality, or action and functioning in a sentence as the subject or object of action expressed by a verb or as the object of a preposition. In modern English, proper nouns, which are always capitalized and denote individuals and personifications, are distinguished from common nouns. Nouns and verbs may sometimes take the same form, as in Polynesian languages. Verbal nouns, or gerunds, combine features of both parts of speech. They occur in the Semitic and Indo-European languages and in English most commonly with words ending in -ing. Nouns may be inflected to indicate gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter), number, and case. In modern English, however, gender has been eliminated, and only two forms, singular and plural, indicate number (how many perform or receive an action). English has three cases of nouns: nominative (subject), genitive (possessive), and objective (indicating the relationship between the noun and other words).

Adjective is a word that modifies, or qualifies, a noun or pronoun, in one of three forms of comparative degree: positive (strong, beautiful), comparative (stronger, more beautiful), or superlative (strongest, most beautiful). In many languages, the form of an adjective changes to correspond with the number and gender of the noun or pronoun it modifies.

Adverb isa word that modifies a verb (he walked slowly), an adjective (a very good book), or another adverb (he walked very slowly). Adverbs may indicate place or direction (where, whence), time (ever, immediately), degree (very, almost), manner (thus, and words ending in -ly, such as wisely), and belief or doubt (perhaps, no). Like adjectives, they too may be comparative (wisely, more wisely, most wisely).

Prepositions words that combine with a noun or pronoun to form a phrase are termed prepositions. In languages such as Latin or German, they change the form of the noun or pronoun to the objective case (as in the equivalent of the English phrase give to me), or to the possessive case (as in the phrase the roof of the house).

Conjunctions are the words that connect sentences, clauses, phrases, or words, and sometimes paragraphs. Coordinate conjunctions (and, but, or, however, nevertheless, neither...nor) join independent clauses, or parts of a sentence; subordinate conjunctions introduce subordinate clauses (where, when, after, while, because, if, unless, since, whether).

Pronounisan identifying word used instead of a noun and inflected in the same way nouns are. Personal pronouns are I, you, he/she/it, we, you (plural), and they. Demonstrative pronouns are this, that, and such. Introducing questions, who and which are interrogative pronouns; when introducing clauses they are called relative pronouns. Indefinite pronouns are each, either, some, any, many, few, and all.

Verbs words that express some form of action are called verbs. Their inflection, known as conjugation, is simpler in English than in most other languages. Conjugation in general involves changes of form according to person and number (who and how many performed the action), tense (when the action was performed), voice (indicating whether the subject of the verb performed or received the action), and mood (indicating the frame of mind of the performer). In English grammar, verbs have three moods: the indicative, which expresses actuality; the subjunctive, which expresses contingency; and the imperative, which expresses command (I walk; I might walk; Walk!) Certain words, derived from verbs but not functioning as such, are called verbals. In addition to verbal nouns, or gerunds, participles can serve as adjectives (the written word), and infinitives often serve as nouns (to err is human).

Interjections are exclamations such as oh, alas, ugh, or well. Used for emphasis or to express an emotional reaction, they do not truly function as grammatical elements of a sentence


Teaching Grammar

Teaching grammar may be defined as the study and description of the grammar for forming words (morphology) and combining them into sentences (syntax). The words are arranged into syntagms (segmental level) and combinations of phrases are incorporated into sentences and texts (suprasegmental level).

Virtually all methodologists and teachers of grammar agree that a good command of grammar is a necessary prerequisite to fluent speaking of the language as it affects the learners performance in four linguistic modes: listening, speaking, reading, writing. The reaction to the subject matter from teachers of grammar seems to be varied: from jealous to avertive; some indulge in it, others simply avoid studying or teaching it. Though there are others who enjoy studying English grammar and willingly accept the challenge of presenting it clearly and interestingly to the learners.

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