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Capstone Multilingual Writing Tips: Blog

June 2019: Parts of Speech 1: Definitions

by Paul Lai on 2019-06-01T07:00:00-05:00 | 0 Comments

It is important to use the correct word form in written sentences so that readers can clearly follow the intended meaning. In Parts of Speech Part 1, let’s review some definitions of common parts of speech in writing:


Adjective: This describes a noun or pronoun (such as different, useful, effective). Adjectives typically come before a noun or after a stative verb, like the verb to be. In English, adjectives do not take a plural form.


Adverb: This gives more information about the verb and about how the action was done. Adverbs tell how, where, when, why, etc. (such as generally, then, unfortunately). Depending on the context, the adverb can come before or after the verb or at the beginning or end of a sentence. 


Auxiliary verbs: Helping verbs. They are used to build up complete verbs. 

  • Primary auxiliary verbs (be, have, do) show the progressive, passive, perfect, and negative verb tenses.
  • Modal auxiliary verbs (can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would) show a variety of meanings. They represent ability, permission, necessity, and degree of certainty. These are always followed by the simple form of the verb.
  • Semimodal auxiliary verbs (be going to, ought to, have to, had better, used to, be able to) are always followed by the simple form of the verb.


Conjunction: A word that joins two clauses. These can be coordinating (an easy way to remember this is memorizing FANBOYS = for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) or subordinating (such as because, although, when, …).


Determiner: This word makes the reference of the noun more specific (such as his, her, my, their, the, a, an, thisthese,…).


Noun: The name of something, like a person, animal, place, thing, or concept (such as dissertation, journal article, participant). Nouns are typically used as subjects, objects, objects of prepositions, and modifiers of other nouns.


PrepositionThis comes before a noun or a noun phrase and links it to other parts of the sentence. These are usually single words (on, at, by,…) but can be up to four words (as far as, in addition to, as a result of, …).


Pronoun: This word substitutes for a noun or a noun phrase (such as it, she, he, they, that, those,…).


Verb: This expresses what the person, animal, place, thing, or concept does (such as write, is, participate). In English, verbs follow the noun.


See our web page on Sentence Structures and Types of Sentences for more information. Next month, we will explore more about usage and common errors with parts of speech.

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