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Reasons Why Parts Of Speech Are Important In English Grammar

Reasons Why Parts Of Speech Are Important In English Grammar

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Reasons Why Parts Of Speech Are Important In English Grammar

Parts of speech are important in English grammar because they help learners to know how to use a word correctly in a sentence. A part of speech is a category of words that perform similar grammatical functions.

Another name for parts of speech is word classes: they are the groups into which English words are classified according to their functions in sentences. Learning the parts of speech helps us to know how to use a word correctly in a sentence.

For example, a noun names persons and things, and it enables us to communicate our ideas in a sentence. Before you talk about anyone or anything, you need to name them. And to avoid the repetition of names, we need to use a pronoun to replace a noun in a sentence.

We need to use a verb to express the action or state of the person or thing we have named or mentioned, which is a noun or a pronoun acting as the subject.

What parts of speech do is show us the various categories of words that perform similar grammatical functions. So, learning the parts of speech actually helps us to know how to use words correctly in English sentences.


A noun is a naming word. It is used to identify a person, place, thing or idea. Consider the following examples:

  • Person: The teacher asked Jim to stand up.
  • Thing: The boy opened the box and stole the money in it.
  • Place: Nigeria is made up of thirty-six states and the FCT.
  • Idea: Education is the greatest legacy.

Subclasses of Nouns

Type Description Examples

Proper Noun

Names a specific person, place, etc., e.g. John, Lagos, Mary, London, National Theatre, Nigeria, etc.

Common Noun

Names a type of person, thing or idea, e.g. book, boy, city, girl, school, man, house, pot etc.

Abstract Noun

Refers to things you cannot see or touch, e.g. peace, health, joy, love, wisdom, anger, etc.

Concrete Noun

Refers to things you cannot see or touch, e.g. table, box, man, book, chair, bed, door, house, basket, mat, etc.

Countable Noun

Refers to things you can count: one, two… plates, pots, books, students, boxes, cups, buckets, tables,

Uncountable Noun

Refers to things you cannot count, e.g. water, advice, news, information, peace, glass, tea, etc.

Singular Noun

Refers to one, e.g. a boy, a book, an elephant, an orange, etc.

Plural Noun

Refers to more than one, e.g. two boys, three books, five elephants, many tables, etc.

Collective Noun

The name of a group of things or persons, e.g. crowd, club, class, family, choir, band, committee, etc.

Compound Noun

Consists of two or more words, e.g. blackboard, mother-in-law, bookshop, woman lawyer, etc.


A pronoun is used in place of a noun to avoid repetition. Examples: James is a student but he works on his father’s farm on weekends. Lecturers have been on strike since last year. They are still on strike.

Types of Pronouns

Personal Pronouns

I, you, he, she, it, they, me, him, her,

Relative Pronouns

who, which, that, whatever

Demonstrative Pronouns

this, that, these, those

Possessive Pronoun

mine, yours, his, hers, theirs

Reflexive pronouns

myself, yourself, himself, herself,

Interrogative Pronoun

which, who, what

Indefinite Pronouns

anyone, all, nobody, everyone, nobody, something, somebody, none, etc.

Reciprocal Pronouns

each other, one another


A verb is a word that indicates an action or state or state of being. Consider the following examples:

Action: Mary sings beautiful songs. Dan repaired the generator. Olu ate all the food. Kanu kicked the ball into the net.

  • State of Being: Mary is a singer. The earth is spherical.


Lexical Verb

a main verb, e.g. play, go, come, eat, sing

Auxiliary Verbs

a helping verb, e.g. be, have, do, can, will, may, could, would

Finite Verb

shows tense, e.g. is, was, are, plays

Non-finite Verb

doesn’t show tense, e.g. being, been, to sing

Regular Verb

changes its forms like most verbs to indicate simple past and past participle, e.g. talk, talked, has talked

Irregular Verb

has an irregular past simple and past participle, e.g. eat, ate, has eaten, sing, sang, has sung.

Transitive Verb

requires an object, e.g. Olu killed an elephant. Intransitive Verb: requires no object, e.g. Bose fainted.

Inchoative Verb

expresses a change of state on its own, e.g. The bell rang; The window opened.

Causative Verb

expresses a cause, e.g. Debbie made her husband attend the meeting.

Ergative Verb

can be used both transitively and intransitively, e.g. open – Obi opened the door (transitive); The door opened (intransitive) – ring, break, boil, roll, etc.

Stative Verb

refers to a state or condition, e.g. Can you hear me? (NOT: are you hearing me?); Jane likes rice (NOT:, Jane is liking rice); know, love, understand, etc.

Dynamic Verb

describes actions, and can be either durative (e.g. play, walk, sing, write, eat, etc.), or punctual (sneeze, blink, explode, catch, dive, swallow, etc.). We differentiate between them by using –ing for durative, and the base form for punctual verbs. Examples: A. I watched my elder sister cooking supper. B. I saw Mike dive into the river.

Linking Verb

connects a subject with its complement, e.g. Mr. Amadi was our Agric teacher. Susan felt ashamed.


Types of Adjectives

Adjectives of Quality

They describe the quality which a person or thing has. Examples: The Lord is good. The woman is kind.

Adjectives of Size

They tell us about the size of the person or thing being talked about: That tall boy is the class captain. They live in a large house.

Adjectives of Shape

These glasses suit people with round faces. People used to think the earth was flat or round, but the earth is spherical.

Adjectives of Age

The young man greeted the old man. Mr. Okon bought a new car yesterday.

Adjectives of Colour

e.g. white, black, green, red, yellow, blue, orange, purple, pink, etc.

Adjectives of Nationality or Origin

He bought a Japanese car. He married an American woman.

Possessive Adjectives

These are identical to possessive pronouns (my, your, his, her, its, our and their), but they are used as modifiers: Your house is not far from the venue of our next meeting. Mrs. Williams represented her husband on the occasion; she also received the prize on his behalf.

Demonstrative Adjectives

This, that, these and those are like demonstrative pronouns but when they are used to modify nouns or noun phrases, they are known as demonstrative adjectives: This house belongs to Uncle Eze; those women at the gate are his wives. These files should be kept inside that drawer.

Interrogative Adjectives

Interrogative adjectives (which and what) are like interrogative pronouns, but are used to modify nouns and noun phrases:

  • Which boys broke the windscreen?
  • What book did the lecturer recommend?
Indefinite Adjectives

These resemble indefinite pronouns, but they are used as modifiers:

  • didn’t
  • Many men beat their wives.
  • Some wives beat up their husbands.
  • All dogs are animals. Jesus fed the multitude with a few loaves of bread.


An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Examples: It rained heavily yesterday. He is a very kind man.

Kinds of Adverbs

There are different kinds of adverbs, such as adverbs of time, frequency, place, manner, degree, relative and interrogative adverbs.

Adverbs of Time

These include adverbs which answer the question “when?” Examples are today, tomorrow, now, then, soon. Adverbs of time can also tell us of the duration of something, such as since, for, briefly, etc. •> I will travel to Enugu tomorrow. •> Jesus is coming soon.

Adverbs of Frequency

These tell us about the frequency of occurrence – that is, how often something happens. Examples are: once, twice, usually, daily, always, often, never, frequently, occasionally, sometimes, regularly, etc.

  • I take my bath daily.
  • He comes here twice a week.
Adverbs of Place

These adverbs indicate the place where something occurs, thereby answering the question “where?” Examples are: here, there, everywhere, and somewhere.

  • Mark hid his purse somewhere.
  • We went there for shopping.
Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner usually provide an answer to the question “how?” Examples are: quickly, slowly, gently, honestly, happily, well, fast. Such adverbs usually come after the verbs they modify:

  • Johnson ran quickly into the room.
  • You have spoken well.
Adverbs of Degree

They answer the question “how much?” or “to what extent?” Examples: very, quite, rather, etc.

  • She is very beautiful.
  • Tim works extremely fast.
Relative Adverbs

These are: when, where, and why, as in:

  • I saw Adamu when he was boarding the bus.
  • I met Olu where he was playing with Folu.
  • I wondered why he did such a thing.
Interrogative Adverbs

These are similar to relative adverbs – when, where, why and how. The difference is that interrogative adverbs are used for asking questions. They are usually placed at the beginning of a question:

  • Why didn’t you come to school yesterday?
  • When does the station open?
  • How are you?
  • Where do you live?


It links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. –Eze went to the market (direction). –Jude came by bus (manner). –Mary is inside the room (place). –The President will visit Lagos on Monday (time). –The lecturer will be here at two (time). –The car was manufactured in Japan (source).

Correct Use of Prepositions

Prepositions of Place

a. IN continents: in Asia, in Africa, in Europe

countries: in Ghana, in France, in Nigeria

states: in Ogun, in Abia, In Kogi

cities, towns: in Enugu, in Owerri, in Nsukka, in Abuja

names of buildings: in the Glass House, in the State House,
in the White House

b. ON streets: on Martins Street in Lagos, on Awolowo Road, Ikeja, on Ring Road, Benin City, on Market Road, Nsukka

c. AT numbers of buildings or houses: at 66 Kiri-Kiri Road, Apapa, at 12 Effurun Road, Warri

names of buildings: at the State House, at Louis Edet House, at the International Conference Centre

Prepositions Showing Time

a. IN months: in April, in October, in December

years: in 1960, in 1984, in 2004, in 2012

period of the day: in the evening, in the afternoon

length of time: in a week’s time, in thirty minutes

b. ON days of the week: on Mondays, on Thursday, on Fridays

dates: on October 1st, on the 18th of August

c. AT the time of day: at seven-thirty; at 10.30 a.m.; at dawn; at noon; at dusk; at midnight


Kinds of Conjunctions

Four kinds of conjunctions can be identified: coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs.

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect two equal parts of a sentence. They can be summarized by the acronym FAN BOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, SO. They perform different functions.

Additive Coordinating Conjunctions

The word ‘and’ is used to perform the additive function. It is used to add or join words together in a sentence:

  • Jim and I attended the seminar.
  • We ate and drank at the restaurant.
Contrastive Coordinating Conjunctions

The word ‘but’ is used to perform the contrastive function. It is used to show opposite or conflicting ideas.

  • Naaman was a mighty man of valour but he was a leper.
  • Jane is small but strong.
  • “Yet” is similar to “but”, as it is used to introduce a contrasting idea that follows the preceding idea logically:
  • He comes to work everyday, yet he never does any meaningful thing.
  • He claims to be a Christian, yet he womanizes a lot.
Alternative Coordinating Conjunction

The coordinator “or” does this job. It is used to show choice or possibilities:

  • Take it or leave it.
  • The team will arrive today or tomorrow.

The word “nor” is used to present an alternative idea to an already stated negative idea:

  • I do not like boxing nor wrestling. I just like football.
  • Not a building nor a tree was left standing.
Subordinating Conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction is used to introduce subordinate clauses; it joins the subordinate clause to the rest of the sentence. Examples are: when, before, while, because, although, as, if, how, as much as, since, in order that, in as much as, unless, provided, whenever, after, until, though, so that, as if, as long as, even if, even though, till, where, than, that, if only, now that, once, rather than, wherever, whereas. A subordinating conjunction usually comes at the beginning of a subordinate or dependent clause:

  • Unless you hurry up, you’ll miss the flight.
  • If I am elected president, I’ll construct a second bridge across the Niger.
    The rat plays when the cat is away.
Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are usually used in pairs to connect two or more linguistic constituents that should be treated as grammatically equal. Examples are: “both… and”, “either…or”, “neither…nor”, “whether…or”, as in the following examples:

  • Both Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus.
  • Either the president or his representative is expected at the occasion.
  • Whether you drive or fly doesn’t really matter as long as you arrive before the meeting starts.

Conjunctive Adverbs

As earlier noted, conjunctions do the job of joining words, phrases or clauses together to clarify what the speaker or writer is saying. They help to provide smooth transition from one idea to another.

A conjunctive adverb is an adverb which does the job of connecting ideas. Conjunctive adverbs include: also, then, accordingly, moreover, besides, nevertheless, consequently, next, conversely, nonetheless, finally, otherwise, furthermore, similarly, hence, still, however, subsequently, instead, therefore, likewise, thus, meanwhile.

A conjunctive adverb can join two main clauses – that is, it can behave like a coordinating conjunction:

  • The team could not win the gold trophy; however, it won the silver.
  • Joe didn’t have the relevant qualification for the job; otherwise, he would have been picked for the job.
  • The bride’s mother died a week before the wedding; hence, the wedding was postponed.

Feeling And Interjection

  • Greeting: Hello, Jane! How are you? Hi! How are you?
  • Pain: Oh! You’ve wounded me. Ouch!
  • Sadness: Alas! I have no money.
  • Joy: Hurrah! I’ve been picked for the job.
  • Surprise: Gosh, is that the time? What! Good Heavens

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