Words, the building blocks of language, are organised into various categories known as parts of speech or word classes. These classifications serve to facilitate the understanding of sentence structure and linguistic principles.

the key to words

Parts of speech

Parts of speech are categories that classify words based on their function and meaning in a sentence. They help us understand how words work together and how sentences are structured.

Examples include:

  • nouns – names of people, places or things
  • verbs – actions or states of being
  • adjectives – words that describe nouns
  • adverbs – words that describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs)
  • pronouns – words that replace nouns
  • prepositions – words that show relationships between nouns and other words or phrases
  • conjunctions – words that connect words, phrases or clauses
  • determiners – parts of speech that come before nouns to provide context or specify which noun is being referred to
  • interjections – words used to express strong feelings or emotions that cannot be otherwise classed.

These parts of speech are described in more detail , exemplified, and broken down into further subcategories on this linked page.


Why analyse word classes?

By dissecting sentences, grammarians, linguists and educators gain insight into grammatical structures, sentence construction and the diversity of word order across languages.

Analysing the parts of speech clarifies the nature of language, as words often exhibit versatility by assuming different roles in diverse sentence contexts. Grasping these intricacies enhances language usage and enables students to confidently construct more complex sentences through the underlying mechanisms governing language structure, and the interplay between form and function within sentences.

Such a comprehensive understanding paves the way for enhanced language acquisition and further effective communication strategies for both native and foreign language learners.

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Further useful links


Types of Nouns with Examples

Noun-Verb Pairs and Stress Variations

English Irregular Plural Nouns


Using Verbs in English

Subject-Verb Agreement and English Word Order

Noun-Verb Pairs and Stress Variations

Examples of the Most Common English Phrasal Verbs

The Transitive Verb to ‘Lay’ and the Intransitive Verb to ‘Lie’

Using English Modal Verbs

How to Conjugate Verbs in English


Comparative and Superlative Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjective Placement and Order in English Sentences


Adverb Placement and Classification in English

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives and Adverbs

Intermediate English Intensifiers


English Pronouns Explained

Relative Clauses and Pronouns with Examples

Possessives in English with Nouns, Pronouns and Determiners


All About English Prepositions

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘Along’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘At’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘By’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘During’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘For’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘From’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘In’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘Of’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘On’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘To’

The Meaning and Use of the Preposition ‘With’


Possessives in English with nouns pronouns and determiners

Using Articles with Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Using English Articles: Practice Exercises


Word Lists of Common Conjunctions and a Clarification of Their Use

Correlative Conjunctions in Advanced Sentence Structures

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Exercises to practise

Keep in mind that articles can be determiners, pronouns can be relative and some words can conform to different word classes at different times. For an example of one such versatile word, see the following post: https://ukgrammar.com/using-the-word-that-in-english/

A general overview of the word classes again:

  • Noun – table, chair, Paris
  • Adjective – tall, fat, spotty, sporty, gifted (person)
  • Verb – (she) talks, is talking, has talked, should talk, etc.
  • Adverb – (she writes) quickly, slowly, fast, happily
  • Pronoun – she, her, hers, I, me, mine, etc.
  • Preposition – in,  on , at, behind, etc.
  • Determiner – four categories including articles (a, an, the), quantifying determiners (six, many, no, some, etc.), possessive determiners (my, your, etc.) and demonstrative determiners (this, that, these, those)
  • Conjunction – joining words such as and, but, so, yet, and correlative conjunctions including either… or…, neither… nor…, as…as…, etc.
  • Interjection – Ouch! Wow! Etc.

Now, have a look at the following exercise and see if you can class each word:

1. A Story

In a cosy cottage nestled among tall trees, a curious cat named Whiskers explored the lush garden. She sniffed at some fragrant flowers and chased butterflies, her fluffy tail swaying with excitement. Suddenly, a loud noise startled her; thunder rumbled ominously, and raindrops pattered against the window. Whiskers darted inside, seeking refuge under the old wooden table. Despite the storm outside, she found comfort in the warmth of the fireplace, curling up contentedly on a soft cushion.

The answers can be found at the bottom of this post, below the bibliography.


Börjars, Kersti, and others. Introducing English Grammar, 2nd edn (Routledge, 2010)

Burton-Roberts, Noel. Analysing Sentences: An Introduction to English Syntax, 4th edn (Routledge, 2016)

Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 3rd edn (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

Gwynne, N. M. Gwynne’s Grammar: The Ultimate Introduction to Grammar and the Writing of Good English (Ebury Press/Random House, 2013)

Hewings, Martin, and others. Cambridge English Grammar and Vocabulary for Advanced (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Huddleston, Rodney, and others. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Parrott, Martin. Grammar for English Language Teachers, 2nd edn (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Pinker, Steven. Words and Rules (W&N/ Science Masters, 2001)

Quirk, Randolph, and others. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, reprint edn (Pearson, 2011)

Roach, Peter. English Phonetics and Phonology: A Practical Course, 4th edn (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Robinson, Andrew. The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms, 2nd edn (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2007)

Seely, John. Oxford A – Z of Grammar & Punctuation (Oxford University Press, 2020)

Welsh, Frank. The Four Nations: A History of the United Kingdom (HarperCollins, 2003)

Woodroof, David K. Quotations, Commas and Other Things English, instructor’s reference edn (iUniverse, Inc, 2007)

Yates Ph.D., Jean. Prepositions, 3rd edn (Barron’s Education, 2020)

New Hart’s Rules: The Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors (Oxford University Press, 2005)


Answers to exercise

1 In-preposition a-determiner(article) cosy-adjective cottage-noun nestled-verb(attributive) among-preposition tall-adjective trees-noun, a-determiner(article) curious-adjective cat-noun named-verb Whiskers-noun(proper) explored-verb the-determiner(article) lush-adjective garden-noun. She-pronoun sniffed-verb at-preposition some-determiner(quantifying) fragrant-adjective flowers-noun and-conjunction chased-verb butterflies-noun, her-determiner(possessive) fluffy-adjective tail-noun swaying-verb with-preposition excitement-noun. Suddenly-adverb, a-determiner(article) loud-adjective noise-noun startled-verb her-pronoun; thunder-noun rumbled-verb ominously-adverb, and-conjunction raindrops-noun pattered-verb against-preposition the-determiner(article)  window-noun. Whiskers-noun(proper) darted-verb inside-adverb(of place), seeking-verb refuge-noun under-preposition an-determiner(article)  old-adjective wooden-adjective table-noun. Despite-conjunction/preposition the-determiner(article) storm-noun outside-adverb(of place), she-preposition found-verb comfort-noun in-preposition the-determiner(article) warmth-noun of-preposition the-determiner(article) fireplace-noun, curling up-phrasal verb(with ‘up’ as particle) contentedly-adverb on-preposition a-determiner(article) soft-adjective cushion-noun.

If you require any further articles, explanations or exercises, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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