Vocabulary Basics: Parts of Speech

This section of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com is all about learning the nine great classes of the English language referred to as Parts of Speech.


Page 2: Verb, Adverb, Preposition, Conjunction, Interjection

Continued from Parts of Speech, Page 1.


The Verb

A verb is a word that implies action or the doing of something, or it may be defined as a word that affirms, commands or asks a question.

Thus, the words John the table, contain no assertion, but when the word strikes is introduced, something is affirmed, hence the word strikes is a verb and gives completeness and meaning to the group.

The simple form of the verb without inflection is called the root of the verb; e. g. love is the root of the verb, "To Love."

Verbs are regular or irregular, transitive or intransitive.

A verb is said to be regular when it forms the past tense by adding ed to the present or d if the verb ends in e. When its past tense does not end in ed it is said to be irregular.

A transitive verb is one the action of which passes over to or affects some object; as "I struck the table." Here the action of striking affected the object table, hence struck is a transitive verb.

An intransitive verb is one in which the action remains with the subject; as "I walk," "I sit," "I run." Many intransitive verbs, however, can be used transitively; thus, "I walk the horse;" walk is here transitive.

Verbs are inflected by number, person, tense and mood.

Number and person as applied to the verb really belong to the subject; they are used with the verb to denote whether the assertion is made regarding one or more than one and whether it is made in reference to the person speaking, the person spoken to or the person or thing spoken about.

Tense

In their tenses verbs follow the divisions of time. They have present tense, past tense and future tense with their variations to express the exact time of action as to an event happening, having happened or yet to happen.

Mood

There are four simple moods: the Infinitive, the Indicative, the Imperative and the Subjunctive.

The Mood of a verb denotes the mode or manner in which it is used. Thus if it is used in its widest sense without reference to person or number, time or place, it is in the Infinitive Mood; as "To run." Here we are not told who does the running, when it is done, where it is done or anything about it.

When a verb is used to indicate or declare or ask a simple question or make any direct statement, it is in the Indicative Mood. "The boy loves his book." Here a direct statement is made concerning the boy. "Have you a pin?" Here a simple question is asked which calls for an answer.

When the verb is used to express a command or entreaty it is in the Imperative Mood as, "Go away." "Give me a penny."

When the verb is used to express doubt, supposition or uncertainty or when some future action depends upon a contingency, it is in the subjunctive mood; as, "If I come, he shall remain."

Verbs have two participles, the present or imperfect, sometimes called the active ending in ing and the past or perfect, often called the passive, ending in ed or d.

The infinitive expresses the sense of the verb in a substantive form, the participles in an adjective form; as "To rise early is healthful." "An early rising man." "The newly risen sun."

The participle in ing is frequently used as a substantive and consequently is equivalent to an infinitive; thus, "To rise early is healthful" and "Rising early is healthful" are the same.

The principal parts of a verb are the Present Indicative, Past Indicative and Past Participle; as: Love Loved Loved

Sometimes one or more of these parts are wanting, and then the verb is said to be defective.

Present Past Passive Participle

Can Could (Wanting) 
May Might " 
Shall Should " 
Will Would " 
Ought Ought "

Verbs may also be divided into principal and auxiliary. A principal verb is that without which a sentence or clause can contain no assertion or affirmation. An auxiliary is a verb joined to the root or participles of a principal verb to express time and manner with greater precision than can be done by the tenses and moods in their simple form. Thus, the sentence, "I am writing an exercise; when I shall have finished it I shall read it to the class." has no meaning without the principal verbs writing, finished read; but the meaning is rendered more definite, especially with regard to time, by the auxiliary verbs am, have, shall.

There are nine auxiliary or helping verbs: Be, have, do, shall, will, may, can, ought, and must. They are called helping verbs, because it is by their aid the compound tenses are formed.

Note that while the proper first-person auxiliary verb is shall, (I shall, we shall) contemporary speakers generally use "will."

To Be

The verb To Be is the most important of the auxiliary verbs. It has eight parts: am, is, are, was, were, be, beingand been.

Voice

The active voice is that form of the verb which shows the Subject not being acted upon but acting; as, "The cat catches mice." "Charity covers a multitude of sins."

The passive voice: When the action signified by a transitive verb is thrown back upon the agent, that is to say, when the subject of the verb denotes the recipient of the action, the verb is said to be in the passive voice. "John was loved by his neighbors." Here John the subject is also the object affected by the loving, the action of the verb is thrown back on him, hence the compound verb was loved is said to be in the passive voice. The passive voice is formed by putting the perfect participle of any transitive verb with any of the eleven parts of the verb To Be.

Conjugation

The conjugation of a verb is its orderly arrangement in voices, moods, tenses, persons and numbers.

Here is the complete conjugation of the verb "Love"–Active Voice.

Principal Parts

Present Past Past Participle 
Love Loved Loved

Infinitive Mood

To Love

Indicative Mood 
PRESENT TENSE

Sing. Plural 
1st person I love We love 
2nd person You love You love 
3rd person He loves They love

Past Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I loved We loved 
2nd person You loved You loved 
3rd person He loved They loved

Future Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I shall love They will love 
2nd person You will love You will love 
3rd person He will love We shall love

Present Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I have loved We have loved 
2nd person You have loved You have loved 
3rd person He has loved They have loved

Past Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I had loved We had loved 
2nd person You had loved You had loved 
3rd person He had loved They had loved

Future Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I shall have loved We shall have loved 
2nd person You will have loved You will have loved 
3rd person He will have loved They will have loved

Imperative Mood 
(PRESENT TENSE ONLY)

Sing. Plural 
2nd person Love (you) Love (you)

Subjunctive Mood 
PRESENT TENSE

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I love If we love 
2nd person If you love If you love 
3rd person If he love If they love

Past Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I loved If we loved 
2nd person If you loved If you loved 
3rd person If he loved If they loved

Present Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I have loved If we have loved 
2nd person If you have loved If you have loved 
3rd person If he has loved If they have loved

Past Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I had loved If we had loved 
2nd person If you had loved If you had loved 
3rd person If he had loved If they had loved

Infinitives

Present Perfect 
To love To have loved

Participles

Present Past Perfect 
Loving Loved Having loved

CONJUGATION OF "To Love" 
Passive Voice Indicative Mood

Present Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I am loved We are loved 
2nd person You are loved You are loved 
3rd person He is loved They are loved

Past Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I was loved We were loved 
2nd person You were loved You were loved 
3rd person He was loved They were loved

Future Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I shall be loved We shall be loved 
2nd person You will be loved You will be loved 
3rd person He will be loved They will be loved

Present Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I have been loved We have been loved 
2nd person You have been loved You have been loved 
3rd person He has been loved They have been loved

Past Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I had been loved We had been loved 
2nd person You had been loved You had been loved 
3rd person He had been loved They had been loved

Future Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person I shall have been loved We shall have been loved 
2nd person You will have been loved You will have been loved 
3rd person He will have been loved They will have been loved

Imperative Mood 
(PRESENT TENSE ONLY)

Sing. Plural 
2nd person Be (you) loved Be (you) loved

Subjunctive Mood 
PRESENT TENSE

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I be loved If we be loved 
2nd person If you be loved If you be loved 
3rd person If he be loved If they be loved

Past Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I were loved If they were loved 
2nd person If you were loved If you were loved 
3rd person If he were loved If we were loved

Present Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I have been loved If we have been loved 
2nd person If you have been loved If you have been loved 
3rd person If he has been loved If they have been loved

Past Perfect Tense

Sing. Plural 
1st person If I had been loved If we had been loved 
2nd person If you had been loved If you had been loved 
3rd person If he had been loved If they had been loved

Infinitives

 
Present Perfect 
To be loved To have been loved


Participles

 
Present Past Perfect 
Being loved Been loved Having been loved

(Note that the plural form of the personal pronoun, you, is used in the second person singular throughout. The old form thou, except in the conjugation of the verb "To Be, " is obsolete. In the third-person singular he is representative of the three personal pronouns of the third person, He, She and It.)


Adverb

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Thus, in the example: "He writes well," the adverb shows the manner in which the writing is performed; in the examples: "He is remarkably diligent" and "He works very faithfully," the adverbs modify the adjective diligent and the other adverb faithfully by expressing the degree of diligence and faithfulness.

Adverbs are chiefly used to express in one word what would otherwise require two or more words; thus, There signifies in that place; whence, from what place; usefully, in a useful manner.

Adverbs, like adjectives, are sometimes varied in their terminations to express comparison and different degrees of quality.

Some adverbs form the comparative and superlative by adding er and est; as, soon, sooner, soonest.

Adverbs which end in ly are compared by prefixing more and most; as, nobly, more nobly, most nobly.

A few adverbs are irregular in the formation of the comparative and superlative; as, well, better, best.


Preposition

A preposition connects words, clauses, and sentences together and shows the relation between them. "My hand is on the table" shows relation between hand and table.

Prepositions are so called because they are generally placed before the words whose connection or relation with other words they point out.


Conjunction

A conjunction joins words, clauses and sentences; as " John and James." "My father and mother have come, but I have not seen them."

The conjunctions in most general use are and, also; either, or; neither, nor; though, yet; but, however; for, that; because, since; therefore, wherefore, then; if, unless, lest.


Interjection

An interjection is a word used to express some sudden emotion of the mind. Thus in the examples:"Ah! there he comes; alas! what shall I do?" ah, expresses surprise, and alas, distress.

Nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs become interjections when they are uttered as exclamations, as, nonsense! strange! hail! away! etc.

We have now enumerated the parts of speech and as briefly as possible stated the functions of each. As they all belong to the same family they are related to one another but some are in closer affinity than others.


In Summary Regarding Parts of Speech

The signification of the noun is limited to one, but to any one of the kind, by the indefinite article, and to some particular one, or some particular number, by the definite article.

Nouns, in one form, represent one of a kind, and in another, any number more than one; they are the names of males, or fiales, or of objects that are neither male nor female; and they represent the subject of an affirmation, a command or a question, the owner or possessor of a thing, or the object of an action, or of a relation expressed by a preposition.

Adjectives express the qualities that distinguish one person or thing from another; in one form they express quality without comparison; in another, they express comparison between two, or between one and a number taken collectively,–and in a third they express comparison between one and a number of others taken separately.

Pronouns are used in place of nouns; one class of them is used merely as the substitutes of names; the pronouns of another class have a peculiar reference to some preceding words in the sentence, of which they are the substitutes, and those of a third class refer adjectively to the persons or things they represent. Some pronouns are used for both the name and the substitute; and several are frequently employed in asking questions.

Affirmations and commands are expressed by the verb; and different inflections of the verb express number, person, time and manner. With regard to time, an affirmation may be present or past or future; with regard to manner, an affirmation may be positive or conditional, it being doubtful whether the condition is fulfilled or not, or it being implied that it is not fulfilled; the verb may express command or entreaty; or the sense of the verb may be expressed without affirming or commanding. The verb also expresses that an action or state is or was going on, by a form that is also used sometimes as a noun, and sometimes to qualify nouns.

Affirmations are modified by adverbs, some of which can be inflected to express different degrees of modification.

Words are joined together by conjunctions; and the various relations that one thing bears to another are expressed by prepositions. Sudden emotions of the mind, and exclamations are expressed by interjections.

Some words according to meaning belong sometimes to one part of speech, sometimes to another. Thus, in "After a storm comes a calm," calm is a noun; in "It is a calm evening," calm is an adjective; and in "Calm your fears," calm is a verb.

The following sentence containing all the parts of speech is parsed etymologically:

"I now see the old man coming, but, alas, he has walked with much difficulty." I, a personal pronoun, first person singular, masculine or feminine gender, nominative case, subject of the verb see.

now, an adverb of time modifying the verb see.

see, an irregular, transitive verb, indicative mood, present tense, first person singular to agree with its nominative or subject I.

the, the definite article particularizing the noun man.

old, an adjective, positive degree, qualifying the noun man.

man, a common noun, 3rd person singular, masculine gender, objective case governed by the transitive verb see.

coming, the present or imperfect participle of the verb "to come" referring to the noun man.

but, a conjunction.

alas, an interjection, expressing pity or sorrow.

he, a personal pronoun, 3rd person singular, masculine gender, nominative case, subject of verb has walked.

has walked, a regular, intransitive verb, indicative mood, perfect tense, 3rd person singular to agree with its nominative or subject he.

with, a preposition, governing the noun difficulty.

much, an adjective, positive degree, qualifying the noun difficulty.

difficulty, a common noun, 3rd person singular, neuter gender, objective case governed by the preposition with.

Much is generally an adverb. As an adjective it is thus compared:

Positive Comparative Superlative 
much more most


Go back to the first page of Part of Speech (including discussion of Article, Noun, Adjective, and Pronoun).


Return to EnhanceMyVocabulary.com's Vocabulary Basics & Parts of Speech page.

Editor's note: This section of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com is excerpted and adapted from How to Speak and Write Correctly by Joseph Devlin, a book in the public domain.


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