Los Angeles Valley College



Traditional grammar classifies words into one of eight categories that are based on the parts of speech: the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the verb, the interjection, the adverb, the preposition, and the conjunction. Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used.

image: a horn

Noun                A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, idea, or quality.

Examples: boy, city, freeway, tree, planet, joy, freedom

Pronoun            A pronoun takes the place of a noun.

Examples: I, you, he/she, it, we, they, them, us, him/her, it, his, yours, ours, nobody, who, whom, what

Adjective          An adjective describes or limits a noun.


Example: Here are two smart, tall, green men from Mars.

Verb                 A verb expresses action or being (existence).


Examples of verbs of action: jump, sing, think, imitate.


Examples of verbs of being: am, is, are, was, were, be, being


Interjection       An interjection is a word added to a sentence to convey emotion. It is not grammatically related to any other part of the sentence.


Example: Ouch, that hurts! Hey, put that down!


Adverb             An adverb can describe or modify:


1) a verb, telling how, when, or to what degree an action is performed.


Example: John enjoyed the concert immensely.
                                 (verb)                                  (adverb)                           


2) an adjective


Example: Because she is highly intelligent, the child understood the book.
                                                  (adverb)    (adjective)

3) another adverb


Example: The pedestrian ran across the street very rapidly.
                                                 (verb)                                           (adverb)

(The adverb"rapidly" modifies the verb"ran," and the adverb"very" modifies the adverb "rapidly.")


Preposition       A word that shows the relation of a noun or pronoun to some other word in the sentence.


Example: I am running over, under, around, and through the laundry.
                                                  (prepositions)                      (preposition)

Conjunctions     A conjunction connects words, phrases, or clauses.


Examples of coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (aka FANBOYS)


Examples of correlative conjunctions: both...and, either...or, neither...nor, not...but, not only...but also


Examples of subordinating conjunctions: when, while, because, as, since, after, although, as if, as though, before, even though, if, so that, though, unless, until, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, whether.


Comparatives and Superlatives   These are special forms of adjectives. They are used to compare two or more things. Generally, comparatives are formed using -er and superlatives are formed using -est.




Adjective form Comparative Superlative
hot hotter  hottest
cute cuter cutest
These are irregular Adjective forms:
good better best
bad worse  worst


Be sure to distinguish between good and well:


Good is an adjective, so you do not do good or live good, but you do well and live well. Remember, though, that an adjective follows sense-verbs and be-verbs, so you also feel good, look good, smell good, are good, have been good, etc.


Confusion can occur because well can function either as an adverb or an adjective. When well is used as an adjective, it means "not sick" or "in good health." For this specific sense of well, it's OK to say you feel well or are well; for example, after recovering from an illness, you can say ,"I feel well." When not used in this health-related sense, however, well functions as an adverb; for example, "I did well on my exam."


image; pen and paperExercise:

In the following paragraph, label the part of speech of each italicized word. Use these codes: noun (N), pronoun (PN), verb (V), adjective (ADJ), preposition (P), conjunction (C ). The first four have been marked for you.

The somewhat(ADV) formal (ADJ) words of our Declaration of Independence contain a declaration and a promise(N). The final lines of that decision ring out like the Liberty Bell itself:


We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America. . . do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are. . . free, and independent states. . . And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

(Hacker 345)

This handout is based on the following texts:


Fawcett, Susan, and Alan Sandberg.  Evergreen With Readings. 4th ed. 

New Jersey: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.  382-414.

Hacker, Dianne, and Wanda Van Goor.  Bedford Basics . 2nd ed.  New York: St Martin's, 1994.   


For further reference, see also:

Fawcett, Susan, and Alan Sandberg. Grassroots with Readings: The

Writer's Workbook. 6th ed.   Boston: Houghton Mifflin,

1998.   238-292.

All of the above texts are available in the Writing Center.




Rev. Feb '03


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