Easy Guide on Parts of Speech for ESL Students


One of the first things ESL students study is the parts of speech. The parts of speech categorize the words we use every day. This article defines the eight parts of speech, their functions, and provides examples of them in use.

Words are an essential part of language. Although it is not impossible, it would be difficult to communicate without words. Words are, indeed, the building blocks of any language. Did you know that these words are categorized into 8 types? These are called the parts of speech, which differentiate the different words and their roles and functions in every sentence we utter.

What Are Parts Of Speech

The parts of speech are categories for words that specify their functions in language or speech. Each word that we use in daily conversations and in writing research papers is categorized into a part of speech. Words that have similar functions also often have similar behaviors, and so are grouped accordingly. It is worth noting that some words may belong to more than one part of speech, just as some nouns can be used as verbs, as in the word “attack.” 

Why do you need to learn about the parts of speech? The category each word falls into specified is function and use in sentences, and more importantly, how it is used correctly. Being able to identify the parts of speech helps ESL learners understand the grammar rules of the English language . With the parts of speech, it is easier to explain and master the various and often confusing English grammar rules. Every sentence you utter or write is made up of the parts of speech, and whether you know it or not, they govern the way you construct each sentence. So, before you learn the more complex aspects of the English language, such as the figures of speech , you need to be familiar with the parts of speech first.

The 8 Parts of Speech

The parts of speech are, without a doubt, a crucial part of your journey toward mastering the English language. Here are the 8 parts of speech and examples to help you understand each one.

1. Noun

These are the names of persons, animals, things, places, or concepts. Nouns are often the subject of sentences or the objects of verbs. There are two types of nouns: proper nouns—which are specific names for things, and are always capitalized—and common nouns. 


A. Proper nouns: Doris Lessing, Virginia, Colonialism 

Professor Smith will discuss Colonialism in Doris Lessing’s work tomorrow.

Pavlova cakes are all the rage lately.

B. Common nouns: term paper, state, song

Do you need a customized term paper written by a professional writer ?

Would you like a cookie to go with your tea?

2. Pronoun

Pronouns are words used to replace nouns or noun phrases. They are used to make sentences or conversations flow more smoothly so you don’t have to repeat the noun every time you refer to it.

The pronouns are he/him, she/her, it, they, them, us, and you.


Non-binary individuals do not identify as male or female. They usually prefer the pronouns they or them.

Casey texted me to say that he was going to be late today.

Are you sure we will be allowed to travel next month?

3. Verb

These are words that express an action or state of being. Action verbs express what the person, animal, or thing does, such as walking or eating. Meanwhile, non-action verbs express a state of being or feelings. Non-action verbs are often accompanied by an auxiliary verb—to be. 


A. Action verbs: run, sing, read

The children ran as fast as they could.

She came here to learn how to play the piano.

B. Non-action verbs: think, need, believe

Christians believe in one God.

You should consider installing solar panels in your home. 

4. Adjective

Adjectives are descriptive words. They describe or modify nouns and pronouns, usually addressing questions like what kind, what color, which one, or how many. You will commonly find adjectives before nouns or stative verbs (e.g., like, feel, appear). However, there are instances when you may find a noun functioning as an adjective, modifying another noun, or a pronoun. These are called attributive nouns.

Since adjectives describe nouns, and nouns have multiple characteristics, it is not uncommon to find multiple adjectives describing one noun. There are thousands of adjectives, but here are a few examples: strong, assertive, beautiful, scary, old, and charming.


Frank likes going on long road trips.

My favorite restaurant specializes in spicy food.

The hotel displayed an elaborate chocolate statue at the buffet.

5. Adverb

Like the adjective, an adverb also describes or modifies. However, instead of nouns and pronouns, adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs never modify nouns. These words address questions pertaining to when, where, how, why, under what conditions, and to what degree something is done. One great way to spot adverbs is to look for words ending with “-ly," such as: frequently, backward, respectfully, perfectly, and accidentally.


Steve was recently promoted to regional manager.

The matter was resolved quietly.

Everyone looked upwards at the solar eclipse.

6. Determiner and Articles

Determiners and articles, like adjectives, modify nouns. They specify and identify nouns so you know which thing is being referred to. Although this part of speech is similar to adjectives, they differ in that determiners and articles are indispensable in sentences. Without them, sentences cannot have proper syntax, and will often not make sense. 

Determiners: these, that, those, which, what, enough, much, few

Articles: a, an, the


We need to set up enough tables for the guests.

Can you carry those books to the attic?

These athletes are considered the best in the country.

Take the apples which I have set on the counter with you. They are for your grandfather.

7. Preposition

These words show the spatial and temporal relationships between nouns or pronouns and other words in the sentence. Prepositions function similarly to adjectives and adverbs in that they modify nouns and verbs. These can be made up of single words or a group of words. Prepositions are always part of a prepositional phrase, which is a phrase headed by a preposition followed by its object. 

The prepositions are: up, over, against, by, for, into, onto, in, on, to.


I left my wallet at home.

She brushed against a newly painted wall and got paint on her sweater.

You need to make sure it’s pushed well into the ground.

John will pick up Haley from the airport at 5 PM.

 8. Conjunction

Conjunctions are words that join two clauses. These words tell the reader or listener the relationship between the two clauses, which in turn, helps them understand the meaning of the full sentence. There are different types of conjunctions, which show different relations between the clauses. 

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions connect the same parts of speech that have the same importance in a sentence. You may have heard of the mnemonic device FANBOYS which stands for the following: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.


He woke up late yet managed to get to the office on time.

I missed my chance to watch Dear Evan Hansen for the shows were quickly sold out.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions join equal elements in a sentence. They often come in pairs: both, and; just as, so; not only, but also; either, or; neither, nor; whether, or.


Both John and Haley volunteered to work on Saturday.

Neither the director nor the manager knew about the issue. 

She has a kind heart. Not only did she donate money to charity, but she also volunteered every weekend.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions introduce the relationship between an independent clause—a clause that expresses a complete thought—and a dependent clause. Subordinating conjunctions are: after, before, because, although, in case, by the time, while, when, unless, as soon as.


With this traffic, we will not make it to the play in time unless we take the subway. 

Call me as soon as you arrive at Blake’s house.

Because we couldn’t get a babysitter, we had to stay home.

Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs are words used to connect two independent clauses. These words are technically adverbs but they function as conjunctions, that is why they are called “conjunctive adverbs.” Conjunctive adverbs include after all, besides, nevertheless, then, therefore, however, consequently, and finally.


Greta Thunberg is still young; nevertheless, she was wise and showed conviction in her speeches.

She knew the answer to the question; however, she had trouble expressing herself in English.

The stew was too salty for my taste; moreover, the meat and vegetables were overcooked. 

9. Interjection

Interjections are expressions that convey strong emotions. They are either used on their own or as part of a sentence but do not necessarily have a grammatical significance. Here are examples of interjections: ah, oops, whoa.


Whoa, that’s too much water!

Ah, I see what you mean here. 

Oops! I missed my exit.


Indeed, the parts of speech are a common occurrence. If you speak English, you may already be familiar with these parts of speech. As a matter of fact, the parts of speech also exist in other languages, probably even your mother tongue, with a few variations. No matter the language or your level of mastery of English, learning the different parts of speech will help you understand the rules of the language better and speak and write more clearly. 

 The article above explains the different parts of speech, as well as demonstrates how they are used in a sentence. Knowing the different parts of speech is an important step in learning the English language and, eventually writing A+ essays in school. If you’re still learning English but need to write an essay, ask CustomEssayMeister to help you express your ideas in clear, beautifully crafted sentences.

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