Grammar Terms: Parts of Speech

June 17, 2024 Breanne MacDonald

Our technical writing team at ASCENT talks (and blogs!) a lot about words – prepositions, adverbs, conjunctions… but what do these terms mean? Some of us may have learned this in school, but unless your profession involves writing or editing, you likely don’t think about these terms every day – even though you use all these types of words regularly when you talk and write! So, here’s a quick basic refresher on the main parts of speech. 

  • Nouns: These are your people (doctor, teacher, child), animals (dog, elephant, dolphin), places (office, store, park), things (computer, book, tree), and ideas (happiness, truth, hunger). This category also includes proper nouns, which indicate a specific person, place, or thing and begin with a capital letter. 

  • Pronouns: These are used to substitute for a noun or another pronoun. There are many types of pronouns (which we won’t get into here), but these are words like you, me, that, which, theirs, it, us, him, her, etc. 

  • Verbs: These are often thought of as “action” words they describe actions, states, or events. Think of these as describing what your subject is doing or how they are being. The different verb tenses indicate whether the action takes place now (eat), in the past (ate or were eaten), in the future (will eat), and so on. 

  • Adjectives: These are words that describe or modify nouns or pronouns. They can indicate a color (blue book), shape (square hole), size (small cat), type (wool mittens), possession (her pencil), etc.  

  • Adverbs: These are words (or phrases) that modify verbs, adjectives, phrases, or other adverbs. They identify a place, time, cause, degree, or manner. These are the words to use when trying to indicate how (slowly), when (yesterday), where (here), how much (very), or how often (sometimes). 

  • Conjunctions: These words are used to connect the parts of a sentence (words, phrases, or clauses), like and, but, or if 

  • Prepositions: These words indicate the relationship between the subject and the object and can indicate time, direction, place, etc. Examples of prepositions are on, after, in, of, to, and for (the girl on the bus, they had tea in the sunroom, the student went to the library). 

  • Articles: These are the definite article the or the indefinite article a/an. They are considered to be adjectives. 

If you’d like more information about any of these parts of speech, let us know! 

About the Author

Breanne MacDonald

Technical Editor<br><br>Fueled by her meticulous nature, an eye for detail, and a love of books, Breanne has been an editor for over 10 years. She has been a technical editor with ASCENT since 2019, and outside the office she is an avid volunteer with the Editors’ Association of Canada. Breanne holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University and a certificate in publishing from Ryerson University.

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