Parts of Speech in English Grammar

Understanding and using parts of speech in English grammar will help you perform optimally during the speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL iBT.  However, parts of speech occur in many positions in sentences and have a myriad of endings. Therefore, words such as nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs can be difficult to master. The purpose of this web page, therefore, is to help you develop better control over the most common parts of speech in English grammar.

Parts of Speech in English Grammar

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: General Tips for Mastering Parts of Speech

The English language has almost 1 million words.  In addition, one word in English can have multiple forms: compete (verb), competitive (adjective), competitively (adverb), and competition (noun). In other cases, the same word can be used in different positions even in the same sentence:

  • Anxiously, the student waited for his paper to be graded.
  • The student anxiously waited for his paper to be graded.
  • The student waited anxiously for his paper to be graded.
  • The student waited  for his paper to be graded anxiously.

Furthermore, sometimes the same word can be used as two different parts of speech:

  • Adverb: Kenneth paid his taxes quarterly (adverb).
  • Adjective: Kenneth paid his quarterly (adjective) taxes.

Lastly, pronunciation may even change the part of speech of a word.

 

Nouns

Conduct

Desert

Verbs

Conduct

Dessert

Setting aside some time each day to practice will help you to develop better control over your nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs:

  • Spend about 45 minutes daily reading and listening to passages.
  • News, history, science, and documentary passages are especially helpful since they contains topics similar to what you will encounter during the TOEFL exam.
  • Take notes on both the reading and listening passages.
  • Use your notes to give a 60-second oral response.
  • Use your notes to write a 150 word response.

Listen to your recording and read your summary. Did you

  • Use your nouns, adjective, adverbs, and verbs in the correct position and with the correct endings.
  • Give a complete an accurate response of the main points from both the listening and reading passage.

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Common Positions of Nouns

Nouns can occur in several positions in a sentence: subjects, objects, and complements.

  • Gerund phrase as a subject:  Practicing English every day will help you to improve your TOEFL score.
  • Direct object:  Susan submitted her homework yesterday.
  • Object of a preposition: The player hit the ball over the right field fence.
  • Complement after the “be” verb:  Dandra is a teacher.

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Typical Endings that Form Nouns

The below endings commonly used to form nouns:

  • ance- brillance, adundance, accordance
  • cy- democracy, agency, lunacy
  • dom- kingdom, boredom, bachelordom
  • er- butler, odometer, ulcer
  • hood- neighborhood, brotherhood, beasthood 
  • ice- justice, police, pontifice 
  • ist- biologist, anthropologist, prejudice
  • ity- elasticity, obesity, objectivity
  • ment- recruitment, experiment, government
  • ness- happiness, sadness, forgiveness
  • ship- relationship, leadership, kingship
  • sion- immersion, comprehension, permission

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Word Orders for Adjectives

Adjectives can occur positions in a sentence:

  • Before nouns:  The intelligent student received a scholarship.
  • As a subject with an implied noun: The rich should pay more taxes to help poor people.
  • After a linking verb: The haunted house I visited was scary.

In addition, if you use several adjectives in a row, you should use them in the following order:

  1. Determiners – a, an, the, my, your, several, many, several, few, some, most, all
  2. Observations – lovely, boring, stimulating, fascinating, mesmerizing, engaging
  3. Size – tiny, small, microscopic, huge, colossal, gigantic
  4. Shape – round, square, rectangular, triangular, circular, perpendicular
  5. Age – old, new, ancient, recent, futuristic, contemporary, modern
  6. Color – red, blue, green, yellow, beige, brown, black
  7. Origin – British, American, Mexican, Chinese, Canadian
  8. Material – gold, silver, copper, bronze, silk, cotton, polyester
  9. Qualifier – limiters for compound nouns.

Example sentences using multiple adjectives in sequence:

A futuristic brown bronze object was caught flying in the sky.

Most lovely large beige German shepherds remain loyal to only one owner.

A fascinating blue British sports car drove down the street.

The professor delivered several engaging English lectures about the death of the former ISIS leader.

A few microscopic yellow polyester strands lay on the table.

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Common Endings which Form Adjectives

Here are some common endings forming adjectives:

  • ful – wonderful, masterful, hopeful
  • eous – gorgeous, hideous, laborious
  • y – funny, happy, runny
  • ish – childish, freakish, accomplish
  • ble – workable, breakable, doable
  • ial – dictatorial, managerial, aerial 
  • ent – different, management, argument
  • less – useless, fearless, homeless
  • ng – exciting, amusing, captivating 
  • ly – friendly, lovely, timely
  • ar – familiar, bipolar, angular
  • ive – abrasive, descriptive, active

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Word Orders for Adverbs

Different types of adverbs will occur in certain likely positions within sentences.  Sometimes adverbs occur at the front, in the middle, or the end of a clause.

Adverbs in the front of a clause

  • Immediately the fire fighters began spraying water on the fire as it quickly approached the Getty Museum.
  • Today I am going to look for a new bicycle.

Adverbs at the end of a clause

  • John in most cases likes to finish his chores quickly.
  • Su Jen completes her homework assignments competently.

Adverbs in the middle of a clause

When adverbs occur in the middle of a clause, they will usually occur right after the auxiliary or modal.

  • Due to the encroaching wildfire, some Californians have sometimes been asked to evacuate their homes.
  • I might never be able to explain to my wife why I was gone so long.

In questions, adverbs occur between the subject and the main verb.

  • Does Professor Jones always come to class late?
  •  Where do the students usually go during recess?

If the “be” verb in emphasized, the adverb is placed before the verb.

  • A: So you do not like exercising?  B: But I always am exercising.
  • Do you think I should keep attending that class? I never was a fan of statistics.

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Examples of Different Types of Adverbs

  1. Manner (how): accidentally, faithfully, nervously, weakly
  2. Place (where): below, between, above, backward, homeward, onwards
  3. Time (when): tomorrow, later, four weeks, next week, already
  4. Duration: briefly, forever, long, shortly, permanently, temporarily
  5. Frequency: constantly, always, continually, seldom, rarely, regularly
  6. Degree: almost, nearly, scarcely, extremely, rather, too, quite, not only
  7. Focus:  as well, even, alone, exclusively, not only, simply, solely, exactly
  8. Certainty: certainly, definitely, probably, undoubtedly, clearly, obviously

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Example Endings which form Adverbs

  • ly-abnormally, carefully, joyfully, brutally, briskly
  • ways- sideways, always
  • wise-  clockwise, likewise, money-wise, lengthwise, job-wise

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Word Orders for Verbs

Verbs  are typically placed right after the subject. Auxiliary and main verbs are the two types of verbs.

A verb can be only one word. Declarative sentences in the simple present and simple past have one-word verbs:

  • Pamela runs every morning before work.
  • Kenneth attended the football game yesterday.

Sentences using progressive and perfect tenses use more than one verb. In a three-word verb, the first two are auxiliary verbs, but the third one is the main verb.

  • The students have registered for their upcoming TOEFL exams.
  •  All the books had been ordered by the next morning.
  •  Greg is writing his research paper in the library.

In questions, the auxiliary verb comes before the subject.  In addition, the main verb goes after the subject.

  • Has the professor graded the exams?
  •  Where did John put the grey boxes?

Verbs occur in the beginning of imperative sentences.

  • Finish your homework assignment before leaving on your trip.
  • Do not judge a book by its cover.

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Common Endings which Form Verbs

Verbs have many common endings:

Prefixes

  • be-befriend, belittle
  • co-co-exist, co-own, co-direct
  • de-deforest, deselect, devalue,
  • dis-dissatisfied, disassemble, disconnect
  • fore-foreclose, foreground, foresee
  • inter-intersect, interstate, intermix
  • mis-misinform, mislead, misidentify
  • pre-prejudge, pretext, pretest
  • over-overeat, overdue, oversleep
  • re-rewrite, revisit, rebuild
  • sub-subcontract, subdivide
  • trans-transcribe, transform, transsexual
  • un-unbend, unfasten, unhappy
  • under-underperform, underestimate, underdevelop

Suffixes

  • ate-duplicate, fabricate, liquidate
  • en-awaken, shorten, fasten, moisten
  • fy-detoxify, exemplify, beautify, and justify
  • ize-stabilize, visualize, specialize

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Noun Quiz

1. What is the noun form of the adjective brilliant?

2. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Several books lay on the floor as readers stopped reading because of utter bored.

3. What is the noun thing form of the noun person king?

4. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

My mom has all of the following qualities: happy, generosity, respect, and intelligence.

5.  What is the noun form of the verb compete?

6. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Michael worked very hard putting out Christmas decoratements, connecting the power cords, and setting up the timers.

7. What is the noun form of the adjective “stable?”

8. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

The intellectually gifted typically have higher SAT and ACT test scores, so they have better chance of being admissions into IVY league schools.

9. How do you change the verb contend to a noun?

10. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

The darkening skies over Oak Hills, California signaled that a thunderstorm was quickly approachment the unincorporated city in the San Bernardino County.

Parts of Speech in English Grammar: Adjective Quiz

1.  Which answer has the correct word order for adjective placement?

A. a tiny old red Mexican coin

B.  a Mexican tiny red old coin

C. an old tiny Mexican red coin

D. a red tiny old Mexican coin

2. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

The tire traveler decided to stop at a quaint little motel located on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio.

3. Change manager to an adjective.

4. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

California State University, San Bernardino boasts a burgeoning enrollment of 25,000 students, most of whom are first-generation students–which parents never attended college.

5. Which adjectives are written in the correct order?

A. small lovely modern silver bracelet

B. silver modern lovely small bracelet

C. lovely small modern silver bracelet

D. modern lovely small silver bracelet

6. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

The television showed the grisly aftermath of a incredible powerful temblor that struck a northern province in Japan.

7. Choose the answer that meaningfully and grammatically fits into the sentence.

My friend has always been a___________ individual.

A. resentment

B. hospitably

C. caring and lovely

D. outspeaking

8. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

At California State University, San Bernardino, several gift students competed in an academic decathlon last week in Sacramento.

9. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Squirrels typically begin foraging and hoarding food in the summer and fall and then begin almost a completing hibernation during the winter months.

10. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Trying to study for the TOEFL in just one week is usually not a worked solution.

Adverb Quiz

1. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

My friend Tom is  completing always his homework late at night when everyone else in asleep.

2.  Which answer most correctly completes this sentence?

Ken has________been absent from class because of sickness, work, and family obligations.

A. recent

B. so

C. frequent

D. sometimes

3. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Short after class, the professor met with all of those students who had not promptly turned in the final project.

4. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

All of the students take the TOEFL exam immediately exited the building when the fire alarm went off.

5. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Constantly talking while the professor was lecturing, the off-task high agitated student quickly left the room.

6. Which answer most correctly completes this sentence?

When the students energetic played the board game Monopoly, they predictably moved from one player to another in a clockwise direction. 

7. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

With an undergraduate and graduate education at USC and UCLA, Corey, a TOEFL professor who has more than 25 years of teaching experience, is undoubted one of the best TOEFL teachers I have ever met.

8. Choose the answer that correctly completes the sentence.

Officially, the two students__________  agreed to have a fist fight after school by the playground.

A. mutually

B. very

C. reluctant

D. will

9. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Holding the bat firmly and confidently, the player hit the baseball so hard and long that it amazing flew over the center field fence.

10. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

There was an almost continual flow of water coming from the stream located________in the Oregon forest.

A. quickly

B. deep

C. vastly

D. inside

Verb Quiz

1. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

My friend has always support me when I go through difficult times.

2. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

By next year, I_____________my graduate studies in business administration.

A. will start

B. have already begun

C. will have completed

D. am to begin

3. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Several ghost hunters went to an abandon prison in Tennessee to find evidence of paranormal activity.

4. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

People who suffer from narcolepsy may suddenly fall asleep during the daytime even though they may have had adequate sleep.

5. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Prolonged sun exposure lead to two lethal forms of skin cancer: basil cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

6. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

James Earl Ray, the scoundrel who______Martin Luther King, Jr., was sentenced to a life of prison, torture, and loneliness.

A. kill

B. assassinate

C. killing

D.  shot

7. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Unfortunately, a cruise ship close to the Italian coast capsized, trap many passengers inside while water was gushing in.

8. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

The strong winds from hurricanes creates monster-sized waves that pile up when they get close to shore, thereby creating what meteorologists call storm surges.

9. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

The cartoon depict the unlikely friendship of a monkey and a donkey which became friends during an encroaching ice age.

10. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

After the winter rains, Michael’s backyard________with weeds, some of which grew to a height of one meter.

A. flooded

B. was inundated

C. is cover

D. blanket

Noun, Adjective, Adverb, and Verb Quiz

1. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Many represents of what happened on Sept 11, 2001 concerning the World Trade Center attacks have been proposed in various political, social, and economic communities.

2. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

The lively celebration at the concert proved just how________the music group was.

A. relevance

B.  interestingly

C. popular

D. competed

3. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Surrounded by the enemy on all sides, the military unit courageous fought the enemy late into the evening.

4. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

The only student from my Online TOEFL Course to score 120 on the TOEFL exam is a student_______ Ana.

A. call

B. named

C. who

D. name

5. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

A video camera caught trees in a swamp being sucked into a sink holing

6. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

My intelligent, thoughtful, and___________mother has always been supportive of whatever choices I have decided to make.

A. care

B. respectful

C. compassionate

D. happiness

7. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

The unemployed rate in the United States is the lowest it has been in more than 50 years.

8. Choose the word that best fits into the sentence.

Before traveling to Yosemite National park during the winter time, visitors_______ahead to see which roads are snow plowed and thereby passable.

A. should call

B. call

C. drive

D. passing

9. Which word in this sentence needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

By next Thursday, Southern California will have experienced its first significant raining of the season.

10.  Which word needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

His inability to pay his quarter taxes resulted in his wages being garnished by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Do you need professional help from a qualified TOEFL Speaking and Writing Mentor?

If you want to improve your TOEFL score, I have a TOEFL Speaking and Writing Feedback Service, several online TOEFL courses from which you can choose, and even 1-1 TOEFL Skype Tutoring. Check out some of these services to see which one is the best fit for you. I will be more than honored to help you reach your dream TOEFL score.

Good luck!

Michael Buckhoff, mbuckhoff@aol.com

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