A Review of Parts of Speech in English – Overview and Verbs Posted by on Jan 8, 2012 in English Grammar

Today I am going to start a 5-post series on parts of speech.  In each of my next five posts I am going to review one or two parts of speech and give you the bare bones* information you need to know about each of these parts of speech.  These posts will be quick but comprehensive reviews of the eight parts of speech in English.  Here we go!

What are parts of speech anyway?
Parts of speech are what we call the different types of words you use to make a sentence.  So, it is important to know what each one of these words is used for and how to identify them in order to construct sentences correctly!

Verbs are perhaps the most important part of speech and part of any sentence.  A verb describes an action.  There are two general types of verbs: main verbs and  helping verbs.

Helping verbs
Helping verbs have no meaning on their own when. They are needed for the grammatical structure of certain sentences, but they do not tell you much by themselves. You usually use a helping verb with a main verb.  These verbs are called helping verbs because they “help” give more meaning to the main verb of the sentence.  There are only a few dozen helping verbs in English, some examples are: be, can, must, will.  In the following sentences the helping verb is shown in bold and the verb it is helping is in italics.

Bob can walk fast.
I am honored to be receiving this award.

Main verbs
Verb assert something about the subject of a sentence and express actions or states of being. The verb is a critical element of the predicate of a sentence.

So, what is a predicate?
Every complete sentence is made up of both a subject and a predicate. The subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about, while the predicate always includes a verb and tells us something about the subject. In the following sentences, the predicate is enclosed in brackets [ ] and the verb is in italics.

Bob [walks].
Bob and his son [walk every morning].

To find out the subject of a sentence, first you have to find the verb and then ask a question, “who?” or “what?” — the answer is the subject.  Here is another example.

The girl planted flowers in the garden.

The verb in the above sentence is “planted.” Who or what planted? The girl did. That means girl is the subject of the sentence. The predicate (which always includes the verb) tells you something about the subject: what about the girl? She “planted flowers.”

Now you know what a verb is, how it is used, and how to find it in a sentence.  In the next post in this series we will look at nouns.

*bare bones = the basic or essential

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.