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part of speech

part of speech, in traditional English grammar , any one of about eight major classes of words, based on the parts of speech of ancient Greek and Latin. The parts of speech are noun , verb , adjective , adverb, interjection , preposition , conjunction , and pronoun . Some grammarians add articles, quantifiers, and numerals. These word classes have traditional definitions in grammar books, i.e., a noun is the name of a person, place, or thing without reference to grammatical function. By this strict definition the word toy would be a noun in the sentence The toy is under the tree and in the sentence It is a toy dog. However, an alternate method of defining parts of speech is in terms of the structural features and distribution patterns within a sentence. Thus toy would constitute a different part of speech in each of the above sentences since the word functions in different environments in each sentence, i.e., as a subject and as a modifier. Some English parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc.) are productive classes allowing new members; others, with functional rather than lexical meaning (prepositions, articles, conjunctions) are nonproductive, having a limited number of members. See also inflection .

See L. Bloomfield, Language (1933); C. Fries, The Structure of English (1952); W. N. Francis, The Structure of American English (1958); O. Jespersen, The Philosophy of Grammar (1965); F. R. Palmer, Grammar (1971); C. L. Baker, English Syntax (1989).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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