Language Resource: Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbal Usage


Language Resource: Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbal Usage

Nouns, adjectives, and verbs are three examples of the parts of speech used to create a sentence. A noun is a word that represents a person, place, or thing. An adjective is used as a descriptive word. Verbs are used in a sentence to describe action. The parts of speech work together to make a logical sentence. Consequently, it's important for a student who is learning English to understand the parts of speech as well as how to use them correctly. Learning tools such as an adjective game or parts of speech challenge can be tremendously helpful to a student's progress. The following contains information on some of the parts of speech and their proper usage.

The most simple definition of a noun is that it's a person, place, thing, or idea. Common and proper are two types of nouns often found in sentences. A common noun refers to something general. Girl, playground, dog, and ball are all examples of common nouns. A proper noun refers to a specific person, place, or thing. For example, Mrs. Robertson and Chicago are both proper nouns. There are also plural nouns. Box is an example of a singular noun while the word boxes is an example of a plural noun. In many cases, the noun in a sentence appears before the verb. One example of this is: The boy walked in the park. The noun boy in the sentence appears before the verb walked. Yes, the noun park does appear after the verb in the sentence, but the sentence still makes sense. An example of an incorrect sentence would be to put the noun boy after the verb. Incorrect example: The walked boy in the park. Incorrect example: The park walked in the boy. By reading a sentence aloud, a student can determine whether the noun or nouns in the sentence are used correctly. Another type of noun is a pronoun. A pronoun helps to avoid repetition by referring to the noun in a sentence. One example of a sentence in need of a pronoun is: 'Alexander took Alexander's dog to the vet.' The correct example of pronoun usage is: 'Alexander took his dog to the vet.' The pronoun in the sentence is his and it refers to Alexander. Imagine how many times a person's name would be repeated in a single sentence if pronouns didn't exist? Also, a pronoun must always agree with the noun it is referring to. A correct example of this would be, 'Sally took her doll to the playground.' Since the sentence is about Sally and she is a girl, it is her doll. Incorrect example of pronoun usage: 'Sally took his doll to the playground.' The pronoun his doesn't agree with the noun, Sally. Pronouns can also be possessive. Some examples of possessive pronouns are: mine, yours, ours, hers, his, and its. This is a correct example of possessive pronoun usage: The cat isn't ours it must be theirs. The possessive pronouns in that sentence are ours and theirs. A person learning about nouns can get practice using nouns by trying a fun noun game, a grammar challenge, or taking a quiz featuring nouns.

Adjectives in sentences are used for description. The owl flew through the foggy night,' contains the adjective foggy to describe the night. There are also adjectives with multiple meanings. Many students find it helpful to learn the various adjectives with adjective flashcards (PDF). Along with describing the appearance of something, another purpose of an adjective is to describe the size of something. In the sentence, 'The box was filled with large lollipops' the adjective large is describing the size of the lollipops. Once again, the adjective must be in its proper place in order for a sentence to make sense. Correct: 'The white rabbit jumped into its hole.' The adjective is white and it's describing the noun rabbit. The adjective is placed before the noun in the sentence. Incorrect: 'The rabbit white jumped into its hole.' After reading the second example a reader may be wondering, what isa rabbit white? Misused adjectives create confusion for the reader and prevent a student from getting his or her point across. Engaging in practice with adjectives is a great way for students to learn how and when to use them. Also, a game that requires a student to think of imaginative adjectives is another way to get in some practice time. The placement of the part of speech is just as important as the part of speech itself.

The purpose of a verb is to be the action word in a sentence. In the sentence, 'The cat ran to its food bowl,' the verb ran is referring to the actions of the cat. There are past and present tenses of verbs, as well. For example: 'Billy is in my history class.' The word is is the present tense verb. Present tense means that the action is happening now and not in the past. Alternatively, the sentence, 'Billy was in my history class' contains the verb was. The word was is known as a past tense verb because the action has already happened. A verb has its proper place in a sentence just like all the other parts of speech. Oftentimes, it's describing the action of the sentence's subject. (The subject refers to who or what the sentence is about.) The sentence: 'My dog jumps into its bed' contains the verb jumps and that word is used to describe the action of the dog. The dog is the subject because the sentence is about the dog. Incorrect: 'My jumps dog into its bed.' When a student reads a confusing sentence like that one, he or she should recognize right away that the verb is in the wrong place. Identifying verbs can sometimes be tricky and it may take some time to become comfortable with using them. A challenging verb quiz or other exercises with verbs can prove helpful to a student who is learning about verbs and how they work.

Nouns, adjectives, verbs, and other parts of speech are all designed to work together to form coherent sentences. For example, 'The majestic horse jumped over the fence' contains the above three parts of speech. The adjective majestic, the noun horse, and the verb jumped all combine to help a reader to picture the action happening in the sentence. Furthermore, if two elementary students are talking together one can bring a particular person into the mind of the other by saying, 'Mrs. Smith's new haircut is pretty.' The first student's use of the proper noun, Mrs. Smith, helped the other student to picture the person being referred to. By misusing any of the parts of speech, a person can confuse or frustrate a listener. Consequently, it's important to master the parts of speech.

Finally, learning all of the details and exceptions regarding the parts of speech can seem like a challenge. Practice with verbs, adjectives, and nouns is a necessary part of the learning process for a student who wants to grasp the material. In addition, a student who becomes familiar with misused words(PDF) as well as words with several meanings will be better prepared to avoid possible mistakes. After all, the more a student knows about the parts of speech the more he or she will feel able to handle the challenges of understanding words and creating logical sentences.