Posted on

What Is an Irregular Verb? Find Out and Test Your Knowledge!

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs

An Introduction to Irregular Verbs

An irregular verb is a verb that is not conjugated (changed according to tense) in the same way as most other verbs. While native English speakers learn which verbs are irregular as young children, memorizing this seemingly random list of irregular verbs can be very difficult for English as a second language (ESL) learners. Still a bit confused?

Let’s start by looking at some common regular verbs:

Regular Verbs Chart

Makes sense, right? Just add –ed, and you’ve got yourself a verb in the past tense. But this rule does not work for irregular verbs. For example, fly doesn’t become flyed, but flew. Eat doesn’t become eated, but ate, and so on. Here are more examples of irregular verbs:

Irregular Verbs Chart

For a more comprehensive list of irregular verbs, check out this dictionary of irregular verbs. Unfortunately for ESL learners, the only way to be sure about what is an irregular verb and what is a regular verb is to memorize them while reading and speaking English. With lots of time and practice, even a non-native speaker can be an expert in these tricky parts of speech!

Test Your Knowledge!

Think you know all there is to know about irregular verbs? Put that knowledge to the test with this extensive irregular verb quiz created by the language experts at Scribendi.com. For the seasoned English professional, this quiz can be a great way to brush up on some of the lesser-known irregular verbs. For the ESL learner, quizzes like this one can be a great way to test your learning progress!

Image source: Olu Eletu/Stocksnap.io

Posted on

The English Language Learner’s Guide to English Prepositions

English Prepositions

Peter flew to the window. Then, he was at the window. Earlier in the night, he had flown by the window. He thought it was open, so he flew into the window. Wendy saw Peter from the window. Her breath left a mark on the window. Peter’s favorite part of the window was how it opened.

All I had to do in the above sentences was change the prepositions and alter the wording a bit, and bam! they were new sentences with completely new meanings. Still, the object of each of these sentences was the window. As you can see, prepositions are small but mighty parts of speech. To English language learners, these pesky little words can be very challenging to master.

It’s really no surprise that English prepositions are so difficult to learn. For one thing, English has an excessive number of these relational words—more, in fact, than any other language out there. On top of that, the rules for when to use each preposition can be quite arbitrary. Native English speakers know when to use each preposition only because they are so familiar with the common uses of these words, but not because there are technical, logical rules that dictate their usage.

So, you may be wondering, is it even possible for an English language learner to master prepositions? Well, that depends. Are you willing to do lots of reading, lots of writing, and lots of practicing? Then of course it’s possible! Anything is possible, after all. All it takes is faith and trust . . . and a little bit of pixie dust!

What is a preposition?

A preposition is a part of speech that indicates the temporal, spatial, or logical relationship between the object and the rest of the sentence. Common prepositions include to, of, for, by, from, about, and around. There are many others, including above, after, before, below, beneath, during, following, into, inside, near, onto, outside, through, toward, under, and upon.

Prepositions are very important to the meaning of many sentences. Just look at these sentences about Peter and the Lost Boys to see what I mean. The prepositions are in bold, and the objects are underlined.

Peter flew home to Neverland.

The Lost Boys had been waiting for Peter for hours.

Thankfully, none of the boys knew how to tell time.

Why are prepositions important?

Peter Pan Let’s look more carefully at each example. We can do this by removing the prepositions and seeing what effect that has on the sentence.

Peter flew home Neverland.

In the first example, to is needed to connect Neverland to the rest of the sentence. Without it, the sentence stops making sense after home.

The Lost Boys had been waiting Peter hours.

In the second sentence, there are two objects: Peter and hours. For establishes the role played by these objects. Without for, Peter actually becomes an adjective describing hours, which neither makes sense nor conveys the intended meaning.

Thankfully, none the boys knew how tell time.

In the final example, removing the prepositions means there is now no logical connection between none and the boys, nor is it clear how tell time fits into the rest of the sentence.

As you can see, prepositions are very important for creating meaning!

More examples

I know memorization isn’t the best way to learn, but when it comes to prepositions, it’s probably your best bet. Here’s a quick list of rules and examples of proper preposition usage to remember.

  • Peter can go home or be at home, but he has to go to his house or be at his house. He can’t go house or be at house.
  • Saying that Peter flew by Captain Hook’s ship is very similar to saying that he flew past the ship. However, saying that Peter lives by Captain Hook’s ship means he lives near the ship, not that he passes by the ship to get home.
  • Tinkerbell recovered from an injury, but she is done with pirates and she hopes for a peaceful future with Peter.
  • Peter can fly to Wendy’s window at night, noon, or midnight, but if he travels to the window at other times, he must go in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
  • Peter Pan was published in 1911, but it was published on a Friday.

Test your knowledge and learn more!

Practice makes perfect, and there’s no better way to practice than to take a quiz! If you’d like to learn more about when to use prepositions, you should take a break from Peter Pan and focus your attention instead on another magical topic: puppies! This fun quiz covers basic preposition usage with help from your favorite furry friends.

Or maybe you’re looking for more comprehensive information about prepositions. If that’s the case, check out The Complete Guide to the Parts of Speech, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about the building blocks of the English language. How magical!

Image source: Unsplash/Pixabay.com, Stevebidmead/Pixabay.com

Posted on

Understanding Verb Moods with 15 Hilarious Tweets

Understanding Verb Moods

Understanding Verb MoodsVerb moods are not unlike the moods of people (happy, sad, angry, etc.) in that they indicate the manner in which an action or condition is intended or conceived. Unlike people’s moods, though, which have an endless variety, a verb may only occur in one of three verb moods: the indicative mood, the imperative mood, or the subjunctive mood. Using funny tweets, we can begin to understand the different verb moods and how they function in English.

Also, as a disclaimer, we’re not saying that these tweets are flawless in terms of grammar and punctuation. They are, after all, just tweets. However, we hope they’ll help you understand the various verb moods in a way that is more entertaining than that of a typical grammar article!

The Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is used to express an assertion or denial or to ask a question. Since it’s the most common verb mood, most of the statements you make or read will be in the indicative mood. The tweets below all use the indicative mood, each one asserting a statement:

Although this tweet doesn’t make a statement, it does ask a question, meaning it also uses the indicative mood:

https://twitter.com/mindyfurano/status/709207975315935232

The Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is also a common mood, but it is used to give orders or to make requests. Take a look at the demands presented in the tweets below.

https://twitter.com/ellaceron/status/591240860743966720

https://twitter.com/kat_murp/status/714517569521123328

The Subjunctive Mood

Of the three moods, the subjunctive mood is the one that causes the most problems because it rarely appears in everyday conversation or writing. It is only used in a set of specific circumstances.

It is used in in contrary-to-fact clauses beginning with if:

It is used in wish statements:

https://twitter.com/whitneycummings/status/568897975256117248

It is used in “that” clauses following verbs such as ask, insist, recommend, request, and suggest:

https://twitter.com/theblackking11/status/713997727349088256

It is used in certain set expressions such as be that as it may, as it were, come rain or shine, or far be it from me:

Finally, it is used in a dependent clause attached to an independent clause utilizing an adjective that expresses urgency (such as crucial, essential, important, imperative, necessary, or urgent):

Whatever your mood, follow Inklyo on Twitter for more great grammar-related content!

Posted on

How to Use Collective Nouns

Collective Nouns

Collective Nouns

Subject–verb agreement in the English language is complicated. When you have to deal with tense, gender, number, irregular verb forms (Need I go on?), it can be quite the task to ensure that the subjects and verbs in your sentences agree. Assembling the pieces of this grammar puzzle correctly is not easy.

To add another layer of difficulty, collective nouns are crafty little pieces of the grammar puzzle that introduce even more challenges to achieving subject–verb agreement.

Collective nouns are used to refer to a group and, as with other nouns, may include people, places, ideas, or things. Some examples of collective nouns include the words group, congregation, committee, pack, public, minority, audience, jury, and band.

The tricky thing is that, when trying to figure out how to use collective nouns, the question of whether to use a singular or plural verb form depends on whether you are writing in American or British English.

Collective Nouns in American English

In American English, collective nouns generally take the singular verb form.

The jury has (singular) reached a verdict.

The public is (singular) alarmed at the rising cost of housing.

In these examples, the collective nouns are treated as a whole. The jury, as a group, has collectively reached the verdict. All of the public is alarmed by rising housing costs. If you want to know how to use collective nouns in American English, you are all set: collective nouns will almost always take singular verbs.

As is the case with most pieces of the grammar puzzle, however, there are a few exceptions to this rule. A few words, such as police and people, are most often used with plural verbs, even in American English.

Collective Nouns in British English

If you are working in British English, you must consider the context of the phrase to determine whether a singular or plural verb form is correct. When you are working with a collective noun and are writing in British English, you must consider whether the members or elements of the group are working in unison (i.e., as a cohesive whole) or whether the individual members or elements of the group are acting separately.

The audience claps (singular) in excitement.

The committee disagree (plural) on the timeline for the project.

The band are (plural) practicing their individual instruments.

Parts of SpeechTo American English speakers who are familiar with collective nouns and singular verbs, the last two examples above might sound odd. But try to think of it this way: the members of the committee disagree with one another regarding the timeline for the project. The opinions differ within the committee itself. The distinct members of the band are practicing their specific instruments. To ensure that the use of the plural verb form is correct in these sentences, test it by adding the word members after the collective nouns.

For example:

The committee members disagree on the timeline for the project.

The band members are practicing their individual instruments.

Conclusion

When working with collective nouns, remember that singular verbs are generally used in American English. In British English, it is important to analyze the context in which the collective noun is used. Employ a singular verb form when the members are performing the action in unison; employ a plural verb form when the individual members of the group are acting independently.

With these simple tricks, you should have no trouble assembling the tricky puzzle of English grammar, even when you’re dealing with collective nouns.

So you now understand how to use collective nouns. If you would like to brush up on the other parts of speech, check out this trusty ebook written by the grammar experts at Scribendi.com.

Image source: markusspiske/Pixabay.com

Posted on

A Guide to Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns

Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns

Reflexive and Intensive PronounsSometimes, it’s all about me. Or you. Or maybe her or him. Heck, it might even be all about it. Regardless of what the subject of a given sentence might be, it’s very likely that you’ll need to refer back to it or that you’ll want to give it a bit of extra attention. After all, it is the subject of its very own sentence. Like any good celebrity, the subject of a sentence is perfectly okay with being talked about. A lot. I don’t exactly know how to put this, but like myself, the subject of a sentence is kind of a big deal.

Think of the subject of a sentence as the star of a show. Sure, there are lots of other important players, but without that lead role, there really isn’t a story to tell or a show to put on. Before we get more into our topic of reflexive and intensive pronouns, here’s a quick reminder about what exactly it means to be the subject of a sentence.

Sentence Subjects: A Quick Refresher

There are two components that make up every complete sentence: the subject and the predicate. The subject is what or whom the sentence is about; that is, the subject is the entity performing the verb. For example:

Stella was the star of the show.

The verb in the above sentence is was. Who was? Stella was! That means Stella is the subject of the sentence (and a star in more than one respect). The rest of the sentence, was the star of the show, is the predicate. That’s right—anything that isn’t the subject is the predicate. Now that we know how to find the subject, let’s go back to our discussion about reflexive and intensive pronouns.

Reflexive Pronouns

You now know how to find the subject of a sentence. But do you know how to refer back to that subject? That’s where reflexive pronouns come in. The purpose of a reflexive pronoun is to refer to the subject of the sentence. Here’s an example of a reflexive pronoun in action:

Stella went to the matinee by herself.

The reflexive pronoun is preceded by the subject. The subject may be the noun (e.g., Stella) or the pronoun representing the noun (e.g., she, meaning Stella). Both the subject and the reflexive pronoun must be included the same clause. Who went to the matinee? Stella, the subject. Whom did she go with? Herself, also the subject. (I told you, this Stella is a star.)

There are only eight reflexive pronouns in the English language: myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. Each of these reflexive pronouns has its own personal pronoun with which it is paired:

I

Myself

You

Yourself

She

Herself

He

Himself

It

Itself

Us

Ourselves

You

Yourselves

They

Themselves

Intensive Pronouns

So far, this has all been fairly straightforward, right? Well, this new bit of information might make things a bit fuzzier: just as there are eight reflexive pronouns, there are only eight intensive pronouns. Now here comes the real plot twist: they are the same eight pronouns. What is the difference between reflexive and intensive pronouns if they are literally the same words?

Unlike reflexive pronouns, which are necessary to the sentence, intensive pronouns merely work to give emphasis to the subject or object. An intensive pronoun can be removed without the meaning of the sentence changing. Take a look:

Stella herself had never performed in a matinee.

The emphasis added by an intensive pronoun may serve many different purposes. In the above example, the use of herself could indicate that Stella is being contrasted to another player in the matinee. Perhaps she is going to see a friend perform. Or it could be suggesting that Stella disapproves of matinees. Without any other context for this sentence, it’s difficult to tell what role the emphasis may be playing.

Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns Compared

What happens when we remove the intensive pronoun from the example above?

Stella had never performed in a matinee.

That’s right—it’s still a sentence, and Stella is still the star of the show (though not, unfortunately, of the matinee). But what about removing a reflexive pronoun? Let’s revisit this sentence:

Stella went to the matinee by herself.

Now how about this sentence without the reflexive pronoun?

Stella went to the matinee by.

No matter how much you may or may not like cliff-hangers, you can’t deny that the above example is one incomplete sentence.

Conclusion

Now that you’re an expert on reflexive and intensive pronouns, it’s time to get out there and start talking about yourself. Go on! Tell Stella to get out of here, and become the star of your own sentences!

Image source: Nosnibor137/BigStockPhoto.com

Parts of Speech

Posted on

Using Correlative Conjunctions, or Why I’m Secretly a Bad Canadian

Using Correlative Conjunctions

Using Correlative ConjunctionsI’m secretly a very bad Canadian. It’s true that I love poutine and bacon (together or separately) and that I say sorry when someone else bumps into me. The occasional eh has been known to slip from my lips, and I once got an X-ray for free. But there’s one thing that makes me a very, very bad Canadian:

I hate winter.

I’m already planning my future as a retired snowbird. But with the prospect of retirement so far away, I have to find something else to look forward to. I need something to help me get through the frigid, skin-freezing torment that is Canadian winter to the wet, cool spring on the other side. That’s where spring television comes in.

Throughout the winter, knowing that my favorite shows will be returning in a matter of months is one of the only things that gets me through. It’s all I’ve been thinking about all day, which has made it rather challenging for me to write this post on correlative conjunctions. Luckily, I finally realized that I don’t need to choose between thinking about spring television and teaching you about correlative conjunctions—I can do both!

With that being said, let’s dive right in to the worlds of absurd comedy, fantasy, detective work, low-security female prison life, and, of course, grammar.

What Are Correlative Conjunctions?

As you know, a conjunction is a connector between different parts of a sentence, whether between two clauses, phrases, or words. Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that work in pairs to show a relationship between two elements of equal importance. In other words, correlative conjunctions combine two relative parts of speech.

I think I’ll watch either House of Cards or Game of Thrones.

Just as there aren’t very many people as attractive as Kit Harrington, there aren’t very many correlative conjunction pairs to work with. The main correlative conjunctions in English are:

Either/Or

Rather/Than

Neither/Nor

Whether/Or

Scarcely/When

Such/That

No Sooner/Than

Both/And

As Many/As

Not/But

As/As

Not Only/But Also

Correlative Conjunctions at Work

Most correlative conjunctions, when shown in context, are fairly straightforward. They make comparisons between two things, whether to say that they are equal, that they are different, or that one is superior to the other. Here are some examples to help you better understand how some of the different correlative conjunctions can be put to use.

Not only do I think Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is funny, but I also think Ellie Kemper is a lovable leading lady.

Neither Stannis nor Daenerys will ever take the Iron Throne.

Both Sherlock and Elementary feature a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, though one is clearly superior to the other.

I can never decide whether I prefer Orange Is the New Black or Girls.

I do not usually enjoy politics, but House of Cards is a fantastic show.

Correlative Conjunctions and Commas

My Ideal Winter As you can see, correlative conjunctions aren’t too difficult to understand. Even if you didn’t know what they were called before now, you’ve certainly been using them in your writing for a long time. That brings me to my next point—many people incorrectly use commas with correlative conjunctions, like this:

You either love Kimmy Schmidt’s Titus Andromedon, or you hate him.

I would rather be best friends with Arya, than with Sansa.

I would no sooner choose Elementary over Sherlock, than I would eat my own hair.

All of the commas in the above examples are incorrect. As a general rule, there should not be a comma between a pair of correlative conjunctions. There are, of course, some exceptions. The most notable exception would be when a parenthetical clause interrupts the conjunction pair, as in this example:

It seems that neither Piper, one of the lead characters of Orange Is the New Black, nor Alex, her sometimes girlfriend, can stay out of trouble for long.

In the above example, the information provided about the characters makes up two separate nonrestrictive clauses. These clauses require the use of commas, and as such, it’s okay to interrupt the correlative conjunction pair (neither/nor) with these commas. Here’s one more example:

Both Kevin Spacey, who plays Frank Underwood, and Robin Wright, who plays Claire Underwood, have won Golden Globe awards for their performances in House of Cards.

Conclusion

The bad news: if you live near one of the poles, you’ll probably just have to deal with numb fingers and nose icicles.

The good news: in most places, winter doesn’t last forever. Plus, you’ve now learned all there is to know about correlative conjunctions, so you can explain to people why you would rather have the ending of Game of Thrones ruined for you than have to shovel your driveway again.

The best news: there’s still lots to learn about the parts of speech, and you’ll be able to learn it all with Inklyo’s newest ebook, The Complete Guide to the Parts of Speech, available now on Amazon. In between chapters, snuggle up and binge-watch Netflix. You can do it all!

Image sources: tpsdave/Pixabay.com, alenkasm/BigStockPhoto.com

Parts of Speech

Posted on

The Order of Adjectives

Order of Adjectives Poster
Click to enlarge, or share this image on your site with the following code:

You might be thinking, “Order of adjectives? Can’t I just lump them all together in front of the noun and call it a day?” It might surprise you to discover that when adjectives are presented in a series, there’s actually a particular order they must follow. Often, native English speakers follow this order out of habit, knowing that “the big red car” sounds better than “the red big car.”

However, for those just learning the language, understanding the correct order of adjectives can be tricky. Here is the order a list of adjectives should follow:

  1. Determiner
  2. Opinion
  3. Size
  4. Age
  5. Shape
  6. Color
  7. Material
  8. Origin
  9. Purpose

We’ll explain what each of these means and provide some examples so you can figure out exactly where you should be placing different types of adjectives in relation to your noun. (The noun here is puppies. Because everybody loves puppies.)

Determiner

Determiners include articles (a, an, or the) and other limiters (e.g., your, eight, or his).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The determiner in the example is ten (because you can never have too many puppies).

Opinion

An adjective of opinion describes an observation or what someone thinks about something (e.g., beautiful, tasty, or horrific).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The opinion in the example is lovable (even though some would argue that’s not so much an opinion as a fact).

Size

Size describes how big or small something is (e.g., bigsmall, minuscule, or enormous).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The size in the example is small.

Age

As you would expect, age describes how young or old something is (e.g., youngoldancient, or new).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The age in the example is young. (We’re talking puppies, not dogs. Not everyone is a dog person, but everyone is a puppy person.)

Shape

The next descriptor is the shape of the item being described (e.g., roundsquare, or flat).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The shape in the example is pudgy. Awww!

Parts of Speech

Color

Over halfway there, folks! Next in the list is color (e.g., redpinkish, or yellow).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The color is usually pretty easy to spot. In the example, it’s beige.

Material

The material describes what something is made out of (e.g., woodencotton, silver, or metal).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

Although we all know puppies are made out of love and happiness, technically speaking it’s probably more accurate to describe them as fuzzy.

Origin

Origin describes where something is from (e.g., Frenchwestern, or solar).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The origin in the example is French. (These are French bulldog puppies, a breed that originates, as you would expect, in France.)

Purpose

Purpose describes what something is used for or what it does (e.g., racing [as in racing car] or sleeping [as in sleeping bag]).

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

The purpose of these puppies is to be companions, so the adjective in the example is pet.

Noun

Now that you’ve listed all the adjectives, it’s time to identify the word you have been describing (i.e., the noun). Finally! We have reached the puppies.

Ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.

In the example, the noun is puppies, in case you didn’t get the memo . . .

Conclusion

While there are no rules limiting the number of adjectives that can be used, two or three are generally sufficient. (Otherwise, you begin to sound like Al Harrington of Family Guy marketing his Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubemen!) Most readers would prefer to read “pudgy, fuzzy puppies” than “ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies.” Though I’d take either, if we’re being perfectly honest.

Now that you’ve got the order of adjectives down, find out how to use the other parts of speech with this handy ebook!

Posted on

The Language Sandwich: An Overview of the Nine Parts of Speech

The Language Sandwich

A sandwich.

Sandwiches are the best kind of food.

Not only do sandwiches contain different kinds of foods, but they are held together by even more food. You can eat them with your hands or with a knife and fork; you can eat them for breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner; you can make them sweet or savory, hot or cold; and you can make them with various parts of the English language (the nine parts of speech, to be exact).

Wait, what now?

Did I lose you at the end there? (Or maybe in the middle, where you got up to make yourself a delicious sandwich?) Yes, we can make a sandwich using grammar! And it will be an amazing sandwich, I assure you. After all, the English language has different components, or ingredients if you will, just as sandwiches do. It’s made up of the nine parts of speech, and they’re put together in such a way that everything just works. (Just like that confusingly delicious peanut butter and lettuce sandwich of grade school days. Don’t look at me like that. Just try it.)

We can think of the different parts of speech like different parts of the English language. This will be helpful for understanding how sentences are put together, and it’s also a great way to remember how everything fits together. I hope you’re hungry because it’s time to chow down!

The Nine Parts of Speech

The Language Sandwich Infographic
Click to enlarge, or share this image on your site with the following code:

If our recipe is “The English Language,” then our ingredients list consists of the nine parts of speech.

  1. Nouns (the bread)
  2. Verbs (the meat)
  3. Pronouns (the type of bread)
  4. Adverbs (the type of meat)
  5. Adjectives (the butter)
  6. Conjunctions (the cheese)
  7. Articles (the mayo)
  8. Prepositions (the lettuce)
  9. Interjections (the mustard)

Click to enlarge the adjacent infographic for a quick go-to guide detailing the parts of speech (and their edible equivalents). But stick with me, and I will define the parts of speech in more detail. By the end of this article, everything will make sense. Let’s start assembling that sandwich!

Nouns (The Bread)

We use nouns to name things, such as a person (e.g., Dagwood), an animal (e.g., a bear), an object (e.g., a grill), a place (e.g., Montreal), actions (e.g., creation), abstract ideas (e.g., love), or qualities (e.g., greed). The capitalized nouns here are all proper nouns, which means they refer to specific people or places, and the lowercase ones are common nouns.

Nouns are the bread of the sandwich. Without the bread, we’d just have a sloppy mess. The sentence kneads nouns. (See what I did there?) And just as there are many different kinds of bread, there are many different kinds of nouns. Nouns are the best thing since sliced bread. (Yeah, we went there.)

Verbs (The Meat)

A verb is used to describe an action (make, as in you make too many sandwiches), an event (toast, as in the bread is toasted), or a state (eat, as in I need to eat). Verbs have different types, tenses, and moods, and they must agree with their subjects to form a correct sentence.

Verbs are the meat of a sentence. A sentence does not exist without a verb, just as a sandwich does not exist without meat. (I can hear the vegetarians and peanut-butter-and-jelly lovers crying out at this point, but go with us here.) Just as you need both a noun and a verb to form a sentence, most people agree you need at least bread and meat to make a sandwich.

Pronouns (The Type of Bread)

Pronouns are used in place of nouns. The purpose of pronouns is to avoid repetition and make sentences easier to understand. A noun that is replaced by a pronoun is referred to as the antecedent. Some of the most common pronouns to remember are he, she, it, they, and this.

Choosing a pronoun is like choosing which type of bread to use for your sandwich. Will it be white bread (he), whole-wheat bread (she), rye (it), sourdough (they), or pita bread (this)? Though there are many types of bread out there—white, whole wheat, rye, baguettes, naan—at the end of the day, it’s all still bread, and we can call it such. The same goes for pronouns, which we use in the place of nouns.

Further, there is a proper type of bread for every sandwich. You can’t just use banana bread to make a pulled-pork sandwich! In the same way, you can’t use he to describe the Queen of England. (Well, you could, but you’d be wrong, and I don’t think Her Majesty would appreciate it.)

Adverbs (The Type of Meat)

An adverb is a part of speech that describes how someone or something performs an action. It is different from an adjective, which describes someone or something. Adverbs give more information about how an action is carried out.

For example, you can put meat in your sandwich (as you should). But what kind of meat? Will it be honey ham, prosciutto, or bologna? Choosing the type of meat greatly influences how the sandwich will taste. It’s the same with adverbs! “She ate the sandwich vigorously” is a different flavor of sentence than “She ate the sandwich slowly.”

Adjectives (The Butter)

Adjectives are simply words used to describe or modify nouns (people, places, things) and pronouns (e.g., I, she, he, it, they, etc.) by depicting, quantifying, or identifying them. When a series of adjectives is used to describe one noun, the adjectives must follow a particular order (like in the case of ten lovable, small, young, pudgy, beige, fuzzy, French pet puppies I know).

Just as butter is closely related to bread, adjectives are closely related to nouns. And just as butter gives flavor to the bread, adjectives give flavor to nouns. (I was going to try to come up with a clever butter pun, but the margarine for error was too high. Ba dum tss!)

Parts of Speech

Conjunctions (The Cheese)

A conjunction is a part of speech that functions as a connector between two sentences, clauses, phrases, or words. In writing, conjunctions can be effectively used in lieu of starting a new sentence. The proper use of conjunctions allows for a more natural flow and rhythm in writing. Popular conjunctions include for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

Because conjunctions draw relationships between parts of the sentence, they’re kind of like cheese. Gooey, delicious, melting cheese. Mmmmm. . . Sorry, what was I talking about again? Oh, right! Cheese is like a conjunction because conjunctions connect the parts of a sentence.

Articles (The Mayo)

Articles help determine whether you are referring to something of a specific type (with definite articles) or something of a general type (with indefinite articles). There are only three articles (the, an, or a) in the English language, so they are very easy to find in a sentence once you know them!

Just like sandwiches are somewhat incomplete without mayo, sentences are incomplete without articles. Also, it’s pretty easy to tell when a sandwich doesn’t have mayo because it’ll be very, very dry. And nobody likes a dry sandwich! It’s just sad.

Prepositions (The Lettuce)

Prepositions link nouns, pronouns, and phrases to the other words in a sentence. The word or phrase that is introduced is called the object of the preposition. Simple prepositions include about, above, after, around, before, below, beneath, during, following, inside, into, near, onto, outside, over, through, to, toward, under, and upon. 

Let us consider how lettuce is like prepositions. Lettuce acts as a bridge between the bread and the meat. Plus, no sandwich is complete without that wonderful crunch. In the same way, prepositions are that missing link. They govern nouns (or pronouns) to express a relationship between nouns (or pronouns) and other words in a sentence.

Interjections (The Mustard)

An interjection is not necessarily grammatically connected to the sentence (e.g., “Hmmm . . . that’s right”), but it is designed to convey the emotion of the speaker or narrator. Interjections are often followed by an exclamation mark; for example, “yum!” and “wow!” are both interjections.

Like interjections, mustard can be surprising (oh!) in taste and smell, adding a little something extra to the sandwich. And like mustard, interjections change the flavor of the whole sentence. You’re done building your sandwich, so slap some mustard on it and tie a napkin around your neck.

Conclusion

I hope you’re ready to eat. We’ve been through the nine parts of speech and now have a magnificent English-language sandwich to consume. It might even bring a tear to your eye.

There’s nothing more satisfying than the first bite of a beautifully layered sandwich you’ve worked so hard to put together. So now that you’re finished, it’s time to enjoy. Why not kick back, eat your sandwich, and crack open a book?

Image source: kur0shiro/Pixabay.com, lee_2/Pixabay.com