Parts Of Speech: The Building Blocks Of Sentences (Part 1)
January 2, 2014

Parts Of Speech: The Building Blocks Of Sentences (Part 1)

Since the Christmas season is over, I figure it is time to write about grammar again more regularly. For today’s grammar blog, I thought it would be nice to remind ourselves of the basics of sentences — the parts of speech. So often we write sentences without really thinking about why we put certain words in the order we put them, and often we misuse words because we do not consider the parts of speech. It may seem rudimentary to go all the way back to parts of speech, but it will only improve our writing and speaking skills to think about these. We all need reminders of the basics in order to appreciate the complicated.

So let’s start with the basics. In order to have a complete sentence, one must have a noun and a verb otherwise known as a subject and a verb. The noun and verb are great parts of speech to start with because of their important roles in all writing.


A noun is a word that represents a person, place, or thing. When trying to figure out which words are nouns, ask the question who or what.

Example: Destany writes stories about her friends and family in Washington.

In the sentence above, the words Destany, stories, friends, family, and Washington are all nouns. To figure that out, I would ask who or what with each word and the only words that appropriately answer those questions are Destany, stories, friends, family, and Washington. Destany, friends, and family are all words for people. The word stories is a thing, and Washington is a word of a place.

Additionally, nouns can be concrete (as in the above examples) or abstract.

Example: Destany searches for truth in her stories.

In that sentence, the nouns are Destany, truth, and stories. The words Destany and stories are concrete while truth is abstract. Abstract nouns include words like love, integrity, and truth. They are more intangible.

The last kind of noun are proper nouns. Proper nouns are nouns with actual names. So from the examples above, the noun Destany is actually a proper noun as is Washington.


Verbs are words of action, or in other words they explain a state of being.

Example: Tristyn creates awesome experiments with her chemistry kit.

The action in this example is creates thus it is the verb. The subject noun Tristyn performs the action of creates.

Beyond active verbs, one also uses passive verbs like the to be (am, is, are, was, were, be, been, being) or to have (have, had, having) verbs. Let’s see some examples:

Example 1: Tristyn is a good scientist.

Example 2: Tristyn has interesting experiments.

Moreover, the to be and to have verbs act as helping or linking verbs, which means they help or link the active verbs.

Example 1: Tristyn is learning science.

In that sentence, the word is links the verb learning.

Example 2: Tristyn has perfected chemistry.

In this example, has links perfected.

Understanding these two parts of speech will help with understanding sentence varieties and sentence types. Nouns and verbs are the foundations of all sentences, so understanding these two parts of speech helps us to build stronger sentences.

In the next installments, we will look at the other parts of speech including adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, objects, and articles.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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