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Part of speech

In grammar, a part of speech (also a word class, a lexical class, or a lexical category) is a linguistic category of words (or more precisely lexical items), which is generally defined by the syntactic or morphological behaviour of the lexical item in question. Common linguistic categories include noun and verb, among others. There are open word classes, which constantly acquire new members, and closed word classes, which acquire new members infrequently if at all.

Different languages may have different lexical categories, or they might associate different properties to the same one. For example, Japanese has as many as three classes of adjectives where English has one; Chinese, Korean and Japanese have classifiers while European languages do not grammaticalize these units of measurement (a pair of pants, a grain of rice); many languages don't have a distinction between adjectives and adverbs, adjectives and verbs (see stative verbs) or adjectives and nouns, etc. Some argue that the formal distinctions between parts of speech must be made within the framework of a specific language or language family, and should not be carried over to other languages or language families.


The classification of words into lexical categories is found from the earliest moments in the history of linguistics. In the Nirukta, written in the 5th or 6th century BC, theSanskrit grammarianY�ska defined four main categories of words:

  1. n�ma – nouns or substantives
  2. �khy�ta – verbs
  3. upasarga – pre-verbs or prefixes
  4. nip�ta – particles, invariant words (perhaps prepositions)

These four were grouped into two large classes: inflected (nouns and verbs) and uninflected (pre-verbs and particles).

The Tamil grammarianTolkappian in his work Tolkappiyam dated variously between 1st CE and 10th CE, classifies words in Tamil as

  1. peyar (noun),
  2. vinai (verb),
  3. idai (part of speech which modifies the relationships between verbs and nouns) and
  4. uri (word that further qualifies a noun or verb)

A century or two later, the Greek scholar Plato wrote in the Cratylus dialog that "... sentences are, I conceive, a combination of verbs [rhēma] and nouns [ónoma]". Another class, "conjunctions" (covering conjunctions, pronouns, and the article), was later added by Aristotle.

By the end of the 2nd century BC, the classification scheme had been expanded into eight categories, seen in the Art of Grammar(Τέχνη Γ�αμματική) :

  1. Noun: a part of speech inflected for case, signifying a concrete or abstract entity
  2. Verb: a part of speech without case inflection, but inflected for tense, person and number, signifying an activity or process performed or undergone
  3. Participle: a part of speech sharing the features of the verb and the noun
  4. Interjection: a part of speech expressing emotion alone
  5. Pronoun: a part of speech substitutable for a noun and marked for person
  6. Preposition: a part of speech placed before other words in composition and in syntax
  7. Adverb: a part of speech without inflection, in modification of or in addition to a verb
  8. Conjunction: a part of speech binding together the discourse and filling gaps in its interpretation

The Latin grammarian Priscian (fl.500 CE) modified the above eightfold system, substituting "interjection" for "article". It wasn't until 1767 that the adjective was taken as a separate class.

Traditional English grammar is patterned after the European tradition above, and is still taught in schools and used in dictionaries. It names eight parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, and grammar, indirect or reported speech (also indirect discourse; Latin ) is a way of reporting a statement or question. A reported question is called an indirect question. Unlike direct speech, indirect speech does not phrase the statement or question the way the original speaker did; instead, certain grammatical categories are changed. In addition, indirect speech is not enclosed in quotation marks.

Person is changed when the person speaking and the person quoting the speech are different.

In English, tense is changed. In other languages, mood is altered. Latin switches from indicative to the infinitive (statement) or the subjunctive (question).

Reference point

Grammatical forms may change when the reference point (origo) is changed. There are two reference points: the point in time and the person currently speaking. A change of time causes a change in tense, and a change in speaker may cause a change in person.

In the first sentence, the reference point changes from present to past: the original speaker sees the rain pouring down, but the narrator is referring to a past event.

In the second and third sentence, the reference point changes from one person to another. In the third example, the reference point moves from the person who intends to come to the party to the one throwing the party.

This explanation, however, cannot be generalised. It does not account for the change of mood in Latin and German. In Japanese, among other languages, the speaker is free to change the pronoun or leave it as is.



Latin grammar can express indirect statements and indirect questions. An indirect statement or question can serve in the place of the direct object of a verb related to thought or communication.

An indirect statement is expressed by changing the case of the subject noun phrase from nominative to accusative and by replacing the main verb with an infinitive (without changing its voice or tense).

  • Ego amo libertatem.
  • :Dicit me amare libertatem.
  • Rex dedit omnibus leges.
  • :Credo regem dedisse omnibus leges.
  • Videbimus permulta cras.
  • :Speras nos videturus esse permulta cras.
  • Tertium non datur.
  • :Docuit philosophus tertium non dari.
  • In Senatu imperator interfectus est.
  • :Audivi imperatorem in Senatu interfectum esse.

In the case of predication via a copula (typically esse),the case of the predicate adjective or noun changes from nominative to accusative.

  • Ego sum felix.
  • :Dicit me esse felicem.

An indirect question is expressed by changing the mood of the main verb from indicative to subjunctive. It is normally appropriate to retain the word that introduces the question.

Comparison between direct, indirect and free indirect speech

From Yahoo Answers

Question:What is the difference between the way Dylan Thomas and Alfred, Lord Tennyson use figures of speech to describe death?

Answers:As a starting off point I'd say that Tennyson definitely empowers death more. Thomas will often work to do the very opposite. He applies a more human quality to death, its a less threatening figure. I think this is epitomized in his "And Death Shall Have No Dominion." Though death, as it is too with Tennyson, is stylized, its not presented as a presence worthy of inspiring fear, quite the contrary its superficial power are juxtaposed and overshadowed by the beauty and magic of life itself, this is more in the tradition of John Donne, for example in "Death Be Not Proud" than it is in Tennyson. Tennyson elevates death to larger-than-life proportions. He interestingly doesn't name death nearly as often as Thomas, which in itself makes it more inscrutable. There's also a fatalistic strand in his writing, the sadness and omnipotence of death is taken for granted, and many of his poems are about a surrender to death, never a conquering of it. There's no finer example of this than in his "The Lady of Shallot." Thomas puts human puts man over death, Tennyson puts death over man.

Question:I am writing a proposal with portions of musical score included. What is a figure and what is an example? Which word is most appropriate for this instance? The score is of music which I have written myself and will be included in the intended project.

Answers:I believe what you are writing would be an example. A figure is more for charts, graphs, or tables that represents a statement. I feel though, that there is a better word for what you are trying to show rather than example. . . i just can determine what it is. What about 'sample' or 'insert'. Or if it is on a separate page at the end of the document what about calling it "Appendix A' I really hope you can get someone who can help you better than I did!!! Good luck!

Question:Writing a proof for geometry. Is there a difference between saying Segment PR = Segment PS and Segment PR is congruent to Segment PS? Thanks.

Answers:Never fear, Jaws is here! Someone else asked a similar question and this answerer put it better than I could have. Take a look: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080831215452AALDSn3

Question:Can someone please help me? I am so stuck on this question for my homework. The paper has this as reference I guess using the word "Up":: Preposition: He went up the street. Adjective: He used the up elevator. Adverb: Prices are going up. Noun: I have my ups and downs. Verb: The butcher upped the price of meat. Interjection: Up! Up! Please hold the elevator for me. Now here is the question I have to do... "Write three sentences using the word taxi as four different parts of speech. Label each different usage." I really don't get this? How do i use Taxi in those ways? I started it off like this "Taxi! Please wait!" So I only have the interjection. I totally can't figure out how to sue Taxi like the examples above. it has to be a sentence as well .

Answers:Taxicab is a different word (and one word), don't use that example. However for an adjective you can use Taxi driver. Taxi down the runway is the most common for verb usage.