Encyclopedia > Part of speech

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Part of speech

In grammar, a part of speech is defined as the role that a word (or sometimes a phrase) plays in a sentence. In transformational-generative grammar, parts of speech are known as lexical categories.

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In English, words are not inherently one part of speech or another. Many verbs and nouns are spelled identically, for instance, denoting the action and the name of the action, respectively:

  • neigh
  • break
  • outlaw

Not all adverbs end in -ly and not all words ending in -ly are adverbs.

  • tomorrow, slow, fast, crosswise can all be adverbs.
  • leisurely, friendly, ugly are all adjectives.

Even words with primarily grammatical functions can be used as verbs or nouns, as:

  • We must look to the hows and not just the whys.
  • Miranda was to-ing and fro-ing and not paying attention.

Common ways of delimiting words by function include:


In Japanese language, aside from some exceptions, the part of speech is defined with called case-maker[?] such as な na, に ni. For example, take a noun, 親切 (Shinsetsu kindness). This word can have either an adjective or adverb form:

  • 親切な (Shinsetsu-na kind)
  • 親切に (Shinsetsu-ni kindly)

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