The 8 parts of speech—do you know them?

When asked this question by her fourth-grade daughter, the author blanked on three of them. She offers a refresher—with examples from a maritime author (yes, you read that correctly).

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Last week my fourth-grader asked me to name the eight parts of speech, and I could come up with only five. I remembered nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs, but I drew a complete blank on the other three: prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

Of course, I know all of these parts of speech and can identify each one when I see them, but naming all eight parts had me stumped.

As professional writers and editors, we sometimes focus so much on diction, sentence structure, and clear writing that we forget the very basics of our craft. Here’s a refresher:


Common nouns refer to a person, place, or thing.

Examples: writer, library, book.

Proper nouns refer to a specific person, place, or thing. Proper nouns are capitalized.

Examples: Patrick O’Brian, London, the Thames.


Pronouns take the place of a noun.

Examples: my, me, she, he, his, her.


Verbs are action words. They show action or state of being and indicate the time of that action or state, past, present, or future.

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