This is an extract taken from The PEG guide to grammar and punctuation (2018) by Myf Steynberg.
Grammar is the greatest joy in life, don’t you find?
– Lemony Snicket
‘Grammar’ is the term used to cover the rules or conventions of English usage that help us to communicate effectively in both spoken and written language. Grammatical rules guide the way we use words, construct sentences and apply punctuation to clarify a writer’s or speaker’s meaning. Over time, popular usage influences and could change grammatical conventions.
How words are classified
Words can be classified into nine parts of speech:
- Nouns Nouns name everything around us, including feelings and ideas.
- Pronouns Pronouns replace nouns to avoid unnecessary repetition.
- Adjectives Adjectives tell us more about nouns and pronouns.
- Verbs Verbs tell us what a subject is doing, feeling or being.
- Adverbs Adverbs tell us more about verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.
- Prepositions Prepositions show us the relationship of nouns or pronouns to other words in a sentence.
- Conjunctions Conjunctions are used to join words, phrases, clauses and sentences.
- Determiners Determiners are articles, demonstratives and quantifiers.
- Interjections Interjections are words or phrases that show emotion.
In this guide, the parts of speech are described and illustrated in the order listed above. It is important to note that while each part of speech has a label of some kind (eg abstract noun, present participle, conjunction, infinitive), it can also perform one or more functions in a sentence (subject, object, complement, connector or even another part of speech). So, for instance, a noun can play the role of an adjective (eg chocolate box, time limit) and a verb form can play the role of a noun (eg To sing beautifully is my dream; Smoking is forbidden).