What would you say if I told you that you could jumpstart your language learning, for any language, with one simple lesson? That would be great wouldn’t it? Because almost all languages have these 7 things in common, you will be ahead of the curve if you know them first. Language is made up of words and each type of word is categorized by its function. They are called the parts of speech., and they work together like puzzle pieces to create sentences. The first step in putting them together is knowing what each piece is!
The reason that it is easier to learn a third language than a second one is because of these fundamentals, or pieces, of language. I know what you are thinking right now. You are thinking that that sounded like grammar. I know, I know, grammar isn’t for everyone! Some find it fascinating and love it, but most of you probably do not. Don’t worry, this is just a list of the essential parts of speech, nothing heavy!
While not a complete list, this quick guide will give you the tools you need to understand what you are learning faster..
Jumpstart your language lessons: The 7 basic parts of speech
A noun is a person, place, or thing, and is one of the first types of words you learn when learning a new language. In gendered languages, it is easy to spot a noun because it will have an article such as le (French), el (Spanish), or der (German) in front of it, depending on the language.
Nouns include words like boy, happiness, classroom, mom, Susan, and kilometer, and are typically either the subject of object of a sentence. In the following example, the nouns are in bold.
The car drives down the street. The word car is the subject and the word street is the object of this sentence.
Pronouns are words that take the place of a noun. For example, if I were telling you story about a guy named Tom, I wouldn’t want to keep saying Tom over and over. Instead, I would use the word he in place of Tom when telling my story.
There are different types of pronouns in different languages, including object pronouns and stress pronouns. Most languages do use personal pronouns which are the words for I, you, he, she, it, they, we.
He drives the car down the street. In this sentence, the pronoun he is the subject.
Arguably the most important part of speech is the verb. Verbs are the words that describe an action or a state of being. Without them, nothing happens. There are many different verb moods and tenses that can be used. While some languages may only use verbs in the present tense, others have six or seven different verb tenses that are commonly used.
The most important verb form for you to understand when beginning is the infinitive form. This is the equivalent of adding the word to to an English verb. Take the verb run, for example. The infinitive is to run. This is important because in many European languages, at least, the infinitive is one word. The Spanish verb hablar, for example, translates to to speak in English. In our sample sentences, drives is the verb.
The car drives down the street. He drives the car down the street.
These are words that are used to describe a noun or pronoun. They include things like colors, numbers, size, and age as well as descriptions about appearances and personality. Adjectives aren’t too difficult in the languages that I have learned. Let’s make our sample sentence more colorful by adding some.
The red car drives down the wide street. Red and wide are both adjectives because they tell us more about the nouns car and street.
As you may have suspected, adverbs describe verbs. They can also be used to modify adjectives and other adverbs. Words like slowly, well, and logically are adverbs. They help add to your communication by letting others know how something is done. In the languages that I know, adverbs are the easiest part of speech to master. The often all have similar endings which helps a lot! Take a look at what adding a few can do to our sample sentence.
The red car drives slowly down the overly wide street. Here we see slowly being used to modify the verb drives and overly modifying the adjective wide. Versatile little words, these adverbs!
Prepositions are necessary but difficult to master! These include words like in, around, on, through, inside, before, after, since, until, etc. You can think of them as words that refer to a location or a place in time. I have found them to be one of the most difficult parts of speech for two reasons. The first being that there are just so many of them and they mean such vastly different things. The second reason they are so difficult is the way they are used. For example, one language may use the preposition in with the word line, where another will use on. It is through prepositions that you can usually spot a non-native speaker. So, if you are really trying to fit in, I would be sure to master this part of speech!
The car drives down the street. The word down is a preposition.
Conjunctions are connecting words and include the words and, yet, but, for, or and so. They are the words that are used to connect other words, phrases or clauses in a sentence. Our sample sentence doesn’t have any conjunctions because it is too short. But we can use a conjunction to add more information to it like in the following example.
The car drives down the street and doesn’t even stop for the red lights. The word and joins the two clauses together making the sentence longer and more interesting!
Most of the people I know didn’t learn about grammar or the parts of speech until they learned a second language. Knowing these parts of speech ahead of time will make it so much easier for you to learn yours!
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