FACTOID # 10: The total number of state executions in 2005 was 60: 19 in Texas and 41 elsewhere. The racial split was 19 Black and 41 White.
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Encyclopedia > Word class

In grammar, a part of speech or word class 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. There are open word classes, which constantly acquire new members, and closed word classes, which acquire new members infrequently if at all.

Parts of speech are often a tricky subject when dealing with languages other than one's native one(s), since in some cases they do not match as expected. Spanish uses adjectives almost interchangeably as nouns while English cannot; Japanese has two classes of adjectives where English has one; Chinese and Japanese have measure words while European languages have nothing resembling them; many languages don't have a distinction between adjectives and adverbs, or adjectives and nouns, etc. This means that the formal distinctions between parts of speech must be made within the framework of a given language, and should not be carried over to other languages.

In traditional English grammar, which is patterned after Latin grammar, and still taught in schools and used in dictionaries, there are eight parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. Modern grammarians however believe that this list is somewhat simplified and artificial. For example, "adverb" is to some extent a catch-all class that includes words with many different functions.

Common ways of delimiting words by function include:



English is an analytic language and frequently does not mark words as belonging to one part of speech or another. Words like neigh, break, outlaw, laser, microwave and telephone might all be either verb forms or nouns. Although -ly is an adverb marker, not all adverbs end in -ly and not all words ending in -ly are adverbs. For instance, tomorrow, slow, fast, crosswise can all be adverbs, while leisurely, friendly, ugly are all adjectives.

In certain circumstances, even words with primarily grammatical functions can be used as verbs or nouns, as in "We must look to the hows and not just the whys" or "Miranda was to-ing and fro-ing and not paying attention".


In Japanese, several parts of speech are explicitly marked. For example, basic verbs in the plain form always end in -u, and basic verbs in the polite form always end in -masu; i-adjectives (see above) always end -i, and the adverbs derived of those adjectives always end in -ku. However, the mark is not enough to distinguish a part of speech from another (not everything that ends in -u is a verb, etc.).

Japanese parts of speech do not correspond well with the traditional Latin-based ones outlined above. There are two classes of words that may function as adjectives, each with a different morphosyntax. One of them encodes temporal information (as verbs do), while the other patterns with nouns in most respects. Some conjugated forms of verbs, in turn, pattern closely with adjectives.

See also

External links

  • Phrases and Clauses (http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/phrases.htm) from Comnet's Garden of Phrases
  • Parts of Speech and Function (http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/definitions.htm) from Comnet's Garden of Phrases
  • Parts of Speech Quiz (http://www.kwiznet.com/p/takeQuiz.php?ChapterID=1860&CurriculumID=13)

  Results from FactBites:
Social class - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1943 words)
Social classes with a great deal of power are usually viewed as an elite, at least by their own societies.
Classes are seen to have their origin in the division of the social product into a necessary product and a surplus product.
For example, Bourdieu seems to have a notion of high and low classes comparable to that of Marxism, insofar as their conditions are defined by different habitus, which is in turn defined by different objectively classifiable conditions of existence.
Open class word - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (258 words)
An open word class, in linguistics, is a word class that accepts the addition of new items, through such processes as compounding, derivation, coining, borrowing, etc. Typical open word classes are nouns, verbs and adjectives.
Open-class words are not considered part of the core language and as such they can be changed, replaced or dropped from the common lexicon, which can encompass many thousands of them.
Slang words appear first in small segments of the population, and then spread to the mainstream speaking community and become standard, or fade after a period of being in fashion.
  More results at FactBites »



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