Posted by: episystechpubs | January 14, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Back to Basics

I’m calling this first portion of our grammar adventure “Back to Basics.” We’re going to start at the beginning (a very good place to start)—not quite like Maria von Trapp, but close. I am using The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage as my guide and we’re going to ease into this whole thing.

Parts of Speech

Yes, we’ve covered these before, but let’s come at it from a different angle this time. Depending on your resources, there may be seven, eight, or nine parts of speech. We are sticking with the classic eight: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections.

That’s fine and dandy, but how does that help us? Well, knowing how a word functions in a sentence can eventually improve your use of that word and your grammar. From the McGraw grammar book:

Words are classified into parts of speech according to the way words function in a sentence. It is important to realize that a word’s part of speech is not inherent in the word itself but in the way the word is used. [KC – Emphasis mine.] It is not unusual for a word to belong to more than one part of speech class depending on how the word is used. For example, the word round can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective:

Noun: Should we get another round?

Verb: Horses round the last post and head for home.

Adjective: He put a small, round pebble in his pocket.

So, instead of asking the question, “What part of speech is X?,” we should always ask the question, “What part of speech is X in this sentence?”

While you chew on that a bit, here is a repeat of one of my favorite punctuation jokes:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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