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The building blocks of written language are the eight parts of speech:
Noun Verb Adjective Adverb Pronoun Preposition Conjunction
A noun is a person, place, thing, concept, or quality (Hank Williams, Carp, boulder,
transportation, happiness).
A verb expresses a physical action (to run, to buy), an abstract action (to think, to dream), a state
of being (to be, to become).
A verb can be a single word or many words. When you are looking for the verb, ask yourself
what the action of the sentence is, and circle all the words that express that action.
An adjective modifies, limits, qualifies or describes a noun.
And adjective answers such questions as “which?” or “what kind?’.
An adverb modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs usually indicate how, where,
when, why or how much.
A preposition relates a noun or pronoun to other nouns, pronouns and verbs that occur in the
same sentence.
A conjunction connects words or constructions. There are coordination and subordination
Interjections. Wow. Ouch. Things like that.
Function: Noun, Subject of the Verb
Explanation: The subject is the “doer” of the action. To find the subject, circle the verb, and then ask who or what is
performing that action.
Roald Dahl writes novels.
Mr. Dahl is a famous author
For each of the following sentences, circle the verb and underline and label the subject of the verb.
Matilda enjoys complicated novels.
Did Bruce Bogtrotter eat the entire cake?
Miss Trunchbull is a very strict (and slightly dangerous) principal.
Mathilda and Lavender put a newt in Miss Trunchbull’s glass.
At the end of the year, Miss Trunchbull will retire.
Function: Noun, Object of Verb (or Direct Object)
Explanation: The object is the receiver of the action. To determine the object of the verb, find the verb, then ask if
there is a noun that answers what or whom.
Mr. Wonka designed a contest.
Mr. Wonka designed what? – The answer is contest: contest is the Object of the Verb.
Not every sentence has an object of the verb.
For each of the following sentences, circle the verb, label the subject, and label the object of the verb.
Charlie found the bar with the golden ticket.
Augustus Gloop ate ten thousand chocolate bars.
Violet Beauregard chewed gum all the time, and eventually she turned purple.
Mike Teavee watched way too much television.
Function: Noun, Object of the Preposition
Explanation: A preposition is followed by a noun or noun structure. The noun that follows and is associated with
the prepostion is the the object of the preposition.
Sophie lived in England. (England, object of the prepostion “in”.)
The giant walked the streets at night. (night, object of the preposition “at”.)
For the sentences below, circle the verb, and label the subject, object of the verb, and object of the preposition.
In Dahl’s story, the giant captured dreams in glass jars.
The giant blew the dreams into children’s ears.
Sophie saved the BFG from the bloodthirsty giants, who were eventually imprisoned in a giant pit..
Indirect Object
Explanation: An indirect object is actually an object of the preposition with the preposition omitted. The prepostion
is often understood, and left out of the sentence.
Danny gave his father a present.
father: indirect object of the verb, or object of the omitted preposition “to”. (NIO)
Danny’s father gave him a driving lesson.
him: indirect object of the verb, or object of the omitted prepostion “to”.
Function: Subjective Completion
Explanation: A subjective completion follows a copula or linking verb. The verb acts as an = sign.
Roald Dahl is a famous author of children’s stories.
author: Noun, Subjective Completion (NSC)
Sophie has become a wiser person by the end of the novel.
person: Noun, Subjective Completion (NSC)
Function: Noun in Apposition
Explanation: The noun in apposition modifies and explains the preceding noun, and is usually offset with commas.
Example:That boy, James, found a giant peach in his back yard. James: Noun in Apposition (N in App)
Charlie was accompanied by his grandfather, Grandpa Joe.Grandpa Joe: (N in App)
Function: Noun in Address
Explanation: A noun in address directs the information in the sentence at or to someone – someone is being
addressed by name.
Violet, put that gum down. Violet: Noun in Address (N in Add)
Danny, Mr. Hazell is furious about his birds. Danny: Noun in Address (N in Add)
Function: Noun in Possession (or Possessive Noun)
Explanation: A possessive noun has an apostrophe “s”, or an “s” apostrophe.
Example: Matilda’s voice was very quiet. Matilda’s: Noun in Possession (N in P)
Charlie ran into his grandparents’ room. grandparents’: (N in P)
Identify and state the function of all nouns in the following sentences.
Mr. Twit is a disgusting individual.
In his beard, he has chunks of sardine and egg salad.
He torments his wife, the malicious Mrs. Twit.
She once gave him a terrible shock.
She put her glass eye in his drink.
The Twit’s relationship is highly unusual.
One of my grandparents, my grandmother, is a witch.
She terrifies my friends, but she is actually quite nice.
On Tuesday, she cast a spell on my mother, and my mother kept giving me money.
Grandma, please return my dog to his usual size.
A prepositional phrase is a group of words beginning with a preposition and ending with the
object of that preposition. There are adjective and adverb phrases.
1) Put brackets around the adjective phrases in these sentences and label them “adj phr”.
Draw an arrow to the word they modify.
Miss Beastly is a very strict teacher of English.
The closet in her room contains tarantulas from the rainforest.
2) Put brackets around the adverb phrases in these sentences and label them “adv phr”.
Draw an arrow to the word they modify.
She locked Egbert in the closet.
On Tuesday, she threw Oswald out the window.
3) Put brackets around the phrases these sentences, label them “adv” or “adj”, and draw an
arrow to the word they modify.
Englebert misbehaved in class on Friday, so Miss Beastly lifted him by his collar and hung him
on a hook on the wall.(5)
She gave him a large book about gerunds and made him read, hanging on the wall, for two hours
A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb. An independent clause can stand alone – it is a complete
sentence. A dependent, or subordinate, clause cannot stand alone and must work with an independent clause to make
a complete sentence. There are adjective (The guy who stole my wallet must be disappointed), adverb (When I read
that novel, I got smarter), and noun clauses (What I said is what I meant).
4) Adjective clauses modify nouns, and answer the basic questions of “which” and “what kind”. Adjective
clauses often start with relative pronouns such as who, whom, that, or which.
Put square brackets around the adjective clauses in the following sentences and draw an
arrow to the word each one modifies.
adj cl - modifying “novel”
Every novel [that Miss Beastly studied in class] was over 2 000 pages long.
The students who were skilled in self-defence did well in Miss Beastly’s class.
The principal, who was afraid of Miss Beastly, had to evaluate her teaching.
The principal noted the methods that she was using.
His report, which he was afraid to send, never saw the light of day.
5) Adverb clauses modify verbs and often modify the entire independent clause they
accompany. They answer questions such as when, why, where, and how. Adverb clauses
often start with subordinating conjunctions such as because, when, where, if, since, and
unless. Put square brackets around the adverb clauses in the following sentences.
adv cl
Miss Beastly gets passionate [when she discusses epic Victorian novels.]
If the students don’t read the novels, she gives them an overnight detention.
Because parents appreciate Miss Beastly’s unconventional methods, they seldom complain.
The students aren’t allowed home unless they can recite an entire chapter.
6) A noun clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb that acts as a noun. The
noun clauses can act as S of V, O of V, O of P, and NSC. Noun clauses often start with a
relative pronoun such as “what” or “that”. Put square brackets around the noun clauses in
the following sentences and identify the function of each.
noun cl S of V
[What Miss Beastly says] is very interesting and illuminating.
What she says is utterly terrifying.
She believes that everyone should read gigantic books.
Someday she will be arrested for what she does.
She is what I fear most: a dedicated teacher with a mean streak and a nasty uppercut.
A verbal is a verb form acting as another part of speech. There are three kinds of verbals:
participles, gerunds, and infinitives. Verbals are most important when they come in phrases.
These phrases start with a verb form.
 A participle is a verb form acting as an adjective. Participles can be individual words or
phrases. We only care about participle phrases: (e.g. Bursting with pride, Hrothgar showed
his mom his grammar mark. Hrothgar's mother, stunned by the news, fell over.);
 a gerund is a verb form acting as a noun. Gerunds can be individual words or phrases. We
care about the phrases: (e.g. Identifying clauses and phrases is Beowulf’s favourite pastime.);
 an infinitive is the root form of the verb, and it can act as a noun, adjective, or adverb. (I like
to write endless epic novels. The impulse to write is irresistible.)
7) Place round brackets around the participle phrases in the following sentences.
Miss Beastly, attempting to make her students love Victorian literature, pounded Edwin over the
head with a copy of Great Expectations.
Knocked silly by the pounding, Edwin recited the entire first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities.
8) Place round brackets around the gerund phrases in the following sentences. Identify the
function of each.
gerund phrase, O of V
Miss Beastly loves (inspiring students).
Sometimes she finds she must inspire them by threatening them with sharp objects.
Locking students in small rooms full of snakes, crocodiles, and epic poetry helps students
remember literary terms.
9) Place round brackets around the infinitive phrases in the following sentences. Identify
the role and function of each.
Infinitive phrase, O of V
Miss Beastly loves (to invite parents to her evening sessions.)
The need to explain the intricacies of Jude the Obscure makes her lecture parents about literature.
To ensure the parents do not leave early, she confiscates their car keys.
Ms. Beastly’s mission in life is to make people appreciate literature: she often needs to go to great
lengths to fulfil this mission. (3 infinitive phrases in here!)