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Parts of speech (in any language)

Updated: Jan 29

This post is written as a result of a request by more than one of my students. It is not particular to any one language; it applies to most languages – certainly all the European languages - in some way.

There must be plenty of us who went through our entire education without ever really appreciating the difference between an adjective and an adverb, for example, or knowing when, if ever, it's correct to say "me and him" instead of "he and I".

In a sense, it is not essential to know all the technical jargon about a language if you are only ever going to speak your own one, because you just say things without the need to explain why you’ve said it like that, but it certainly is helpful to be able to identify what sort of word something is, when you meet it for the first time. * A noun is the name of a thing; either a physical thing that you can see and touch, like a car, a chimney, or a biscuit; or an abstract thing like modesty, acceleration, jealousy * An adjective describes what a noun is like: the car is stolen, the chimney is clean, the biscuit is delicious. * A verb is a ‘doing’ word: run, play, go, love. * An adverb describes how a verb is performed: she plays beautifully; they go boldly; I love unconditionally. * A pronoun is a little word that takes the place of another, usually of a noun: I, me, them, it, his, herself… * A preposition is a word that places a noun in space: in front of the house, or in time: before breakfast There are plenty more categories that could be added to this list, but that will do for now. There is a poem that has been doing the rounds in the teaching world for so long that I wouldn’t know where to start trying to reference where it originally came from:

Every name is called a noun, As field and fountain, street and town. In place of noun the pronoun stands, As he and she can clap their hands. The adjective describes a thing, As magic wand or bridal ring. Most verbs mean action, something done, To read and write, to jump and run. How things are done the adverbs tell, As quickly, slowly, badly, well. The preposition shows relation, As in the street or at the station. Conjunctions join, in many ways, Sentences, words, or phrase and phrase. The interjection cries out, “Heed! An exclamation point must follow me

I am delighted to say that there are now SameSky Language groups for French, German and Spanish at all three levels: beginner*, intermediate and advanced. We also offer Italian and Japanese tuition, either in small groups or one-to-one.

Now is a good time to sign up, especially if you consider yourself a beginner (or re-beginner). We have only just started the new courses, so you won't have much to catch up on.

Most are taught on Zoom, but we are opening up more and more in-person groups - at various salubrious venues in the Reading and West Berks area.

*There is really no such thing as a complete beginner, if you have grown up in GB, if you are starting to learn one of the three or four "main" European languages. Discuss!

Please contact me here if you would like to find out more about taking up a new language, or brushing the rust of an old one.

Andrew Wenger

SameSky Languages

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This is the transcript for Episode 7 of the SameSky Languages FRENCH podcast. It covers adjectives, the subjunctive and 'verlan' slang

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