In this article, we are going to be looking at the various different types of words found in the English language. We will do this by taking a look at the different word classes and word forms and also by looking at different examples to further show the use of each type of word.
A word, in the English language, can come in a variety of forms, making up the vocabulary of the entire language.
There are four main word classes in the English language and five minor ones, making nine in total. These word classes are as follows:
- Verbs – words which describe an action for example walk, make, breathe, cook.
- Nouns – words which name an item or thing, for example, city, mountain, bicycle, dog.
- Adjectives – words which describe nouns, for example clever, large, funny, round.
- Adverbs – words that modify other word classes such as nouns or verbs, for example bravely, quickly, totally, awkwardly.
- Prepositions – these words are used to express a relation to another word, usually a noun, for example after, before, near, of.
- Pronouns – words which name a person, for example me, he, they, Martin.
- Interjections – word without any grammatical meaning or value, for example hey, uh, boo, aw.
- Determiner – a word which decides the reference a noun has, for example his, their, its, my, many, few.
- Conjunction – words which connect two clauses, for example because, but, and, for.
There are various forms of each and every word in the English language, and depending on how you want to convey the word, which tense it is being used and other factors will depend on the word formation. For example, the verb to eat can be formed in the following ways: eat, eats, eaten, ate. The same is true of many other words in various classes, let’s look at another example, the adjective blank, this word might be formed in the following ways; blank, blankly, blankest, blanker.
Word forms are the various ways in which a word might exist within the language. A word might be seen as more than one type of word class, depending on its formation and use. In order to further understand this concept, let’s take a look at an example.
The word beauty can be formed in various different ways, as follows;
- beautiful – adjective – The woman in the painting was extremely beautiful.
- beautify – verb – I am going to beautify this photo to make it look its best.
- beautifully – adverb – She performed that song beautifully.
Word forms usually fall into a category of their own. We are now going to take a look at the different types of word forms which are seen regularly within the English language.
A prefix is a group of letter which comes before the main part, or root of a word, therefore giving a new or modified meaning. Let’s take a look at common prefixes and some examples of their use.
- dis – examples of the use of the prefix can be seen in the following words: disappear, disjoint, disembark, disappoint. The meaning of the prefix is the opposite of something, or the reverse meaning of something.
- ex – examples of the use of the prefix ex can be seen in the following words: exhale, extreme, excite. The meaning of the prefix is out of, former or away from.
- il – examples of the use of this prefix can be seen in the following words: illegal, illegitimate, illogical. The meaning of the prefix is not.
- mis – examples of the use of the prefix can be seen in the following words: mistake, misshapen, misunderstood. The meaning of the prefix is wrong or bad.
- pro – examples of the use of the prefix can be seen in the following words: progress, production, program. The meaning of the prefix is for or before.
A suffix is the opposite of a prefix and is a group of letter which can be added to the end of a word in order to alter or modify its meaning. Let’s take a look at some examples of suffixes which are used often within the English language.
- able – examples of the use of the suffix can be seen in the following words: comfortable, renewable, durable. The meaning of the suffix is having a quality of or being able to.
- al – examples of the suffix can be seen in the following words: comical, biannual. clerical. The meaning of the suffix is in relation to something.
- est – examples of the suffix can be seen in the following words: smallest, cleverest highest. The suffix refers to a superlative.
- ing – examples of the suffix can be seen in the following words: taking, jumping, holding. The suffix denotes an action which is occurring.
- ness – examples of the suffix can be seen in the following words: kindness, boldness, harshness. The suffix refers to the condition of something.
A contraction is a word which is in a shortened form and is a very common grammatical object seen within the English language. We will now take a look at some common contractions and their meanings.
- it’s – meaning it is.
- they’re – meaning they are.
- I’m – meaning I am.
- he’s/she’s – meaning he is/she is.
- gonna – meaning going to.
- aren’t – meaning are not.
- isn’t – meaning is not.
- could’ve – meaning could have
- musn’t – meaning must not.
Wh Question Words
There are question words which begin with the letters wh which are placed at the beginning of a sentence which is a question. Let’s take a look at examples of these words and how they can be used.
- Who? – Who is that man in the car?
- Where? – Where are you going on your holiday?
- What? – What are you doing with that bag?
- When? – When do you start work?
- Why? – Why did you eat my muffin?
- How? – How are you? (Whilst the placement of the letter wh differs in this word, it still falls into the same category.)
In the final part of this article, we are going to look at a selection of further examples for each of the word classes which can be used as a reference when speaking or writing in English.
- Nouns – table, lamp, door, America, China, car, street, alphabet, ocean.
- Verbs – run, swim, work, love, eat, bite, race, dance.
- Adjective – dark, cold, white, big, tiny, cute, pink.
- Adverb – slowly, quickly, coldly, effectively, dangerously, hardly, rapidly.
- Preposition – about, according to, because, toward, per, in spite of, beneath.
- Pronoun – her, he, me, you, they, their, his, her.
- Interjection – alas, ah, oh, uh, hey, uh-oh, crikey.
- Determiner – a, an, the, my, your, most, all, any, few.
- Conjunction – but, although, since, yet, until, where, while.