One of the key IELTS skills that all students know is that you need a large vocabulary. But how do you learn new words? Most importantly, you don’t learn them in isolation. You learn collocations, which means how words work together. You need to learn how to use a word or else knowing it is useless. Thus, it is essential that you know the different parts of speech in order to succeed in IELTS.
The 8 Parts of Speech
In the English language, all words can be broken down into eight categories. They are:
Some people argue that articles (a/an/the) are a separate category called articles or determiners; however, you can include these as a sort of adjective. In most textbooks, they list 8 parts of speech, so that’s what we will use here to avoid confusion.
We will look at these in more depth after we ask an important question:
Why Learn Parts of Speech for IELTS?
In order to do well in IELTS, you need to have a good knowledge of English. That’s pretty obvious, right? But how can you know the language well unless you know its basic structure? If you want to learn new words, you need to know how to use them. You should know some really basic things like:
- adjectives add detail to nouns
- adverbs give more information about verbs
- pronouns replace nouns
It is tremendously important that you understand these basics so that you can then develop more advanced skills. In English, we have a saying: “You need to walk before you can run.”
This is true of language, too. If you want to speak English at an IELTS 7 level, you have to work your way up from the basics. I often tell my students that they need to master the simple sentence before they can try the complex sentence.
Even when you get to the more advanced grammatical structures, you should be thinking in terms of parts of speech.
Let’s take the IELTS reading exam for an example. If you are reading a passage about trees and you come to the phrase “deciduous trees,” how can parts of speech help you? Well, “trees” is, of course, a noun. Clearly, “deciduous” is giving some information about the tree. Therefore, it is an adjective. We can then start to work out that “deciduous” must be a kind of tree and look for clues in the text as to what exactly a deciduous tree is. When we produce English for the speaking and writing exams, we can take model language and build it up similarly so that the production of language feels natural. For example, adjectives usually appear before the noun they describe.
Looking at the Parts of Speech
Let’s now take each of the 8 parts of speech in turn and explore its meaning.
Definition: A person, place, idea, or thing
Example: France, a mountain, Steven, sheep, socialism
Sentences: The moon is bright.
John is reading that book.
Definition: A pronoun replaces a noun. Sometimes this is done to avoid repetition.
Example: he, his, her, I, we
Sentences: They wanted us to go with them.
He asked her to the dance but she said no.
Definition: An adjective describes, changes, or gives extra information about a noun or pronoun.
Example: long, high, red, fast, British, angry
Sentences: The tall man looked at the beautiful woman.
The slow car stopped by the big supermarket.
There are different kinds of adjectives:
- Descriptive (ie. difficult, cheap)
- Proper (ie. Japanese, Italian)
- Quantitative (ie. some, many)
and so on…
Definition: An adverb describes a verb, adjective, or even another adverb.
They often end in “-ly”.
Example: quickly, silently, cunningly, amusingly, frankly, eventfully, coyly
Sentences: She quickly ran out to get help.
He drove carefully to the village
Definition: A verb is usually an action, but may also indicate a state of being.
Examples: think, run, dance, sing, believe
Sentences: He studies English so he can go to America.
They think they can beat their rivals.
Definition: A conjunction joins two words or groups of words, and can connect clauses.
Examples: and, but, or, yet
Sentences: They want to go skiing, but it’s too expensive.
She ate ice cream and cake for dessert.
Definition: Shows the relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and another word.
Examples: on, at, in, from, about
Sentences: The keys are on the table.
She sat near the door.
Definition: A word or phrase that expresses emotion.
Examples: wow, ah, watch out, ouch
Sentences: Ouch! That hurt!
Wow! That was amazing!
Building Sentences with Parts of Speech
Of course, the purpose of knowing these parts of speech is to better understand language. They can help you to decode what a sentence means, but they can also help you to produce better sentences. The purpose of this book is to help you build your language to the level of IELTS 7 or above, and knowing the parts of speech is fundamental.
At its most basic, a sentence can sometimes be one word, like an interjection or a verb:
However, to make a proper sentence requires at least a noun and a verb that express a complete thought or idea:
We can add verbs or nouns for more specific meaning, or replace the noun with a pronoun to avoid repetition:
Adverbs and adjectives can alter verbs and nouns to give our language more color:
Prepositions give us more information about where or when something happens:
(*remember that a determiner or article is another part of speech, sometimes considered an adjective)
Conjunctions allow us to add multiple clauses into a sentence:
Final Note on Parts of Speech
You should use your dictionary to find out the correct part of speech for a word when studying. Keep in mind that some words may be classified as more than one part of speech. For example, “work” can be both a verb and a noun:
- I went to work yesterday. (noun)
- I was working yesterday. (verb)
Leave a Reply