Explanation

Every word belongs to a word class which summarises the ways in which it can be used in grammar. The major word classes for English are: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, determiner, pronoun, conjunction. Word classes are sometimes called parts of speech.

A word class is a group of words which show similar grammatical behaviour. For example, words which belong to the class of nouns occur as the Heads of noun phrases, can be preceded by determiners, and so on. The National Curriculum prefers the label 'word types'.

Nouning verbs

A quick activity looking at how some words can be both nouns and verbs

This is a simple starter activity that will help your students see how some words can function as both nouns and verbs. The activity is designed to be carried out in pairs around the class. One student be the noun and the other will be the verb. Each will need the same word list (which you can download and print below) or you can just use the word list on the screen.

Regional vocabulary

In the work you’ve done so far on ways to identify word classes, you have seen that many words can be identified by form, function and distribution.

In this activity, we’ll look at how you might use these ideas to identify some words which appear in regional varieties of English. You’ll see examples of regional dialect terms in the context which they were used, and your task will be to work out what grammatical role the word is performing.

Word choice

Why do writers use some words and not others? This lesson looks at word choice options, both grammatical and semantic.

Word choice: Activity 1

What word would you place in the blank slot?

Word choice: Activity 2

Read this extract from a novel and think about the ways in which the writer has chosen specific words to convey his description.

My earliest memories are a confusion of hilly fields and dark, damp stables, and rats that scampered along the beams above my head. But I remember well enough the day of the horse sale. The terror of it stayed with me all my life.

From Michael Morpurgo, Warhorse

Word classes

Word classes are categories into which we place words. Traditionally these have been called parts of speech, but word class is now the term used by linguists, and by the UK National Curriculum.

The meanings of words can often be helpful in assigning words to a particular category. This is an effective approach for younger students, but older students can take a more sophisticated approach. 

Word classes: Interjections

Interjections are a group of words which are commonly used in spoken language to express emotions, reactions and so on. It is generally difficult to categorise them into one of the eight major word classes.

Examples include the following:

  • oh, wow, aha, ouch, tut-tut, ugh, oops, humph, hooray, yuck, whew, yikes, eek

Interjections can occur on their own, or in sequence (e.g. oh wow), and can also be attached to a sentence. These examples are all from informal conversations:

Word structure: Derivation

Derivation is the process of creating new words. The technical term derivational morphology is the study of the formation of new words. Here are some examples of words which are built up from smaller parts:

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