Oops, we’re sorry…must have pressed the wrong key (should read PARTS). Just goes to show you that mistakes (spelling or grammar) can really stink up the joint…

Today, we begin our language journey together. If you pay attention (remember: it costs nothing to pay attention) and make a serious effort, then you WILL improve your spoken and written word. Let us not follow in the footsteps of American poet Carl Sandburg who said, “I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.”

SO, OFF WE GO…but first…

PLEASE  NOTE: There are approximately 250 000 words in the English language (see Oxford English Dictionary for more details). We are welcome to use each and every one of them when we speak, write or just plain think about things.

FURTHERMORE: All of these quarter of a million words are organized into FAMILIES or PARTS OF SPEECH depending of their function or position within a sentence.

FINALLY: There are only 8 PARTS (FAMILIES) OF SPEECH (so it shouldn’t be that difficult to learn their names).

The easiest way?  Memorize the following word: PAPA VINC (which, from this day forward, will serve as our godparent of all the families or parts of speech). Actually, PAPA VINC (which sounds a bit like an Italian godfather), will be our mnemonic (don’t pronounce the ‘m’) device or aid for learning and REMEMBERING the 8 PARTS OF SPEECH (You wouldn’t want to disappoint PAPA VINC now, would you?).

Let’s get started. Keep in mind that our goal is to learn the names of the 8 PARTS OF SPEECH (or FAMILIES OF WORDS) and get an idea what each does. We’ll add more detail as is necessary. Think of our first lesson as looking at a car engine for the first time. We can’t possibly know the names of each of the parts nor how the parts are interconnected. What we must understand, however, is that each PART does have a NAME and a PURPOSE. (All right, let’s peek ‘under the hood’ and get our first look at the engine that drives the English language)…Take it away Papa Vinc!

P is for PRONOUNS.  These words replace nouns and help us avoid unnecessary repetition in sentences. ***Once we get a handle on the mechanics of sentence structure, you will know when to use ‘I’ or ‘me’, ‘who’ or ‘whom’, ‘its’ or ‘it’s’. The Pronoun Family is a big one as you will learn later.

A is for ADJECTIVES. They describe (modify or limit) nouns. Examples: beautiful, evil, large, freckled, awful. Adjectives, well used, can spice up or tone down communication.

P is for PREPOSITIONS. They start or introduce phrases. Examples: to, on, of, for, from. Learning how to recognize prepositions, and thus phrases, will help us to choose the correct pronoun which often follows (‘I’ vs. ‘me’).

A is for  ADVERBS. They describe (modify or limit) verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. Most adverbs end in ‘ly’ and indicate how, when, where, or why something happens or happened. Like adjectives, they can breathe life (or death) into any sentence.

V is for VERBS. They indicate an action or a state of being and are the heart of any sentence. Examples: jump, ran, is, were, think, seem. Being able to recognize the difference between action or state of being verbs will make help us to determine the correct follower.

I is for INTERJECTIONS: They express emotions or sentiment. Examples: Wow! Whew! Ouch! Kaboom! (Go get ’em Batman!)

N is for NOUNS. They name people, places and things. Nouns and verbs love to hang out together. Take any noun ( or pronoun), add a verb and bingo, a complete thought (sentence) is born. Examples: rain, men, women, Bob, Paris, city, cat. Nouns (or pronouns) and verbs are the mechanical basis of English (subject/predicate).

C is for  CONJUNCTIONS.  Conjunctions link or join words, phrases or clauses. Examples: and, but, although, however, because. As you will learn later, conjunctions can compound matters or create complexity in sentences.

There you have it: THE 8 PARTS OF SPEECH! To review: Pronouns, Adjectives, Prepositions, Adverbs, Verbs, Interjections, Nouns, Verbs…THE 8 PARTS OF SPEECH OR FAMILIES OF WORDS…


Language can be spoken or written on different levels. It really depends on a given situation. Most of us communicate using colloquial or informal language in which the rules of formal language are somewhat relaxed, or, in the case of slang, egregiously (how’s that for an adverb?) ignored. No one really cares if it’s ‘who’ or ‘whom’, ‘he’ or ‘him’ and so on; that is, until one finds him or herself in a situation (i.e. writing a resume) where proper spelling or grammar is expected and, in some cases, demanded. Therefore, it is very important to be able to communicate on every level…don’t you agree?

Let’s take a peek at the three levels using the ever-popular ‘Knock, Knock’ joke format:

First, on the slang level…

Knock, Knock…

Who dat?

Me! You! Open dis god-d..n door!

(Hmmm, a bit sloppy, wouldn’t you say?)

Now, we switch to the colloquial level…

Knock, Knock…

Who’s there?

It’s me bonehead! Open the friggin’ door!

(Ahhh, the sweet sound of street talk.)

Finally, we reach the top or formal level…

Knock, Knock…

May I ask who is there?

It is I, your beloved friend. Would you kindly unlock the door?

(Yes, it is does sound a tad alien but ‘I’, not ‘me’ is the proper choice)

We look forward to ‘seeing’ you again soon at which time we’ll get into the mechanics of language. This is when you’ll truly begin to understand how the English language works.  See you again soon…and do keep in touch!

Bloggingfrog & Lily


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