Parts of Speech

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Parts of Speech

We’ve collected some common questions from teachers about how to teach parts of speech. The answers are below.

Adverbs Modifying Adjectives

Question:

My students can find adverbs when they modify verbs, but they have trouble identifying adverbs that modify adjectives. Please help.

Answer:

Write the following sentence on the board:

James felt quite nervous about singing.

Guide students to identify the adjective (nervous). Explain that felt is a linking verb and that nervous modifies James. Then have students ask, How nervous? Tell students that the answer to their question is the adverb (quite). Repeat with several other sentences.

Adverbs vs. Adjectives

Question:

My students assume that any word that ends in ly is an adverb. What are some adjectives that end in ly? I want my students to be able to identify these tricky words quickly.

Answer:

Following is a list of common adjectives that end in ly. I’m sure that there are a few more, but these are the ones your students will most likely see in print:

costly earthly fatherly friendly lively lonely lovely motherly neighborly orderly timely worldly

Correlative Conjunctions

Question:

Some of my students have been using correlative conjunctions incorrectly. How can I teach them that both parts of the conjunction need to be included?

Answer:

Tell your students to think of the correlative conjunctions as links in a chain. Display the visual below to help them understand this concept.

Distinguishing Action Verbs from Linking Verbs

Question:

Analyzing the verb in a sentence is tricky for my students. They especially get confused when distinguishing action verbs from linking verbs. Is there a simple way to help them find verbs?

Answer:

To help your students distinguish verbs in sentences, write the following sentences on the board and analyze them together:

The barbecued squid tastes delicious. The barbecued squid = delicious. I tasted everything on the menu. I = everything on the menu.

Replace the verb with an equal sign. If the equation makes sense, the verb is a linking verb.

How to Teach Direct and Indirect Objects

Question:

My students sometimes have trouble differentiating between direct and indirect objects. Can you help?

Answer:

Try using the following chart to help students tell the difference between direct and indirect objects.

Objects of Prepositions

Question:

How can I help my students find the object of a preposition?

Answer:

Display the visual below and review it, using a variety of simple sentences that contain prepositions.

Review the concepts every day for just a few minutes, perhaps as a transition activity. Soon your students will be able to identify objects of prepositions.

Possessive Adjectives vs. Possessive Pronouns

Question:

My students need help differentiating between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns. How can I help them?

Answer:

Remind students that possessive pronouns are used alone to take the place of possessive nouns. Possessive adjectives modify nouns. Write these sentences on the board.

Mia loves her car. (modifies car) Kayle loves hers too. (replaces Kayle’s car)

Write similar sentence pairs on the board and have students identify pronouns and adjectives by how they’re used.

Simple Past vs. Past Progressive

Question:

How do I help my students understand the difference between the simple past tense and the past progressive tense? They can form the verbs correctly but don’t know when to use them.

Answer:

The simple past tense describes something that started and ended in the past. The past progressive tense describes something that was in progress in the past when something else began or happened. Simple Past: Mike practiced the piano yesterday. Past Progressive: Mike was practicing the piano when Kevin called. One good way for students to determine the difference is to have them analyze the time sequence or make a simple timeline of events. Was one action ongoing? Did another action or event interrupt the ongoing one? If so, the ongoing action is in the past progressive tense.

Subject-Verb Agreement with Indefinite Pronouns

Question:

How can I help my students use indefinite pronouns correctly in their writing? They are having trouble achieving subject-verb agreement.

Answer:

Help students understand singular and plural indefinite pronouns by using these clues. One in the words one, anyone, no one, everyone, and someone means exactly that—one! Body in the words anybody, nobody, everybody, and somebody means one body. Therefore, personal pronouns and possessive adjectives with one or body are singular. Other indefinite pronouns—all, both, few, many, several, and some—are generally plural.

Telling Apart Prepositions and Adverbs

Question:

How can I help my students better understand whether the same word is used as a preposition or as an adverb?

Answer:

Here’s a visual that will help students determine whether a word is used as a preposition or as an adverb.