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CELTA Course Skills

Grammar: Parts of Speech

What are Parts of Speech

Parts of speech refers to the various roles that words play in a sentence – for example, APPLE is a noun, EAT is a verb, and LARGE is an adjective.

There’s plenty more that you’ll need to learn before and during your CELTA, such as articles, adverbs, auxiliary and modal verbs, pronouns and prepositions.

Why are Parts of Speech Important?

Unlike native speakers, language learners need to construct their sentences carefully, paying attention to which words perform which functions (parts of speech) as they interact in the phrase or sentence.

CELTA trainees, like yourself, need to teach learners these skills using the proper parts of speech.

This is a vital area of knowledge for anyone hoping to pass the CELTA course, or indeed teach English as a foreign language in the future.

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Parts of Speech on the CELTA Course

You will be using parts of speech every single day during your CELTA course, and in every lesson you teach thereafter. There’s just no escaping it. Here’s just some places that you will be expected to illustrate parts of speech:

  • Teaching grammar forms
  • On the whiteboard
  • Answering learners’ questions
  • Giving learner feedback
  • Lesson planning
  • Adapting activities
  • Written assignments
  • etc.

When we teach parts of speech on the whiteboard, we use standard abbreviations that your learners will be very familiar with, thanks to their time spent studying English language dictionaries.

I will pass my CELTA course.
subj + aux + v + pron + obj

This format helps the learner to easily construct similar sentences, and to learn the grammar in a methodical way. During your CELTA course and teaching career, you’ll be writing a lot of parts of speech like the example above.

DIFFERENT PARTS OF SPEECH

Learning and remembering parts of speech can be daunting at first, but this guide aims to make it as easy as possible. Below are the basic parts of speech that you will use throughout your CELTA course.

Subject (subj.)

The subject of a sentence is the person, idea, place or thing that performs a verb (an action or state of being). All full sentences must have a subject. Remember that verbs change according to their subject.

  • MARY ate the ice cream.
  • The ICE CREAM was eaten by Mary.
  • SHE plays guitar.
  • I play guitar.

Object (obj.)

A direct object of a sentence is a person, idea, place or thing on which was performed the action of a verb. An indirect object is involved in the action, usually as who or what the action was performed for. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated; it will become clear in the examples.

Direct Objects

  • Mary ate the ICE CREAM.
  • The ice cream was eaten by MARY.

Indirect Objects

  • Mary gave the ice cream to JASON.
  • Grandma knitted JESSICA a new scarf. (This can also be written “Grandma knitted a new scarf for JESSICA”)

Preposition (prep.)

These words help us to understand how two words are related in time and place.

before, after, on, off, along, against, beneath, under, for, from, in, out, inside, until etc.

  • His house is ON Albert Road.
  • He’s lived there FOR four years.
  • His house is BETWEEN a small park and a bakery.

Adverb (adv.)

Adverbs usually modify a verb or adjective (but sometimes other words). They perform a lot of different functions and communicate additional information.

beautifully, calmly, hopefully, well, often, always, never, sometimes etc.

  • She sings WELL.
  • I think she sings BEAUTIFULLY.
  • She doesn’t USUALLY perform in public.

Verb (v.)

These are words that communicate an action (read, eat, hope) or a state of being (become, be, remain). By taking different forms (he ran, I run, we will run etc.), they also communicate WHEN an action took place, and to some degree WHO did the action.

jump, help, sleep, dream, pursue, work, decide, overtake, pass, excel, am, are, is etc.

  • Simon ATE his dinner with chopsticks.
  • Hugo will be PERFORMING on TV tonight.
  • To ERR is human, to FORGIVE is divine.

Verbs are either regular or irregular:

  • Past tense verbs that ends in “ed” is regular (cooked, jumped etc.)
  • Past tense verbs that don’t are irregular (ate, ran etc.)

Verbs also have a form called the Past Participle. These are when we use verbs as an adjective to describe something.

  • The book was TORN.
  • The necklace had been GIVEN as a birthday present.

Here’s an excellent web page for learning more about past participles.

Adjective (adj.)

Adjectives are really easy to remember. They simply describe or modify something.

large, red, angry, beautiful, essential, tasty, Korean, leather etc.

  • The LEATHER chair looked WORN but EXPENSIVE.
  • My KOREAN teacher turns RED when he is ANGRY.

Noun – Countable (n.)

Countable nouns are things, items and concepts that can be counted. Countable nouns can be used as a plural in a sentence, usually by simply adding an s, (but not always).

frog(s), road(s), concept(s), idea(s), sheep, men, loa(f/ves), potato(es) etc.

  • I left my KEYS in my HOUSE, so I have to call a LOCKSMITH.
  • In teaching OTHERS, we teach OURSELVES.

Noun – (n.)

Uncountable nouns are also things, items and concepts, but – like the name suggests – they cannot be counted. Instead, we can have more, less, a bit, a lot, too much, and too little of them.

hope, advice, information, ink, sand, ice, love, hate, luggage, furniture etc.

  • The generator doesn’t produce enough ELECTRICITY.
  • You have too much FURNITURE for such a small house.
  • He gave me three pieces of ADVICE before he left.

Auxiliary Verb (aux.)

You’ll become very well acquainted with auxiliary verbs during your CELTA course and throughout your teaching career. They help the main verb to express slightly different meanings (technically through tense, mood or voice, but don’t worry too much about this at this point.)

am, do, has, is, are etc.

  • Maria HAS BEEN waiting for over an hour.
  • She IS leaving for Berlin tomorrow.
  • DOES she know the train leaves from the other platform?

Modal Verb (modal / sometimes just aux.)

Modal verbs are a small group of auxiliary verbs that communicate permission, obligation, ability and how likely something is. Don’t worry, it will all become crystal clear when you read the examples.

can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would

  • The weather SHOULD improve this afternoon.
  • He CAN’T dance to save his life.
  • You MUST wash your hands before dinner.
  • Belinda MIGHT win the gold medal this year.

Pronoun (pron.)

Pronouns can be used instead of nouns, often to avoid needless repetition. There are LOTS of different types of pronoun, but don’t worry – it’s not necessary to learn them all before the CELTA. Instead, just understand how pronouns are used in the following examples.

Without pronouns:

  • I like Henry. Henry always helps with work, especially when Henry, Lucy and Richard’s schedules are full.

With pronouns:

  • I like Henry. HE always helps with work, especially when OUR schedules are full.

Here’s an excellent resource on pronouns if you’d like to learn more.

Article (no abbreviation)

Articles are four small, extremely common words in the English language: a, an, the, and some. They communicate how specific or well-known something is.

  • Anna caught A train (which train doesn’t matter in the conversation)
  • Anna caught THE train (the specific train is already known in the conversation, and possibly important)
  • SOME birds are in the garden again (which birds doesn’t matter)
  • THE birds are in the garden again (implies the specific birds have been encountered before)

A and AN are indefinite articles. THE is a definite article. SOME is a partitive article.

Depending on where learners are from, they might find articles to be either natural and easy (Spanish, French, German etc.), or frustratingly difficult and even pointless (Poland, Russia, Czech etc.)

Conjunction (conj.)

These words connect words, sentences, phrases or clauses together. They’re normally small but common words that native speakers use every day.

and, but, or, yet, for, nor, so

  • Studying CELTA is hard work BUT it’s very rewarding.
  • Viktor ran up the stairs AND fell flat on his face.
  • Haruto can either choose to study hard OR he will surely fail.

There’s lots of good examples on this web page if you’d like to learn more.