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Journalistic Writer: Effective Parts of Speech (Part 2)

What is a Verb?

The verb might be the most important part of the sentence. A verb is an action word in a sentence. A verb asserts something about the subject of the sentence and express actions, events, or states of being. The verb or compound verb is the critical element of the predicate of a sentence.

In each of the following sentences, the verb or compound verb is highlighted:

Dracula bites his victims on the neck.

In early October, Giselle will plant twenty tulip bulbs.

My first teacher was Miss Crawford, but I remember the janitor Mr. Weatherbee more vividly.

Karl Creelman bicycled around the world in 1899, but his diaries and his bicycle were destroyed.


What is an Adjective?

An adjective modifies or adds something a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifying words. An adjective usually places before the noun or the pronoun which it modifies.

In the following examples, the highlighted words are adjectives:

The truck-shaped balloon floated over the treetops.

Mrs. Morrison papered her kitchen walls with hideous wall paper.

The small boat foundered on the wine dark sea.

The coal mines are dark and dank.

Many stores have already begun to play irritating Christmas music.

A battered music box sat on the mahogany sideboard.

The back room was filled with large, yellow rain boots.


Possessive Adjectives

A possessive adjective (“my,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “its,” “our,” “their”) is similar or identical to a possessive pronoun; however, it is used as an adjective and modifies a noun. Look the following examples:

What is your cell number?

The bakery sold all of its its favorite type of bread.


Demonstrative Adjectives

The “this,” “these,” “that,” “those,” and “what” are called demonstrative adjectives and are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but are used as adjectives to modify nouns or noun phrases, as in the following sentences:

This apartment needs to be fumigated.

Even though my friend preferred those plates, I bought these.

Which plants should be watered twice a week?

What book are you reading?


Indefinite Adjectives

An indefinite adjective is similar to an indefinite pronoun, except that it modifies a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase, as in the following sentences:

Many people believe that corporations are under-taxed.

I will send you any mail that arrives after you have moved to Sudbury.


What is an Adverb?

An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, or a clause. An adverb indicates manner, time, place, cause, or degree and answers questions such as “how,” “when,” “where,” “how much”.

While some adverbs can be identified by their characteristic “ly” suffix. Unlike an adjective, an adverb can be found in various places within the sentence.

In the following examples, each of the highlighted words is an adverb:

The seamistress quickly made the mourning clothes.

The midwives waited patiently through a long labor.

The boldly-spoken words would return to haunt the rebel.

We urged him to dial the number more expeditiously.

Unfortunately, the bank closed at three today.


What is a Pronoun?

A pronoun can replace a noun or another pronoun. You use pronouns like “he,” “which,” “none,” and “she”. Pronouns make your sentences  and less repetitive and simple.

Here are several types of pronouns including,

the personal pronoun,

the demonstrative pronoun,

the interrogative pronoun,

the indefinite pronoun,

the relative pronoun,

the reflexive pronoun, and

the intensive pronoun.


Personal Pronouns

A personal pronoun refers to a specific person or thing and changes its form to indicate person, number, gender, and case.


Subjective Personal Pronouns

Subject Personal Pronouns








Possessive Pronouns








Object Pronoun









Reflexive pronoun










Subject pronoun:         she is surely the strangest child I have ever met.

Possessive pronoun:    This beautiful gift is mine.

Object pronoun:          Jessica forced her parents to stay with her.

Reflexive pronoun:     You can help yourself.


Demonstrative Pronouns

A demonstrative pronoun points to and identifies a noun or a pronoun. “This” and “these” refer to things that are nearby either in space or in time, while “that” and “those” refer to things that are farther away in space or time.

This must not continue.

This is puny; that is the tree I want.

Three customers wanted these.


Interrogative Pronouns

An interrogative pronoun is used to ask questions. The interrogative pronouns are “who,” “whom,” “which,” “what” and in compound form with the suffix “ever” (“whoever,” “whomever,” “whichever,” and “whatever”).

Which wants to see the dentist first?

Who wrote the novel Rockbound?

Whom do you think we should invite?

To whom do you wish to speak?

Who will meet the delegates at the train station?

To whom did you give the paper?


Relative Pronouns

You can use a relative pronoun to link one phrase or clause to another phrase or clause. The relative pronouns are “who,” “whom,” “that,” and “which.” The compounds “whoever”, “whomever”, and “whichever” are also relative pronouns.

You may invite whomever you like to the party.

The candidate who wins the greatest popular vote is not always elected.

Whoever broke the window will have to replace it.

The crate which was left in the corridor has now been moved into the storage closet.

I will read whichever manuscript arrives first.


Indefinite Pronouns

An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun referring to an identifiable but not specified person or thing. An indefinite pronoun conveys the idea of all, any, none, or some.


The most common indefinite pronouns are “all,” “another,” “any,” “anybody,” “anyone,” “anything,” “each,” etc  The highlighted words in the following sentences are indefinite pronouns:

Many were invited to the lunch but only twelve showed up.

The office had been searched and everything was thrown onto the floor.


Reflexive Pronouns

You can use a reflexive pronoun to refer back to the subject of the clause or sentence. The reflexive pronouns are “myself,” “yourself,” “herself,” “himself,” “itself,” “ourselves,” “yourselves,” and “themselves.” Take some examples:

Diabetics give themselves insulin shots several times a day.

The Dean often does the photocopying herself so that the secretaries can do more important work.


After the party, I asked myself why I had faxed invitations to everyone in my office building.

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