TOEFL IBT – Word Categories
English is made up of seven word categories, or parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions. Some grammarians also include an eighth part of speech called interjections (words like yay and wow).
Grammar is an important part to master in order to improve your TOEFL score.
Remember, Preparation is the key to succeed at TOEFL.
A noun is a word that identifies a person, place, thing, or abstract object. They can be either proper nouns or common nouns.
Proper nouns are the names of specific individuals or entities. For example:
- George Washington
- The United States of America
- Mount Everest
- The Stone Age
Common nouns, however, are the names of generic categories of items or abstract ideas, such as:
- If the word the can be put in front of a word and it makes sense, then that word is a noun!
- the president
- the table
A verb is a word used to express an action or a state of being. They can be separated into action verbs and linking verbs.
Action verbs express an action that the subject of the sentence carries out.
- I laughed.
- We made cakes for the party.
- She did her homework.
Linking verbs do NOT express an action; rather, these words are used to describe the subject. They link the subject with the description of the subject.
- Maria acted funny.
- The cakes smelled delicious.
- Her homework was easy.
- If you can put will in front of a word, and it makes sense, then that word is a verb!
- laugh -> will laugh
- see -> will see
An adjective is a word that modifies a noun. They can be divided into two categories: determiners and descriptive adjectives.
- This is such a long book! (a is a determiner describing book)
- This is such a long book! (long is a descriptive adjective describing book)
To find out more about adjectives, go visit our Adjectives study sheet!
An adverb is a word that can modify any other word EXCEPT a noun.
- I quickly ran to class because I knew I was late. (quickly describes the verb ran)
To learn more about adverbs, go check out our Adverbs study sheet!
A pronoun is a word that is used in place of one or more nouns.
Personal pronouns replace specific nouns.
- Jane wondered where Tarzan was.
- She wondered where he was.
- That cell phone is Marie’s cell phone.
- That cell phone is hers.
|subject||he, she, it||they|
|object||him, her, it||them|
|possessive||his, hers, its||theirs|
Reflexive pronouns refer back to a specific noun, usually the subject. They end in –self or –selves.
- The king saw himself in the mirror.
- I saw myself in the mirror.
|third person|| himself
Indefinite pronouns are used to refer to unspecified objects.
- Can someone answer this question?
- Anything is better than this!
Some common indefinite pronouns are:
Demonstrative pronouns consist of four pronouns: this, that, these, and those.
- I would like that very much.
- This is a delicious meal!
- Do not confuse possessive pronouns with possessive adjectives!
- That pencil is Marie’s pencil.
- That pencil is hers. -> possessive pronoun (replaces “Marie’s pencil”)
- That is Marie’s pencil.
- That is her pencil. -> possessive adjective (replaces “Marie”)
- That pencil is Marie’s pencil.
Relative pronouns are used to refer to a noun that was previously mentioned, while joining two sentences.
The most common relative pronouns in English are which, that, whose, whoever, whomever, who, and whom. Sometimes what, when, and where can be used as relative pronouns as well. The relative pronoun can function as a possessive pronoun, object, or subject. Whom is rarely used, so it is best to use it in formal writing.
- The student who got expelled was accepted by another school.
- The dress that I bought five years ago doesn’t fit me anymore.
- Pasta, which we eat a few times a week, is delicious.
Conjunctions are words used to join groups of words. They can be divided into coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.
Coordinating conjunctions are used to join groups of words of equal status.
- I love cooking and baking.
- They are acting upset but understanding.
- She is only allowed ice cream or candy for dessert.
To learn about subordinating conjunctions, go visit our Contrast Words & Subordinating Conjunctions study sheet!
- A way to remember the seven one-word conjunctions is FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.
Prepositions are all the “little words”–by, to, with, about, over, etc.
- The bread is in the bread basket. (in is a preposition describing bread basket)
To learn more about prepositions, check out our Prepositions study sheet!
Our study sheets:
- Phrasal Verbs & Causative Verbs
- Modal Verbs
- Contrast Words & Subordinating Conjunctions
- Passive Voice
- Perfect Aspect & Perfect Progressive Aspect
- Gerunds & Infinitives
- Simple Aspect & Progressive Aspect
- TOEFL IBT – Gerunds & Infinitives
- TOEFL IBT – Count Nouns & Mass Nouns
- TOEFL IBT – Simple Aspect & Progressive Aspect
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Phrasal Verbs
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Present Perfect
- TOEFL IBT grammar : Passive versus Active + Causative verbs
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Present Tenses
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Nouns
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Linking Words
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Gerunds versus Infinitives
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Standard expressions and confusing words
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Comparatives and Superlatives
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Nouns/Verbs/Adjectives + Prepositions
- 30 Common Errors & Confusing Words in English
- TOEFL IBT grammar – Conditionals