Review of Word Classes

  • N. F. Blake


As we saw in the last chapter, in a word-based grammar the words in a language are divided into separate classes. These have traditionally been known as parts of speech, though that term is no longer satisfactory. The word speech is largely restricted nowadays to the spoken language, whereas we are more concerned in this book with the written form; and parts suggests that the sentence is the predominant unit which is being divided into its essential elements. So it is better to refer to the divisions into which the words fall as word classes. There are nine word classes which are normally recognised in English: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, articles and interjections. However, some grammarians disagree over the precise number of these classes. This dispute has been caused partly by a comparison of English with Latin and partly because the boundaries between some of the classes are somewhat fuzzy. In Latin there is no class of articles, since they do not exist in that language; and so some early grammarians who were influenced by the model of Latin tried to suggest that the class of articles should not be recognised in English.


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© N. F. Blake 1988

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