The building blocks of language

ben.wilko1 By ben.wilko1, 29th Aug 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Languages

An explanation of the different types of words and how with a bit of know-how, you can boost your language capability!

The building blocks of language

This week I have decided to talk about the building blocks of languages, namely the classes into which words are categorised. Whether or not you know what category any given word fits into can be huge factor in the speed and effectiveness of your language learning. I’m sure that many people know the main few types of words, but a bit of revision never hurt anyone! (or not that I’m aware of!)

Verbs are words that describe action, like ‘to eat’ and ‘to dance’. Verbs come in several different tenses to indicate time, i.e. past, present and future. Each verb is generally made up of a stem (this is much less prominent in English) and is then conjugated. Using German as an example, an ending is added to the verb stem to suit the subject.
Put simply, nouns are things, so words like table and chair are nouns. Similarly, personal pronouns can be used instead of nouns, examples include I, he, she, we.
Adjectives describe nouns, words such as bright, slow and all colours are adjectives.
Articles can be indefinite as in ‘a’ and ‘an’, or definite such as ‘the’, they are present in many languages and are often essential to the grammar of a language.
In English, particles are general words that do not necessarily fit into the categories above. In languages such as Japanese, however, particles are very common as grammatical markers, such as the subject marker ‘wa’. Below I have outlined additional particles that make up the glue that sticks languages together.
Prepositions can have several uses and affect the syntax (word order) and meaning of a sentence or phrase, including movement such as to, and towards etc. words that describe special relation such as outside and between. Such words as without and for are also prepositions.
Conjunctions are the words that bind phrases and sentences together to make longer, more comprehensive sentences. Examples in English include ‘and’ and ‘but’.
Adverbs are words that describe how a verb is carried out, such as ‘quickly’ and ‘slowly’.


Adjective, Adverb, Conjunction, Language, Learning, Noun, Verb, Words

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author avatar ben.wilko1
Student of German studies with a passion for languages

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