Intro to Word Groups

Some important ideas to get you started

Words can have multiple functions

In the word group lessons, you're going to learn terms like noun, adjective, adverb and preposition.

But before we do that, we have one very important thing to say, no matter which lesson you do first:

Noun, verb, adjective etc are all jobs, and words can have different jobs depending on context

For example, the word ‘sit’ is a verb: “Sit down!”

Easy! Grammar is our friend!

But then imagine we said, "I’m going to have a sit down with Julius.

Now ‘sit’ isn’t a verb, it’s a noun

So when we say a word is this or that—a noun, verb, adjective, whatever—it’s good to remind yourself that this is not entirely true:

A word is not something; a word only ever ‘functions as’ or ‘acts as’ something.

For example, sit usually functions as a verb, but occasionally functions as a noun.

Here’s another example

What is the word ‘down’?

Is it an adjective? An adverb? A noun?

Again, it ‘is’ none of these things; but it can function as any of them:

  • Adverb: “He sat down.”
  • Preposition: “She rode down the street.”
  • Adjective: “I’ve been feeling down.”
  • Verb: “Cornelius downed a gallon of milk.”
  • Noun: “The pillow was filled with the finest down.”

We want to point this out because sometimes it can be confusing seeing the same word labelled different ways.

Once you’ve seen a word labelled one way (“This ‘as’ is an adverb!”) you will probably want to keep labelling it that way (“Every ‘as’ is an adverb!”) and then get angry when you find your rule doesn’t hold up (“What do you mean 'as' is a preposition now!?”).

Whereas if you keep reminding yourself that words can change their functions, then you won’t be caught off guard.

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