An adjective is a word that modifies, or describes, a noun or pronoun. Adjectives may precede nouns, or they may appear after a form of the reflexive verb to be (am, are, is, was, etc.).
Example 1: We live in the red brick house.
Example 2: She is tall for her age.
In example 1, two consecutive adjectives, red and brick, both describe the noun house. In example 2, the adjective tall appears after the reflexive verb is and describes the subject, she.
A verb is a word that denotes action, or a state of being, in a sentence.
Example 1: Beth rides the bus every day.
Example 2: Paul was an avid reader.
In example 1, rides is the verb; it describes what the subject, Beth, does. In example 2, was describes Paul's state of being and is therefore the verb.
There may be multiple verbs in a sentence, or there may be a verb phrase consisting of a verb plus a helping verb.
Example 1: She turned the key and opened the door.
Example 2: Jackson was studying when I saw him last.
In example 1, the subject she performs two actions in the sentence, turned and opened. In example 2, the verb phrase is was studying.
Just as adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify, or further describe, verbs. Adverbs may also modify adjectives. (Many, though not all, adverbs end in -ly.)
Example 1: He waved wildly to get her attention.
Example 2: The shirt he wore to the party was extremely bright.
In the first example, the adverb wildly modifies the verb waved. In the second example, the adverb extremely modifies the adjective bright, which describes the noun shirt. While nouns answer the questions who and what, adverbs answer the questions how, when, why, and where.
A conjunction is a word that joins two independent clauses, or sentences, together.
Example 1: Ellen wanted to take a drive into the city, but the cost of gasoline was too high.
Example 2: Richard planned to study abroad in Japan, so he decided to learn the language.
In the examples above, both but and so are conjunctions. They join two complete sentences with the help of a comma. And, but, for, or, nor, so, and yet can all act as conjunctions.
A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective and most often ends in -ing or -ed. The term verbal indicates that a participle, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being. However, since they function as adjectives, participles modify nouns or pronouns. There are two types of participles: present participles and past participles. Present participles end in -ing. Past participles end in -ed, -en, -d, -t, -n, or -ne as in the words asked, eaten, saved, dealt, seen, and gone.
The crying baby had a wet diaper.
Shaken, he walked away from the wrecked car.
The burning log fell off the fire.
Smiling, she hugged the panting dog.
An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb (in its simplest "stem" form) and functioning as a noun, adjective, or adverb. The term verbal indicates that an infinitive, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being. However, the infinitive may function as a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. Although an infinitive is easy to locate because of the to + verb form, deciding what function it has in a sentence can sometimes be confusing.
To wait seemed foolish when decisive action was required. (subject)
Everyone wanted to go. (direct object)
His ambition is to fly. (subject complement)
He lacked the strength to resist. (adjective)
We must study to learn. (adverb)
Be sure not to confuse an infinitive—a verbal consisting of to plus a verb—with a prepositional phrase beginning with to, which consists of to plus a noun or pronoun and any modifiers.
Infinitives: to fly, to draw, to become, to enter, to stand, to catch, to belong
Prepositional Phrases: to him, to the committee, to my house, to the mountains, to us, to this address
Helping verbs or auxiliary verbs such as will, shall, may, might, can, could, must, ought to, should, would, used to, need are used in conjunction with main verbs to express shades of time and mood. The combination of helping verbs with main verbs creates what are called verb phrases or verb strings. In the following sentence, "will have been" are helping or auxiliary verbs and "studying" is the main verb; the whole verb string is underlined: Linking verbs are verbs that serve as a connection between a subject and further information about that subject. They do not show any action; rather, they "link" the subject with the rest of the sentence. The verb to be is the most common linking verb, but there are many others, including all the sense verbs.
A handful—a very frequently used handful—of verbs are always linking verbs:
all forms of to be (am, is, are, was, were, has been, are being, might be, etc.)
These verbs always link subjects to something that further describes the subject of the sentence.
She IS a nurse.
The moon IS in outer space.
I HAVE become weary of your methodical approach to waltzing.
The Dalai Lama SEEMS like a nice guy.
Not all adverbs are formed from adjectives. Some common ones are never, not, here, there, then, when, where, always, too, now, and very. Remember that adverbs tell us how, when, where, why, and how much and modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. i.e. always, never