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What Is the Difference Between Parts of Speech & Parts of a Sentence?

Updated April 17, 2017

Parts of speech are the basic elements of sentences. These individual elements cannot make a sentence on their own but combine to form parts of a sentence. Parts of a sentence work together to form the structure of a sentence. A part of a sentence may be a single part of speech or may be composed of a string of these parts of speech.

Eight Parts of Speech

There are eight parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, articles, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions. Parts of speech are single words that have a particular function in a sentence. Parts of speech may also be used in different parts of a sentence. For example, nouns and pronouns can be the subject, object or complement in a sentence.

Parts of a Sentence

Parts of speech may be combined or used singly to form a part of a sentence. In other words, each part of a sentence contains at least one part of speech. Parts of a sentence --- subject, predicate, objects, complements, phrases and clauses --- form the structure of a sentence.

Subject and Predicate

The simplest sentences contain only two parts: subject and predicate. The subject is who or what is doing the action of the sentence. The subject contains a pronoun, proper noun or a noun plus an article and possibly an adjective to describe it. The predicate makes up the rest of the sentence that tells the action performed by the subject using simply a verb or a verb plus additional modifiers, objects or phrases.

Objects and Complements

Objects are nouns or pronouns that are not part of the subject of a sentence. There are two types of objects: direct and indirect. Direct objects receive the action of a verb. For example, "She wrote a note." "Note" is the direct object of "wrote." Indirect objects indicate to or for whom the action was performed. "She wrote him a note." "Him" is the indirect object of "wrote."

Complements may be nouns, pronouns or adjectives. A complement renames or describes the subject or object of a sentence. For example, "Ann is a teacher" or "Ann is nice." "Teacher" and "nice" are both complements of the subject "Ann." In "Ann gave me a new book," "new" is a complement that describes "book," the indirect object.

Phrases and Clauses

Phrases are groups of words that function as a single part of speech. A preposition plus its object make a prepositional phrase, such as "after lunch." A verb phrase consists of a verb plus the object of the verb's action: "washing dishes." Clauses are a group of words within a sentence and contain a subject and predicate. Independent clauses can stand alone as a complete sentence. Dependent clauses cannot stand alone without the rest of the sentence they are part of.

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About the Author

Alissa Pond Mentzer worked in biotech research and educational publishing before becoming a freelance writer in 2005. She has contributed to textbooks for The Mcgraw-Hill Companies and National Geographic School Division and writes science articles for various websites. Mentzer earned a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University in anthropology and biological sciences.