Words can function as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions or interjections. Most common errors made in PolyU students' written work involve incorrect word formation. There is often confusion between noun, adjective, adverb and verb forms and these have been categorised below.
It is important to know the function of words in a sentence in order to use them correctly.
A good quality dictionary will clearly show the various forms of a word- and give examples. You could use an online dictionary. Here are links to two recommended sites.
Encarta World English Dictionary (Accessed 7 February 2003)
http://www.wordsmyth.net/ (Accessed 7 February 2003)
Common confusions in parts of speech
In the sample sentences below, incorrect sentences come first with 7at the start and end of the sentence; incorrect items are in italic font. Correct sentences come second, with correct items in bold font.
1. Noun/verb confusion
A noun defines or names something. A verb expresses an action, something that happens or occurs, or a mode of being. Some nouns and verbs share the same form (e.g project, record) but usually they are different. Many nouns end in 'tion' or 'cion', 'ment' or 'ing'. Verb forms vary according mainly to person, number and tense; they can also be active or passive.
confusions of nouns and verbs include:
2 . Noun/adjective confusion
A noun defines or names something.
An adjective qualifies or tells us more about a noun or pronoun: it can be regular, comparative or superlative.
In a sentence, the qualifying adjective usually comes directly before the noun or noun phrase.
3. Adjective/adverb confusion
An adjective is a word that qualifies or tells us more about a noun or pronoun.
An adverb is a word that qualifies or tells us more about a verb (he studies diligently), or sometimes an adjective (an extremely expensive suit) or another adverb (she walked very slowly).
Many adverbs end in 'ly'.
4. Confusion with gerund or other noun forms
Nouns based on verbs can end in either 'ing' (the gerund) or another ending such as 'tion' or 'ment'.
If there is an object in the sentence, the gerund form is usually correct.
If there is no object in the sentence, the alternative to the gerund is usually used.
4. Confusion with different forms of same root noun
Nouns may have different forms, usually with slightly different meanings, which can be confusing.
5. Confusion with pronoun form
A pronoun is an identifying word used instead of a noun. Personal pronouns, in English, are I, you, he/she/it, we, you (plural), and they. Possessive pronouns are my, your, his, her, its, our, their. Personal and possessive pronouns are sometimes confused. If a pronoun refers to a noun used previously, singular/plural agreement may be incorrect.
This website explains the rules of pronoun agreement and gives self check exercises.
6. Confusion with adjective form
a) adjectives ending in ED and ING
Some adjectives are actually participles (verb forms with -ing and -ed endings). They can be confusing¡Kor you can be confused.
Generally, the -ed ending means that the noun so described has a passive role: you are confused by something (the subject matter, the way it is presented etc). The -ed ending modifiers are often accompanied by prepositions and often describe the human reaction to something.
The -ing ending means that the noun described has a more active role: if the help pages do not seem to clarify the point, they are confusing (to you and others).
This website gives more information on 'ed' and 'ing' participles.
This website gives quizzes on 'ed' and 'ing' participles.
b) Omission of 'd' in adjectives ending in 'ed'
Hong Kong writers sometimes have a tendency to make this mistake:
Additional LinksThis website allows you to check your understanding of basic sentence parts.
This website is a reference site and links to some games to test your knowledge and to practise sentence analysis.
This website gives you practice at analysing sentences.
This website is a game in which you help the gorillas
to identify parts of speech.