Absolute beginner #2 - Parts of speech

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When learning a language, an important part is immersion. This lets you learn in a natural way – like a child if you will. Despite this, it can speed up the process if you actually have some basic linguistic knowledge. So if you have no idea how a language is built, this lesson will go through some of the building blocks of a language.

In this episode we’re talking about what a part of speech is. This is what the categories or uses of each individual word are called. Maybe you’ve heard the terms nouns, verbs, prepositions, etc. back in school at some time in your life. Now is the time to tickle your brain and take out that old dusty knowledge

Substantiv (Nouns)

Substantiv är namn på ting, till exempel boll och ring. This rhyme is used to teach kids what a noun is – a substantiv in Swedish. As the expression tells us, it’s a name for things, for instance ball and ring. This is the part of speech that takes a gender in many languages and because of that gets changed, together with words describing the noun, according to that gender. In Swedish the genders are utrum (en words) and neutrum (ett words) but we don’t need to get into that now. Almost 80% of the words are en words anyway (I know how this sounds). The important thing here is that you understand that a noun, a substantiv, is everything in English that you would but a/an or the in front of.

Verb (Verbs)

One very important part of speech is the verb. It tells us what something is doing. Is it jumping or crying? Those words are verbs. They also change depending on a so called tempus which basically means “time” in fancy linguistic speech. This means that these words also tell us when someone was jumping or crying. Something jumped and cried and has jumped and cried as well. Pretty easy to grasp now when you think about it, isn’t it?

Adjektiv (Adjectives) and Adverb (Adverbs)

Adjectives describe how a noun is and adverbs describe how a verb is done. Still not clear? An adjective tells us if something is red or if it’s happy. It tells us if it’s big or small whereas an adverb, that is mostly related to an adjective, tells us how something is done. Something is crying loudly? Loudly would be the adverb here. In English you mostly recognize an adverb as such due to the ending -ly whereas in Swedish the adverbs mostly end on a -t.

Prepositioner (Prepositions)

One of the things I love the most about languages, apart from cases, is prepositions. These little words can be used together with verbs to change their meaning or describe where something is located. Words like on or by are prepositions in English. In Swedish one of the most almighty and versatile ones is which basically means the same as on but is used in a bunch of situations and together with verbs. Beware though, sometimes the line between adverbs and prepositions is very thin and differs between languages for seemingly the same word. This is, however, not important to know in this case and when it comes to Swedish, since prepositions barely result in any nouns being changed according to a grammatical case, you don’t need to know if it’s a preposition or an adverb. Confused yet? All you need to know right now is that prepositions tell you where something is (or will be) located and that they are words like in, at, on, to etc.

Pronomina (Pronouns)

Lastly we have the pronouns, which are used in place of nouns. For instance, instead of naming people, we might say he or she, they or you. You see where this is going, don’t you? Also words like something and each other are considered pronouns, since they are used in place a noun.