Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Describing language
Describing language

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.1 Word classes

The video in the next activity discusses some of the major word classes in English. It gives you a look ahead at what you’ll cover in the course.

Activity 2 The different word classes

Timing: This activity should take around 15 minutes

As you watch the video, consider the questions below. Don’t worry if you don’t get all the answers right at first, you can always watch the video again and return to this activity later in the course to refresh your memory.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1 Different sorts of words
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript | Hide transcript
Video 1 Different sorts of words
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

How many different word classes are mentioned in the video? How might you describe what each class does?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


There are the three classes of words from the previous activity:

  • Nouns – for naming things.
  • Verbs – for talking about actions and feelings, and also (in the case of be) relations between things.
  • Adjectives – for describing things.

There are also:

  • Pronouns – for ‘standing in’ for people and things, so we don’t have to keep repeating nouns (as you saw with it and she). Pronouns are also used for referring to people involved in a conversation (I and you).

Pronouns will be a topic for later in the course, but they’ve been mentioned now as they’re very common. Like all the other word classes, even if you didn’t know the name for them (or have forgotten), pronouns are something you’ve been using with great facility all your life, if English is your first language, or at least from very early on if you learned English at school. Pronouns are usually some of the first words you learn in language classrooms as knowing how to refer to yourself and others is a key aspect of communication.