Learning The Different Parts Of Speech Never Helped Me In School

Learning The Different Parts Of Speech Never Helped Me In School

Take that subjective-preterite-nominative-predicate-adverbs.


I had an English teacher in eighth grade who openly decided she hated having me in class.

She hated how I questioned the things she taught us, how I always had my hand up, and how beyond her dislike of me, she had to give me good grades for all of my writing assignments.

There was a unit in that class that tested over parts of speech and grammar. The unit lasted an entire semester and each week we received intimidatingly huge packets of paper with one word on the front branding it: VERBS. NOUNS. OBJECTIVE PRETERITE. ADVERBS. The list goes on.

The first thing that kicked off my streak of struggle with this teacher was the question I asked: "Why do we need words to name words if we already know what the words say and are?"

Judging from the twitch in her eye that day, it was probably not the best question to ask. Apparently, parts of speech were essential to the survival of the English language. She told me if I could not label every word in a sentence with a name, I was never going to be able to write well someday because there was a formula that had to be followed in order to succeed.

Even my 13-year-old brain could detect stubborn ignorance. But I decided to play the game, to learn these "parts of speech." I loved to learn, so why should this be so difficult?

Oh, but it was for me.

Some people struggle with geometry or with art because it is something that just does not click right in their brains. For me, learning parts of speech was like trying to nail a glob of jello to the wall.

I failed her first test. And the second. I passed nouns and pronouns and the more simple parts of speech, but when it came down to breaking every single word in a sentence down, my frustration blinded me to the point of outrage.

For as many times that teacher told me I would never be able to write without being able to break down a sentence, without being able to label each word as something, I never let it faze me.

Senior year of high school, I wanted to bring my ACT score sheet back to her and show her the 36 on the English and Grammar section as well as the 34 on the reading section. I wanted to tell her I was going to be an English major. That I had done so without studying and testing myself about those names for words.

I picked up on a few over the years, but not once do they go through my head while reading or writing. However, I realized that my energy was better spent on gratitude. Definitely not towards that teacher from eighth grade, but to the teachers throughout my life, for the lessons that never ceased, not even now that I am older. Nor will they ever cease.

My mother took every opportunity she had to perfect my speaking and writing skills. God forbid I say, "Mom can me and...," for I would stop short at the look she gave me. Saying "me and a friend" was blasphemy in my house. If I ever said it, she would say "Who? Who is going?" and I would get so angry, so frustrated that I kept forgetting.

It was when she started correcting me in front of friends that the lessons really began to set in. No one wants to be embarrassed in front of their friends, so the lessons were picked up and solidified, even more, when someone not in our family was present.

My mom was my prime editor with every paper and presentation I ever gave through school. Even so now, I send her my college essays and speeches and she shows me exactly where I need to improve upon or where the sentence structure just does not flow. She would show me, not tell because learning through your own mistakes is where progress happens.

Just like she would with my words, my mother never gave me the correct form of speaking. When I would tell her "Me and Sammi are going to the mall," she would give me a pointed look, inviting me to say literally every option until I realized I got it right. Granted, it did take a few tries, but once I hit a certain point where not every time I spoke was corrected, I rarely messed up ever again.

She did this for all of my sisters and me, and obnoxiously, my older sister and I began to correct our little sisters' speaking, which drove them insane.

Once my second youngest sister hit the point of correcting herself that my older sister and I had, we all started to dissect our youngest sisters speaking, much to her resentment. She has not hit that point yet herself, but she is well beyond the middle school speech class that all of her peers were in, even more so than the rest of my sisters and I at that age.

When people ask me to explain the rules of when to use "I" or "me" in a sentence, they automatically assume that I do not know what I am talking about, because I cannot break down the rules in the context of "verbs," or "predicate nominatives," but does it really make me wrong?

When I speak or write, it is through muscle memory, or honestly just force of habit. I can decide if one or the other is right through simply speaking it aloud, and it really bothers the people who write sentences like they are puzzles, where only specific pieces fit and others can never be positioned in places.

I don't see it as a puzzle to study and take apart only to try to put it back together again, but rather a path to walk. Sometimes the path isn't so smooth and easy to walk (or flow) over, so I try something else to make sure I was either right or wrong.

So no, I may not have understood the reason for labeling words, but I can flow with the structure that I learned through my mother's teaching and example without consulting the internet or rule handbooks to the English language every time I am unsure.

Popular Right Now

What Nobody Is Going To Tell You About Freshman Year

What no one will tell you about your first step to adulthood.

Attending college for the first time is a time filled with high expectations, excitement, nerves, and a lot of hope for the future.

If you were anything like me, you were lucky enough to get accepted into your dream school with a lot of high hopes about the upcoming year. I couldn't wait to move into my freshman dorm, no matter how little or crappy it might have been, I was undoubtedly excited. The year was fresh (literally) and I couldn't wait to start living a college lifestyle and meet the people I was going to be friends with for the next four years of my life and hopefully even longer. I had never been so excited about going back-to-school shoppingand started packing and preparing for the move weeks in advance.

I had this image in my head of what freshman year was going to be like and it looked a lot like something you would see on an ABC Family or MTV show rather than what the reality of freshman year really was. I would be sitting here lying to you if I told you my freshman year was the best year of my life and to expect to have a year full of parties and fun with no responsibilities. The fact of the matter is, freshman year is your first real step into adulthood. It is your first unsheltered, uncensored, version of the real world that your parents (for the most part) have no control over. While this truly is an exciting thing, if you're not prepared for it freshman year can be a lot more stressful than expected.

I wish someone told me that the people I met the first week of school weren't going to be my best friends the whole year and not to take it to heart when they stop talking to you. You meet SO many people your first few weeks of school and you want to be friends with literally all of them. But in college, unlike high school, you probably won't see those same people every day so maintaining relationships takes a lot more work than before. To be honest, you may forget what it was like to actually make a new friend, especially if you were friends with the same people all through high school.

I wish someone told me that my study habits in high school absolutely will not hold up in college. When you were told to “read the text" in high school for homework, you wrote “no homework" in your planner for that day. Reading your text book in high school was actually laughed at in most situations and if you didn't have an end of the year freak out about where your text books were, you were doing it wrong.R ead your textbooks, every page, every chapter. Write everything down, from notes to homework, it's all important.

I wish someone told me the “freshman 15" was absolutely not a myth. Despite the fact that I spent countless nights in our campus gym, the freshman 15 was still gained and stayed. I couldn't tell you why or how this happens, but expect to gain a few pounds your first year of college. Whether it's from all of the campus cookies you couldn't have passed your final without or from all the delicious new food options, expect to be a few pounds heavier when returning home for Thanksgiving. And most importantly, know that you don't look any different despite how you feel, and know that this will most likely happen to everyone.

I wish someone told me that it's OK to say no to people. After you get to know your hall mates and become closer with the people you've met your first few weeks of college, you quickly learn that there is always something going on. Learn that you don't have to agree to attend everything someone invites you to. If you need to stay home and study, speak up. Don't just say yes to please someone or because you feel like you will lose that person as a friend if you say no. Learn to put you and your needs first, and if someone judges you because you decided to study rather than go out, so be it. You're here to learn not to socialize. It's OK to decline peoples offers.

I wish someone told me to go to class no matter how tired I was. Fun fact about college: you don't technically have to go to class if you don't want to. But for the sake of your grades, please go to class. You only get the chance to learn the material once, and you will be tested on the lecture material whether you were there or not. One tired day may cost you a good grade in the class, no joke. Go to every class you can and take detailed notes. (Tip: you can usually take pictures of the slides/diagrams as well, it helps a lot.)

I wish someone told me that only my true friends from high school will remain my friends in college. Losing contact with high school friends is a given in college. Even the people you swore were your closest friends may forget about you in the craziness of freshman year. The good news is you are at a school with thousands of people looking to make new friends and they will fill the empty spaces that old ones left.

I wish someone told me to be careful at parties. Although it is very rare something bad happens, it is true that parties aren't the safest place. Especially for the freshmen, it's easy to just go to the party that everyone else is going to without knowing anything about the place or who is going to be there. Look out for your friends and stay together. Navigating a college town at night is scary and can be dangerous. Know where you are going beforehand and always have a way home. Don't always trust people you have just met and never leave a cup unattended.

I wish someone told me my grades aren't going to be as great in college as they were in high school. Expect your GPA to drop at least half a point, usually. You're going to have a lot of distractions in college and a lot less structure in your schedule. Keeping a balance truly is a difficult task and your grades aren't going to always be what you want them to be. You will learn the perfect combination to keep your grades and yourself happy. Give it some time and don't beat yourself up if you get a C in a class or two. You have three years to make up for it.

I wish someone told me that getting homesick is completely normal. The first few spells of homesickness I had scared me to death. I was afraid that if I was homesick it meant that I didn't like the school I was at or that something was wrong or missing. This is usually not the case even though it may feel that way at times. You're going to miss home no matter how much you wished your way out of it from day one. Home is what is familiar to you and what you know and it's easy to crave that when you're somewhere completely different. Don't let it get the best of you and just know that a call home will fix anything and everything. Don't be afraid to call your parents and friends from home. They miss you, too.

I wish someone told me that you only get one freshman year at the college of your dreams so live it up and learn your lessons. Have the time of your life, make all of the friends you can, join clubs and organizations you're passionate about, get involved on your campus and in your community, and take nothing for granted. You only get to do college once (if all goes well) and you're paying to be here and get an education. Make the most of every situation and learn about yourself and the people around you. There is so much to be done and so much to learn in your four years here but especially the first. Make the most of it and don't forget your morals or who you are!

Cover Image Credit: Cailin Austin

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

What It's Like To Be A Teacher-In-Training In A Country That Can't Stop School Shootings

For most of us, school shootings are tragedies that we hear or see on the news, but for teachers, it is a reality.


The rate of school shootings has risen 59% since records of shootings began in 1970. Me personally, I believe in the right to bear arms but under the right circumstances as well as after going through the proper training and certification. Of the 97 shooting in 2018, 56 people lost their lives; teachers, Children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and everything in between. As someone whose mother is a teacher, it is terrifying to think that at any moment someone could walk in and start shooting. I soon realized that even though I was scared for her, that she had to be scared for the twenty-something children in her classroom whom she is responsible for. What goes through a teachers mind when they hear about school shootings?

I was recently talking to my roommate, who is an education major, and we started talking about school shootings so I decided to ask her some questions about how school shootings have affected her.

As an education major, what goes through your mind when you hear about school shootings?

"That might be me one day, and as hard (and sad) as it is to think about it, that's the reality of the world we live in. I am going to be responsible for two-dozen children who aren't even old enough to multiply yet."

Was the thought of a school shooting happening to you something that factored into your decision to become a teacher?

"When I went into education, it wasn't a thought that crossed my mind. You don't want to think about stuff like that, and especially that it could happen to you. Even after I decided to become a teacher, the thought of someone shooting up the school didn't make me not want to do what I loved 'Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game'"

When did you realize that school shootings were a possibility?

"After the Florida school shooting in 2016, I had just changed my major to education and I started thinking like, what would I do if that happened? How would I react? But it wasn't until I was a student teaching this semester that the reality really set in. We had a shooting drill where we, me, the teacher, and the students, had to hide behind the teacher's desk in the corner.

"Even though it was only practice, some of the kids were still scared and as I was comforting them I started thinking, what if this actually happened? Would I be able to comfort them the same way I am now? Would I be able to protect all of them? Would I be able to react fast enough? You can try and mentally prepare yourself for something like that but it is totally different when you see the fear and confusion on the kid's faces, even just in a drill."

Related Content

Facebook Comments