I encountered a book explaining the meaning reify followed by examples but it did not mentioned its a verb. I had to lookup dictionary for that. My question is when this type of strange/new word pops out from someone in conversation what should I ask if I want to know what type of word is it as in parts of speech? Instead of asking like "Is reify a verb, adjective, noun?"

  • Ask how the word is spelt and make a note of it. Then you can look it up online. (Always keep a small pocket-book and pencil with you).
    – Mick
    Oct 24, 2016 at 15:42
  • 1
    @coder0007 that's what I always do but just wanted to know if there is a techincal/grammer term in specific. Apparently I don't see any such thing exist
    – Inglish
    Oct 24, 2016 at 16:08
  • You couldn't tell from the book's examples that reify was being used as a verb? Oct 24, 2016 at 16:40
  • What do you say in your own language when you see a word you don't know? I'd be my bottom dollar you don't ask "what part of speech" it is....
    – Lambie
    Oct 24, 2016 at 16:55
  • As it happens, I don't think it's really possible to use the word reify as anything other than a verb. But an awful lot of English words can be used in multiple categories, and learners in particular need to be aware of this. If you think you "know" that book and morning, for example, are (always and only ever) nouns, you could spend a lot of time struggling with usages like Shall I book you a morning appointment? Oct 24, 2016 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


Although part of speech is the correct term (see Wikipedia), it might be too vague if you don't include some context.

More specific terms might be word class, lexical class, or lexical category (according to the same Wikipedia article).


Yes, you could ask someone "what part of speech" is some word, although it would be best to ask of an English teacher because otherwise they might not know what you mean. If they look puzzled, then you can clarify by asking, "It it a noun, a verb, an adjective ..?"

However on a related note, it's not a bad idea to get familiar with common suffixes for different parts of speech. The -fy (or -ify) suffix is generally associated with verbs: clarify, edify, deify, magnify, etc. You can turn some of these into nouns by removing the y and adding ication: clarification, edification, deification, magnification, etc. You can also turn some into adjectives by adding ied after the f: clarified, edified, deified, magnified.

Unfortunately there are exceptions like the adjectives "stuffy" and "leafy" which follow a similar-looking (but completely different) pattern. And there are some -fy verbs that are turned into nouns in a different way, like "testify" -> "testifier" (someone who testifies), "testimony" (what is said while testifying) or "testimonial" (a written declaration of trust or admiration)

But for the most part it can be helpful to recognize these patterns. See this list of words that end in -fy and note most are verbs.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .