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I know there are several parts of speech:

  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Pronoun
  • Adjective
  • Adverb
  • Preposition
  • Conjunction
  • Interjection

There might be others as well. Sometimes a word, depending on how it is used, can fulfill more than one of these classes. For example, the word "run" can be a verb:

I run fast.

or it can be a noun:

Let's go for a run!

What word, taking into account all its definitions, can fulfill the most word classes?

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Not exactly addressing OP's "word class" issue, but I've always understood that in most English dictionaries the definitions for set occupy more pages than any other word. To be honest, I don't see much of interest in this "maximum word class applicability" shootout, especially with "pronouns" included in the possible classes. Does anything useable as a pronoun automatically get another point for also being a noun? –  FumbleFingers Oct 25 '11 at 17:05
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Just to be pedantic, rather than "word classes" you should say "parts of speech". –  Jay Oct 25 '11 at 17:36
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I'm pretty sure fuck can fit nearly all of those categories. It's quite an acrobatic word. –  onomatomaniak Oct 25 '11 at 17:41
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@Jay I'm sorry they've lost their charm for you. They still do me quite well in many a situation. –  onomatomaniak Oct 25 '11 at 18:01
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@FumbleFingers run has overtaken set as the word with the most meaning in the OED. But I agree, this shootout seems unlikely to be a "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face". –  Hugo Oct 25 '11 at 19:17
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10 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Well is an interjection, adjective, adverb, noun, and verb. That's five.

Business is going well. [adverb]
All is well with us. [adjective]
Well, who would have thought he could do it? [interjection]
The well was drilled fifty meters deep. [noun]
Tears well up in my eyes. [verb]

There's also round, with five, if you count when it is used to mean around:

Give me a round figure. [adjective]
Shall we play another round of cards? [noun]
He had a look round before he kept going. [adverb]
They walked round the tree. [preposition]
The floor function rounds down. [verb]

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What part of speech is it in the phrase "as well" / "as well as"? –  Jim Oct 25 '11 at 18:42
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The first is an idiomatic adverbial phrase as a whole, and the second is an adverb (cf. as quickly as, etc.), or else (when it means also) an indivisible idiom which can be either a conjunction or a preposition as a whole. –  Daniel Oct 25 '11 at 18:57
    
round as adverb ('look around') or preposition ('walk around') is really a colloquialism for 'around'. –  smci May 14 '12 at 0:24
    
@smci Yes, I had mentioned that in my answer. –  Daniel May 14 '12 at 19:26
    
I mean unless using of 'round' for 'around' is accepted usage, I think it's stretching things. –  smci May 14 '12 at 20:17
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LOVE is a basic answer, even though I can only put it in 5 categories. They are:

  1. Noun: Love grows old.
  2. Verb: She loves him.
  3. Adjective: The love birds have disappeared.
  4. Pronoun: Give me the drink,love.
  5. Interjection: Love! That all you need in life.
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'like' can be up to nine! POS, props to Ron Powell (he only claimed seven...). Below as taxonomized by Maggie Balistreri: "The Evasion-English Dictionary" (2003) + essay on 'like', or Wikipedia on 'like'. See also 'whatever'. Five of these are standard usage...

  • Verb 'I like you'
  • Noun 'We will never see the like of him again'
  • Adjective 'using a like design to the iPhone'
  • Preposition 'He left early like his friend'
  • Conjunction 'Act like it's fun'

...then there are these four colloquialisms, as taxonomized:

  • Adverb 'They, like, hate you!'
  • Interjection 'I didn't say anything, like.' 'Like, get out of my way, biatch!'
  • Quotative 'I was like, "Who do they think they are?'
  • Hedge (if you accept that) 'I have, like, no money'

Wikipedia: non-traditional usage of the word has been around at least since the 1950s, introduced through beat and jazz culture.... also cites Scooby Doo (started 1969) : Shaggy: "Like, let's get out of here, Scoob!"

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Downvote! We have a stalker! This answer took some research, so let's see you do better. –  smci Oct 16 '13 at 0:39
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It's like, that can be used as seven different parts of speech:

Noun Verb Adjective Preposition Adverb Conjunction Interjection

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Can you give example sentences for each? –  Mitch Mar 7 '12 at 14:19
    
+1 Maggie Balistreri did, in this essay and also The Evasion-English Dictionary (2003). Surely you erudite folks knew that! It's a phenomental read about how English parts-of-speech are morphing, scholarly yet timely and relevant. –  smci May 14 '12 at 0:33
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How about the word down?

  • Noun: His pillow is made of down.
  • Verb: The quarterback downed the ball.
  • Preposition: He lives down the street.
  • Adjective: His coat is made of down feathers.
  • Adverb: He fell down.
  • Interjection: Down, Fido!
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What part of speech a particular word in a particular sentence is often going to be a matter of dispute. This answer is probably valid according to some.

verb: Don't her me, I'm a guy.

noun: Is that a him or a her?

pronoun: Say hi to her.

determiner: I see her car.

adjective: We got his and her towels. The his towel is on the rack, and the her towel is in the laundry.

interjection: Her! Her! Stop calling me him.

adverb: I passed her the salt.

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Pronoun is a subset of noun, so you can remove one item. Determiner is a subset of adjective, so you can remove another. Your adverb example is not an adverb but a pronoun again (indirect object). Your verb is on the same shaky ground in which you can make -any- word a verb. And likewise your interjection, using any part of speech and quoting it, then saying it is pragmatically an interjection by exclaiming it. –  Mitch Jan 27 '12 at 18:28
    
@Mitch, I agree (to some of your objections, not all, but whatever; my point is...) Did you read the introduction to my answer? –  msh210 Jan 27 '12 at 18:36
    
In fact, the adjective example is also really quoting (the word woven into the towel, typically), and the determiner example is arguably a pronoun, which cuts it down to, at minimum, just noun. But, again, read my answer's intro: I posted what some would maintain are distinct parts of speech, not necessarily what you do, @Mitch. –  msh210 Jan 27 '12 at 18:38
    
Your pointing out that there might be arguable points doesn't preclude the need to spell out the arguments. Saying 'I disagree' or 'Others may dispute the following' is not an argument. If you can give justification (or counter arguments to my points) that would be very helpful. I claim there are only 2 instances, noun and adjective (as a direct or indirect object and as a possessive for the pronoun 'she'. –  Mitch Jan 27 '12 at 20:37
    
'I passed her the salt' is a pronoun (indirect object), not adverb. It's the same as 'I passed the salt to her', 'Say hi to her'. –  smci May 14 '12 at 0:30
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The OED has definitions for but as 6 parts of speech: conjunction, preposition, adverb, noun, verb, adjective and pronoun.

  • conjunction - "I would go to the store, but it's raining".
  • preposition - "everything but the dog"
  • adverb - "Bring but a bottle o' Primrose wine" (from OED) (synonymous with 'only')
  • noun (archaic or Scots dialect) - "I found him settled in this but and ben." (OED) (inside of a house)
  • verb - "Nay, but me no buts" (OED)
  • adjective - "He conducted me to the but end of the mansion." (OED) (the very end)
  • pronoun - "Not a man but felt the terror in his hair." (OED) sort of a negative 'who'
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OK, use but as an adjective for me. Or as a pronoun. Or a verb. –  Daniel Oct 25 '11 at 17:43
    
Here's one of the OED's seven citations: 'Bring but a bottle o' Primrose wine.' –  Barrie England Oct 25 '11 at 17:46
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You could stretch it. Adjective: "He just gave excuses: a bunch of 'but' answers." Verb: "He kept 'but'ing his answers." Preposition and adverb? I'd be hard pressed to even stretch that. But that's why this question could quickly descend into debates about how far you can stretch it. –  Jay Oct 25 '11 at 17:48
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@Barrie: in technical/logical circles, there are countless uses of 'and' and other logical connectives as verbs: "the procedure then 'and's the two conditions" (not particularly formal but it -is- used). Yes, this is tantamount to calling the OED loose or incomplete and/or capricious, but there it is. –  Mitch Jan 27 '12 at 18:21
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@Mitch: You’re quite right. I should have checked first. The OED records ‘AND’ (in upper case) as ‘To combine (binary signals, search terms, etc.) using a Boolean and operator.’ The other main coordinator, ‘or’, is recorded as having a similar verbal use. It is true that anyone can use any word as a verb, especially by placing it between inverted commas. But dictionaries and grammar books can base their descriptions only on what is generally found in the language. –  Barrie England Jan 27 '12 at 18:51
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Both "buffalo" and "police" serve as enough different parts of speech to enable us to form entire sentences by simply repeating the word.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

and

Police police police police police police police police.

although these are basically just adjectives, verbs, and nouns.

EDIT:

These two sentences have identical structure (with some Buffalo capitalized because they refer to the city of Buffalo, NY). Below, the bold words are the subject and their action (buffalo from Buffalo, or "Buffalo buffalo"), the italics are another set of buffalo from Buffalo acting on those buffalo, and the plaintext is the buffalo being buffaloed (intimidated) by the original subject.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo bufallo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Or, more clearly,

Bison from New York, who are intimidated by bison from New York, intimidate bison from New York.

I hope I've made it clear.

Note: In the "police" version, the structure is identical, but we are discussing "police police", or police that police other police, policing other police police while being policed by police police.

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Can you explain these sentences...what they are conveying? Graph them? –  Joel B Oct 26 '11 at 2:06
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@JoelB expanded. –  Jim Oct 26 '11 at 2:15
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Wikipedia has a nice article explaining this. –  Joel B Apr 11 '12 at 17:47
    
This is a great answer, although it does not attempt to answer the OP's question. –  Timtech Aug 19 '13 at 13:37
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Damn fits five of the categories.

-a verb: Damn you!

-a noun: I don't give a damn.

-an adjective: The damn rain won't stop.

-an adverb: That was damn close.

-an interjection: Damn! That was close.

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I assume you're just asking for amusement -- I don't see a practical application of an answer. Frankly, I think a question like this could quickly get bogged down in questions of definition and application.

Like, a candidate that occurs to me is "and", if I'm allowed to include the use of the word as a boolean operation, as in mathematics and computers:

conjunction (the obvious use): Bob walked AND talked.

adjective: We performed on AND operation on the two variables.

verb: We ANDed the two variables together.

noun: Put an AND in the expression here.

And of course almost any word can be used as an interjection: "AND! AND, you say! I would say BUT!"

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