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I'm after a basic list of words and their "role" in language. It could be plain text, excel, csv, but all I want is, eg:

cat noun
run verb

etc. Simple as that. I'm teaching a young friend who's also a bit poor on the "parts of English" (as am I - I don't even know the collective noun for "nouns/verbs/adjectives etc") some basic programming, so we thought we'd make a simple Google spreadsheet lookup table language tester.

This is NOT a programming question - that part we can do, but having drawn many dead ends with either over-complicated web pages (ie: dictionary sites wrapped with adverts and extra html) or endless "hackers dictionaries" (just massive word-only lists) I wondered if anyone here had any ideas. Sorry if this is the wrong place, but it's called "English language" so I thought it might fit.


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closed as off topic by FumbleFingers, kiamlaluno, JSBձոգչ, Kit Z. Fox, Robusto Mar 7 '12 at 13:04

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top 1000 words broken down by their part of speech: johnsesl.com/templates/vocab/1000words.php – Hellion Mar 6 '12 at 21:18
Moby project's Word part-of-speech list: icon.shef.ac.uk/Moby/mpos.html – Hellion Mar 6 '12 at 21:20
Wikipedia on POS taggers: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Part-of-speech_tagging – John Lawler Mar 6 '12 at 21:38
Are you familiar with WordNet? wordnet.princeton.edu – nohat Mar 6 '12 at 21:53
@digitaltoast: According to our FAQ I think it is off-topic, but you've already got several useful pointers in comments, and even if your question gets closed, there's nothing to stop others adding more comments in the same vein. – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '12 at 21:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You'll have a lot of problems with this, simply because so many words aren't limited to a single part of speech.

Case in point:

run - verb - Every morning, he would run down the street to run his business.

run - noun - After she went for a run, she tore a run in her stocking.

Even cat, though almost always used as a noun, can be used as a verb.

Many other words have both verb and noun meanings as well:

man, pin, land, part, cap, test, strike, spark, dog, sentence

Collectively, there are dozens of meanings to the words in that 10-word list. (Oh, add list to that list of words!) See? It all depends how you word your sentence.

The word mine can be used as a noun, verb, or pronoun.

Bottom line: This seems like an unsolvable problem, especially if you plan to limit each word to a single part of speech.

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that's a very good point, kind of makes me rethink the plan. Now I'm in a quandary - your answer was very good and helpful, but it wasn't technically an answer to the question. Community: What should I do here? Mark as answer, or go away and earn some rep so I can rate it up? – digitaltoast Mar 7 '12 at 10:47
@digitaltoast: Your question as asked is off-topic for this site anyway. So you may as well accept this one. In essence, it suggests that your question is wrong, since you can noun verbs and verb nouns. (See what I did there?) – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Mar 7 '12 at 13:06

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