While helping my son, who happens to be in the 5th grade, with his English grammar, I have realized that I am confused. The following sentence, that I gave him as an exercise, he has identified the components i.e. verbs/verb-types, adverbs, adjectives and nouns as follows:

Sentence: "Jack is going to have a car of his own."

Identification of grammatical parts:

  • Jack - Proper noun
  • is - Being verb
  • going to - Action verb
  • have - Possession verb
  • a - article (not taught yet, my identification)
  • car - common noun
  • of - prepositions (not taught yet, my identification)
  • his - pronoun
  • own - adjective

Is the above correct identification ? My main doubts are about the verbs and verb types, since I believe that contrary to how my son has been taught to identify verb types, some of the types change contextually, and some of the verbs are contextually adverbs.

  • 2
    Here at Englishpage.com is an article covering the ways the future is handled in English; 'be going to' is classed here as a non-decomposable (though inflecting) structure, and that's the approach I'd take. I'd also use the Collins classification 1b of this usage of 'own': determiner (preceded by a possessive) 1. a. (intensifier): John's own idea; your own mother. b. (as pronoun): I'll use my own. // However, this may not be the analysis demanded by your son's teacher. Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 8:21
  • Thanks Edwin. I think I picked a poor example for my son, given what he has been taught so far, and "is going to" did seem like a candidate where the entire thing might be treated as a word, but just wasn't sure.
    – bdutta74
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 8:56
  • When getting to grips with grammar, one is almost certainly going to encounter areas of disagreement over terminology, classification (of part of speech, say: both the 'how' and the 'why'), the best way to analyse constructions ... A really motivated parent has to study the way a child is being taught, better approaches, and then try to reconcile the disparities. It's not just limited to English; a child may well come up with 'But my teacher says mushrooms are plants'.... Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 10:57
  • 1
    The only thing I would really disagree with (rather than just consider to be somewhat unusual terminology) is his. While his can be a pronoun, it is a determiner here—it's a bit unfortunate that you chose this particular one, ’cause it's the only one of the possessives that is identical as a determiner and a pronoun. For the others: determiner is my/your/her/our/their, pronoun is mine/yours/hers/ours/theirs. Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 16:50
  • 3
    Thank you Janus. Since I didn't remember what "determiner" was (in fact, I don't remember having studied that classification), I went looking and landed on British Council page here, and this comment by PeterM caught my attention, which said: "Different linguists use different names for these items - some call them possessive adjectives, some call them possessive determiners, some call them possessive pronouns" !
    – bdutta74
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 17:03

5 Answers 5


I would parse the sentence like this:

  • Jack - noun (subject)
  • is going - present progressive verb
  • to have - infinite (functioning as an adverb modifying "is going")
  • a car - object of infinitive
  • of his own - prepositional phrase (functioning as an adjective modifying car)

It is correct but since he isn't taught "articles" then "a car" should serve as the common noun. Like you said, he was asked to identify, the verbs/verb-types, adverbs, adjectives and nouns, that you have done...


I'm going out on a limb and disagreeing.

Jack - proper noun; is - "being" verb; going - object noun (gerund); to - preposition; have - verb; a - article (never too soon to learn); car - object noun; of - preposition; his - pronoun (determiner); own - pronoun (object);

I am not sure I agree that "going to" is an action verb phrase in any case, but certainly when "going" is followed by a perfectly good prepositional phrase, I see no reason why "to" should not be the preposition.

  • 2
    No. In 'Jack is going to London', 'to' is the preposition. But in 'Jack is going to cry', 'to' is in a different word-class, the infinitive marker {see Eythórsson}. Try replacing each 'to' with 'from'. // Do read the article (Englishpage) linked to above. // Do read up on gerunds / ing-forms of verbs (plenty on ELU). Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 16:06

"Jack is going to have a car of his own."

  • Jack: proper noun
  • is going: future tense
  • to hav e: infinitive
  • a: article
  • car: common noun
  • of: preposition
  • his: possessive adjective
  • own: common noun
  • is going can't be future tense under any analysis. At best we might want to call 'going to' a kind of future, (especially since it can be contracted in speech to 'gonna'). But the 'is' is simply the present tense (progressive) 'be'. We can see this because we can also say "Jack was going to have a car of his own" which is a future in the past (as you would expect if 'is' and 'was' were behaving like regular present and past tense verbs.) And as noted in the comments, the "correct" answer can really only be given relative to what the child has been taught, as some terms really vary widely.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 7:12
  • @AlanMunn English uses various mechanisms to indicate a verb is occurring at some time in the future, of which will and be going to are two common approaches. Another is to use an adverbial locution like “Tomorrow I see the doctor.” Since both common ways are analytic/compound forms, not syncretic/inflectional ones, I wouldn’t be too quick to deny the longer periphrastic construction the same rights and privileges — and branding/naming/classification — granted to the shorter version. Yes, they have slightly different underlying properties, but the same overall effect.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 7:32
  • @tchrist I'm well aware of this; the point was that 'is going' itself is not the source of the future, and the 'be' in this construction behaves just like any other progressive 'be'. If 'is going' was the source of the future, we might expect to say "Yesterday John is going to leave", but we instead we must say "Yesterday John was going to leave". If you want to treat 'be going to' as a future, then you need to say it inflects for present and past tense, which is a bit odd, don't you think?
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 7:44
  • @AlanMunn No, I don’t think it odd. After all, will also inflects for past tense: compare “I will go to the store the store before three” with “Yesterday, I said I would go to the store before five.”
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 7:48
  • @tchrist Right, because 'will' isn't future tense either... :) Now I see the source of the recent meta question on this...
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 7:49

"Jack is going to have ..." there are not three verbs here. Here we have "to be going to +infinitive".

Jack has -present tense.

Jack will have - future tense.

Jack is going to have - this is a special structure we can use for talking about the future.


his - possessive adjective not pronoun.

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