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specified in the sentence: as, “I had finished my letter hefore he arrived."
The First Future Tense represents the action as yet to come, either with or without respect to the precise time : as,
“The sun will rise to-morrow;" “ I shall see them again."
The Second Future intimates that the action will ! be fully accomplished, at or before the time of another future action or event as, “I shall have dined at one o'clock;" “ The two houses will have finished their business, when the king comes to prorogue them.”+
It is to be observed, that in the subjunctive mood, the event being spoken of under a condition or supposition, or in the form of a wish, and therefore as doubtful and contingent, the verb itself in the present, and the auxiliary both of the present and past imperfect times, often carry with them somewhat of a future sense : as,
66 If he come to. morrow, I may speak to him ;" “ If he should, or would come to-morrow, I might, would, could, or should speak to him." Observe also, that the auxiliaries should and would, in the imperfect times, are used to express the present and future as well as the past: as, “It is my desire, that he should, or would, come now, or to-morrow ;” as
It was my desire, that he should or would come yesterday.” So that in this mood the precise time of the verb is very much determined by the nature and drift of the sentence.
The present, past, and future tenses, may be used either definilely or indefinitely, both with respect to time and action. When they denote customs or habits, and not indi. vidual acts, they are applied indefinitely : as,“ Virtue pro motes happiness ;" “ The old Romans governed by benefits more than by fear;” “I shall hereafter employ my time more usefully.” In these examples, the words, promote
+ See an account of the simple and compound tenses, at page 100.,
governed, and shall employ, are used indefinitely, both in regard to action and time; for they are not confined to individual actions, nor to any precise points of present, past, or future tiine. When they are applied to signify particular actions, and to ascertain the precise points of time to which they are confined, they are used definitely; as in the following instances. My brother is writing ;" * He built the house last summer,
but did not inhabit it till yesterday.” " He will write another letter to-morrow."
The different tenses also represent an action as complete or perfect, or as incomplete or imperfect. In the phrases, “ I am writing,” “ I was writing," " I shall be writing," imperfect, unfinished actions are signified. But the following examples, "I wrote," "I have written," "I had written," “ I shall have written,” all denote complete perfect action.
From the preceding representation of the different tenses, it appears, that each of them has its distinct and peculiar province; and that though some of them may sometimes be used promiscuously, or substituted one for another, in cases where great accuracy is not required, yet there is a real and essential difference in their meaning. It is also evident, that the English language contains the six tenses which we have enumerated. Grammarians who limit the number to two, or at most to three, namely, the present, the imperfect, and the future, do not reflect that the English verb is mostly composed of principal and auxiliary; and that these several parts constitute one verb. Either the English language has no regular future tense, or its future is composed of the auxiliary and the principal verb. If the latter be admitted, then the auxiliary and principal united, constitute a tense, in one instance; and, from reason and analogy, may doubtless do so, in others, in which minuter divisions of time are necessary, or useful. What reason can be assigned for not considering this case as other cases, in which a whole is regarded as composed of several parts, or of principal and adjuncts? There is nothing beterogenevus in the parts: and precedent, analogy, utility, and even necessity, authorize the union.
In support of this opinion, we have the authority of eminent grammarians; in particular, that of Dr. Beattie. “ Some writers," says the doctor, “ will not allow any thing to be a tense, but what in one infected word, expresses an affirmation with time; for that those parts of the verb are not properly called tenses, which assume that appearance, by means of auxiliary words. At this rate, we should have, in English, two tenses only, the present and the past in the active verb, and in the passive no tenses at all. But this is a needless nicety; and, if adopted, would introduce confusion into the grammatical art. If amaveram be a tense, why should not amatus fueram ? If I heard be a tense, I did hear, I have heard, and I shall hear, must be equally entitled to that appellation."
The proper form of a tense, in the Greek and Latin tongues, is certainly that, which it has in the grammars of those languages. But in the Greek and Latin grammars, we uniformly find, that some of the tenses are formed by variations of the principal verb; and others, by the addition of a helping verb. It is, therefore, indisputable, that the principal verb, or rather its participle, and an auxiliary, constitute a regular tense in the Greek and Latin languages. This point being established, we may, doubtless, apply it to English verbs; and extend the principle as far as convenience, and the idiom of our language require.
If it should be said, that, on the same ground that a participle and auxiliary are allowed to form a tense, and the verb is to be conjugated accordingly, the English noun and pronoun ought to be declined at large, with articles and prepositions ; we must object to the inference.
Such a mode of declension is not adapted to our language. This we think has been already provedt. It is also confessedly inapplicable to the learned languages. Where then is the
grammatical inconsistency, or the want of conformity to the principles of analogy, in making some tenses of the English verb to consist of principal and auxiliary; and the cases of English nouns, chiefly in their termination? The argument from analogy, instead of militating against us, appears to confirm and establish our position. See pages 78—-30. 102-104. 108-111. 201-203.
We shall close these remarks on the tenses, with a few observations extracted from the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA. They are worth the student's attention, as a part of them applies, not only to our views of the tenses, but to many other parts of the work.-" Harris [by way of hypothesis] has enumerated no fewer than twelve tenses. Of this enumeration we can by no means approve: for, without entering into a minute examination of it, 'nothing can be more obvious, than that his inceptive present, “ I am going to write,” is a future tense ; and his completive present, “I have written," a past tense. But, as was before observed of the classification of words, we cannot help being of opinion, that, to take the tenses as they are commonly received, and endeavour to ascertain their nature and their differences, is a much more useful exercise, as well as more proper for a work of this kind, than to raise, as might easily be raised, new theories on the subject.”+ SECTION 6. The Conjugation of the auxiliary verbs
TO HAVE and TO BE. The Conjugation of a verb, is the regular combination and arrangement of its several numbers, persons, moods, and tenses.
The Conjugation of an active verb is styled the ACTIVE VOICE; and that of a passive verb, the PASSIVE VOICE.
† The following criticism affords an additional support to the author's system of the tenses, &c.
“ Under the head of Etymology, the author of this grammar judiciously adheres to the natural simplicity of the English language, without embarrassing the learner with distinctions peculiar to the Latin tongue. The difficult guljert of the Tenses, is clearly explained, and with less encuentrance of technical phraseology, than in lost other grammars."
The auxiliary and active verb TO HAVE, is conjugated in the following manner.
PLURAL. 1. Pers. I have.
1. We have. 2. Pers. Thou hast.
2. Ye or you have. 3. Pers. He, she, or it bath or has.
3. They have. IMPERFECT TENSE.
1. I had.
1. We had. 2. Thou hadst.
2. Ye or you had. 3. He, &c. had.
3. They had.
PERFECT TENSE t. 1. I have had.
1. We have had. 2. Thou hast had.
2. Ye or you have had. 3. He has had.
3. They have had. PLU PERFECT TENSET.
1. I had had.
1. We had had. 2. Thou hadst had.
2. Ye or you had had. 3. He had had.
3. They had had. FIRST FUTURE TENSE.
PLURAL 1. I shall or will have. 1. We shall' or will have. 2. Thou shalt or wilt have. 2. Ye or you shall or will haý. 3. He shall or will have. 3. They shall or will have.
pThe terms which we have adopted, to designate the three past tenses, may not be exactly significant of their nature and distinctions. But as they are used by granmarians in general, and have an established authority ; and, especially, as the meaning attached to each of them, and their different significations, have been carefully explained; we presume that no solid objection can be made to the use of terms so generally approved, and so explicitly defined. See pag. 86 and 88. We are supported in these sentiments, by the authority of Dr. Johnson. See the first note in his “Grammar of the English Tongue," prefixed to his dictionary. If, however, any teachers should think it warrantable to change the established names, they cannot perhaps find any more appropriate, than the terms first preterit, second preterit, and third preterit. ---See the Octavo Grainınar.