Page images
PDF
EPUB

following them in the infinitive mood, without the sign to, are bid, dare, need, make, see, hear, feel: and also, let, not used as an auxiliary, and perhaps a few others; as, I bade him do it: Ye dare not do it: I saw him do it: I heard him say it: Thou lettest him go.

The sign to was anciently preceded by for; as, What went ye out for to see ? The word for, before the infinitive, is now, in almost every case, obsolete.

SUPPLEMENTARY OBSERVATIONS. 1. The article refers to a noun or pronoun, expressed or understood, and limits its signification. It is the nature of both the articles to limit the thing spoken of.

A determines it to be one single thing of the kind, leaving it still uncertain which; the determines which it is, or, of many, which they are.

2. Adverbs, though they have no government of the cases of nouns and pronouns, require an appropriate situation in the sentence, viz: for the most part, before adjectives, after verbs transitive or intransitive, and frequently between the auxiliary and the verb: as, He made a very sensible discourse; He spoke unaffectedly and forcibly, and was attentively heard by the whole assembly.

For the placing of the adverb, however, on all occasions, no determinate rule can be given. Sometimes it is placed with propriety before the verb or at some distance after it: sometimes between the two auxiliaries, and sometimes after them both. The general rule above given may be of some importance, but the easy flow and perspicuity of the phrase, are the things which ought to be chiefly regarded.

3. In the use of words and phrases which, in point of time, relate to each other, a due regard to that relation should be observed. Instead of saying, the Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken away; we should say, the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.

Instead of, I remember the family more than twenty years; it should be, I have remembered the family more than twenty years.

The last week I intended to have written, is a very common phrase; the infinitive being in the past time, as well as the verb which it follows. But it is certainly wrong; for how long soever it now is since I thought of writing, to write was then present to me, and must still be considered as present, when I bring back that time and the thoughts of it. It ought therefore to be, The last week I intended to write. The following sentences are also erróneous: I cannot excuse the remissness of those whose business it should have been, as it certainly was their interest, to have interposed their good offices: There were two circumstances which made it necessary for them to have lost no time: History painters would have found it difficult to have invented such a species of being: They ought to be, to interpose, to lose, to invent.

4. Two negatives, in English destroy one another, or are equivalent to an affirmative: as, Nor did they not perceive him; that is, they did perceive him: His language, though inelegant, is not angrammatical; that is, it is grammatical.

5. To determine what case a noun or pronoun must be in when it follows the conjunctions than or as, attend well to sense, and supply the ellipsis; as, Thou art wiser thanI; that is, than I am: They loved him more than me; that is, more than they loved me: The sentiment is well expressed by Plato, but much better by Solomon than him; that is, than by him.

The propriety or impropriety of many phrases in the preceding as well as in some other forms, may be discovered, by supplying the words that are not expressed; which will be evident from the following instances of erroneous construction: He can read better that me; He is as good as her; Whether I be present or no: Who did this ? Me. By supplying the words understood in each of the phrases, their impropriety and governing rule will appear; as, Better than I can read; As good as she is; Present or not present; I did it.

When the relative who follows than, it must be in the objective case; as, Alfred, than whom, a greater king never reigned, &c. Beelzebub, than whom, Satan except, none higher sat, &c. In these examples, whom is governed by than. It is remarkable that in such instances, if the personal pronoun were used, it would be in the nominative case; as, A greater king never reigned than he, that is, than he was. Beelzebub, than he, &c. ; that is, than he sat.

6. To avoid disagreeable repetitions, and to express our ideas in few words, an ellipsis, or omission of some words, is frequently admitted. Instead of saying, He was a learned man, he was a wise man, he was a good man, we make use of the ellipsis, and say, He was a learned, wise and good man.

When the omission of words would obscure the sentence, weaken its force, or be attended with an impropriety, they must be expressed. In the sentence, We are apt to love who love us, the word those should be supplied. A beautiful field and trees, is not proper language.

It should be, Beautiful fields and trees; or, A beautiful field, and fine trees.

Almost all compounded sentences are more or less elliptical: some examples of which may be seen under the different parts of speech.

The ellipsis of the article is thus used; A man, woman, and child: that is a man, a woman, and a child: A house and garden: that is, a house and a garden: The sun and moon; that is, the sun and the moon: The day and hour: that is, the day and the hour. In all these instances, the article being once expressed, the repetition of it becomes unnecessary. There is, however, an exception to this observation, when some peculiar emphasis requires a repetition; as, in the following sentence: Not only the year, but the day, and the hour. In this

case, the ellipsis of the last article would be improper. When a different form of the article is requisite, the article is also properly repeated; as, A house and an orchard; instead of, a house and orchard.

The noun is frequently omitted in the following manner: The laws of God and man; that is, the laws of God, and the laws of man.

In some very emphatical expressions the ellipsis should not be used; as, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God; which is more emphatical than, Christ the power and wisdom of God.

The ellipsis of the adjective is used in the following manner: A delightful garden and orchard: A little man and woman; that is, a little man and a

my lands.

little woman. In such elliptical expressions as these, the adjective ought to have exactly the same signification, and to be quite as proper, when joined to the latter substantive as to the former; otherwise the ellipsis should not be admitted.

Sometimes the ellipsis is improperly applied to nouns of different numbers; as, a magnificent house and gardens. In this case it is better to use another adjective; as, A magnificent house and fine gardens.

The following is the ellipsis of the pronoun: I love and fear him; that is, I love him, and I fear him: My house and lands; that is, my house and

In these instances the ellipsis may take place with propriety; but if we would be more express and emphatical, it must not be used; as, His friends and his foes; My sons and my daughters.

In some of the common forms of speech, the relative pronoun is usually omitted; as, this is the man they love; instead of, This is the man whom they love. These are the goods they bought; for, these are the goods which they bought.

In complex sentences, it is much better to have the relative pronoun expressed; as, it is more proper to say, The posture in which I lay; than, In the posture I lay; The horse on which I rode fell down; than, The horse I rode, fell down.

Thé antecedent and relative connect the parts of a sentence together, and to prevent obscurity and confusion, should answer to each other with great exactness. We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. Here the ellipsis is manifestly improper, and ought to be supplied; as, We

« PreviousContinue »