Page images

definitions attached to them, are of the class called

common nouns.

When proper names have an article annexed to them, they are used as common names; as, He is the Cicero of his age; he is reading the lives of the twelve Cæsars.

Common names may also be used to signify individuals, by the addition of articles or pronouns; as, The boy is studious; that girl is discreet.

Nouns may also be divided into the following classes:

Collective nouns, or nouns of multitude; as, the people, the parliament, the army: abstract nouns, or the names of qualities abstracted from their substances; as, knowledge, goodness, whiteness: verbal nouns; as, lover, accuser, betrayer, beggar : participial nouns; as, beginning, understanding, hearing, writing

To substantives belong gender, number, and case. Substantives also admit of a second and third per

The person speaking, or first person, ema ploys the pronoun instead of the noun; consequently nouns have no first person. They have two persons only; and they are all of the third person when spoken of, and of the second, when spoken to.' Thus when we say, Children, obey your pårents; the noun children is the second person, because children are spoken to; and the word parents is the third person, because they are spoken of. But change the expression and say, Parents, provoke not your children to wrath; and the order of persons is changed. Parents, being spoken to, becomes the second; and children, who are spoken of, the third. So in all cases. When we speak of or about a thing, it is in the third person; but when we speak to it, it is in the second.


OF GENDER. Gender is the distinction of nouns with regard to sex.

There are three genders, the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter.

The masculine gender denotes animals of the male kind; as, a man, a horse, an ox.

The feminine gender signifies animals of the female kind; as, a woman, a duck, a hen.

The neuter gender denotes objects which are neither male nor female; as a field, a house, a garden.

Some substantives, naturally neuter, are by a figure of speech converted into the masculine or feminine gender; as when we say of the sun, He is setting; and of a ship, She sails well.

Figuratively, in the English tongue, we commonly give the masculine gender to nouns which are conspicuous for the attributes of imparting or communicating, and which are by nature strong and efficacious. Those, again, are made feminine, which are conspicuous for the attributes of containing or bringing forth, or which are peculiarly beautiful or amiable. Upon these principles, the sun is said to be masculine; and the moon being the receptacle of the sun's light, to be feminine. The earth is gencrally feminine; a ship, a country, a city, &c. are likewise made feminine, being receivers or containers. Time is always masculine on account of its mighty eificacy. Virtue is feminine from its beauty, and its being the object of love. Fortune, and also the church, are generally put in the feminine gonder.


[ocr errors]


The English language has three methods of distinguishing the sex, viz:

1. By different words: as,



Wife, &c.
2. By difference of termination: as,



Actress, &c.
3. By a noun, pronoun, or adjective, being
prefixed to a substantive: as,

A man-servant.

A maid-servant.
A he-goat.

A she-goat.
Male-descendants. Female-descendants, &c.
It sometimes happens that the same noun is
either masculine or feminine. The words parent,
child, cousin, friend, neighbor, servant, and sever-
al others, are used indifferently for males or fe-

NUMBER. Number is a term which has reference to quantity, as consisting of one or more particulars or objects.

Substantives are of two numbers, the singular and the plural.

The singular number expresses but one object; as, a chair, a table.

The plural number signifies more objects than one; as, chairs, tables.

Some nouns, from the nature of the things which they express, are used only in the singular form; as, wheat, pitch, gold, sloth, pride, &c, ; others, only in the plural form; as, bellows, scissors, lungs, riches, &c.

Some words are the same in both numbers; as, deer, sheep, swine, &c.

The plural number of nouns is generally form ed by adding s to the singular; as, dove, doves; face, faces; thought, thoughts. But when the substantive singular ends in x, ch soft, sh, ss, or s, we add es in the plural; as, box, boxes; church, churches; lash, lashes; kiss, kisses; rebus, rebuses. If the singular ends in ch hard, the plural is formed by adding s; as monarch, monarchs; distich, distichs.

Nouns which end in o have sometimes es added to the plural; as, cargo, echo, hero, negro, manifesto, potato, volcano, wo; and sometimes only s; as, folio, nuncio, punctilio, seraglio.

Nouns ending in f, or fe, are rendered plural by the change of these terminations into ves; as, loaf, loaves; half, halves; wife, wives; except grief, relief, reproof, and several others, which form the plural by the addition of s. Those which end in f, have the regular plural; as, ruff, ruffs; except staff, staves.

Nouns which have y in the singular, with no other vetvel in the same syllable, change it into ies i! the piural; as beauty, beauties; fly, flies. But che y is not changed when there is another vowel in the syllable; as, key, keys; delay, delays; attorney, attorneys.

Some nouns become plural by changing the a of the singular into e: as, man, men; woman, women; alderman, aldermen. The word ox and child, form oxen and children; brother, makes either brothers or brethren; sometimes the dipthong oo is changed into ee, in the plural; as foot, feet; goose, geese; tooth, teeth. Louse and mouse, make lice and mice.

Penny makes pence; or pennies, when the coin is meant; die, dice, (for play;) die, dies, (for coining.)

It is agreeable to analogy and the practice of the generality of correct writers, to construe the following words as plural nouns; pains, riches, alms.

The word news is now almost universally considered as belonging to the singular number.

The noun means is used both in the singular and the plural number.

Some words, derived from the learned languages, are confined to the plural number: as, antipodes, literati, minutiæ.

The following words being in Latin both singular and plural, are used in the same manner when adopted into our tongue: apparatus, series, species.

CASE. Case is the state or relation which the noun sustains to the other words in the sentence.

Substantives have three cases, viz. nominative, possessive, and objective.

The nominative expresses the name of a thing existing or acting as the subject of discourse.

To nominate, means to name; and hence the noun or pronoun which names or introduces a person or thing, as the subject of discourse or affirmation, is called the nominative case.

The nominative usually denotes the agent or actor; as, The dog barks; The boy plays; Men labor. But sometimes no action is implied; as, I am, or I exist; He sleeps; They sit; He is loved. In such cases the nominative denotes, not the agent or actor, but simply the person or thing existing, as the subject of what is affirmed or expressed.

The possessive case expresses the relation of property or possession, and in general has an

« PreviousContinue »