« PreviousContinue »
4. A pronoun is a word used instead of a noun, to avoid the too frequent repetition of the same word : as, “ The man is happy; he is benevolent; he is useful."
5. A verb is a word which signifies to be, to Do, or to SUFFER: as,
6. An Adverb is a part of speech joined to a verb, an adjective, and sometimes to another adverb, to express some quality or circumstance respecting it; as, “ He reads well ; a truly good man; he writes •very correctly."
An Adverb may be generally known by its answering to the question, How ? how much? when? or where? as, in the phrase, “ He reads correctly," the answer to the question, How does he read ? is, correctly.
7. Prepositions serve to connect words with one another, and to show the relation between them: as, “ He went from London to York;" “ She is above disguise;" " They are supported by industry."
A A preposition may be known by its admitting after it a personal pronoun, in the objective case ; as, with, for, to, &c. will allow the objective case after them; with him, for her, to them, &c.
8. A Conjunction is a part of speech that is chiefly used to connect sentences, so as, out of two or more sentences to make but one: it sometimes connects only words: as, “ Thou and he are happy, because you are good.” “ Two and three are five. "
9. Interjections are words thrown in between the parts of a sentence to express the passions or emotions of the speaker: us, “ virtue! how amiable thou art !"
The observations which have been made, to aid learners in distinguishing the parts of speech from one another, may af.
ford them some small assistance; but it will certainly be much more instructive, to distinguish them by the definitions, and an accurate knowledge of their nature.
In the following passage, all the parts of speech are exemplified :
The power of speech is a faculty peculiar to man; and was bestowed on bim by his beneficent Creator, for the greatest and most excellent uses; but alas ! how often do we pervert it to the worst of purposes !
In the foregoing sentence, the words the, a, are articles; power, speech, faculty, man, Creator, uses, purposes, are substantives ; peculiar, beneficent, greatest, excellent, worst, are adjectives; him, his, we, it, are pronouns; is, was, bestowed, do, pervert, are verbs; most, how, often, are adverbs; of, to, on, by, for, are prepositions; and, bul, are conjunctions, and alas is an interjection.
The number of the different sorts of words, or of the parts of speech, has been variously reckoned by different grammarians. Some have enumerated ten, making the participle a distinct part; some eight, excluding the participle, and ranking the adjective under the noun; some four, and others only two, (the noun and the verb.) supposing the rest to be contained in the parts of their division. We have followed those authors, who appear to have given them the most natural and intelligible distribution. Some remarks on the division made by the learned Horne Tooke, are contained in the first section of the eleventh chapter of Etymology.
To assign names to objects of thought, and to express their properties and qualities, are the only indispensable requisites in language. If this be admitted, it follows, that the noun and the verb are the only parts of speech, which are essentially necessary; the former being the name of the thing of which we speak, and the latter expressing what we think of it. All other sorts of words must be regarded as subsidiaries, convenient indeed for the more easy communication of thought, but by no means indispensably requisite.
The interjection seems scarcely worthy of being considered as a part of artificial language or speech, being rather a branch of that natural language, which we possess in common with the brute creation, and by which we express the sudden emotions and passions that actuate our frame. But, as it is used in written as well as oral language, it may, in some measure, be deemed a part of speech. It is with us, a virtual sentence.
in which the noun and verb are concealed under an imperfect or indigested word.
Whilst some grammarians have objected to the usual number and arrangement of the parts of speech, others have disapproved of the terms by which they have been designated. Instead of the generally received appellations of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions, they have adopted those of names, substitutes, attributes, modifiers, and connectives. This spirit of innovation has extended itself to other parts of grammar, and especially to the names of the Tenses. Not satisfied with the ancient and approved terms, several writers on the subject, have introduced the following, as more accurate and expressive: Present tense indefinite, Present tense emphatic, Present progressive or continud; Past tense continuately, Prior past tense indefinite, Preterite indefinite and emphatic; The foretelling future imperfect, Prior future indefinite, Future imperfect progressive: and many others, corresponding with these, which it would be tedious to enumerate.
Of what use such deviations froin the customary, established terms of our best grammarians, can be productive, we are unable to conceive. They certainly tend to perplex and confound the student, if their promoters advanced no farther: but when we reflect that the friends and projectors of such innovations, may be continually altering and extending our grammatical nomenclature; there appears to be additional reason for rejecting them, and adhering to long-established
These are universally intelligible; and, if preserved, would produce a happy uniformity among all the teachers and learners of the language. They have likewise a great similarity to the terms used in teaching other languages; and, on this ground also, it is highly proper to retain them.
If, however, any of the old grammatical names should appear to be, in some respects, too comprehensive; and, in others, too limited; it would be much more eligible, to contract or enlarge their extent, by explanatory notes and observations, than rashly to sweep away our ancient terms, for the sake of introducing others; which, after all, are without authority, and may themselves, when critically examined, be found inconvenient and exceptionable.
We shall close our remarks on this subject, by introducing the sentiments of Dr. Johnson respecting it: they are extracted from his “Grammar of the English Tongne.”—“In this division and order of the parts of grammar, I follow (says he,) the common grammarians, without inquiring whether a fitter distribution might not be found. Experience has long shown this method to be so distinct as to obviate confusion, and so comprehensive as to prevent any inconvenient omissions.
likewise use the terms already received, and already understood, though perhaps others more proper might sometimes be invented. Sylburgius, and other innovators, whose new terms have sunk their learning into neglect, have left sufficient warning against the trifling ambition of teaching arts in a new language. 3
OF THE ARTICLES.
An article is a word prefixed to substantives, to point them out, and to show how far their signification extends : as, a garden, an eagle, the woman.
In English, there are but two articles, a and the : a becomes an before a vowel,* and before a silent h: as, an acorn, an hour. But if the h be sounded, the a only is to be used: as, a hand, a heart, a highway.
The inattention of writers and printers to this necessary distinction, has occasioned the frequent use of an before h, when it is to be pronounced; and this circumstance, more than any other, has probably contributed to that indistinct utterance, or total omission, of the sound signified by this letter, which very often occurs amongst readers and speakers. An horse, an husband, an herald, an heathen, and many similar associations, are frequently to be found in works of taste and merit. To remedy this evil, readers should be taught to omit, in all similar cases, the sound of the n, and to give the h its full pronunciation.
A or an is styled the indefinite article; it is used in a vague sense to point out one single thing of the kind, in other respects indeterminate: as, “ Give
, me a book ;" “ Bring me an apple.”
The is called the definite article; because it ascertains what particular thing or things are meant: as, - Give me the book ;" Bring me the apples ;" meaning some book, or apples, referred to.
* A instead of an is now used before words beginning with u long. See page 16, letter U. li is used before one : as, many a one. -- An must be used before words where the h is not silent, if the accent is on the second syllable ; as, an heroir action, on historical arcount, &c.
A substantive without any article to limit it, is generally taken in its widest sense : as, “ A candid temper is proper for man;"- that is, for all mankind.
The peculiar use and importance of the articles will be seen in the following examples ; “ The son of a king—the son of the king-a son of the king. Each of these three phrases has an entirely different meaning, through the different application of the articles a and the.
“ Thou art a man;" is a very general and harmless position; but, “ Thou art the man,” (as Nathan said to David,) is an assertion capable of striking terror and remorse into the heart.
The article is omitted before nouns that imply the different virtues, vices, passions, qualities, sciences, arts, metals, herbs, &c.: as, “prudence is commendable ; falsehood is odious; an& ger ought to be avoided,"'&c. It is not prefixed to a proper name: as, Alexander,” (because that of itself denotes a determinate individual or particular thing,) except for the sake of distinguishing a particular family: as, “ He is a Howard, or of the family of the Howards;" or by way of eminence : as, “ Every man is not a Newton;" “ He has the courage of an
Achilles :" or when some noun is understood : “ He sailed down the (river) Thames, in the (ship: Britannia."
When an adjective is used with the noun to which the articlé relates, it is placed between the article and the noun : as, “a good man," "an agreeable woman,” “the best friend." On some occasions, however, the adjective precedes a or an : as, “such a shame, as great a man as Alexander," “ too careless an author."
The indefinite article can be joined to substantives in the singular number only; the definite article may be joined also to plurals.
But there appears to be a remarkable exception to this rule, in the use of the adjectives few and many, (the latter chiefly with the word great before it,) which, though joined with plural substantives, yet admit of the singular article a: as, a few men; a great many men.
The reason of it is manifest, from the effect which the article has in these phrases : it means a small or great number collectively taken: and therefore gives the idea of a whole, that is, of unity. Thus likewise, a dozen, a score, a hundred, or a thousand, is one whole number, an aggregate of many collectively taken; and therefore still retains the article a, though joined as an adjective to a plural substantive : as, a hundred vears, &c.