« PreviousContinue »
authority for the use of it in the plural number: as, None that go unto her return again.” Prov. ii. 19. “ Terms of peace were none vouchsaf'd." Milton. “ None of them are varied to express the gender.” “ None of them have different endings for the numbers." Lowth's Introduction. “None of their productions are extant.” Blair.
We have endeavoured to explain the nature of the adjective pronouns, and to distinguish and arrange them intelligibly: but it is difficult, perhaps impracticable, to define and divide them in a manner perfectly unexceptionable. Some of them, in particular, may seem to require a different arrangement. We presume, however, that, for every useful purpose, the
, present classification is sufficiently correct.
All the pronouns, except the personal and relative, may indeed, in a general view of them, be considered as definite pronouns, because they define or ascertain the extent of the common name, or general term, to which they refer, or are joined; but as each class of them does this, more or less exactly, or in a manner peculiar to itself, a division adapted to this circumstance appears to be suitable to the nature of things, and the understanding of learners.
It is the opinion of some respectable grammarians, that the words this, that, any, some, such, his, their, our, &c. are pronouns, when they are used separately from the nouns to which they relate; but that, when they are joined to those nouns, they are not to be considered as belonging to this species of words ; because in this association, they rather ascertain a substantive, than supply the place of one. They assert that, in the phrases,
give me ihat,"*** this is John's," and " such were some of you." the words in italics are pronouns: but that, in the following phrases, they are not pronouns ; "this book is instructive," * some boys are ingenious," "my health is declining," “ our hearts are deceitful," &c. Other grammarians think, that all these words are pure adjectives, and that none of them can properly be called pronouns: as the genuine pronoun stands by itself, without the aid of a noun expressed or understood. They are of opinion, that in the expressions, “Give me that ;" “this is John's,”' &c. the noun is always understood, and must be supplied in the mind of the reader: as, “Give me that book ;"9 “ this book is John's ;'" and such persons were some persons amongst you."
Some writers are of opinion, that the pronouns should be classed into substantive and adjective pronouns. Under the former they include the personal and the relative; under the latter, all the others. But this division, though a neat one, does not appear to be accurate. All the relative pronouns will not range under the substantive head. We have distributed
these parts of grammar, in the mode which we think most correct and intelligible: but, for the information of students, and to direct their inquiries on the subject, we state the different opinions of several judicious writers on Grammar.
Some grammarians have considered the articles, and all the adjective pronouns, as pure adjectives. Others have proceeded so far as to class even the relative pronouns, or some of them, among the adjectives. Others again have placed the pronouns this, that, other, some, any, &c. in the rank of articles. It would, indeed, be difficult to state, within a moderate compass, the various opinions, and the ingenious discussions in support of them, which grammarians have exhibited, respecting these parts of speech, and their occasional conformity with each other. But arrangements of this kind, are not likely to be of any use, or to meet with general approbation. An adherence to the established terms and arrangement, produces many advantages, and occasions no material inconvenience. It is easy to advance plausible objections against almost every definition, rule, and arrangement of grammar. But in most cases of this nature, it is certainly much better, to supply the defects and abridge superfluitics, to correct errors, and suggest improvements, by occasional notes and observations, than by disorganizing, or altering a system which has been so long established, and so generally approved.*See pages 29, 30, and Chapter xi. Section 1. On “ Derivation."
Of the nature of Verbs in general.
A verb is a word which signifies to be, to do, or to SUFFER: as, “I am, I rule, I am ruled."
Verbs are of three kinds; ACTIVE, PASSIVE, and
* It is probable, that any attempt to establish a different classification of the parts of speech, from that which is commonly received, will be found of little utility, either in practice or in speculation.
NEUTER. They are also divided into REGULAR, IRREGULAR, and DEFECTIVE.
A Verb Active expresses an action, and necessarily implies an agent, and an object acted upon : as, to love; “I love Penelope.”
A Verb Passive expresses a passion, or a suffering, or the receiving of an action; and necessarily implies an object acted upon, and an agent by which it is acted upon: as, to be loved; “ Penelope is loved by me."
A Verb neuter expresses neither action nor passion, but being, or a state of being: as, “I am, I
sleep, I sit."**
The verb active is also called transitive, because the action passes over to the object, or has an effect upon some other Thing: as, “ The tutor instructs his pupils;""esteem the man.”
Verbs neuter may properly be denominated intransitives, because the effect is confined within the subject, and does not pass over to any object: as, “ I sit, he lives, they sleep.”
Some of the verbs that are usually ranked among neuters, make a near approach to the nature of a verb active; but they may be distinguished from it by their being intransitive: as, to run, to walk, to fly, &c. The rest are more obviously neuter, and more clearly expressive of a middle state between action and passion : as, to stand, to lie, to sleep, &c.
In English, many verbs are used both in an active and a neuter signification, the construction only determining of which kind they are: as, to flatten, signifying to make even or level, is a verb active; but when it signifies to grow dull or insipid, it is a verb neuter.
A neuter verb, by the addition of a preposition, may become a compound active verb. To smile is a neuter verb: it cannot therefore, be followed by an objective case, nor be construed as a passive verb. We cannot say, she smiled him, or he was smiled. But to smile on being a compound active verb, we properly say, she smiled on him; he was smiled on by fortune in every undertaking.
* Verbs have been distinguished by some writers, into the following kinds.
1st. Active transitive, or those which denote an action that passes from the agent to some object: as, Casar conquered Pompey.
20. Active intransitive, or those which express that kind of action, which has no effect upon any thing beyond the agent himself: as, Cæsar walked.
3d. Passive, or those which express, not action, but passion, whether pleasing or painful: as, Portia was loved: Pompey was conquered.
4th. Neuter, or those which express an attribute that consists neither in action nor passion : as, Cæsar stood.
This appears to be an orderly arrangement. But if the class of actire-intransitive verbs were admitted, it would rather perplex than assist the learner: for the difference between verbs active and neuter, as transitive and intransitive, is easy and obvious: but the difference between verbs absolutely neuter and intransitively active, is not always clear. It is, indeed, often very difficulí, if not iinpossible, to be ascertained.
Auxiliary or helping Verbs, are those by the help of which the English verbs are principally conjugated. They are, do, be, have, shall
, will, may, can, with their variations; and let and must, which have no variation.*
: In our definition of the verb, as a part of speech which signifies to be, to do, or to suffer, &c. we have included every thing, either expressly or by necessary consequence, that is essential to its nature, and nothing that is not essential to it. This definition is warranted by the authority of Dr. Lowth, and of many other respectable writers on grammar. There are, however, some grammarians, who consider assertion as the essence of the verb. But as the participle and the infinitive if included in it, would prove insuperable objections to their scheme, they have, without hesitation, denied the former a place in the verb, and declared the latter to be merely an abstract noun. This appears to be going rather too far in support of an hypothesis. It seems to be incumbent on these grammarians, to reject also the imperative mood. What part of speech would they make the verbs in the following sentence? “Depart instantly: improve your time : forgive us our sins.” Will it be said, that the verbs in these phrases are assertions?
In reply to these questions, it has been said, that “ Depart instantly,” is an expression equivalent to, “I desire you to depart instantly;" and that as the latter phrase implies affirmation or assertion, so does the former. But, supposing the phrases to be exactly alike in sense, the reasoning is not conclusive. 1st. In the latter phrase, the only part implying affirmation, is, “I desire.” The words, “to depart," are in the infinitive mood, and contain no assertion: they affirm nothing. 2d. The position is not tenable, that “ Equivalence in sense implies similarity in grammatical nature.” It proves too much, and therefore nothing. This mode of reasoning would confound the acknowledged grammatical distinction of words. A pronoun, on this principle, may be proved to be a noun; a noun, a verb; an adverb, a noun and preposition; the superlative degree, the comparative; the imperative mood, the indicative; the future tense, the pre. sent; and so on : because they may respectively be resolved into similar meanings. Thus in the sentence, “I desire you to depart,” the words to depart, may be called a noun, because they are equivalent in sense to the noun departure, in the following sentence, “I desire your departure.” The words, “ Depart instantly,” may be proved to be, not the imperative mood with an adverb, but the indicative and infinitive, with a noun and preposition; for they are equivalent to,“ Í desire you to depart in an instant.” The superlative degree in this sentence,“ Of all acquirements virtue is the most valuable,” may pass for the comparative, because it conveys the same sentiment as, “ Virtue is more valuable than every other acquirement."
* Let, as a principal verb, has lettest and letteth; but as a helping verb it admits of no variation.
We shall not pursue this subject any further, as we think the reader must be satisfied, that only the word desire, in the equivalent sentence, implies affirmation ; and that two phrases may be equivalent, in point of sense, though, in their grammatical nature, they may be essentially different.
To verbs belong
NUMBER, PERSON, MOOD, AND TENSE.
Of Number and Person.
Verbs have two numbers, the Singular and the Plural: as, “I run, we run," &c.
In each number there are three persons : us,
Thus the verb, in some parts of it, varies its endings, to express, or agree with, different persons of the same number: as, “I love, thou lovest; he loveth, or loves :" and also to express different numbers of the same person : as, “ thou lovest, ye love; he loveth, they love." In the plural number of the verb, there is no variation of ending to express the different persons: and the verb, in the three persons plural, is the