« PreviousContinue »
stance 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 ra. ther ascertain a substantive, than supply the place of one. They assert that, in the phrases, give me that," “ this is John's,” and “ suck were some of you,” the words in italics are pronouns, but that, in the following phrases, they are not pronouns ; Mthis book is instructive," “ some boys are ingenious,”? “
my health is declining," our hearts are de seitful," &c. Other grammarians think, that none of these forms of speech ran 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 oxpressions,“ 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 ;" “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 speech, in the mode which we
think most correct and intelligible ; but, for the informa- tion of students, and to direct their inquiries on the sub
ject, we state the different opinions of several judicious writers on Grammar.
OF ADJECTIVES. SECTION 1.Of the nature of Adjectives, and the
degrees of comparison. An Adjective is a word added to a substantive. to express its quality : as, “ An industrious man;" t' A virtuous woman;" “ A benevolent mind."
In English the adjective is not varied on account of gender, number, or case.
Thus we say, careless boy ; careless girls.”
The only variation which it admits, is that of the degrees of comparison.
There are commonly reckoned three degrees of comparison ; the POSITIVE, the COMPARATIVE, and the SUPERLATIVE.
Grammarians have generally enumerated these three de. grees of comparison ; but the first of them has been thought by some writers, to be, improperly, termed a degree of comparison; as it seems to be nothing more than the simple form of the adjective, and to imply not either comparison or degree. This opinion may be well founded, unless the adjective be supposed to imply comparison or degree, by containing a secret or general reference to other things: as, when we say, " he is a tall man,” “this is a fair day," we make some reference to the ordinary size of men, and to different weather.
The Positive State expresses the quality of an object, without any increase or diminution : as, good, wise, great.
The Comparative Degree increases or lessens the positive in signification : as, wiser, greater, less wise.
The Superlative Degree increases or lessens the positive to the highest or lowest degree: as, wisest, greatest, least wise.
The simple word, or positive, becomes the compàrative, by adding r or er; and the superlative, hy adding st or est, to the end of it: as, wise, wiser, wisest ; great, greater, greatest. And the adverbs more and most; placed before the adjective, have the same effect: as, wise, more wise, most wise.
The termination in ish may be accounted in some sort a degree or comparison, by which the signification is dim.
Section 1.--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 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.”*
* 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, Cæsar 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.
34. Passive, or those which express, not action, but passion, whether pleasing or painful: as, Purtia 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 active-intransitive verbs were admitted, it would rather per. plex than assist the learne: : 'for the difference between verbs acwe and neuter, as transitive and intransitive, is easy and uhri. ous; but the difference between verbs absolutely neuter and in. transitively active, is not always clear: It is, indeed, ofica Vena "" difficult to be ascertained.
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 objeci: as, “ I sit, he lives, they sleep."
Some of the verbs that are usually ranked among neua ters, 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.
Auxiliary or helping Verbs, are those by tạe help of which the English verbs are principally conjugat ed. 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 'escenrial to it. This definition is warranted by the authority of Dr. Lowth, and of many other respectable yriters on grammar. There are, however, some granimarins, who
Lei, as a principal verb, has leitest and letteth; but as a help ing verb it admits of no variation.
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 “De. part instantly," is an expression equivalent to, “ I desire you to depart instantly; and that as the latter phrase ime plies affirmation or assertion, so does the former. But, supposing the phrases to be exactly alike in sense, the reasoning is not conclusive. Ist. 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 present; 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 “ I 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 sentiments as, “ Virtue is more valuable than every other acquirenent.”
We shall not pursue this subjeet any further, as the reader must be satisfied, that only the bord desire, in the