Page images

verds of this kind with a peculiar termination, all of them seing formed by the different tenses of the auxiliary to be, joined to the passive participle of the verb. This is, however, to mistake the true nature of the English verb; and to regulate it, not on the principles of our own tongue, but on those of foreign languages. The conjugation, or the variation, of the English verb, to answer all the purposes of verbs, is accomplished by the means of auxiliaries; and if it be alleged that we have no passive verbs, be·cause we cannot exhibit them without having recourse to helping verbs, it may with equal truth be said, that we have no perfect, pluperfect, or future tense, in the indicative or subjunctive mood; since these, as well as some other parts of the verb active, are formed by auxiliaries.

Even the Greek and Latin passive verbs require an auxiliary to conjugate some of their tenses; namely, the former, in the preterit of the optative and subjunctive muods; and the latter, in the perfect and pluperfect of the indicative, the perfect, pluperfect, and future, of the subjunctive mood, and the perfect of the infinitive. The deponent verbs, in Latin, require also an auxiliary to conjugate several of their tenses. This statement abundantly proves that the conjugation of a verb in the learned languages does not consist solely in varying the form of the original verb. It proves that these languages, like our owní language, sometimes conjugate with an auxiliary, and someCimes without it. There is, indeed, a difference. What the learned languages require to be done, in some instances, the peculiar genius of our owu tongue obliges us to do, in active verbs, principally, and in passive ones, universally. In short, the variation of the verb, in Greek and Latin, is generally accomplished by prefixes, or terminations, added to the verb itself; in English, by the addition of auxiliaries.

The English tongue is, in many respects, materially different from the learned languages. It is, therefore, very possible to be mistaken ourselves, and to mislead and perplex others, by an undistinguishing attachment to the principles and arrangement of the Greek and Latin Grammarians. Much of the confusion and perplexity, which we meet with in the writings of some English Grammarians, on the subject of verbs, moods, and conjugations, has arisen

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

from the misapplication of names. We are apt to think, that the old names must always be attached to the identical forms and things to which they were anciently attached. But if we rectify this mistake, and properly adjust the names to the peculiar forms and nature of the things in our own language, we shall be clear and consistent in our ideas; and, consequently, better able to represent them intelligibly to those whom we wish to inform.

The observations which we have made under this head, and on the subject of the moods in another place, will not apply to the declension and cases of pouns, so as to require · us to adopt names and divisions similar to those of the Greek and Latin languages : for we should then have more cases than there are prepositions in connexion with the ar ticle and noun: and after all, it would be a useless, as well as an unwieldy apparatus; since every English preposition points to, and governs, but one case, namely the objective ; which is also true with respect to our governing verbs and participles. But the conjugation of an English verb in form, through all its moods and tenses, by means of auxiliaries, so far from being useless or intricate, is a beautiful and regular display of it, and indispensably necessary to the language.

Some grammarians have aileged, that on the same ground that the voices, moods, and tenses, are admitted into the English tongue, in the forms for which we have contended, we should also admit the dual number, the paulo post future tense, the middle voice, and all the moods and tenses, which are to be found in Greek and Latin. . But this ob. jection, though urged with much reliance on its weight, is not well founded. If the arrangement of the moods, tenses, &c. which we have adopted, is suited to the idiom of our tongue; and the principle, on which they are adopted, is extended as far as use and convenience require ; where is the impropriety, in arresting our progress, and fixing our forms at the point of utility ? A principle may be warrantably adopted, and carried to a precise convenient extent, without subjecting its supporters to the charge of inconsistency, for not pursuing it beyond the line of use and propriety.

The importance of giving the ingenious student clear and just ideas of the nature of our verbs, moods,


tenses, will apologize for the extent of the Author's remarks on these subjects, both here and elsewhere, and for his solicitude to simplify and explain them.--He thinks it has been proved, that the idiom of our tongue demands the arrangement he has given to the English verb; and that, though the learned languages, with respect to voices, moods, and tenses, are, in general, differently constructed from the English tongue, yet, in some respects, they are so similar to it, as to warrant the principle which he has adopted. See pages 71–72. 76–78. 94–96. 183– 184.

Section 10. Of Irregular Verbs.
Irregular Verbs are those which do not form their
imperfect tense, and their perfect participle, by the
addition of d or ed to the verb: as,

Perfect Parts
I begin, I began, begun.
I know,
I knew,


[ocr errors]


Irregular Verbs are of various sorts. 1. Such as have the present and imperfect tenses, and perfect participle, the same: as, Present. Imperfect.

Perfect Part.


2. Such as have the imperfect tense, and perfect parts-
ciple, the same: as,

Perfect Part.
Abide, abode,


3. Such as have the imperfect tense, and perfect par.
ticiple, different: as,
Present. Imperfect

Perfect Part

Many verbs become irregular by contraction; as, “ feed,
fed : leave left." others by the termination en; as, “ falk



fell, fallen:” others by the termination ght; as, “buy, bought; teach, taught,” &c.

The following list of the irregular verbs will, it is presumed, be found both comprehensive and accurate. Presente Imperfect,

Perf. or Pan. Part.. Abide, abode,

abode. Am, was,

been. Arise, arose,

arisen. Awake, awoke, R.

awaked. Bear, to bring jorth,bare,

born. Bear, to carry, bore,

borne. Beat, beat,

beaten, beat. Begin, began,

begun. Bend, bent,

bent. Bereave, bereft, R.

bereft, R. Beseech,

besought, besought. Bid,

bid, bade, bidden, bid. Bind bound,

bound. Bite, bit,

bitten, bit. Bleed, bled,

bled. Blow, blew,

blown. Break, broke,

broken. Breed, bred,

bred. Bring, brought,

brought Build, built,

built. Burst, burst,

burst. Buy, bought,

bought Cast, cast,

cast. Catch,

caught, R. caught, R. Chide, chid,

chidden, chid. Choose,

chosen. Cleave, to stick or

Cleave, to split,

clove, or clefi, cleft, cloved


clad, R.

come. cost,

cost. crew, R

crowed. crept,

crept. cut,





Come, Cost, Crow, Creep, , Cut,

[ocr errors]

Flee, Fling,


Perf, or Pass. Purt.
Dare, to venture, durst,

dared. Dare, R. to challenge. Deal, dealt,

dealt, R. Dig, dug, R.

dug, R. Do, did,

done. Draw, drew,

drawn. Drive, drove,

driven. Drink, drank,

drunk. Dwell, dwelt, Ra.

dwelt, R. Eat,

eat, or ate, eaten. Fall, fell,

fallen. Feed, fed,

fed. Feel, felt,

felt. Fight, fought,

fought. Find, found,

found. fled,

fled. flung,

flung. Fly, flew,

flown. Forget, forgot,

forgotten, forgot Forsake, forsook,

forsaken. Freeze, froze,

frozen. Get, got,

got. Gild,

gilt, R. Gird, girt, R.

girt, R. gave,

given. Go, went,

gone. Grave,

graven, R. Grind, ground,

ground. Grow,

grown. Have, had,

had. hung, R.

hung, R. Hear, heard,

beard. hewed,

hewn, R. Hide, hid,

hidden, hid Hit, hit,

hit. Hold, held

held. Hurt, hurt,

hurt. Keep. kept,

kept. Knit, knit, R.

knit, h.

gilt, R.






+ Crtler is nearly nbsolete. Its compound forgollen is still is good list

« PreviousContinue »