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time : as,
because that order is now totally extinct. See PICKBOURN on the English Verb.
The Pluperfect Tense represents a thing, not only as past, but also as prior to some other point of time specified in the sentence : as, “I had finished my letter before he arrived."
The first Future Tense represents the actions yet to come, either with or without respect to the precise
“ The sun will rise to-morrow;" “I shall see them again.
The Second Future intimates that the action will de fully accomplished, at or before the time of another future action or event: as,
“ I shall have dined at one o'clock;" “ The two houses will have finished their business, when the king comes to prorogue them.”+
It is to be observed, that in the subjunctive mood, the event being spoken of under a condition or supposition, or in the form of a wish, and therefore as doubtful and conļingent, the verb itself in the present, and the auxiliary both of the present and past imperfect times, often carry with them somewhat of a future sense : as, “If he come to-morrow, I may speak to him;" “ If he should, or would come to-morrow, I might, would, could, or should speak to him.” Observe also, that the auxiliary should and would, in the imperfect times, are used to express the present and future as well as the past: as, desire, that he should, or would, come now, or to-morrow ;” as well as, “ It was my desire, that he should or would come yesterday.” So that in this mood the precise time of the verb is very much determined by the nature and drift of the sentence.
The present, past, and future tenses, may be used either definitely or indefinitely, both with respect to tiine and action. When they denote customs or habits, and not individual acts, they are applied indefinitely: as,
“ Vir. tue promotes happiness;" “ The old Romans governed by benefits more than by fear;" " I shall hereafter employ my time more usefully.” In these examples, the words,
- It is my
* See an account of the simple and compound teoses, at page 91.
promotes, governed, and shall employ, are used indefinitely, both in regard to action and time ; for they are not confined i individual actions, nor to any precise points ef present, past, or future time. When they are applied to signify particular actions, and to ascertain the precise points of time to which they are confined, they are used definitely; as in the following instances. "My brother is writing;” “Ile built the house last summer, but did not inhabit it till yesterday.” “ He will write another letter to-morrow'
The different tenses also represent an action as complete or perfect, or as incomplete or imperfect. In the phrases, “ I am writing," "I was writing,” I shall be writing," imperfect, unfinished actions are signified. But the following examples, “ I wrote," “ I have written,” “ I had written,” “I shall have written,” all denote complete perfect action.
From the preceding representation of the different tenses, it appears, that each of them has its distinct and peculiar province; and that though some of them may sometimes be used promiscuously, or substituted one for another, in cases where great accuracy is not required, yet there is a real and essential difference in their meaning.--It is also evident, that the English language contains the six tenses which we have enumerated. Grammarians who limit the number to two, or at most to three, name: ly, the present, the imperfect, and the future, do not reflect that the English verb is mostly composed of principal and auxiliary; and ihat these several parts constitute one verb. Either the English language has no regular future tense, or its future is composed of the auxiliary and the principal verb. If the latter be admitted, then the auxiliary and principal united, constitute a tense, in one instance; and, from reason and analogy, may doubtless do so, in others, in which minuter divisions of time are necessary, or useful. What reason can be assigned for not considering this case as other cases, in which a whole is regarded as composed of several parts, or of principal and adjuncts? There is nothing heterogeneous in the parts : and precedent, analogy, utility, and even necessity, authorize the union.
In support of this opinion, we have the authority of eminent grammarians; in particular, that of Dr. Beattie. “ Some writers,” says the doctor, “ will not allow any thing to be a tense, but what in one inflected word, expresses an affirmation with time ; for that those parts of the verb' are not properly called tenses, which assume that appearance, by means of auxiliary words. At this rate, we should have, in English, two tenses only, the present and the past in the active verb, and in the passive no tenses at all. But this is a needless nicety; and, if adopted, would introduce confusion into the grammatical art. If amaveram be a tense, why should not amatus fueram ? If I heard be a tense, I did hear, I have heard, and I shall hear, must be equally entitled to that appella tion."
The proper form of a tense, in the Greek and Latin tongues, is certainly that which it has in the
of those languages.
But in the Greek and Latin grammars, we uniformly find, that some of the tenses are formed by variations of the principal verb; and others, by the addition of a helping verb. It is, therefore, indisputable, that the principal verb, or rather its participle, and an auxiliary, constitute a regular tense in the Greek and Latin languages. This point being established, we may, doubtless, apply it to English verbs ; and extend the principle as far as convenience, and the idiom of our language require.
If it should be said, that, on the same ground that a participle and auxiliary are allowed to form a tense, and the verb is to be conjugated accordingly, the English noun and pronoun ought to be declined at large, with articles and prepositions ; we must object to the inference. Such a mode of declension is not adapted to our language. This we think has been already proved.* It is also confessedly inapplicable to the learned languages. Where then is the grammatical inconsistency, or the want of con. formity to the principles of analogy, in making some tences of the English verb to consist of principal and auxiliary; and the cases of English nouns, chiefly in their termination? The argument from analogy, instead of militating
* Sce page 50.
against us, appears to confirm and establish our positionSee pages 70–72.-94-96. 98-102.-183—184.
We shall close these remarks on the tenses, with a few observations extracted from the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITAN
They are worth the student's attention, as a part of them applies, not only to our views of the tenses, but to many other parts of the work.-" Harris (by way of hypothesis) has enumerated no fewer than twelve tenses. of this enumeration we can by no means approve : for, without entering into a minute examination of it, nothing can be more obvious, than that his inceptive present,
" I am going to write,” is a future tense ; and his completive present, “I have written," a past tense. But, as was before observed of the classification of words, we cannot help being of opinion, that, to take the tenses as they are commonly received, and endeavour to ascertain their nature and their differences, is a much more useful exercise, as well as more proper for a work of this kind, than to raise, as might easily be raised, new theories on the
Section 6. The Conjugation of the auxiliary verbs
TO HAVE and to be. The Conjugation of a verb, is the regular combination and arrangement of its several numbers, persons, moods, and tenses.
The Conjugation of an active verb is styled the active Voice; and that of a passive verb, the PASSIVE VOICE.
The auxiliary and active verb TO HAVE, is conjugated in the following manner.
* The following criticism affords an additional support to the author's system of the tenses, &c.
" Under the head of Etymology, the author of this grammar judiciously adbees to the natural simplicity of the English language, without embarrassing the Jearner with distinctions peculiar to the Latin tongue. The difficult subject of the enses, is clearly explained ; and with less encupbrance of technical phraseology, thaa in most other graphbars."
Plural. 1. Pers. I have.
1. We have 2. Pers. Thou hast.
2. Ye or you cara 3 Pers. He, she, or it
3. They have hath or bas.
Imperfect Tense. *
Plural. 1. I had.
1. We had, 2. Thou hadst.
2. Ye or you had 3, He, &c. had.
3. They had.
Perfect Tense.* Singular.
Plural. 1. I have had.
1. We have had. 2. Thou hast had
2. Ye or you have had. 3. He has had.
3. They have had.
Plural. 1. I had had.
1. We had had. 2. Thou hadst had.
2. Ye or you had had 3. He had had.
3. They had had.
First Future Tense.
Plural. 1. I shall or will have. 1. We shall or will have, 2. Thou shalt or wilt have.' 2. Ye or you shall or will have. 3. He shall or will have. 3. They shall or will have.
* The terms wbich we bave adopted, to designate the three past tenges, may not be exactly significant of their nature and distinctions. But as they are used by grammarians in general, and have an established authority; and, espe cially, as the meaning attached to each of them, and their different significations, have been carefully explained; we presume that no solid objection can be made to the use of terms so generally approved, and so explicitly defined. See page 78 and 80. We are supported in these sentiinents, by the authority of Dr Johnson. See the first note in his “Grammar of tire English Tongue," prefixed to his dictionary. If, however, any teachers should think it warrantable to change the established names, they cannot perhaps find any more appropriate, than the terms first preterit, second preterit, and third prcterii.---See die Octave Grammar,