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CASE. Case, when applied to nouns and pronouns means the different state, situation, or position they have in relation to other words. Nouns have three cases, the nominative, the possessive, and the objective.
I deem the essential qualities of case, in English, to consist, not in the changes or infections produced on nouns and pronouns, but in the various offices which they perform in a sentence, by assuming different positions in regard to other words. In accordance with this definition, these cases can be easily explained on reasoning principles, founded in the nature of things.
Now, five grains of common sense will enable any one to comprehend what is meant by case. Its real character is extremely simple ; but in the different grammars it assumes as many meanings as Proteus had shapes. The most that has been written on it, however, is mere verbiage. What, then, is meant by case ?
In speaking of a horse, for instance, we say he is in a good case, when he is fat, and in a bad case, when he is lean, and needs more oats; and in this sense we apply the term case to denote the state or condilion of the horse. So, when we place a noun before a verb as actor or subject, we say it is in the nominative case ; but when it follows a transitive verb or preposition, we say it has another case; that is, it assumes a new position or siluation in the sentence: and this we call the objective case. Thus, the boy gathers fruit. Here the boy is represented as acting. He is, therefore, in the nominative case. But when I say, Jane struck the boy, I do not represent the boy as the actor, but as the object of the action. He is, therefore, in a new case or condition. And when I say, This is the boy's hat, I do not speak of the boy either as acting or as acted upon ; but as possessing something: for which reason he is in the possessive case. Hence, it is clear, that nouns have three cases or positions.
As the nominative and objective cases of the noun are inseparably connected with the verb, it is impossible for you to unemployed in a particular manner, expressive of affirmation. This same principle also operated in appropriating names to the purpose of attributing qualities to other naincs of objects; and in this way was constituted the class of words called ailjectives or attributes. By the same principle were formed all the other classes.
In the following exposition of English grammar on scientifick principles, I shall divide words inio seren clesses, Nouns or Names, Verbs, Adjectives, Adnouns, or Aitributes, Advervs, Freposilions, Pronouns, and Conjunctions ci Connectives. For an explanation of the noun, refer to the body of the is
derstand them until you shall have acquired some knowledge of this part of speech. I will, therefore, now give you a partial description of the verb in connexion with the noun; which will enable me to illustrate the cases of the noun so clearly, that you may easily comprehend their nature.
In the formation of language, mankind, in order to hold converse with each other, found it necessary, in the first place, to give names to the various objects by which they were surrounded. H Н the origin of the first part of speech, which we denominate the noun. But merely to name the objects which they beheld or thought of, was not sufficient for their purpose. They perceived that these cbjects existed, moved, acted, or caused some action to be done. In looking at a man, for instance, thev perceived that he lived, walked, ate, smiled, talked, ran, and so
They perceived that plants grow, flowers bloom, and rivers flow. Hence the necessity of another part of speech. whose office it should be to express these existences and actions. This second class of words we call
VERBS. (A VERB is a word which signifies to be, tQ 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.
The term verb is derived from the Latin word verbum, which signifies a word. This part of speech is called a verb or word. because it is deemed the most important word in every sentence: and wit ut a verb and nominative, either expressed or implied, no sentence can exist. The noun is the original and leading part of speech; the verb comes next in order, and is far more complex than the noun. These two are the most useful in the language, and form the basis of the science of grammar. The other eight parts of speech are subordinate to these two, and, as you will hereafter learn, of minor importance.
For all practical purposes, the foregoing definition and division of the verb, though, perhaps, not philosophically correct, will be found as convenient as any other. I adopt them, therefore, to be consistent with the principle, that, in arranging the materials of this treatise, I shall not alter or reject any established definition, rule, or principle of grammar, unless, in my humble judgment, some practical advantage to the learner is thereby gained. The following, some consider a good definition.
A verb is a word which expresses affirmation
An active verb expresses action; and
The nominative case is the actor, or subject of the verb; as, John writes.
In this example, which is the verb? You know it is the word vorites, because this word signifies to do that is, it expresses action, therefore, according to the definition, it is an actire verb. And you know, too, that the noun John is the actor, therefore John is in the nominative case to the verb writes. In the expressions, The man walks-The boy plays—Thunders roll-Warriours fight--you perceive that the words walks, plays, roll, and fight, are active verbe; and you cannot be at a loss to know, that the nouns man, boy, thunders, and warriours, are in the nominative case.
As no action can be produced without some agent or moving cause, it follows, that every active verb must havo some actor or agent. This actor, doer, or producer of the action, is the nominative. Nominative, from the Latin nomino, literally signifies to name ; but in the technical sense in which it is used in grammar, it means the noun or pronoun which is the subject of affirmation. This subject or nominative may be active, passive, or neuter, as hereafter exemplified.
A neuter verb expresses neither action nor passion, but being, or a state of being; as, John sits.
Now, in this example, John is not represented as an actor, but, as the subject of the verb sits, therefore John is in the nominative case to the verb. And you know that the word sits does
PHILOSOPHICAL NOTES. Plausible arguments may be advanced, for rejecting neuter and passive verbs; but they have been found to be so convenient in practice, that the theory which recognises them, has stood the test of ages. If you tell the young learner, that, in the following expressions, The church rests on its foundation; The book lies on the desk; The boys remain (are) idle, the nouns church, book, and boys, are represented as acting, and, therefore, the verbs rests, lies, remain, and are, are active, he will not believe you, because there is no action that is apparent to his senses. And should you proceed farther, and, by a laboured and metaphysical investigation and development of the laws of motion, attempt to prove to him that "every portion of matter is influenced by different, active principles, tending to produce change,” and, therefore, every thing in universal nature is always acting, it is not at all probable, that you could convince his understanding, in opposition to the clearer testimony of his senses. Of what avail to learners is a theory which they cannot comprehend ?
Among the various theorists and speculative writers on philosophical grammar, the ingenious Horne Tooke stands pre-eminent; but, unfortuDately, his principal speculations on the verb, have never met the publick eye. William S. Cardell has also rendered himself conspicuous in the philo
not express apparent action, but a condition of being ; that is, i represents John in a particular state of existence ; therefore sits is a neuter verb. In speaking of the neuter gender of nouns, I in formed you, that neuter means neither; from which it follows, that neuter gender implies neither gender; that is, neither masculine nor feminine. Hence, by an easy transition of thought, you learn, that neuter, when applied to verbs, means neither of the other two classes ; that is, a neuter verb is one which is nei. ther active nor passive. In these examples, The man standsThe lady lives—The child sleeps—The world exists—the words slands, lives, sleeps, and exists, are neuter verbs ; and the nouns, man, lady, child, and world, are all in the nominative case, be
ause each is the subject of a verb. Thus you perceive, that when a noun is in the nominative case to an aclive verb, it is the actor ; and when it is nominative to a neuter verb, it is not on actor, but the subject of the verb.
Some neuter verbs express being in general; as, The man 18; Kingdoms erist. Others express being in some particular state ; as, The man stands, sits, lies, or hangs.
I will now give you two signs, which will enable you to distinguish the verb from other parts of speech, when you
cannot tell it by its signification. Any word that will make sense with to before it, is a verb). Thus, to run, to write, to smile, to sing, to hear, to ponder, to'live, to breathe, are verbs. Or, any word that will conjugale, is a verb. Thus, I run, thou runnest, he runs; I write, thou writest, he writes; I smile, &c. But the words, boy, lady, child, and world, will not make sense with to prefixed—to boy, to lady, to world, is nonsense. Neither will ingi al field, by taking a bolder stand than any of his predecessors. His view of the verb is novel, and ingeniously supported. The following is the substance of his theory
OF THE VERB.
A verb is a word which expresses action ; as, Man exists. Trees
grow ; Waters flow; Mountains stand; I am. All verbs are active, and have one object or more than one, expressed or implied. The pillar stands; that is, it keeps itself in an erect or standing pusture; it upholds or sustains itself in that position. They are; i. e. they 'air themselves, or breathe air; they inspirit, vivify, or uphold themselves by inhaling air.
Many verbs whose objects are seldom cxpressed, always have a personal or verbal one implied. The clouds move; i. e. move themselves along. The troops marched twenty miles a day; i. e. marched themselves. The moon shines :--The moon shines or sheds a shining, shcen, lustre, or brightness. The sparrow flies :-flies or takes a flighi. Talkers talk or speak words or talk; Walkers walk walkings or walks ; The rain rains rain; Sitters sit or hold sittings or sessions.
To prove that there is no such thing as a neuter verb, the following ap peer lo be the strongest arguments adduced.
they conjugate—I lady, thou ladiest, &c. is worse than nonsense. Hence you perceive, that these words are not verbs.
There are some exceptions to these rules, for verbs are sometimes used as nouns. This will be explained by and by.
To verbs belong number, person, mood, and tense,
At present I shall speak only of the number and person of verbs; but hereafter I will give you a full explanation of all their properties. And permit me to inform you, that I shall not lead you into the intricacies of the science, until, by gradual and easy progressioas, you are enabled to comprehend the principles involved in them. Only such principles will be elucidated, as you are prepared to understand at the time they are unfolded before you. You must not be too anxious to get along rapidly; but endeavour to become thoroughly acquainted with one principle, before you undertake another. This lecture will qualify you for the next.
NUMBER AND PERSON OF VERBS. You recoilect, that the nominative is the actor or subject, and the active verb is the uction performed by the nominative. By this you perceive, that a very
intimate connexion or relation exists between the nominative case and the verb. “If, therefore, only one creature or thing acts, only one action, at the same instant, can be done ; as, The girl writes. The nominative girl is here of the singular nunrber, because it signifies but one person ; and the verb uriles denotes but one action, which the girl performs ; therefore the verb writes is of the singular number, agreeing with its nominative girl. When the nominative case is plural, the verb must be plural ; as, girls write. Take notice, the singular verb ends in 8,
1. No portion of matter is ever in a state of perfect quiescence; but the component parts of every thing are at all times“ influenced by different, active principles, tending to produce change.” Hence, it follows, that nó being or thing can be represented in a neuter or non-acling state.
This argument supposes the essential character of the verb to be identified with the primary laws of action, as unfolded by the principles of physical science. The correctness of this position inay be doubled ; but if it can be clearly demonstrated, that every particle of matter is always in motion, it does not, by any means, follow, that we cannot speak of things in a staté of quiescence. What is false in fact may be correct in grammar. The point contested, is not whether things always act, but whether, when we assert or affirm something respecting them, we always represent them as acting.
2. Verbs were originally used to express the motions or changes of things which produced obvious actions, and, by an easy transition, were afterwards applied, in the same way, to things whose actions were not apparent.
This assumption is untenable, and altogether gratuitous.
3. Verbs called neuter are used in the imperative mood; and, as thig niood commands some one to do something, any verb which adopts it, must be ac tive. Thus, in the common place phrases,“ Be there quickly ; Stand out of may way; Sit or lie farther.”