Page images
PDF
EPUB

parson might be entirely excluded from every verb. They are in fact the

properties of substantives, not a part of the verb. The terms number and person, as applied to the verb, are figurative. The properties which belong to one thing, for convenience sake are ascribed to another. Verbs in some of their forms are used, in general, with nouns or pronouns of the plural number; such, by a figure of speech, are called plural verbs.

There are other forms of the verb which always require the nouns or pronouns with which they agree, to be in the singular number; these are called singular verbs. But the distinction arises not from the nature of the verb, but altogether from the noun or pronoun with which it is associated.

Mood or mode is a particular form which the verb assumes to express different states of the mind, and different circumstances of being and action.

There are five moods of verbs; the indicative, the imperative, the potential, the subjunctive, and the infinitive.

The Indicative mood simply indicates or declares a thing; as, He loves, he is loved; or it asks a question; as, Does he love? Is he loved?

The Iinperative mood is used for commanding, exhorting, entreating, or permitting; as, Depan thou; mind ye; let us stay; go in peace.

Though this mood derives its name from its intimation of command, it is used on occasions of a very opposite nature;even in the most humble supplications of an inferior being, to one who is inlinitely his superior; as, “Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses. The Potential mood implies possibility,

liberty, power, will, or obligation; as, It may rain: he may go or stay: I can ride: he would walk: they should learn.

The Subjunctive mood represents a thing under a condition, motive, wish, supposition, &c. and is preceded by a conjunction, expressed or understood, and attended by another verb; as, I will respect him, though he chide me: Were he good, he ould be happy; that is, if he were good.

The Infinitive mood expresses a thing in a general and unlimited manner, without any

distinction of number or person; as, To act, to speak, to be feared.

The Participle is a certain form of the verb, and derives its name from its participating, not only of the properties of a verb, but also those of an adjective and noun; as, Admired and applauded, he became vain: Having finished his work, he submitted it: Charles has become weary with writing so long a letter.

There are three participles, the present, the perfect, and the compound perfect; as, ruling, ruled, having ruled.

The Present Participle signifies imperfect action, or action begun and not ended; as, I am writing a letter.

The Perfect or Past Participle signifies action perfected or finished; as, I have written a letter.

The Compound Perfect also signifies action that is finished; as, Having written the letter he despatched it.

When the verb to be, in any of its variations, is joined to the participle; as, I am writing, I was writing, I might be writing, I shall be writing, &c. the participle

may be considered the principal verb. The verb to be is only an auxiliary, and merely directs the mood and tense. The meaning and essence of the verb is found in what is styled the participle; whence it is evident that the participle is not a distinct part of speech, but only a form of the verb."

Participles, when joined to nouns merely to qualify them, become adjectives; as, a ruling passion; a loving child.

Participles may be distinguished from adjectives, by their being capable of variations to express distinction of time; as, A parent ruling well his house, secures respect. Ruling is here a participle, because it is capable of being varied to express a different tense; as, A parent having ruled well his house, &c. But when we say, A ruling passion, or, a moving spectacle; the words ruling and moving, although in the participial form, cannot be thus varied, and are therefore adjectives. Such words may properly be called participial adjectives.

Participles sometimes supply the place of nouns; as, By refusing to confess his crime, he incurred greater censure. Refusing supplies the place of à noun in the objective. The idea is, by a refusal to confess, &c. By acknowledging his fault, he might have been restored to favor. Here ac knowledging not only supplies the place of a noun in the objective case, but governs another objective. In the following sentence, the participle supplies the place of a noun the nominative case: His riding on horseback proved of great service. Participles thus used, virtually become nouns, and may be called participial nouns, as they still retain some of the properties of the verb.

The partieiple going is often used figuratively

To go,

in connexion with the infinitive mood, to imply a tendency or disposition of the mind; as, I am going to speak: I am going to write: I am going to sleep: This form of expression resembles what is called the future infinitive in Latin, and some grammarians have styled it a future tense. But in sentences like these, there are evidently two verbs, as well as two distinct moods. The indicative mood, “ I am going," is in the present tense, and governs the infinitive. It is a figurative expression, as used in the above examples, and has reference to a tendency of the mind to do what is expressed by the following infinitive, i. e. to speak, to write, or to sleep.

in the literal use of the term, relates to the movements of the body, or of some visible substance; but by a figure of speech, it is, in these familiar expressions, applied to the operations or volitions of the mind. And considered in this light, it is as evidently a present tense, as the expression I expect, or I intend, to do a thing. There is indeed a reference to futurity, but this is no more than is true in many other cases, when a verb in the present tense is immediately followed by another in the infinitive mood.

Tense, or time, is made to consist of six variations; víz; the present, the imperfect, the perfect, the pluperfect, and the first and second future.

The Present tense represents the action or event as passing at the time in which it is mentioned; as, I rule: I am ruled: I think: I fear.

It is also used in speaking of actions continued, with occasional intermissions, to the present time; as, He frequently rides: He walks out every morn

goes into the country every summer. We sometimes apply this tense even to persons long

ing: He

since dead; as, Seneca reasons and moralises well: Job speaks feelingly of his afflictions.

The present tense, preceded by the words when, before, after, as soon as, &c. is sometimes used to point out the relative time of a future action; as, When he arrives he will hear the news; He will hear the news before he arrives, or as soon as he arrives, or, at the farthest, soon after he arrives. The more she improves, the more amiable she will be.

In animated historical narrations, this tense is sometimes substituted for the imperfect tense; as, “He enters the territory of the peaceable inhabitants; he fights and conquers, takes an immense booty, which he divides amongst his soldiers, and returns home to enjoy an empty triumph.”

The Imperfect tense represents the action or event either as past and finished, or as remaining unfinished at a certain time past; as, I loved her for her modesty and virtue: They were travelling post when we met them.

The Perfect tense not only refers to what is past, but also conveys an allusion to the present time;

I have finished my letter: I have seen the person that was recommended to me.

In the former example, it is signified that the finishing of the letter, though past,.was at a period immediately or very nearly, preceding the present time. In the latter instance, it is uncertain whether the person mentioned was seen by the speaker a long or short time before. The meaning is, I have seen him some time in the course of a period which includes, or comes to the present time. When the particular time of any occurrence is specified as prior to the present time, this tense is not used; for it

as,

« PreviousContinue »