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power or ability to walk ? The author does not see why they are not as really affirmations as I walk, I walked, etc. True there is a difference in what is affirmed by the two kinds of propositions; a possible action being affirmed by the former, and a real action, by the latter. But the difference in what is affirmed would be a dangerous principle to adopt in the formation of modes. If such a principle be admitted, there would be as many modes as there are verbs; for very few verbs mean precisely the same thing. The course here adopted relieves the grammar from some inconsistencies which can easily be made obvious. According to most grammars, the verb, might love, is parsed as being in the potential mode and imperfect tense. But this proposition does not denote a past action or state, which is uniformly the import of the imperfect tense. This verb usually denotes a present possible action or state. Here then is a palpable inconsistency; a verb which is in the present tense denoting a present possible action, is arranged under the imperfect, and parsed as a verb that denotes an action indefinitely past and finished. It would be as absurd to say that two and two make five, as that the proposition, I might love, denotes a past action.
The conjunctions are divided into six classes, instead of two, which is the usual division, and which, in the opinion of the writer, is in many cases incorrect. As an example, take the conjunction that, which is sometimes parsed as a copulative conjunction, and which is defined as connecting words or sentences by expressing addition, supposition or cause. “I have ever toiled hard that I might gain a subsistence.” Now what does that denote in this example? Does it denote addition, supposition or cause? The author cannot see that it expresses either. If it denotes neither of them, the common definitions of copulative conjunctions are defective. That in the above example denotes the object or result of the preceding proposition, and therefore it should be denominated a
final conjunction. The reader is referred to the article upon conjunctions for further information upon the subject now considered.
A system of analysis is introduced into this work, which is not contained in any English grammar with which the author is acquainted, except one, and but partially in that. According to this analysis, propositions and compound sentences are analyzed grammatically and logically. This system of analysis, the author regards as one of the most valuable parts of the grammar. Indeed, it is bis firm conviction, that it will assist the student more in ascertaining the relation and force of the words in a proposition, than the common method of parsing. The unusual advantages which this system will afford, were there no others contained in this work, are in his view amply sufficient to warrant its publication.
To the syntax special attention has been given. It has been a prominent object in the composition of the syntax, as well as in other parts of this grammar, to introduce precision in the definition of rules and remarks. Those rules and remarks which are clearly defined in other grammars, are in many cases introduced without any modification, while others are newly defined and corrected. The whole the author has labored to make concise and conspicuous.
The materials of this grammar have been derived from various sources.
In the composition of this work, the author had before him most of the English grammars that have acquired any valuable reputation. He has consulted them carefully, and adopted, both as to manner and matter, the principles contained in them, so far as they would contribute to the utility of this treatise. The works from which the most assistance has been derived, are the grammars of Murray, Webster, and Andrews and Stoddard. There are others from which some assistance has been derived, but which it is not necessary to specify particularly. Many of the definitions contained in the very excellent Latin grammar of Andrews
and Stoddard, are introduced into this treatise without alteration. This has been done not only because an attempt to improve them promised no benefit, but for the convenience of those who may pursue a course of classical study. From this work and that of De Sacy, many principles of the analysis have been collected, and arranged and adapted to the genius of the English language.
But, while the author thus cheerfully acknowledges his obligations to others, he does not admit that he is a mere copyist. Many principles are displayed in this treatise, which he has seen in no other grammar; and the manner and matter derived from other sources, have been so modified as to give the work a consistency with itself and the impress of the author's own mind.
It is not the province of the grammarian to give law to language, but to develop and teach the principles that accord with the best usage. His instructions should always accord with reputable and general use, or the practice of the best speakers and writers. Of this principle the author is well aware, and has endeavored to be governed by it in the execution of this work.
Those passages which are taken without alteration, are generally marked with quotations or by subscribing the name of the author of the work from which they are taken.
In commending this work to the patronage of the public, the author does not pretend to be indifferent as to its usefulness and success. It would be presumption to claim for it absolute perfection, but he hopes it will bear the examination of an impartial and dispassionate mind. Should it stand the test of such an examination, should it receive the approbation of an enlightened public and advance the cause of education, he will be amply compensated for his labor, and his highest expectation with regard to it will be fully realized.
DIRECTIONS TO TEACHERS AND PUPILS.
As the arrangement of this grammar is in some respects peculiar, it may be expedient to give a few directions as to the manner it should be studied.
There are two courses of exercises adopted, one called the first and the other the second course. The scholar, in commencing the study of grammar, should direct his attention to the sections only of the first course of the exercises. He should begin to parse etymologically, as soon as he has learned the definitions of the first part of speech. In the first course of exercises, he will see the order of parsing illustrated, and a reference, at the close of each question, is made to the section, which will enable the scholar to answer it intelligently. After he has gone through with the first course of etymological and syntactical parsing, he may then take the second course, and observe the references, as in the first course. It is best that the pupil should thoroughly commit the principles referred to in every case, so that he may have them at command when he enters upon exercises where there are no references. After having mastered the false syntax, he may perhaps profitably direct his attention to the analysis in connection with the exercises that succeed the rules of syntax. Pupils should be required, in every case, to apply the principles of grammar while parsing, till they have made them perfectly familiar. It is only by pursuing such a course, that they will become interested in this science, obtain a knowledge of the genius and power of their own language, and acquire that discipline of mind which a correct mode of studying it is pre-eminently fitted to afford.