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HAVING now given a short view of that part of grammar which is applicable to all languages, the next step is to notice the peculiarities of the English, as well for the use of those natives who wish to write an idiomatic style, as for that of foreigners, who find the English idioms very hard to attain, the difficulties of which have not generally been sufficiently attended to by those who profess to treat of English grammar. In order to facilitate the comparison with other works of the same kind, the different parts of speech shall be treated of in separate sections, and in the usual order—namely, 1. ARTIcLE. 2. Noun-substanTIVE. 3. Nou N-ADJECTIVE. 4. PRONoUN. 5. VERB. 6. ADVERB. 7. PREPOSITION. 8. CoNJUNCTION. 9. INTERJECTION.
This part of speech finds a place in all modern European languages, and in most, though not all ancient ones. It is a small word prefixed to the substantive to limit its signification, and in English there are two of these, i.e., A, and THE, both indeclinable. A, when followed by a vowel, or a mute h, is changed into AN, euphonia gratiâ. In the ancient Greek, and in all but this one of the modern languages, the article is declined, namely, varied in termination, according to the gender, number, and case,
of the accompanying substantive. In English, A is indefinitely singular: as, “It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God.” THE is definite in meaning, and applies equally to the singular and plural, as, “The virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favor.” “If he be compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his heart is like the noble tree, that is wounded itself when it gives the balm.”% In Latin, the article is wholly wanting, and the power of expression of that language is thereby considerably impaired. For the benefit of foreigners it may be observed, that A or AN may be used indifferently before the words union, unanimity, universal, and others in which the w has a sharp sound, but AN must always be used before those in which the w is obtuse, as unhappy, uncle, &c.
The substantive is the name of some person or thing. In the Anglo-Saxon grammars it is entitled Nama, or . 2007/16.
The English substantive has lost all trace of the dual number, which existed in the more ancient languages, and of which we find traces in the Anglo-Saxon, i.e., in the pronouns, : its plural is usually formed by the addition of s, as a yard, plu. yards; but many words of Saxon
* Bacon’s Essays.
derivation are irregular in this respect.* Many substantives formerly terminated in e, and some of these retain it in the plural, though they have lost it in the singular, probably because an unpleasant clashing of harsh letters is thus avoided. Thus we say, a boa, plu. boates ; a lash, plu. lashes; a church, plu. churches; or sometimes to preserve the due length of the syllable, as, a hero, plu. heroes; an echo, plu. echoes; but in words more lately adopted from foreign langnages, the s of the plural is added simply; as, a folio, plu. folios; a punctilio, plu. punctilios; a nuntio, plu. nuntios. Words ending in y make their plural by changing y into tes; as a harpy, plu. harpies: and fimally, many words of Latin and Greek derivation retain their respective plural, as a phenomenon, plu. phenomena ; the aroma, plu. aromata, &c. The English substantive, according to the universal rule, has three genders; but unlike most other languages, ancient or modern, the larger part of the words of this description belong to the neuter gender; for unless in poetry, or in a very few instances of technical phrase, none are held masculine or feminine without an actual distinction of sex. Even a ship, which by seamen is constantly spoken of as feminine, is neuter in common parlance. From this general rule, however, we must except THE DEITY, GoD, or any other terms of the same
* Namely, the following:
Sing. Plu. Sing. Plu. A man Men A foot Feet Brethren, or A goose Geese A brother brothers - A tooth Teeth A child Children A mouse Mice An ox Oxen A louse Lice A woman Women A Die Dice Half Thief Calf Sheaf Make their plural Loaf Leaf by changing the . Life Staff final f into ves, Wife Shelf as, halves, calves, Knife Elf &c.
signification, which are constantly masculine. Other names there are, such as those of the planets, which admit of being made masculine or feminine; and here the English differs somewhat from its parent language; for though the sun is feminine and the moon masculine in the German dialects in general, the English in this follows the Greek and the Latin, and reverses the gender. In more ornate composition the virtues and vices are also made masculine and feminine. In some cases nouns may be considered as of either gender, as for, goat, &c.: but the animals more commonly spoken of have a different term for the two sexes; as horse, mare; bull, cow; lion, lioness. The cases of Fnglish substantives are five: that is, there are five different relations which it stands in with regard to other things, and which are understood in the word itself, without the aid of a preposition. These, according to the phraseology of the Latin, are as follows:
Although the difference of inflection be but trifling, it will be easy to show that these are true cases of the substantive, by placing them in conjunction with a verb, as thus, A MAN (N) may beat ANOTHER MAN (A) if he can, but it is A MAN's (G) part to give HIM,” i.e. a man (D), fair play. MAN! (V) hold your hand. Here we have the agent, or nominative, that beats; the patient, or accusative, that is beaten; the person standing in the relation of possession, or genitive, and of giving, or dative; finally, in that of being addressed by another, or vocative: and all this without the intervention of any other word to mark the relative position or state. They are therefore genuine cases.
* “In those and the like phrases may not me, thee, him, her, us, which in Saxon are the dative cases of their respective pronouns, be considered as still continuing such in the English, and including in their very form the force of the prepositions to and for? There are certainly some other phrases which are to be resolved in this manner:—‘Wo is me!” The phrase is pure Saxon, ‘ wa is me!’ me is the dative case: in English, with the preposition, to me. So, “methinks;" Saxon, “methincth; suzu Jozu. “As us thoughte, Sir John Maundevylle. ‘Methoughte, this short interval of silence has had more music in it than any of the same space of time before or after it.” Addison, Tatler, No. 133. See also Spect. No. 63. It ought to be methought. “The Lord do that which seemeth him good,' 2 Sam. x. 12. See also 1 Sam. iii. 18; 2 Sam. xviii. 4. ‘ O well is thee / Psal. cxxviii. 2. “Wel his the, id est bene est tibi, Simeon Dunelm, apud x. Scriptores. col. 135. “Wel is him that ther mai be,” Anglo-Saxon Poem in Hickes's Thesaur. vol. i. p. 231. ‘Well is him that dwelleth with a wife of understanding,” “Well is him that hath found prudence,' Ecclus. xxv. 8, 9. The translator thought to correct his phrase afterward; and so hath made it neither Saxon nor English: “Wel is he that is defended from it,” Ecclus. xxviii. 19. “Wo worth the day !” Ezek. xxx. 2, that is, ‘Wo be to the day.” The word worth is not the adjective, but the Saxon verb wearthan, or worthan fieri, to be, to become; which is often used by Chaucer, and is still retained as an auxiliary verb in the German language.”—Lowth's Grammar, p. 166, note 6.