Page images

cessarily in nouns. All external actions require an agent and a patient; that is, in other words, must be accompanied by a nominative case or agent, and an accusative or patient.

A verb which implies any particular relation of things necessarily governs the case which implies that relation, thus, verbs of giving govern the dative case, for that implies an act of gift, and though in many modern languages, the defective state of the inflections make this obscure, yet it will be seen that verbs of giving, require no following preposition to place the substantive or pronoun in the due relation.*

A verb in the infinitive mode can never be accompanied by a nominative; for it is the abstract idea of action unaccompanied by any agent. To speak conveys no impression but that of speech generally, and in order to connect it with any individual a verb transitive, which will govern an accusative, must precede it, or at least be understood : thus the sentence I consider him to be a fit person to speak to the people, contains two accusatives, i. e. him and a

* In English we say give the man his due not give to the man, &c. or give him his due, where the dative inflection again makes itself evident,

fit person, as would immediately be seen on rendering the phrase into Latin ; and thus it becomes a general and short rule, that an infinitive must be accompanied by an accusative.

Prepositions universally govern a case, for they imply some peculiar relation of place or time, and it has been explained already that cases are but the expression of the relation in which persons or things stand to each other. I stood beside her; I went AFTER him, may exemplify this rule, which is without an exception.

Conjunctions which join different limbs of a sentence, will require to be followed by the same cases, modes, and tenses, as preceded them.

By fixing the above simple rules well in the memory, much difficulty in learning a new language will be avoided; for it will be needless to go over afresh any of those parts which have the character of universality, and a new grammar will be much less formidable than its bulk might otherwise make it appear.


L AVING now given a short view of that 11 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 ordernamely, 1. ARTICLE. 2. NOUN-SUBSTANTIVE. 3. NOUN-ADJECTIVE. 4. PRONOUN. 5. VERB. 6. ADVERB. 7. PREPOSITION. 8. CONJUNCTION. 9. INTERJECTION.

ARTICLE. 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, euphoniæ 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 favour."* “ If he

[ocr errors]

be compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shews 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 u has a sharp sound, but an must always be used before those in which the u is obtuse, as unhappy, uncle, &c.

II. NouN-SUBSTANTIVE. The Substantive is the name of some person or thing. In the Anglo-Saxon grammars it is entitled Nama, or name.

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,

* Bacon's Essays.

« PreviousContinue »