Page images

It may here be noticed that it is the personal pronoun alone that can perfectly supersede the noun, whose place it takes, in gender, number, and case. Thus we may say, John's mother, or his mother, indifferently. The substantive is, masculine, singular, in the genitive case, and so also is the pronoun. This observation may serve to remove some of the difficulties of foreigners with regard to the English habit of using the genitive case of the primitive, instead of the possessive pronoun. In the southern European languages the practice is reversed, and the possessive is constantly used to the exclusion of the genitive case. Thus, in speaking of a man's mother, they would say, Sa mereSua madre. Sa and sua being the feminine singular of the possessive pronoun, agreeing with the feminine singular noun, mere or madre. In the English the genitive case of the primitive would be used, and we should say, his mother; which has the advantage of avoiding all ambiguity. The Latin mater ejus does not allow of this precision, which is attained by the Greek prrrtjp avrS, as well as by the German, which has a separate form of pronoun possessive, according as the person of whom it is predicated is male or female.

The Possessive pronoun, which may more

properly be termed a pronominal adjective, is

never used in English but in such phrases as,

It is Mine. Thine was the praise. What a

fate was Hers!

The Relative pronoun is thus declined.
Singular and Plural.

Mas. and Fern. Neut.

Norn. Who Which.

Gen. Whose Whose.

Bat. and Ace. Whom Which.

The Demonstrative pronouns are that, this, and what, which last is a mixture between the relative and demonstrative, and has the force of that which, as, "advise what you say" *—

"What shall I do?

Even what it please my Lord that shall become him,'' *

"What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won." *

* Shakespeare.

In the Anglo-Saxon however, and in old English, what formed the neuter of who.

Demonstrative pronouns admit no inflection, save the change from singular to plural. That makes those in the plural; this makes these, and what is wholly indeclinable. Who, which, and what are used as interrogatives in such phrases as, Who is coming? Which of the two was it? What did he say?

Which, when used interrogatively, applies to all genders, and is used for discrimination, as,

"An apple, cleft in two, is not more twain Than these two creatures. Which is Sebastian?"*

"Pray you, tell me this,

Which of the two was daughter to the Duke,
That here were at the wrestling?" *

"For which of these works do ye stone me ? f"

What is the proper interrogative of the demonstrative, as, " When any new thing comes in their way children ask the common question of a stranger, What is it ?—" J

"I left no ring with her—what means this lady?" *

The English has one peculiar class of pto

* Shakespeare. t John. $ Locke.

nouns answering in sense to the Latin ipse. These are compounded, for the most part, of the genitive case of the primitive, united with the substantive self. In the third person, however, the accusative is used instead of the genitive, thus,

Sing. Plu.

1 Person Myself . Ourselves.

2 Person Thyself Yourselves.

Sing. Plu.

Mas. Fern. Neut. 3 Per. Himself Herself Itself Themselves.

This form of the pronoun seems merely to be an amalgamation of two words, the one in the genitive case, as must always be when two nouns come together: for the form of the third person appears only a corruption of the original his self, which gave an unpleasant hissing sound. In old writers we find his self, as, "Every one of us, each for his self, laboured how to recover him."*


Verb. The Verb, termed Word by the AngloSaxons, expresses any action, endurance, or pas

• Sidney.

sion of body or mind, as, to move, to hear, to love. It is either transitive, i. e. communicates its action to some person or thing, as, to build a tower; or intransitive, i. e. completes its action in itself, as, to sleep.

The verb in English may be considered as having four modes of expressing an action, namely the Indicative, which simply indicates the performance, as, I walk: the Imperative, which commands, as, walk I the Subjunctive, which is uncertain, as, if I walk: and the InFinitive, or abstract action, independent of any person, as, to walk.

The simple tenses or times are few: in the Indicative only two, namely, present and past: in the Imperative only one, and even that is defective; for it requires the aid of the verb to let to make the third person of the singular, and the first and third of the plural: in the Subjunctive, as in the Indicative, only present and past. But although the simple tenses are few, the compound ones are numerous almost beyond example; and, by means of the many auxiliaries, the slightest variations of meaning are given with extraordinary precision. The regular verb, without the intervention of auxiliaries, is thus conjugated.

« PreviousContinue »