« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
over, through, above, for, by, in, below, beneath, under, into, at, with, before, after, behind, within, without, up, beyond, about, near, down, on, upon, off, against, among, between, &c.
When these words come immediately before any pronoun, it is to be put in the second form, called also oblique case, objective case, accusative case: as, I went with them, from him to her, &c. &c.: not, I went with they, from he to she, &c.
The most usual grammatic improprieties as to the pronouns, consist in putting me for I, him for he, her for she, them for they, &c., in the following manner: "Who is there?" "Me," instead of I. May William and me go to London? It should be William and I. Them and us went out together; they and we went out together. Him and her are well matched; he and she are well matched.
There is hardly a possibility of grammatic impropriety in the application of he, she, it; but very illiterate persons are apt to employ he instead of it, when speaking of objects devoid of sex, in the following manner: This knife is not sharp, he is very blunt, &c.
When he or she is applied to objects devoid of sex, respect must be paid to established usage. must be spoken of as he, the moon as she, &c. It is absurd to attempt to assign any rational principle for this custom, which varies among different nations for with the Anglo-Saxons, the sun was spoken of as she and the moon as he. We, in this matter, follow
the Latins, who followed the Greeks, who probably followed the Egyptians, who perhaps imitated the Babylonians; for much of the general agreement, or common consent, of nations and languages, is referrible, not to reason, but to custom founded on imitation.
Illiterate persons very frequently employ them instead of these or those: thus, Them men were very noisy; it should be, those men were very noisy: Hand me them books,—those books.
There is often a departure from propriety in changing from one person and number to another: thus, Every man knows their own affairs best; it ought to be, Every man knows his own affairs best. Can any one be certain, at their first entrance on life, that they shall be always successful; it should be his and he.
The grammatists have succeeded in establishing a distinction between who and which: the former is to be employed only when speaking of persons: as, the man who came, the woman who came, the men who
are, the buds which are, the trees which grow, &c.;
not the man which was, &c., the birds who are, &c. Fortunately that is equally free from change to denote nominative and accusative, and from any particular manner of application. We can say, the man that was here, the bird that sings, &c.
Some of the grammatists have endeavoured to interdict the use of whose, more properly who's, except in connexion with a person, like who and whom :
but they have not succeeded. We can say, the bird whose leg was hurt, as well as the man whose leg was hurt.,
Persons are apt, without care, to blunder in applying this and these, that and those: as, this twelvemonth, instead of these twelvemonths: those or these kind of people, instead of that or this kind of people.
There is hardly any difference between the application of this with its plural these, and that with its plural those. If two objects, or sets of objects, be referred to, this and these are applied to the nearer, in time, place, or reference; that and those are applied to the more distant: thus, This is a more irksome part of the author's task than that which led him to treat of more intellectual topics: These are the petty, unmeaning, and useless distinctions of arbitrary grammar now under consideration; but those inquiries to which, in a former part of this work, he directed the attention of the reader, are of a loftier character.
THE GRAMMAR OF VERBS.
We must exhibit the combinations, or what grammarians call the conjugations of verbs, beginning with that jumble of anomalous incoherence, or of dissimilar parts, commonly designated the substantive or neuter verb To be.
The above is denominated, by grammatists, the Present Tense, Indicative Mood.
The above is called, by some grammatists, the Imperfect Tense; by others, the Past Tense.
The other parts of what is called the substantive verb, are, Be, Being, Been; as, I shall be, I have been, &c.
It is hardly possible for any mistake to happen in these parts, except, perhaps, that children and foreigners would be naturally induced by analogy, (unless prevented by the force of custom,) to say, have beed, having beed, &c., instead of, I have been, having been.
We have noticed how simple the substantive verb
would be, if rendered regular, by discarding all such dissimilar parts as, am, is, are, was, were: thus, I be, &c., I beed, &c., I have beed, being, having beed. But arbitrary grammar prohibits such reasonable simplicity and utility.
When directly preceded by let, may, might, can, could, will, would, shall, should, Be is unchanged; thus, Let me be, let him be; I may be, he may be; I might be, he might be; I can be, I could be; I will, shall, would, or should be, &c.
The grammatists have conferred on such combinations a number of high-sounding, but insignificant or absurd designations; as, Imperative Mood, Potential Mood, &c. &c.
When the substantive verb is immediately preceded by If, ( Gif, i. e. Give,) Though, Suppose, Grant, (or Supposing, &c.,) and other similar terms, which usually indicate uncertainty or contingency, established usage is so various as to set rules at defiance: thus,