Page images
PDF
EPUB

connexion and dependence of words, will be most conveniently accomplished, by the adoption of such a case; and the irregularity of having our nouns sometimes placed in a situation, in which they cannot be said to be in any case at all, will be avoided.

The author of this work long doubted the propriety, of assigning to English substantives an objective case: but a renewed, critical examination of the subject; an examination to which he was prompted by the extensive and increasing demand for the grammar, has produced in his mind a full persuasion, that the nouns of our language are entitled to this comprehensive objective case,

When the thing to which another is said to belong, is expressed by a circumlocution, or by many terins, the sign of the possessive case is commonly added to the last term: as, “ The king of Great Britain's dominions."

Sometimes, though rarely, two nouns in the possessive case, immediately succeed each other, in the following form: - My friend's wife's sister;" a sense which would be better expressed by saying, “the sister of my friend's wife;" or,

my friend's sister in law.” Some grammarians say, that in each of the following phrases, viz. “ A book of my brother's," “ A servant of the queen's," “ A soldier of the king's," there are two genitive cases; the first phrase implying, one of the books of my brother,” the next, “one of the servants of the queen;" and the last, “one of the soldiers of the king." But as the preposition governs the objective case; and as there are not, in each of these sentences, two apostrophes with the letter s coming after them, we cannot with propriety say, that there are two genitive cases.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IV.

Of ADJECTIVES. SECTION 1. Of the nature of Adjectives, and the degrees of

comparison. An Adjective is a word added to a substantive

[ocr errors]

to express its quality: as, “ An industrious man;" “A virtuous woman;" " A benevolent mind."

In English, the adjective is not varied on account of gender, number, or case. Thus we say, careless boy; careless girls."

The only variation which it admits, is that of the degrees of comparison.

There are commonly reckoned three degrees of comparison; the POSITIVE, the COMPARATIVE, and the suPERLATIVE.

Gramniarians have generally enumerated these three degrees of comparison; but the first of them has been thought by some writers, to be, improperly, termed a degree of comparison; as it seems to be nothing mbre than the simple form of the adjective, and not to imply either comparison or degree. This opinion may be well founded, unless the adjective be supposed to imply comparison or degree, by containing a secret or general reference to other things: as, when we say, " he is a tall man,” "this is a fair day," we make some reference to the ordinary size of men, and to different weather.

The Positive State expresses the quality of an object, without any increase or diminution: as, good, wise, great.

The Comparative Degree increases or lessens the positive in signification: as, wiser, greater, less wise.

The Superlative Degree increases or lessens the positive to the highest or lowest degree: as, wisest, greatest, least wise.

The simple word, or positive, becomes the comparative, by adding r or er; and the superlative, by adding st or est, to the end of it: as, wise, wiser, wisest; great, greater, greatest. And the adverbs more and most, placed before the adjec. tive, have the same effect: as, wise, more wise, most wise.

The termination ish may be accounted in some sort a degree of comparison, by which the signification is diminished below the positive: as black, blackish, or tending to blackness; salt, saltish, or having a little taste of salt.

The word rather is very properly used to express a small degree or excess of a quality: as, * She is rather profuse in her expenses."

Monosyllables, for the most part, are compared by er and est; and dissyllables by more and most: as, mild, milder, mildest; frugal, more frugal, most frugal. Dis. syllabies ending in y; as, happy, lovely; and in le after a mute, as, able, ample; or accented on the last syllable, as, discreet, polite; easily admit of er and est: as, happier, happiest; abler, ablest; politer, politest. Words of more than two syllables hardly ever admit of those terminations.

In some words the superlative is formed by adding the adverb most to the end of them; as, nethermost, uttermost, or utmost, undermost, uppermost, foremost.

In English, as in most languages, there are some words of very common use, (in which the caprice of custom is apt to get the better of analogy,) that are irregular in this respect: as, “ goor, better, best; bad, woțse, worst ; little, less, least; much or many, more, most; near, nearer, nearest or next; late, later, latest or last; old, older or elder, oldest or eldest;" and a few others.

An adjective put without a substantive, with the definite article before it, becomes a substantive in sense and meaning, and is written as a substantive; as, • Providence rewards the good, and punishes the bad."

Various nouns placed before other nouns assume the nature of adjectives; as, sea fish, wine vessel, coru field, meadow ground, &c.

Numeral adjectives are either cardinal, or ordinal: cardinal, as one, two, three, &c.; ordinal, as first, second, third, &c.

SECTION 2. Remarks on the subject of Comparison.

If we consider the subject of comparison attentively, we shall perceive that the degrees of it are infinite in number, or at least indefinite. A mountain is larger than a inite;by how many degrees? How much bigger is the earth than a grain of sand? By how many degrees was Socrates wiser than Alcibiades? or by how many is snow whiter than this paper? It is plain, that to these and the like questions, no definite answers can be returned.

In quantities, however, that may be exactly measured, the degrees of excess may be exactly ascertained. A foot is just twelve times as long as an inch; and an hour is sixty times the length of a minute. But, in regard to qualities, and to those quantities which cannot be measured exactly, it is impossible to say how many degrees may be comprehended in the comparative excess.

But though these degrees are infinite or indefinite in fact, they cannot be so in language; nor would it be convenient, if language were to express many of them. In regard to unmeasured quantities and qualities, the degrees of more and less, (besides those marked above,) may be expressed intelligibly, at least, if not accurately, by certain adverbs, or words of like import: as, " Socrates was much wiser than Alcibiades;” “Snow is a great deal whiter than this paper;" “ Epaminondas was by far the most accomplished of the Thebans;" “ The evening star is a very splendid object, but the sun is incomparably more splendid;"

“ The Deity is infinitely greater than the greatest of his creatures." The inaccuracy of these, and the like expressions, is not a material inconvenience; and, if it were, it is unavoidable: for human speech can only express human thought; and where thought is necessarily inaccurate, language must be so too,

When the word very, exceedingly, or any other of similar import, is put before the positive, it is called by some writers the superlative of eminence, to distinguish it from the other superlative, which has been already mentioned, and is called the superlative of comparison. Thus very eloquent, is termed the superlative of eminence; most eloquent, the superlative of comparison. In the superlative of eminence, something of comparison is, however, remotely or indirectly intimated; for we cannot reasonably call a man very eloquent, without comparing his eloquence with the eloquence of other men.

The comparative may be so employed, as to express the same pre-eminence or inferiority as the superlative. Thus, the sentence, Of all acquirements, virtue is the most valuable,conveys the same sentiment as the following; « Virtue is more valuable than every other acquirement.”See the THIRD edition of the OCTAVO GRAMMAR.

CHAPTER V.

Of PRONOUNS, A PRONOUN is a word used instead of a noun, to avoid the too frequent repetition of the same word: as, “The man is happy; he is benevolent; he is useful."

There are three kinds of pronouns, viz. the PERSONAL, the RELATIVE, and the ADJECTIVE PRONOUNS.

SECTION 1. Of the Personal Pronouns. THERE are five Personal Pronouns, viz. 1, thou he, she, it; with their plurals, we, ye or you, they.

Personal pronouns admit of person, number, gender, and case.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »