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100. A quaint error was formerly prevalent that this 's was a corruption of his that John's book was a degenerate form of John his book. In the Prayer-Book we find the expression 'Jesus Christ his sake.' Whatever may be the origin of phrases of this form, two considerations disprove the theory that the 's of the possessive was a corruption of his:

I. Old English presents us with the possessive form in es, but shows no trace of an original his from which it was alleged according to this theory to have been developed.

2. How can the s of the word his itself be explained on this theory? If s=his, whence did we get the first his?

101. The beginner may find it helpful in determining the case of the nouns in a sentence if he asks the following questions:

To discover the

Nominative, put who? or what? before the verb. 'The enemy took the town.' 'Who took the town?' 'The enemy.' 'The town was taken by the enemy.' 'What was taken ?' 'The town.'

Objective: (a) Direct Object, put whom? or what? before the verb and its subject. 'The enemy took the ⚫ town.' 'What did the enemy take?' 'The town.'

(b) Indirect Object, put to or for whom or what? 'Give me the book.' 'What do you give?' 'The book:' this is the direct object. 'To whom do you give it?' 'To me.' 'Me' is the indirect object.

Possessive, look for the sign of inflexion 's.


1. Name the case of each noun in the following sentences:John killed Thomas. Thomas was killed by John. Thomas, the coachman's brother, was killed by John the gardener. Thomas the coachman's brother was killed by John. Call me a friend. Call me a cab. The people chose Ballus consul.

2. Wolsey the chancellor. Preserve the apposition of these nouns and make three sentences in which they occur respectively in the Nominative, Possessive, and Objective cases. How should we form the Possessive in common use?

3. Write the possessive case singular and plural, (where the meaning of the noun admits a plural), of goodness, Socrates, Burns, Debenham and Freebody, his sister Mary, his sisters Mary and Rose, hero, goose, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Beaufort, child, sheep, footman, Norman, Englishman.


Give the feminine of songster, marquis, beau; the masculine of witch, roe, slut; the plural of sheep, sheaf, cargo, cameo.

5. How did the termination es or s come to be the usual mark of the plural in English nouns?

Mention other ways of forming the plural, and give examples.

Is there anything anomalous in the use of the words brethren, riches, chickens?

[In Old English, nouns had several plural suffixes, the commonest of which was an: another common ending was -as. It was formerly supposed that the extension of -as (which became -es) was due to French influence. The plural in -es is now known, however, to have been in general use before French had exercised any influence on our language.]

6. How does the possessive case differ both in form and in use from the old genitive? State and illustrate the rules for its use in the singular and in the plural.

[Our possessive inflexion 's has come to us from the Old English termination es, which was the genitive ending of some masculine and neuter nouns, but not of feminine nouns, nor of nouns in the plural. The s in plurals like oxen's, mice's, has been attached through the influence of nouns with plurals regularly formed in s, as such nouns have the s in the possessive, sons', duchesses.' The uncontracted es is still visible in Wedn-es-day and is sounded in many words ending in a sibilant, such as duchess', Thomas', ass's. One of the old genitive plural endings is preserved in Wit-ena-gemot, 'meeting of wise men.' The absence of the s from Lady-day, Friday, is due to the fact that feminine nouns in Old English did not take this inflexion.

The relations expressed by the old genitive were much more numerous than those expressed by the modern possessive. The possessive inflexion is now generally limited to names of living beings and of personified objects. The preposition of enables us to express the relations indicated by the old genitive: e.g. partitive relation, 'door of the house,' 'half of his fortune'; adjectival relation, 'act of mercy,' 'man of virtue'; objective relation, ‘love of money.'

For a fuller treatment of this question the student may consult Bain's Higher English Grammar, pp. 79—82, and 135—7.]

7. Give the definition and derivation of the word Case. How many Cases are there in English? Name them and describe their uses.

[The Latin grammarians represented the nominative by a perpendicular and the other cases by lines falling away from it. This symbol Nom. Obj. Poss. Dat. Abl. explains the origin of some of our terms connected with case: thus, 'case' itself is from the Latin casus, 'a falling': 'oblique cases' are 'slopings-away' from the nominative when we enumerate the cases of a noun, we decline it or give its declension, that is, its 'fallings.']

8. Insert the apostrophe where it is usually placed in the following phrases:―Socrates wife, the captains son, for conscience sake, their whos and their whiches, the Officers Widows and Orphans Fund.

9. Write the possessive case in the plural of the feminine form corresponding to bachelor, nephew, gander, sultan, fox, peacock, earl, host, billy-goat, jackass, husband, abbot, widower, marquis, drake.

IO. State and illustrate the rules for the formation of the possessive case of Nouns, singular and plural.

Define the relations expressed by the following phrases, and state which, if any, contain true possessive cases: in Reason's ear, what a love of a baby!, a day's journey, a man of feeling, my money's worth.

II. Addison says, 'The single letter s on many occasions does the office of a whole word and represents the his or her of our forefathers.' Criticise this statement.




102. An Adjective is a word which is used with a noun to limit its application.

The name sheep is applicable to all sheep. If we join the word black to the noun sheep, the name black sheep is applicable only to those sheep which possess the quality of blackness. The application of the name sheep has been limited to a smaller number of things. In like manner, if we say some sheep, twenty sheep, or these sheep, those sheep, we narrow, or restrict, or limit, in every instance the application of the noun. We can make this limitation in other ways: we can say 'the sheep which won the prize at the show,' or 'the squire's sheep,' restricting the application of the word sheep by the use of a subordinate clause, or by the use of a noun in the possessive case. But a subordinate clause is not an adjective, though it may be so used as to have the force of an adjective, and squire's is a noun in the possessive case, though it limits the application of the word sheep like an adjective. Squire or any other noun in the possessive case does the work of an adjective, but it is only when it is in the possessive case that it performs this function. Squire is not an adjective, nor is its possessive squire's an adjective.

103. Adjectives and verbs resemble each other in this respect, that they express attributes or qualities of things, but there is a difference in their way of doing it. In the expression 'the prosperous merchant,' prosperity is assumed as an attribute of the merchant: in the sentence 'The merchant prospered,' prosperity is declared to be an attribute of the merchant. In the expression 'the victorious army,' the connexion of victory with the army is implied: in the sentence 'The army conquered,' this connexion is formally stated. So again, when we say 'the black sheep' we assume, or imply, or take for granted the connexion of the attribute blackness with the thing a sheep. When we say 'The sheep is black,' we explicitly state this connexion. The word black in the former case is said to be used attributively, in the latter case predicatively, since it forms, together with the verb is, the predicate of the


104. Bearing in mind that the function, or special work, of an adjective is to limit the application of a noun, let us arrange adjectives in groups, or classes, according to the kind of limitation which they effect.

71. Qualitative: What sort? Ans: black, good, big.

i. Definite: How many? Cardinal Numerals: Ans: one, eight.

Adjectives 2. Quanti



ii. Indefinite: How much? How many? Ans: all, some.

3. Demonstrative: Which? Ans: this, each,


This classification is open to criticism, but for practical purposes it will probably serve our ends better than one more exhaustive. A few words are required to meet objections and to remove difficulties. These questions may be asked :

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