Abbildungen der Seite

28. Is it correct to say that the Infinitive Mood does not mark differences in the time of the action? Consider the forms to write, to have written, to be going to write, in answering the question.

[With regard to the expression to be going to write, we may remark that the combination of the verb go with to write does not constitute a tense. Other circumlocutions, or roundabout modes of expression, might be employed to convey the same meaning, and these circumlocutions would have as good a claim to recognition, as forms of the future infinitive, as the phrase to be going to write: e.g. to be about to write, to be on the point of writing, to have the intention of writing. See § 164, (2).

With regard to the form to have written, the case is different. This is a genuine tense of the infinitive mood. But the difference of meaning between to write and to have written is a difference of completeness, not of time. When we say 'He seems to have written the copy correctly,' 'I expect to have written the last chapter by to-morrow evening,' completed action, not past action, is expressed by the tense to have written.]

29. What inflexions of nouns and verbs survive in modern English? How is it that there are so few?

Point out traces of some which have been lost.

30. Give examples from modern English of traces of inflexions which have fallen into disuse. How has the place of these lost inflexions been supplied?


31. Comment on the inflexion of each of the following words:geese, pence, brethren, vixen, whom, what, worse, eldest, could, did.

[ocr errors]




174. The Auxiliary Verbs, which supply the deficiencies of inflexions and enable us to mark distinctions of Voice, Mood, and Tense, in the conjugation of a verb, are these:be, have, shall, will, may, and do.

Be is used (1) as a Voice Auxiliary, forming with the Past Participle of transitive verbs the Passive: 'I am beaten,' 'to be beaten' and (2) as a Tense Auxiliary, forming the Imperfect Tenses in both voices: 'I am beating,' 'I am being beaten.'

Notice that, with the Past Participle of certain Intransitive verbs, be forms the Perfect Active: 'I am come,' 'He is gone,' 'It is fallen.' See § 146.

Have is a Tense Auxiliary and forms the Perfect Tenses both Active and Passive: 'I have beaten,' 'I have been beaten,' 'I had beaten,' 'I shall have been beaten.'

Shall and will form the Future Tenses of the Indicative Mood, Active and Passive: 'I shall beat,' 'He will be beaten,' 'They will be beating,' 'We shall have been beaten.'

May and might, should and would, are used as signs of the Subjunctive: 'Strive that you may succeed,' 'He strove that he might succeed,' 'I should be glad,' 'This would seem to be the case.'

Do is used as an auxiliary in negative and interrogative sentences: 'I do not believe this,' 'Do you believe this?'

We shall briefly discuss these verbs in turn.

175. Be is a defective verb, and its conjugation contains forms derived from three roots which we see in am, was, be. Am is the only form of a verb in English that retains the sign of the first person, m, which stands for me. The t in art is the sign of the second person, as in shalt, wilt. Is has dropped its ending -t: compare German ist, Latin est. Are is a Danish word which has taken the place of the Old English form of the third person plural. The simple tenses of the indicative and subjunctive moods have been given on p. 146.

Be is used as

I. A Notional Verb, with a meaning of its own, signifying 'to exist,' when we say, 'God is,' 'There was a Palmerston.'

2. A Copula, connecting the terms of a proposition: 'The boy is lazy,' 'A griffin is an imaginary beast.' This account of is belongs to logic rather than to grammar however in the language of grammar we should describe is here as a verb of Incomplete Predication.

3. An Auxiliary of Voice and Tense: 'He is beaten,' 'He is beating,' 'He is come.'

176. Have shows contraction in some of its forms,hast for havst, has for haves, had for havde. It is used as

I. A Notional Verb, meaning 'to possess,' and then admits of a passive use: This suggestion has long been had in mind.'

2. An Auxiliary of Tense to form the Perfects: 'He has written a letter,' 'He will have finished his work,' "They had missed the train.' On this construction see



177. Shall was originally a past tense, meaning 'I have owed,' hence, 'I must pay,' 'I am under an obligation, or necessity.' The German word for debt,' Schuld, shows the same root. The idea of obligation is still conveyed in such expressions as 'You should do your duty,' 'He should not say so.' Shall acquired the sense of a present, and a weak past was then formed from it, but the absence of the ending -s from the third person singular shall is due to the fact that it was formerly a past tense. The same circumstance explains the forms can, may, will, must, in the third singular, instead of cans, mays, wills, musts. Compare these forms :'

[blocks in formation]

178. Will as an auxiliary contains only the tenses given above. As an independent, notional verb it can be conjugated regularly throughout: 'I did this because you. willed it so,' 'It has been willed by the authorities.' Old English had a negative form nill, meaning 'will not,' as Latin has volo and nolo. Nill survives in the adverb willynilly, i.e. will he, nill he,-' whether he will or won't.'

179. Shall and will express the contrast between doing a thing under compulsion from outside and doing a thing from one's own inclination. Used as auxiliaries they express (1) futurity, (2) determination. To express futurity, shall is the auxiliary of the first person, will of the second and third. To express determination, will is the auxiliary of the first

1 Low's English Language, p. 143.

person, shall of the second and third. More will be said on the subject of this distinction in dealing with the Syntax of these verbs. An Englishman never uses them wrongly : an Irishman or a Scotchman seldom uses them without tripping. Why was it absurd of the Irishman in the water to say, according to the venerable story, 'I will be drowned and nobody shall save me'? Because 'I will' and 'nobody shall' indicate the resolution, or determination, of the speaker, and not simple futurity.

180. May formerly ended in g, which is still written, though not sounded, in might. As a Notional Verb it expresses permission, 'You may go out for a walk,' or possibility, 'He may pass his examination': in the latter case, emphasis is usually laid upon the word. As an Auxiliary it occurs as a sign of the subjunctive mood: 'Give him a book that he may amuse himself,' 'They have locked the door so that he may not get out.'

181. Must was a past tense but is now used as a present indicative. It has no inflexions but can be used of all persons. It expresses the idea of necessity: You must work,' 'I must get that book,' 'This must be the case.'

182. Can was the past tense of a verb meaning 'to know' compare the German, kennen, 'to know,' and the English, con, 'to learn'; also cunning, originally 'knowing." What a man has learnt, he is able to do, so can came to signify 'to be able.'

The in could deserves particular notice. It has no business to be there, but has been inserted owing to a mistaken notion of analogy with should and would, in which words the 7 is rightly present as part of the roots, shall and will. Uncouth, 'unknown,' and so 'odd,' or ' awkward,' shows the correct spelling without the Z

« ZurückWeiter »