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purely grammatical point of view, it is more important to notice that some of the parts of speech are inflected and others are not.

68. Inflexion is a variation in the form of a word to mark a modification of its meaning. Thus -s in fathers denotes that we are speaking of more than one father: it is a sign of the plural. So -ed in walked denotes that the action occurred formerly: it is a sign of the past tense. Again, -er in taller denotes the presence of a quality in a greater degree than is implied by tall: it is a sign of comparison. Again, -ess in authoress denotes that the person to whom the name is applied is a female: it is a sign of gender. All these modifications of form,-s, ed, er, ess,-are inflexions. Sometimes we have inflexion without the addition of anything to the word at all. Man makes its plural men, goose makes geese, drink makes its past tense drank, fall makes fell, by inflexion. There is change of form though nothing has been added. Now applying the possibility of inflexion as a principle of division to the parts of speech, we shall find that the two groups are composed thus:

I. Nouns



6. Conjunctions
7. Interjections.

2. Adjectives

3. Pronouns
4. Verbs

Of adverbs, some are inflected to mark comparison and others are not. The same remark is true to a smaller extent of adjectives, but our classification is in the main


69. The English language has but few inflexions. A Roman could say lapidi, lapide: we have to use prepositions and say to a stone, by a stone. A Roman could say amavisset, amarentur: we must employ pronouns

W. E. G.


and auxiliary verbs, and say he would have loved, they would be loved. In Old English there was a fair supply of inflexions, but these were in great measure destroyed by the fusion of Norman and Englishman. The Norman conqueror had to learn our vocabulary, but use our grammatical forms he would not. We pointed out in an earlier chapter that, though our English vocabulary contains twice as many Latin words as native words, we use four or five of the latter for one of the former in our everyday speech, since the words which necessarily occur in every sentence, such as pronouns, conjunctions, and auxiliary verbs, are exclusively of English origin. And we said that we were justified therefore in describing our language as an English and not as a Romance language. We now see that there is a further justification for so describing it in the fact that nearly all of the surviving inflexions, which constitute an important part of the grammar of our language, are of English origin.

A language like ours which has but few inflexions is sometimes called analytic. A language like Latin which has many inflexions is called synthetic. The distinction is an important one, but the terms inflexional and noninflexional would express it equally well and convey the proper meaning to our minds at once.

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70. The sum-total of the inflexions which the words in a language undergo constitutes its Accidence. Accidence is thus narrower in its meaning than Etymology. Accidence, (from Latin accidere, 'to happen'), comprises the changes of form which happen to words. Etymology deals with these changes of form and also with the classification and derivation of words. English grammar has but little accidence, because its inflexions are few, but there is much to be said on the subject of its etymology.

The sum-total of the inflexions marking number and case of a noun or pronoun is called its Declension.

The sum-total of the inflexions of a verb is called its Conjugation.

71. Before leaving the subject of inflexion, let us note the principal consequences of the loss of our inflexions in English.

(1) We employ prepositions in place of caseendings, and auxiliaries instead of inflexions in verbs.

(2) The order of words in a sentence admits of very little variety in modern English. Brutus occidit Caesarem could be arranged in six ways: Brutus killed Caesar can be arranged in only one. Why? Because to a Roman the form of the ending would show that Brutus was the subject and Caesarem the object, whether either word stood first, second, or third, in the sentence. Thus for purposes of emphasis a Roman was able to vary the order of his words. With us the place of subject and object is fixed.

(3) There is nothing in the form of our words to show whether they are one part of speech rather than another. Hence one part of speech is often used for another. We can turn a noun into an adjective and talk of an 'iron bar,' or into a verb and say 'Iron the clothes.' We can make adjectives into nouns and speak of our equals, or betters, or inferiors. We can manufacture adverbs out of other parts of speech and say 'Crack went the whip,' 'I am going home,' 'He came safe,' 'He is not a bit surprised.' We also find such expressions as ‘But me no buts,' ‘Uncle me no uncle,' signifying 'Don't say but to me,' 'Don't call me uncle.' The sense indeed is plain, but such forms would be impossible in a synthetic or inflexional language like Latin.


I. What is the Part of Speech of each of the italicised words in the following sentences?- Count the money.'-'Keep count as you go.'— 'Foreign coins will not count.'-' Count is a foreign title.'-'It is slovenly not to date your letters.'—‘Bring the statement up to date.'— 'These distinctions belong to race.'-'They are race distinctions.''They are prepared to race.'-'The tender has left the ship.'—' Confinement made him tender for the winter.'-'Infatuation made him tender for the contract.'-' Tender memories linger round the spot.'-'The spot stroke is barred.'-'You will spot your dress.'—'Woe worth the hour.'-'An hour of his time is worth half-a-crown.'-' His time is of little worth.'—' Mark his fell design.'—' His design fell to the ground.' 'Tramp o'er moss and fell.'—' He tramped o'er moss and fell.'-'Strike a light.'' He has a light heart.'—'The bonfires are alight here.''Alight here for the Aquarium.'-'Boots repaired while you wait.'‘I have waited a long while.'—'How can I while away the time? ’— 'Look at the above remarks.'-'Look at the remarks above.'-' Look at the remarks above the notice.'-'I am an outside passenger.'-' I prefer the outside.'-'I prefer to ride outside?'-'The train came down the incline.'-' It was the down train.'-'It came down at a great pace.''Clear the deck, get the deck cabin ready, and deck the walls with flags.'-'I walked past.'-'I walked past the gate.'-'Forget the past.'-'Forget all the past follies.'-'The steam tram has not got up steam enough to steam up the hill.'

2. What parts of speech may each of the following words be?— round, close, equal. Write one short sentence to illustrate each use of them.

3. What is an inflexional language?

What parts of speech may be inflected in English? Illustrate your answer by examples.


Write down in a column all the parts of speech. Underline the two which you consider most important, and doubly underline the two which you consider least important, giving reasons in each case for your opinion.

5. Form a sentence containing at least six different parts of speech, and point out in it one example of each.


6. Write short sentences illustrating the use of each of the following 35 different parts of speech :-match, mangle, pile, punch, row. 7. Write short sentences illustrating the different meanings of each of the following words:―own, that, quick, judge.

8. Write four short sentences, each of which contains the word back. In the first sentence, use the word back as a noun; in the second, as a verb; in the third, as an adverb; and in the fourth, as an adjective.




72. A noun is the name of anything.

The word noun is derived from the Latin nomen, which means 'a name.' No sentence can be formed without a noun, or something equivalent to a noun, expressed or implied, and a verb, also expressed or implied. 'Birds fly,' 'Politicians wrangled,' are examples of the simplest form of sentence. Each contains a noun which indicates the thing about which the statement is made, and a verb by means of which we make the statement. The word verb is derived from the Latin verbum, ‘a word,'-the word without which the sentence would collapse. But to discuss whether noun or verb is the more essential to a sentence seems as useless as it would be to inquire which of the two blades in a pair of scissors does more of the cutting. Sometimes, no doubt, it looks as if we could have a sentence without a noun or without a verb. When I say 'Go,' the sense is clear. But the noun, or rather its substitute the pronoun, is understood, and in giving an analysis of the sentence we should supply it and say that the subject is You and the predicate go. And in older English it was often so supplied, and people said 'Go thou.' Again, if I ask 'Who told you this?' and you answer 'Jones,' the verb is understood, and the full expression would be 'Jones told me this,' or 'Jones did.' Thus these forms of expression are

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