HOW TO SPEAK AND WRITE CORRECTLY by JOSEPH DEVLIN, M.A.
CHAPTER II Page 1: ESSENTIALS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR
Divisions of Grammar Definitions Etymology.
In order to speak and write the English language correctly, it is imperative that the fundamental principles of the Grammar be mastered, for no matter how much we may read of the best authors, no matter how much we may associate with and imitate the best speakers, if we do not know the underlying principles of the correct formation of sentences and the relation of words to one another, we will be to a great extent like the parrot, that merely repeats what it hears without understanding the import of what is said. Of course the parrot, being a creature without reason, cannot comprehend; it can simply repeat what is said to it, and as it utters phrases and sentences of profanity with as much facility as those of virtue, so by like analogy, when we do not understand the grammar of the language, we may be making egregious blunders while thinking we are speaking with the utmost accuracy.
DIVISIONS OF GRAMMAR
There are four great divisions of Grammar, viz.:
Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody.
Orthography treats of letters and the mode of combining them into words.
Etymology treats of the various classes of words and the changes they undergo.
Syntax treats of the connection and arrangement of words in sentences.
Prosody treats of the manner of speaking and reading and the different kinds of verse.
The three first mentioned concern us most.
A letter is a mark or character used to represent an articulate sound. Letters are divided into vowels and consonants. A vowel is a letter which makes a distinct sound by itself. Consonants cannot be sounded without the aid of vowels. The vowels are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y when they do not begin a word or syllable.
SYLLABLES AND WORDS
A syllable is a distinct sound produced by a single effort of [Transcriber's note: 1-2 words illegible] shall, pig, dog. In every syllable there must be at least one vowel.
A word consists of one syllable or a combination of syllables.
Many rules are given for the dividing of words into syllables, but the best is to follow as closely as possible the divisions made by the organs of speech in properly pronouncing them.
THE PARTS OF SPEECH
An Article is a word placed before a noun to show whether the noun is used in a particular or general sense.
There are two articles, a or an and the. A or an is called the indefinite article because it does not point put any particular person or thing but indicates the noun in its widest sense; thus, a man means any man whatsoever of the species or race.
The is called the definite article because it points out some particular person or thing; thus, the man means some particular individual.
A noun is the name of any person, place or thing as John, London, book. Nouns are proper and common.
Proper nouns are names applied to particular persons or places.
Common nouns are names applied to a whole kind or species.
Nouns are inflected by number, gender and case.
Number is that inflection of the noun by which we indicate whether it represents one or more than one.
Gender is that inflection by which we signify whether the noun is the name of a male, a female, of an inanimate object or something which has no distinction of sex.
Case is that inflection of the noun which denotes the state of the person, place or thing represented, as the subject of an affirmation or question, the owner or possessor of something mentioned, or the object of an action or of a relation.
Thus in the example, “John tore the leaves of Sarah’s book,” the distinction between book which represents only one object and leaves which represent two or more objects of the same kind is called Number; the distinction of sex between John, a male, and Sarah, a female, and book and leaves, things which are inanimate and neither male nor female, is called Gender; and the distinction of state between John, the person who tore the book, and the subject of the affirmation, Mary, the owner of the book, leaves the objects torn, and book the object related to leaves, as the whole of which they were a part, is called Case.
An adjective is a word which qualifies a noun, that is, shows or points out some distinguishing mark or feature of the noun; as, A black dog.
Adjectives have three forms called degrees of comparison, the positive, the comparative and the superlative.
The positive is the simple form of the adjective without expressing increase or diminution of the original quality: nice.
The comparative is that form of the adjective which expresses increase or diminution of the quality: nicer.
The superlative is that form which expresses the greatest increase or diminution of the quality: nicest.
An adjective is in the positive form when it does not express comparison; as, “A rich man.”
An adjective is in the comparative form when it expresses comparison between two or between one and a number taken collectively, as, “John is richer than James”; “he is richer than all the men in Boston.”
An adjective is in the superlative form when it expresses a comparison between one and a number of individuals taken separately; as, “John is the richest man in Boston.”
Adjectives expressive of properties or circumstances which cannot be increased have only the positive form; as, A circular road; the chief end; an extreme measure.
Adjectives are compared in two ways, either by adding er to the positive to form the comparative and est to the positive to form the superlative, or by prefixing more to the positive for the comparative and most to the positive for the superlative; as, handsome, handsomer, handsomest or handsome, more handsome, most handsome.
Adjectives of two or more syllables are generally compared by prefixing more and most.
Many adjectives are irregular in comparison; as, Bad, worse, worst; Good, better, best.
A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun; as, “John gave his pen to James and he lent it to Jane to write her copy with it.” Without the pronouns we would have to write this sentence,—”John gave John’s pen to James and James lent the pen to Jane to write Jane’s copy with the pen.”
There are three kinds of pronouns—Personal, Relative and Adjective Pronouns.
Personal Pronouns are so called because they are used instead of the names of persons, places and things. The Personal Pronouns are I, Thou, He, She, and It, with their plurals, We, Ye or You and They.
I is the pronoun of the first person because it represents the person speaking.
Thou is the pronoun of the second person because it represents the person spoken to.
He, She, It are the pronouns of the third person because they represent the persons or things of whom we are speaking.
Like nouns, the Personal Pronouns have number, gender and case. The gender of the first and second person is obvious, as they represent the person or persons speaking and those who are addressed. The personal pronouns are thus declined:
M. or F.
M. or F.