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Two or more nouns, or nouns and pronouns, in the singular number, connected by disjunctive conjunctions, must have verbs, nouns, and pronouns, agreeing with them in the singular; as, "Neither John nor James has learned his lesson."
NOTE 1. When singular pronouns, or a noun and pronoun, of different persons, are disjunctively connected, the verb must agree, in person, with that which is placed nearest to it; as, "Thou or I am in fault; I or thou art to blame; I, or thou, or he, is the author of it." But it would be better to say, "Either I am to blame or thou art," &c.
2. When a disjunctive occurs between a singular noun or pronoun and a plural one, the verb must agree with the plural noun or pronoun, which should generally be placed next to the verb; as, "Neither poverty nor riches were injurious to him ;" "I or they were offended by it."" Constructions like these ought generally to be avoided.
Ignorance or negligence have caused this mistake.
The verb, have caused, in this sentence, is improperly used in the plural, because it expresses the action, not of both, but of either the one or the other of its nominatives; therefore it should be in the singular, has caused; and then it would agree with "ignorance or negligence," agreeably to Rule 9 (Repeat the Rule.)
A circle or a square are the same in idea.
Neither whiteness nor redness are in the porphyry.
Man is not such a machine as a clock or a watch, which move merely as they are moved.
When sickness, infirmity, or reverse of fortune, affect us, the sincerity of friendship is proved.
Man's happiness or misery are, in a great measure, put into his own hands.
Despise no infirmity of mind or body, nor any condition of life, for they may be thy own lot.
The prince, as well as the people, were blameworthy.
A collective noun or noun of multitude, conveying unity of idea, generally has a verb or pronoun agreeing with it in the singular; as, "The meeting was large, and it held three hours."
NOTE. Rules 10, and 11, are limited in their application. See page 59.
The nation are powerful.
The fleet were seen sailing up the channel.
The flock, and not the fleece, are, or cught to be, the objects of the shepherd's care.
That nation was once powerful; but now they are feeble.
A noun of multitude, conveying plurality of idea, must have a verb or pronoun agreeing with it in the plural; as, "The council were divided in their sentiments.'
My people doth not consider.
The multitude eagerly pursues pleasure as its chief good. The committee was divided in its sentiments, and it has referred the business to the general meeting.
The people rejoices in that which should give it sorrow.
A noun or pronoun in the possessive case, is governed by the noun it possesses; as, "Man's happiness;" "Its value is great.”
NOTE. 1. When the possessor is described by a circumlocution, the possessive sign should generally be applied to the last term only; as, "The duke of Bridgewater's canal; The bishop of Landaff's excellent book; The captain of the guard's house." This usage, however, ought generally to be avoided. The words do not literally convey the ideas intended. What nonsense to say, "This is the governour of Ohio's house!"
2. When nouns in the possessive case are in apposition, and follow each other in quick succession, the possessive sign is generally annexed to the last only; as, "For David my servant's sake; John the Baptist's head; The canal was built in consequence of De Witt Clinton the governour's advice."
But when a pause is proper, and the governing noun not expressed, the sign should be applied to the first possessive only, and understood to the rest; as, "I reside at Lord Stormont's, my old patron and benefactor." 3. Its, the possessive case of it, is often improperly used for 'tis, or, it is ; as, "Its my book: Its his," &c. ; instead of, "It is my book; or, 'Tis my book; It is his; or, 'Tis his."
4. Participles frequently govern nouns and pronouns in the possessive case; as, "In case of his majesty's dying without issue, &c.; Upon God's having ended all his works, &c.; I remember its being reckoned a great exploit; At my coming in he said," &c. But in such instances, the participle with its adjuncts may be considered a substantive phrase, according to Nota 2, Rule 28.
5. Phrases like these, "A work of Washington Irving's; A brother of Joseph's; A friend of mine; A neighbour of yours," do not, as some have supposed, each contain a double possessive, or two possessive cases, but they may be thus construed; "A work of (out of, or, among the number of) Washington Irving's works; that is, One of the works of Washington Irving; One of the brothers of Joseph; One friend of my friends; One neighbour of your neighbours."
Homers works are much admired.
Nevertheless, Asa his heart was not perfect with the Lord.
Note 1. It was the men's, women's, and children's lot to suffer great calamities.
This is Peter's, John's, and Andrew's occupation.
The silk was purchased at Brown's, the mercer's and habordasher's.
Note 4. Much will depend on the pupil composing frequently
The measure failed in consequence of the president neglect ing to lay it before the council.
Personal pronouns must agree with the nouns for which they stand, in gender and number; as, "John writes, and he will soon write well."
NOTE. You, though frequently employed to represent a singular noun, is always plural in form; therefore the verb connected with it should be plural; as, "My friend, you were mistaken." See pages 99 and 100.
Every man will be rewarded according to their works.
Incorrect, because the pronoun their does not agree in gender or number with the noun "man," for which it stands; consequently Rule 13, is violated. Their should be his; and then the pronoun would be of the masculine gender, singular number, agreeing with man, according to Rule 13. (Repeat the Rule.)
An orator's tongue should be agreeable to the ear of their audience.
Rebecca took goodly raiment, and put them on Jacob.
Take handfuls of ashes, and let Moses sprink.e it towards heaven, in the sight of Pharaoh, and it shall become small dust. No one should incur censure for being tender of their reputa
Note. Horace, you was blamed; and I think you was worthy of censure.
Witness, where was you standing during the transaction? How far was you from the defendant?
Relative pronouns agree with their antecedents, gender, person, and number; as, "Thou who lovest wisdom;" "I who speak from experience."
NOTE. When a relative pronoun is preceded by two antecedents of different persons, the relative and the verb may agree in person with either, but not without regard to the sense; as, "I am the man who command you ;" or, "I am the inan who commands you." The meaning of the first of these examples will more obviously appear, if we render it thus: "I who coininand you, am the man."
When the agreement of the relative has been fixed with either of the preceding antecedents, it must be preserved throughout the sentence; as, "I am the Lord, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself," &c.
Thou who has been a witness of the fact, canst state it.
The wheel killed another man, which make the sixth which have lost their lives by this means.
Thou great First Cause, least understood!
Who all my sense confined.
Note, 2d part. Thou art the Lord, who didst choose Abraham, and brought him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees.
The relative is the nominative case to the verb, when no nominative comes between it and the verb; as, "The master who taught us, was emi
If he will not hear his best friend, whom shall be sent to admonish him.
This is the man whom, he informed me, was my benefactor.
When a nominative comes between the relative and the verb, the relative is governed by the following verb, or by some other word in its own member of the sentence; as, "He whom I serve, is eternal."
NOTE 1. Who, which, what, the relative that, and their compounds, whom ever, whomsoever, &c., though in the objective case, are always placed before the verb; as, "He whom ye seek, has gone hence."
2. Every relative must have an antecedent to which it relates, either expressed or implied; as, "Who steals my purse,steals trash ;" that is, he who.
3. The pronouns whichsoever, whatsoever, and the like, are sometimes elegantly divided by the interposition of the corresponding nouns; as, “On which side soever the king cast his eyes," &c.
4. The pronoun what is sometimes improperly used instead of the conjunction that; as, "He would not believe but what I was in fault." It should be, "but that," &c.
That is the friend who I sincerely esteem.
Not proper, because who, which is the object of the action expressed by the transitive verb "esteem," is in the nominative case. It ought to be whom, in the objective; and then it would be governed by esteem, according to Rule 16. (Repeat the Rule:)--and, also, according to Rule 20. "That is the friend whom I sincerely esteem."
They who much is given to, will have much to answer for. From the character of those who you associate with, your own will be estimated.
He is a man who I greatly respect.
Our benefactors and tutors are the persons who we ought to love, and who we ought to be grateful to.
They who conscience and virtue support, may smile at the caprices of fortune.
Who did you walk with?
Who did you see there?
When a relative pronoun is of the interrogative kind, it refers to the word or phrase containing the answer to the question for its subsequent, which subsequent must agree in case with the interrogative; as, "Whose book is that? Joseph's ;" "Who gave you this? John."
NOTE. Whether the interrogative really refers to a subsequent or not, is doubtful; but it is certain that the subsequent should agree in case with the interrogative. FALSE SYNTAX.
Who gave John those books? Us. Of whom did you buy them? Of a bookseller, he who lives in Pearl-street.
Who walked with you? My brother and him.
Who will accompany me to the country? IIer and me.
Adjectives belong to, and qualify nouns, expressed or understood; as, "He is a good, as well as a wise man."
NOTE 1. Adjectives frequently belong to pronouns; as, "I am miserable; He is industrious."
2. Numeral adjectives belong to nouns, which nouns must agree in nuinber with their adjectives, when of the cardinal kind; as, "Ten feet; Eigh'y fathoms." But some anomalous and figurative expressions form an exception to this rule; as, "A fleet of forty sail;" "Two hundred head of cattle."
3. Adjectives sometimes belong to verbs in the infinitive mood, or to a par of a sentence; as, "To see is pleasant; To be blind is unfortunate; To die for our country, is glorious."