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his meaning ambiguous, and we cannot ascertain it. This, and a thousand other mistakes you will often meet with, demonstrate the truth of my declaration, namely, that "without the knowledge and application of grammar rules, you will often speak and write in such a manner as not to be understood." You may now turn back and re-examine the "illustration" of Rules 3, 4, and 12, on page 52, and then correct the following examples about five times over.
A mothers tenderness and a fathers care, are natures gift's for mans advantage. Wisdoms precept's for the good mans interest and happiness. They suffer for conscience's sake. He is reading Cowpers poems. James bought Johnsons Dictionary.
RULE 4. A verb must agree with its nominative in number and person.
Those boys improves rapidly. Nothing delight some persons. dare not do it. They reads well.
The men labours in the field.
I know you can correct these sentences without a rule, for they all have a harsh sound, which offends the ear. I wish you, however, to adopt the habit of correcting errours by applying rules; for, by-and-by, you will meet with errours in composition which you cannot correct, if you are ignorant of the application of grammar rules.
Now let us clearly understand this 4th Rule. Recollect, it applies to the verb, and not to the noun; therefore, in these examples the verb is ungrammatical. The noun boys, in the first sentence, is of the third person plural, and the verb improves is of the third person singular; therefore, Rule 4th is violated, because the verb does not agree with its nominative in number. It should be, "boys improve." The verb would then be plural, and agree with its nominative according to the Rule. In the fourth sentence, the verb does not agree in person with its nominative. Thou is of the second person, and shuns is of the third. It should be, "thou shunnest," &c. You may correct the other sentences, and, likewise, the following exercises in
A variety of pleasing objects charm the eye. The number of inhabitants of the United States exceed nine millions. Nothung but vain and foolish pursuits delight some persons.
In vain our flocks and fields increase our store,
While ever and anon, there falls
An article is a word prefixed to nouns to limit their signification; as, a man, the woman.
There are only two articles, a or an, and the. A or an is called the indefinite article. The is called the definite article.
The indefinite article limits the noun to one of a kind, but to no particular one; as, a house.
The definite article generally limits the noun to a particular object, or collection of objects; as, the house, the men.
The small claims of the article to a separate rank as a distinct part of speech, ought not to be admitted in a scientifick classification of words. A and the, this and that, ten, few, and fourth, and many other words, are used to restrict, vary, or define the signification of the nouns to which they are joined. They might, therefore, with propriety, be ranked under the general head of Restrictives, Indexes, or Defining Adjectives. But, as there is a marked distinction in their particular meaning and application, each class requires a separate explanation. Hence, no practical advantage would be gained, by rejecting their established classification as articles, numerals, and demonstratives, and by giving them new names. The character and application of a and the can be learned as soon when they are styled articles, as when they are denominated specifying or defining adjectives.
The history of this part of speech is very brief. As there are but two articles, a or an and the, you will know them wherever they occur.
A noun used without an article, or any other restrictive, is taken in its general sense; as, 44 Fruit is abundant ;" "Gold is heavy;" "Man is born to trouble." Here we mean, fruit and gold in general; and all men, or mankind.
When we wish to limit the meaning of the noun to one object, but to no particular one, we employ a or an. If I say, "Give me a pen;" 66 Bring me an apple ;" you are at liberty to fetch any pen or any apple you please. A or an, then, is indefinite, because it leaves the meaning of the noun to which it is applied,
as far as regards the person spoken to, vague, or indeterminate; that is, not definite. But when reference is made to a particular object, we employ the ; as, "Give me the pen ;" "Bring rae the apple, or the apples." When such a requisition is made, you are not at liberty to bring any pen or apple you please, but you must fetch the particular pen or apple to which you know me to refer. The is, therefore, called the definite article.
"A star appears." Here, the star referred to, may be known as a particular star, definite, and distinguished from all others, in the mind of the speaker; but to the hearer, it is left, among the thousands that bedeck the vault of heaven, undistinguished and indefinite. But when the star has previously been made the subject of discourse, it becomes, in the minds of both speaker and hearer, a definite object, and he says, "The star appears ;" that is, that particular star about which we were discoursing. "Solomon built a temple." Did he build any temple, undetermined which? No; it was a particular temple, pre-eminently distinguished from all others. But how does it become a defi aite object in the mind of the hearer? Certainly, not by the phrase, a temple," which indicates any temple, leaving it altogether undetermined which; but supposing the person addressed was totally unacquainted with the fact asserted, and it becomes to him, in one respect only, a definite and particular temple, by means of the associated words, "Solomon built;" that is, by the use of these words in connexion with the others, the hearer gets the idea of a temple distinguished as the one erected by Solomon. If the speaker were addressing one whom he supposed to be unacquainted with the fact related, he might make the temple referred to a still more definite object in the mind of the hearer by a further explanation of it; thus, "Solomon built a temple on mount Zion; and that was the temple to which the Jews resorted to worship."
"The lunatick, the poet, and the lover,
A, AN, THE.
In a scientifick arrangement of grammatical principles, a and the belong to that class of adjectives denominated definitives or restrictives.
A, an, ane, or one, is the pas' participle of ananad, to add, to join. It denotes that the thing to which it is prefixed, is added, united, aned, an-d, oned, (woned,) or made one.
The and that. According to Horne Tooke, the is the imperative, and that, the past participle, of the Anglo-Saxon verb thean, to get, take, assume. The and that had, originally, the same meaning. The difference in their present application, is a modern refinement. Hence, that, as well as the, was formerly used, indifferently, before either a singular or a plural noun.
"The horse is a noble animal ;" "The dog is a faithful creature;" "The wind blows;" "The wolves were howling in the woods." In these examples, we do not refer to any particular lunaticks, poets, lovers, horses, dogs, winds, wolves, and woods, but we refer to these particular classes of things, in contradis tinction to other objects or classes. The phrase, "Neither the one nor the other," is an idiom of the language.
REMARKS. This method of elucidating the articles, which is popular with Blair, Priestley, Lowth, Johnson, Harris, Beattie, Coote, Murray, and many other distinguished philologists, is discarded by some of our modern writers. But, by proving that this theory is exceptionable, they by no means make it appear, that it ought, therefore, to be rejected.
Exceptionable or not, they have not been able to supply its place with one that is more convenient in practice. Neither have they adopted one less exceptionable. The truth is, after all which can be done to render the definitions and rules of grammar comprehensive and accurate, they will still be found, when critically examined by men of learning and science, more or less exceptionable. These exceptions and imperfections are the unavoidable consequence of the imperfections of the language. Language, as well as every thing else of human invention, will always be imperfect. Consequently, a perfect system of grammatical principles, would not suit it. A perfect grammar will not be produced, until some perfect being writes it for a perfect language; and a perfect language will not be constructed, until some super-human agency is employed in its production. All grammatical principles and systems which are not perfect, are exceptionable.
1. The article is omitted before nouns implying the different virtues, vices, passions, qualities, sciences, arts, metals, herbs, &c.; as, "Modesty is becoming; Falsehood is odious; Grammar is useful," &c.
2. The article is not prefixed to proper nouns; as, Barron killed Decatur; except by way of eminence, or for the sake of distinguishing a particular family, or when some noun is understood; as, "He is not a Franklin; He is a Lee, or of the family of the Lees; We sailed down the (river) Missouri."
3. An adjective is frequently placed between the article and the noun with which the article agrees; as, "A good boy; an industrious man." Sometimes the adjective precedes the article; as, "As great a man as Alexander; Such a shame."
4. In referring to many individuals, when we wish to bring each separately under consideration, the indefinite article is sometimes placed between the adjective many and a singular noun; as, "Where many a rosebud rears its blushing head;" "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen."
5. The definite article the is frequently applied to adverbs in the comparative or superlative degree; as, "The more I examine it, the better I like it; I like this the least of any."
You may proceed and parse the following articles, when you shall have committed this.
SYSTEMATICK ORDER OF PARSING.
The order of parsing an Article, is an article, and why?-definite or indefinite, and why ?-with what noun does it agree?-RULE.
"He is the son of a king."
The is an article, a word prefixed to a noun to limit its signification--definite, it limits the noun to a particular object-it belongs to the noun "son," according to
* RULE 2. The definite article the belongs to nouns in the singular or plural number.
A is an article, a word placed before a noun to limit its signification-indefinite, it limits the noun to one of a kind, but to no particular one-it agrees with "king," agreeably to
RULE 1. The article a or an agrees with nouns in the singular number only.
NOTE. By considering the original meaning of this article, the propriety of Rule 1, will appear. A or an, (formerly written ane,) being equivalent to one, any one, or some one, cannot be prefixed to nouns in the plural number. There is, however, an exception to this rule. A is placed before a plural noun when any of the following adjectives come between the article and the noun: few, great many, dozen, hundred, thousand, million; as, a few men, a thousand houses, &c.
After having parsed these articles several times over, please to read this third lecture three times. Then turn back, and examine the second lecture critically, observing to parse every example according to the directions previously given, which will prepare you to parse systematically, all the articles, nouns, and verbs in these subsequent
EXERCISES IN PARSING.
A bird sings. An eagle flies. Mountains stand. The multitude pursue pleasure. The reaper reaps the farmer's grain. Farmers mow the grass. Farmers' boys spread the hay. The clerk sells the merchant's goods. An ostrich outruns an Arab's horse. Cecrops founded Athens. Gallileo invented the telescope. James Macpherson translated Ossian's poems. Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe. Doctor Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning-rod. Washington Irving wrote the Sketch-Book.
I will now offer a few remarks on the misapplication of the articles, which, with the exercise of your own discriminating powers, will enable you to use them with propriety. But, before you proceed, please to answer the following
QUESTIONS NOT ANSWERED IN PARSING
How many articles are there?-In what sense is a noun taken, when it has no article to limit it?-Repeat the order of parsing an article.—What rule applies in parsing the definite article ?— What rule in parsing the indefinite?