Having traced briefly the history of our language, considered some of the sources from which it is derived, and noted its chief characteristics, we shall now proceed to treat of its words, viewed with reference to the respective parts they perform in a sentence. Someknowledge of grammar from text-books being presupposed, we shall here, by a brief summary, merely recall to mind its leading principles, with such definitions and illustrations only as are absolutely essential for practical purposes.
The classes into which words are divided with reference to their use and mutual relations, are called Parts of Speech. They are nine in number.
Nouns are names of things. They are divided into two classes : Common Nouns, or names that distinguish one class of objects from another - as girl, lake, book; and Proper Nouns, or names that distinguish one individual of a class from another, as Rome, John.
The term Substantive is frequently used as synonymous "with noun. Besides nouns, it embraces whatever may be used as such ; that is, pronouns, verbs in the infinitive, and clauses.
To nouns belong (a) Gender; masculine, feminine and neuter.
(b) Number: singular and plural.
(c) Case: nominative, possessive, objective and vocative.
Pronouns are words that may be used instead of nouns.
They are comprised in the following classes:
1. Personal, or such as show by their form what person they are ; that is, whether they represent the person speaking, the person spoken to, or the object spoken of. The Personals are, I, thou, he, she, it, and their compounds, myself, thyself, himself, herself, itself.
2. Possessive, such as denote possession. They are: Substantive possessive: Mine, thine, his, hers, ours, yours, and theirs, Adjective possessive : my, thy, his, her, our, your, their.
3. Relatives, or such as relate to a substantive going before, called an antecedent. The relatives are, who, which, and that. What, whatever, whoever, and whichever, include the antecedent, and are called compound relatives.
4. Interrogatives, or such as are used to ask questions. The interrogatives are, who, which and what.
5. Adjective Pronouns, or such as on some occasions take the place of substantives, and on others are used with them, like adjectives. Under this head fall the words, this, that, each, every, either, neither, no, none, any, all, such, some, both, other, another.
Adjectives are words which describe or limit substantives; as, The ten great authors.
The Articles are included as adjectives and are placed before nouns to show whether they are used in a particular or general sense. We have two articles, the, called Definite, and an or a, called Indefinite.
Verbs or words that express an action or state ; as, " He is sure to succeed." That respecting which the action or state is primarily expressed is called the Subject of the verb; thus, in the preceding example, he is the subject of the verb is.
Verbs are divided into two classes: Transitive, or such as express an act done to an object; and Intransitive, or such as express a state, or an act not done to an object. "James reads Latin," "James can swim," "James is asleep " ; in the first sentence the verb is transitive ; in the last two, intransitive.
To show the relation which the subject bears to the action expressed, transitive verbs have two distinct forms, called Voices. The Active Voice represents the subject of the verb as acting; as, " Caesar conquered Pompey." The Passive Voice represents the subject of the verb as acted upon ; as, " Pompey was conquered by Caesar."
To verbs belong person, number, Mood, Tense, and Voice. In person and number the verb agrees with its subject.
Mood, or Mode, is the form of the verb which shows the manner of the action or condition expressed. The English verb has five moods: indi-cative, potential, subjunctive, infinitive and imperative.
The indicative mood expresses an absolute affirmation.
The potential mood expresses possibility, inclination, ability, duty. Its signs are the auxiliary verbs, may, can, must, might, could, would, should.
The subjunctive expresses a condition. Its ordinary sign is if.
The infinitive mood expresses action or condition without restriction of number or person. A verb in the infinitive mood has no subject, and consequently can make no affirmation.
The imperative mood expresses a command.
Tense is the form of the verb which indicates the time of the action or condition.
The English verb has six tenses, the present, Perfect, present perfect, pluperfect, future, and future perfect.
The present tense expresses a present action or condition ; "It freezes."
The PERFECT tense expresses what took place, or was taking place in time past; "It froze." " It was freezing."
The PRESENT PERFECT tense expresses an action or condition indefinitely passed; "It has frozen."
The PLUPERFECT tense expresses what had occurred before some time past; "It had frozen before my departure."
The FUTURE tense expresses what will happen in future time ; " It will freeze."
The FUTURE PERFECT tense expresses what will have happened after some future time specified or implied ; " It will have frozen by four o'clock."
Participles, are words which, partaking of the nature of adjectives and verbs, describe a substantive by assigning to it an action or a state. Transitive verbs have six participles, three in the active, and three in the passive, voice ; as, loving, loved, having loved, and being loved, loved, having been loved. Intransitive verbs, admitting of no passive voice, have but three participles; as, walking, walked, having walked.
Adverbs, are words added to verbs, participles, adjectives, and other adverbs, to express time, place, degree, comparison, manner, etc. ; as, now, here, very, so, gracefully. Adverbs of manner for the most part end with the letters ly. This class of words must be carefully distinguished from adjectives, which also express manner or quality, but are always joined to substantives.
Conjunctions, used to connect words, sentences, and parts of sentences. The most common are, and, but, as, except, although, either, because, for, if, lest, nor, neither, or, since, that, than, though, unless, whether, vet.
Prepositions, which show the relations between substantives and other words in a sentence. The following list contains the most common ones : about, at., by, into, through, above, before, down, out of, to, across,. behind, during, of, touching, after, below, except, off, upon, against, beneath, for, on, with, along beside, from, over, within, among, between, in, save, without.
Interjections are used to denote a sudden emotion of the mind ; as, ah, alas, O, oh, fie, hist, &c
Of these parts of speech, the noun, pronoun, and verb alone are inflected ; that is, undergo changes in termination to denote different cases, numbers, persons, etc.
That we may determine to which of the above classes a word belongs, we must examine the relations it sustains to the rest of the sentence; and, as in different connections the same word often performs very-different offices, it follows that in one sentence it may be one part of speech, and in another, another, according to its application . Reference to the dictionary and the meaning of the word will help decide the class to which a word belongs.