This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
The Parts of Speech. IMPROPER USE OF WORDS.
GRAMMAR is the art of writing or speaking a language correctly. There are eight distinct parts of speech, named as follows: Noun, Pronoun, Adjective, Verb, Adverb, Preposition, Conjunction, and Interjection.
The Noun is the name of an object or some quality of the same; as, knife, horse, house, sharpness, speed, beauty. Nouns are of two classes, proper and common. A proper noun is the name of an individual object; as, England, William, Washington; and should always be capitalized. Names given to whole classes are common nouns; as, sea, land, army, tree, etc.
A Pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun; as, "He reads," "She studies," "It falls."
An Adjective is a word used to describe a noun; as, "sweet cider," " educated people," "fast horse."
The Verb is a word that expresses action; as, "He runs," "She sleeps," "It falls."
The Adverb tells how the action is performed, and modifies the meaning of verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs; as, " He walks rapidly," "Very soon," "More pleasing,"' "Directly under," etc.
A Preposition is a word that connects other words, and shows the relation between them; as, "The snow lies on the ground," "He went to Europe."
A Conjunction is a part of speech used to connect words and sentences together; as, " Houses and lands;" " I walked in the meadows and in the groves, but I saw no birds nor animals of any kind, because of the darkness."
An Interjection is a word used to express sudden or strong emotion; as, O! Alas! Ah!
As a full consideration of the subject of grammar requires a volume of itself, it is not, therefore, the purpose of this book to enter into a detailed explanation of the use of the various parts of speech, along with the rules for applying the same. Fuller instruction relating to the proper construction of language may be obtained in any of the various text-books on grammar, which may be procured at the bookstores.
The object in introducing the subject of grammar here is to call attention to the faults liable to be made by the writer and speaker unacquainted with a knowledge of the correct use of language. To illustrate: special care should be taken to use the plural verb when the plural nominative is used; as, "Trees grows" should be "Trees grow;" "Birds flies" should be
"Birds fly" "Some flowers is more fragrant than others" should be "Some flowers are more fragrant than others."
Care should be exercised in the use of the adjective pronoun; as, "Them men" should be "Those men."
Care should be taken with words terminating with ly; as, "Birds fly swift" should be "Birds fly swiftly;" "She sang beautiful" should be "She sang beautifully;" "He walks rapid" should be "rapidly;" "He talks eloquent" should be "eloquently."
The word got is frequently unnecessarily used; as, "I have got the book" should be "I have the book."
The verbs lay and lie are frequently misused.
The following examples illustrate the distinctions to be observed in their use: Thus, "I lie down; you lie down; he lies down." But, "I lay down the book; you lay down the carpet; he lays down the rules."
The verbs sit and set are often used improperly. The following sentences illustrate the difference between them: Thus, "I sit down; you lit down; he sits down." "I set the table; you set the trap; and he sets the saw."
Care should be used not to have two negatives in a sentence when affirmation is meant; thus, "Don't never tell a lie" should be "Never tell a lie;" "I can't see nothing" should be "I can see nothing," or, "I cannot see anything."
A man is known by the company he keeps. He is also known by his language. No amount of good clothes or outside polish can prevent a man from being regarded as vulgar and low-bred who is addicted to the use of profane words. The use of profanity plainly indicates that the person employing it has such a limited knowledge of words suitable to express ideas, that he is compelled to use vulgar language in order to convey his thought. And the same measurably is true of slang phrases. Such terms as " Level Best," " Right Smart," "Played out," "You Bet," "Bottom dollar," etc., while sometimes allowed among familiar acquaintances, are vulgarisms, and in all graver speaking and writing should be avoided.
The uniform use of a chaste, refined and beautiful language is not only an index to a pure, clear and cultivated intellect, but is always, to the lady or gentleman, one of the surest elements of success in any business where language is required.