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With is a pre
6. They also have a plural pronoun to represent them; as,
“Brutus and Cassius were the most eminent of the conspirators; they were distinguished for their love of justice.”
NOTE.—The foregoing observation (5), is given as it is generally laid down by grammarians: it is correct as far as it goes, but calculated to mislead, inasmuch as it asserts the necessity of the singular subjects being connected by a copulative conjunction-a necessity which does not exist; it is not necessary even that the several nouns forming the subject should be in the nominative case. position: it will be seen hereafter that prepositions take after them nouns in the objective case; the noun or nouns, however, introduced by with, may form part of the subject; and, whether singular or plural, will
, when associated with some nominative, cause the verb to be plural: thus—“Industrious application to business, with a frugal habit of life, generally produce independence.” Care must be taken, however, to ascertain whether with introduces a noun which stands as a name for an individual taking part in the act expressed by the verb, or whether it introduces a word expressing the instrument or agent whereby such act is performed. In the former case, the verb may, with the strictest propriety, be plural; in the latter, it will be sin. gular or plural, irrespectively of the noun or nouns succeeding with, and according as the word preceding it conveys singularity or plurality of ideas; as, “Luxurious living, with indolent pleasure, produce such satiety and languor as banish true enjoyment;" “The man with the poker has just broken the iron bars of his cellar door.” With signifies sometimes along with, together with, &c. &c., and as such may be considered a copulative conjunction as well as and. Of both these particles, it may be further remarked, that they are probably the only ones which, as conjunctions, combine the agency of two or more in one. As well as, though apparently of nearly equal value to with, when a copulative particle, merely expresses a comparison, and does not exercise any influence on the number of the following verb; as, "Domitian, as well as Nero, was a persecutor of the Christians ;" wherein, although the affirmation is equally made of both, the verb is governed by the number of the first subject, irrespectively of the number of the latter, between the individual represented by which and the first subject the “ as well as merely
” expresses a comparison.
7. The foregoing remarks having reference to a plural verb, may be thus comprehensively summed up—“The verb in the English language is plural when its subject is a plural noun or pronoun, or when two or more nouns or pronouns are so connected as to represent individuals, all of whom take part in, or receive the act expressed by the verb.
8. This rule is frequently violated even by the best writers, and the verb, though having different singular subjects copulatively connected, is made singular. The following violation thereof is from the pen of Whately "The hardship and exposure of a savage life speedily destroys those who are not of a robust constitution.” This construction of the verb should by no means be imitated, though it cannot be called grammatically incorrect, being defensible on the principle of the ellipsis, the verb in the singular being understood with one subject and expressed with the other; thus—“The hardship of a savage life speedily destroys those, &c. &c. and the exposure of a savage life speedily destroys.” Such construction, moreover, is consonant with the usage, in many instances, of the classical languages, especially of the Latin.
9. Two or more singular nouns denoting the same person or thing take a verb singular ; as, “That eminent lawyer and statesman has conferred great service on his country.
10. When of two nouns the first is singular and the other plural or singular, and when they stand connected by and followed by not, the verb must be singular, as, “ His money, and not his virtues, has procured him respect.”
11. When nouns coupled with and are qualified by the distributive every, the verb is singular; as, "Every cat and dog in the city was destroyed by the plague.”
12. A noun of multitude, and a collective noun, though in the singular form, will require the verb to be plural, provided each individual of the aggregate suggested by such nouns be represented as performing or receiving the act; as, “My people do not consider.” The word meeting
The reason is obvious. Only one individual is spoken of, though by different names implying different properties,
is a noun of multitude, and represents a number of individuals; yet it would be ungrammatical to write—“The meeting have unequivocally declared its sentiments ;" one meeting, not two-unity, not plurality-being here suggested. Some words may be so used as to express unity in one instance, and plurality of idea in another; and the verb will be singular or plural, according to the idea which predominates: thus—“The infantry was swept off the field;" “The infantry were annihilated to a man,”-are both equally correct. The following is the rule which Latham gives on this head :-“The number of the verb that shall accompany a collective noun depends upon whether the idea of the multiplicity of individuals or that of the unity of the aggregate shall predominate.
13. It should further be observed, that the same principle decides the number of the pronoun which is substituted for the noun- 'My people do not consider, they have not known me;" “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall be no sign given to it.”
14. Two or more singular nouns, connected by or or nor, require the verb and pronoun to be in the singular number; as, "Neither his money nor prodigality has procured him respect;" “ Either his son or daughter was shut up in the room.”
NOTE.—The reason of this usage is obvious : in such cases the assertion is not made of both nouns together, but only of one or the other; and hence the verb is singular.
15. A singular and a plural nominative, connected by or or nor, cannot have the verb to agree with both : the verb, in such cases, is made sometimes to agree with the
nominative coming next to it; as, They or he was offended.” The more generally adopted usage appears to be this : to cause the verb to agree with the plural nominative, which is placed last: thus—“The deceitfulness of the world, or the cares of life, cause many men to renounce society, and withdraw themselves into the closet ;" “ Neither the builder nor the workmen were relieved of the responsibility.”
NOTE 1.-It being impossible, without a pedantic affectation of precision, to cause the verb to agree with both subjects, a considerable latitude is allowed in such cases, and the determination of the number of the verb depends on choice. Mr. Cobbett, however, who is as ignorant of
as he is rabid against the usage of the classical languages, arbitrarily pronounces such passages as the following to be incorrect: “ The minister or the borough-tyrants conspire against the liberties of the people;" and would write it thus :-“The minister conspires, or the boroughtyrants conspire, against the liberties of the people."
NOTE 2. — The foregoing observations, as far as they apply to the copulative or disjunctive conjunctions, apply to their influence in determining the number merely of the verb. As the verb agrees in person too with its subject, some further observations appear necessary.
16. As far as the conjunction and is concerned, there is no difficulty in determining in what person the verb is to be when two subjects thereto of different persons are connected by this particle ; for, according to the rules already laid down, the verb must be plural, and the persons of the plural number in the English verb are incapable of inflec
therefore we say—"Your father and I are enemies ;" “He and I are friends ;" “ Have not my brother and you been reconciled ?”
17. It is different in the case of nouns or pronouns used disjunctively, that is, connected by a disjunctive conjunction; for if they are both singular, the verb must be singular; and if they are of different persons, the English verb being inflected in person in the singular number, the question arises with which the verb will agree.
18. The Latins settled this question by considering the first person as more worthy than the second, and the second as more worthy than the third, and causing the verb under the circumstances in question to agree with the most worthy person. Such usage is not copied by the English. Lindley Murray inclines to the opinion that the verb should agree in person with the subject next to it. Thus—“ They or I am in fault.” Mr. Latham, on the other hand, says,—“I believe that, in these cases, the rule is as follows:-1. Whenever the words either or neither precede the pronouns, the verb is in the third person ; as, Either you or I is in the wrong ;''Neither you nor I is in the wrong. 2. Whenever the disjunctive is simple (i. e., unaccompanied with the word either or neither) the verb agrees with the first of the two pronouns; thus, ' I or he
am in the wrong ;' 'He or I is in the wrong;' Thou or he art in the wrong ;' 'He or thou is in the wrong:' whilst Cobbett, consistently with his attachment to stiff and awkward periphrases, would write, “ Neither you are in the wrong, nor I am in the wrong ;
; “ Thou art in the wrong, or I am in the wrong."
NOTE.-In the case of such expressions there is no guiding principle. If the verb does not agree with both subjects, it can agree only with one, and that one is frequently determined by choice ; if, however, euphony were allowed to make weight in the scale, Murray's opinion would appear preferable ;-Latham's expression, “Either you or I is in the wrong," not only violating the principle of concord in person,-neither of the subjects being in the third person, but certainly doing much violence to the
Would it not be preferable to set down the verb between the different subjects, and cause it to agree with the first, and to be understood with the last; thus, “Neither he is offended, nor I;" “ Either you are in the wrong or he ?” Or if not, would it not please the ear much better to cause the verb to agree with the last in person
? (See Observation 15.)
19. Alms, riches, news, means, pains, amends : about these nouns grammarians are not agreed ; some consider them as singular, and use their predicate in the singular number; some, on the other hand, as plural, and use their predicate in the plural ; thus, “ This means was, or these were, effectual :" so of the others.
20. It, followed by the verb to be, and a noun or pronoun, takes a singular verb, irrespectively of the number of the noun or pronoun; as, “ It is we who are responsible ;" " It was the Fathers who broached this doctrine." It is, is most frequently contracted into 'tis.
21. A simple compound of self, is followed by a verb in the third person singular ; as, "Myself desires to perform that work;" “Thyself is anxious as well as I on the point.” When, however, with a compound of self, another pronoun is associated, the verb agrees in person with the pronoun ; as,
“Thou thyself desirest not to enter into such a discussion;"
;" “I myself am not anxious on that head. 22. “Aruns Tarquin and Brutus slew each other.” In