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certain only conditionally. Now an action, wherein there enters any notion of uncertainty or indefinitude, and is at the same time connected with another action, is expressed, not by the indicative mood, but the subjunctive.
# If the sun shine (not shines) the day will be clear.” Simple uncertainty will not constitute a subjunctive construction ; as, “I am perhaps in the wrong." Neither will simple connection; as, “I am wrong, because you are right.” But the two combined constitute the construction in question ; as, “If I be wrong, you are right.” Now a conjunction that connects two certain propositions may be said to govern an indicative mood; and a conjunction that connects an uncertain proposition with a certain one, may be said to govern a subjunctive mood. [The whole of the foregoing observation is taken from Latham.]
Note.—There can be assigned no valid reason why a doubtful proposition should be expressed by the subjunctive mood rather than any other. “If the sun shines,” and “ If the sun shine," express the same idea, and are philosophically correct. The use of the subjunctive arose primarily from the consideration that sentences like, " The sun shines,” and “ If the sun shine,” express acts in a different degree of positiveness, and the supposed necessity of distinguishing the degree thereof by using a different mode or form of the verb. Still such distinction of mode is awkward, and evidently unnecessary; the conjunction connecting the propositions, and not the difference of mode, conveying the idea of the difference in degree of positiveness. This difference of mode, however prevalent in ancient times, has been of late years much disused, and very conveniently for a writer or speaker, inasmuch as considerable confusion prevails from the fact that scarcely any two writers on grammar are found to agree even on the inflection of the so called subjunctive mood. As a matter of practical utility, “ If he go,” and “If he goes,” are equal; and no speaker could be proved ungrammatical from using the one in preference to the other.
In the construction of sentences, the order of time must be carefully observed, and a correspondence throughout the several parts studiously maintained: thus, “I promised to have spoken to him on that subject," is erroneous, and should be, “ I promised to speak,” &c.; the word promised taking us back to the time at which the promise was made to speak, which promise could not have been antecedently performed.
NOTE.- The foregoing rule is laid down as it is given formally in most grammars. It is impossible, however, to embody all the cases of construction as to tense, that may arise under any rule, however comprehensive. The application of care and the employment of thought, on the part of the pupil, together with a consideration of what the sense intended to be conveyed requires, will always be sufficient to enable him to avoid inaccuracies in the use of the several tenses of the verbs in complex sentences. The following examples of inaccuracies in this particular will, it is hoped, prove an additional help:
1. “I remember him these many years,” should be, "I have remembered him these many years;" because the act of remembering cannot be confined to the present moment, but must extend thereto through some portion of time anterior ; the tense therefore to be used in such a case is the perfect, which, as was remarked in the etymology of the Verb, represents an act occurring in the past, and extending throughout it up to the present time.
2. “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days.” The remarks in Example 1, will serve to shew that the latter clause should read—“Because they have continued with me now."
3. “I expected to have received an answer last Monday, should be, “I expected to receive;" because the person represented by I, expected the letter on Monday, not prior to that day.
Note.—The foregoing is an example of a very common error, that of using the perfect instead of the infinitive
present of a verb in a subsidiary clause. “I was inclined to have gone to town last Saturday,” is another example. This error arises from want of consideration. The act of going, in the fore-mentioned clause, appears past at the time when the sentence is expressed; the speaker, therefore, jumps into the conclusion that the past time must be expressed by that form of the verb which expresses such act. Nothing can be more erroneous; and the slightest retiection would demonstrate that the act of going must be represented as present in regard of that time when the inclination to go took place, although the inclination itself must be represented as past in regard of the time when such inclination is announced.
4. “ I called on him yesterday, and expressed a wish to have alluded to the matter,” should be, "to allude,” that is, at the time when the call was made, not previously.
“ I called on him yesterday, and expressed my regret that I had not alluded to the matter.” This is different altogether in construction from the foregoing, and perfectly correct; the regret existing at the time of the call, that the allusion had not been made previously thereto.
NOTE.—The word that, conveying an intention, and succeeded by a verb expressing an act which must necessarily follow an act expressed by the preceding verb, requires both verbs to be expressed in the same tense. Thus, “ I am going, that I might hear the Doctor,” should be, “ that I may hear;" because it is impossible that an act can be performed now, that something may follow from such act previously,
CONJUNCTIONS couple verbs in the same mood and tense, and nouns and in the same case : thus, “ Praise the Lord, and rejoice in His name;" He spoke to him and
In the former example, and couples the verbs, praise, rejoice, in the imperative mood; in the latter, and connects him and me in the objective case.
NOTE.—The foregoing, though generally laid down as a rule in grainmars, is manifestly unnecessary, and, as far as it is expressed, even incomplete : “Do this and thou shalt live,” vitiating it as far as the moods of verbs are concerned, and proving that a qualification such as, “ in the same sense,” should be inserted after verbs ; and then the rule is unnecessary, for the mood of the verb must, under every variety of position, be adapted to express the sense intended. As regards the case of nouns and pronouns, too, such rule is wholly superfluous, as, being under the same government, they must be in the same case. In the foregoing example, the sentence is elliptical, and when completed would read thus,—“He spoke to him and (he spoke to) me;" wherein me is governed by the preposition to, and necessarily in the objective, according to the principle laid down in Rule 2.
In Rule 2, Observation 14, the necessity was pointed out of using after each word in a sentence its appropriate preposition or particle, should different words require to be differently constructed. The construction of words, that is to say, the peculiar particle or formula of words required after each, is not always known, and even when known, not always attended to ; gross, and, as such, offensive blunders, may be pointed out in this respect even in reputable writers. The following list of words, with their peculiar construction, will, it is hoped, prove serviceable to the learner : it is not possible to give, in such list, all the words of the language which have a peculiarity of construction; to do so would swell the size thereof to an inconvenient degree; but the student's own observation and care combined, in addition to the assistance he will receive from having such a list to refer to, will be sufficient, it is hoped, to release him from any embarrassment he may labour under in this respect.
Attention is directed to the expression,“ peculiarity of construction.” Some words have a common construction. All past participles, for instance, take after them by, which introduces the agent; thus, “A man praised by his cotemporaries.” Again, all nouns take after them, of, which, with the following noun, express the complement of the preceding noun, and are equivalent to the possessive case ; thus, “ The velocity of a falling body.”. The word equivalent, as a noun, is constructed with for; thus, peceived an equivalent for his labour;" whilst, as an adjec
tive, it is constructed with to; thus, “He received a reward equivalent to (not for) his services.” The word equivalent is not constructed with the particle with; we do not say, “ equivalent with his labour." Equivalent, however, may take after it a particle other than to and with, according to the idea intended to be conveyed : thus we may say, “ He received a reward equivalent to his services in the position he was advanced to," wherein the preposition, in, follows equivalent. But it is observable, that in, with the succeeding clause, is accidentally introduced, and may or may not be expressed, at the pleasure of the speaker ; whereas the to and for must follow the word in question, according as it is a noun or an adjective; they are, as it were, part and parcel of the word, and naturally belong to it as a kind of complement, it being impossible to speak of an equivalent without implying two things equal to each other, one of which is always expressed, and the other either expressed or understood.
This is what is meant by the peculiarity of construction of a word. Some words admit of different constructions in the same sense. Thus prejudice is constructed with towards and against, both introducing the same individual ; we say, for instance, “He was actuated by fierce prejudice towards or against me.". The word prejudice takes after it also of, but then its signification is different from that which belongs to it with the foregoing construction ; thus, “ Lady Jane Grey ascended the throne to the prejudice of Mary;" wherein prejudice implies hurt, damage to Mary's claim. We say, moreover, « The prejudice of one man towards another;" where the construction of with the following noun is merely the complement of prejudice, which it has in common with all nouns ; but towards and against is the construction of the word prejudice, which other nouns have not, and which, therefore, are its particular construction.
EXAMPLES OF PARTICULAR CONSTRUCTION.
Accused of, by. (1.)