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Verbs are said to have three persons-love being in the first, lovest in the second, and loves in the third person, according to the person of the subject of which the act They are also said to have two numbers"I love, We love;" in the former of which expressions, love is singular, and in the latter, plural, according to the number of the prefixed subject.
On examining the expressions "Richard writes;" "Richard! write ;" "Richard may write ;" "If Richard write fast, he will write illegibly;" "Richard intends to write ;" it will be observed, that the action, that of writing, is the same as expressed in them all, but that it is expressed in five distinct. views or modes. In the first, there is a positive assertion that the act is going on; in the second, it is not asserted that the act is going on, but an order is issued that it should go on; in the third, the possibility of the act being accomplished is affirmed; in the fourth, we do not assert that the act is going on, nor that it may go on, neither is an order issued to cause it to take place-but it is affirmed that if such act do take place in a certain manner, some other circumstance will follow therefrom. Here there is a proposition made, that something will take place contingently, that is, resulting from the act of writing in a certain way, or, in other words, the writing illegibly results from the writing fast. In the fifth, the word write is used in a sense altogether different from any of those previously instanced. In the first expression, the verb is said to be in the indicative mood, from the Latin word indico to point out or show. In the second, it is said to be in the imperative, from impero I command; in the third, the verb is in the potential, from potentia power. In the fourth, in the expression "If Richard write fast," the verb is said to be in the conditional, or, as some call it, the subjunctive or conjunctive mood, from jungo to join; the act expressed by the verb in such mood being the condition on which the other act will take place which is conjoined therewith. In the fifth expression, the verb write is not placed independently, but acts a subordinate part, and expresses merely the act not done, but intended to be done indefinitely; that is, the time at which the act will take place, and the manner of
performing it, are not expressed by the form which the verb itself assumes. The verb, in this instance, therefore, is said to be in the infinitive mood, from in=not, and finis limit; because the time of the action is not defined or limited, and, consequently, not ascertainable from the form of the verb itself in such mood, but rather from that of the auxiliary connected therewith. These are the great heads of the mode in which an act can be said to take place; and hence there are said to be five moods, from modus manner, the indicative, imperative, potential, conjunctive, and infinitive.
It has already been exhibited that verbs are inflected in tense; how far remains to be considered. It is evident, at first sight, that there can be but three times-present, past, and future; and, therefore, but three tenses, the word tense meaning time, from tendo=I stretch, or direct, and being the word used as a name for that particular form the verb assumes, when it expresses the bent or direction of the mind towards a certain point of time. In the expressions, "I write, I wrote, I will write," the act of writing is represented as taking place at the time of speaking, as having taken place before that time, and as about to take place subsequently thereto. Grammarians, however, looking more narrowly into the operations of the mind, have discovered that the above expressions, however definite as regards the great threefold subdivision of time, are, some of them, otherwise indefinite, and, therefore, incapable of expressing adequately the particular point of time under each of the three heads at which an act may be represented as taking place.
In the expressions, "I see, I saw, I have seen, I had seen, I shall or will see, I shall or will have seen," there are of necessity but three times, at which the act of seeing is represented as taking place. I see, represents the act as occurring at the time of speaking, that is, the present time; which, it appears, admits of no modification, and is definite, that is, requires not the aid of any other expression or word to convey, more clearly than it can itself, the precise time at which the act occurs which is represented by it. In the expressions, "I saw, I have seen, I had seen," the act of seeing is represented as having occurred
in the past time; but with this difference, that in the first named of these expressions the act is represented as having taken place in the past time, but without any reference to the particular point of the past at which it took place. Such expression always requires some other to be associated with it; or, if not, depends on the context, in order that the particular point of the past time when the act took place may be thoroughly understood; as, for instance, I wrote last year, yesterday, an hour since, &c. &c. In the second form of expression, I have seen, whilst the act is represented as having occurred in the past time, the point of that past is ascertained more definitely by the expression itself, and is understood to be the moment of, or at all events a short time prior to, the utterance of the expression. In the third form of expression, again, the act is represented as perfectly past; but there is always associated with it, either expressed or implied, some other act which takes place subsequently to that represented by this form: as in the expression, "1 had seen the Queen before I visited London." In the expressions, "I shall or will see, I shall or will have seen," the time of the act is future; with this difference, that in the first, the point of the future is indefinite, and ascertained only by the addition of some other expression thereto, as, "I will see, I shall see your father to-morrow, next year," &c. &c., whilst with the second there is expressed or implied some other act before which the act takes place represented in this form; as, "I will have seen your father before my return." "The Commons will have decided the question before the next courier arrives." In the given expressions are represented all the aspects, as regards tense or time, which the verb can assume. There are therefore said to be six tenses :-the present; the past (sometimes called the imperfect,) or past indefinite; the perfect, the pluperfect; the first future, (sometimes called the future indefinite ;) and the second future, or future perfect.
Before proceeding farther, it will be necessary to exhibit the conjugation in person, number, mood, and tense, of the active and passive verb; and, as a necessary step thereto, the conjugation of the verbs, " To have" and "To be;" these entering into the composition of, or forming auxiliaries to, every verb in the language. In every verb
there are said to be three principal parts-the present and past tenses, and perfect or past participle, and in the mention of these consists the conjugation, in a minor sense, of a verb. Thus, if asked to conjugate the verb to blow, a pupil would answer correctly by saying, present, blow; past, blew; past participle, blown; or simply blow, blew, blown; the names of the parts given being understood.
The Conjugation, in a minor sense, of the Verbs
The Conjugation, in an enlarged sense, of said Verbs: