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form, excepting that with the passive participle some part of the verb to have is used, and with the passive verb some part of the verb to be : “I have stricken," is the passive participle; “I am stricken," is the passive verb. Passive participle implies that there has been action, but that it is over; that the person who performed the action is then passive, though he has been active. Passive verb im. plies that the person is the receiver of the action, but not in any way the actor; though every passive verb is derived from an active verb; and though every active verb may become a passive. · Neuter verbs, however, can never be. come passive ones; and for this reason: In neuter verbs, though there may be action, the action never passes to any object, and not passing to any object, of course it can never be received or endured; and if the action be not received or endured, the verb can never be passive. Consequently, you instantly see that no neuter verb can ever become passive. This fact must be plain enough to you ; but still let me give you an example in confirmation of it: To lie, is neuter; now, can we, in any way, make this verb passive ? can we say,
"he is lain; I am lain; we are lain?" no, these would never do; and what holds good with respect to this verb, will hold good with respect to every other neuter verb in the language. “We are come to the place, at last.” This will not do; because to come is a neuter verb, and cannot he made a passive, as it here is. The are should be have; as, “we have come;" because there is action im. plied. We are not the receivers or endurers of that action ; we are the actors, and the action is confined to ourselves. “They are arrived;" this must be, “ they have arrived ;" for arrived is neuter. A neuter verb is one which expresses a state of being; and also one which expresses an action that does not pass from the actor to any object. Mind this. A neuter verb, moreover, cannot have a noun or a pronoun in the objective case immediately after it. Mind this also. We cannot say, “ I spoke him ;" we must say, " I spoke to him.” A preposition you see, must fol. low a neuter verb thus used.
265. Recollect, however, that there are some verbs which are, in one sense neuier and in another sense, active ;
and that accordingly, such verbs may sometimes be passive. For instance, the verb to clear, when it means to grow, bright, or fair, is neuter ; "as, the weather has cleared up, but is very cold.” In this sense, this verb cannot become passive; we cannot say, the weather is cleared up. But the same verb when it means to make bright, to free from dullness, or obscurity, is active; as, “ He cleared the subject of the mystery that enveloped it.” In this sense, the verb may become passive; we may say, “ the subject was cleared of the mystery that enveloped it.”?
266. Now while I think of it, I will say something about a new form of using the verb to be and the passive parti. ciple. Formerly people said, " the house is building;" and the expression was thought to be correct enough. A few years ago, however, the late Wrn. Leggett, of New. York, originated another form of expression, which, notwithstanding it has met with a great deal of opposition, has now almost entirely superseded the old form.
He maintained that instead of saying, “ the house is building,” we should say, " the house is being built.” I never saw his arguments, or those of any one clse, in support of this innovation; and therefore whatever I may urge, though it may be similar to what he urged years ago, is just as now with me, as if Mr. Leggett had never written,
267. “ The house is building ;" well, what is the house building ? The house is building nothing. The house is not the actor ; it is the object acted upon. It is the more subject of the actions of some individuals who are, of course, the actors. They are building ; building the house ; and consequently the house must be being built. In the phrase, “the house is building,” the verb is given an active capacity, where it should be perfectly passive; and this is the cause of the error. We say, " the sun is shining,” correctly enough; because here the nominative, sun, is doing something; and we could not say, “the sun is being shined ;" as if the sun was the mere object of the act of shining. The object of the action of some other person or thing, can never have the active participle used in con. nection with it; because this participle is used, only when the nominative is the actor, or when, at least, the nominae
tive is not the receiver or endurer of an action. For example, we could not say, “ the fortress is undermining ;" because, then, the fortress would be made the actor; when common sense teaches us that it could be nothing more than the object of an action. " The fortress is undermin. ing;" no, no; some person or thing is undermining it; and it therefores is being undermined.” When the verb is a neuter one, the active participle is correctly employed; as, " the water is flowing; the man is sleeping; the house is falling; the horse is walking.” But when the verb is an active one, and when we know that the noun which is its nomi. native, is not the actor, but is merely the object acted upon ; then the active participle can never be correctly employed. For example: “the battle is being fought; the enterprise is being executed; the property is being sold ; the song is being sung.” These would be horrid if altered to, “the battle is fighting ; the enterprise is executing ; the property is selling ; the song is singing." Recollect, then, that the using of the active participle always implies an action, or a state of existence on the part of the nominative; and that accordingly, this participle must never be used when the nominative is merely the receiver of the action of some other person or thing ; but that the passive participle and being, must be used in all such cases.
268. The past time of a verb must never be confounded with the passive participle, or with the passive verb. struck," is the past time; “I have stricken,” the passive participle ; and “ I am stricken,” the passive verb. When the verb is regular, there can be no errors committed in these three forms; because then, you know, the past time and passive participle, are written in the same way; as, “ He loved, he hus loved.” But when the verb is irregular, that is, when the past time and passive participle are written differently, errors without nuniber, are committed; as, “be spoke for an hour, he has spoke for an hour." “ He came home; he has came home." Be on your guard for errors of this kind. Make yourself master of the past time, and passive participle of each irregular verb, as given in the list, of irregulars, in Letter VIII, and there will be no danger that you will ever speak or write the one or the other incorrectly.
269. People often make a wrong use of the passive par. ticiple of the verb to do. This participle, you see by the list, is done. One person will often say to another, “who done that job of work ?" and the other will reply, “ why I done it." These dones should both be did. The past time, and not the passive participles, is required.
. I done a great deal for him." “ He done nothing, for months.” “I done it all, myself.” Hundreds of expressions like these, are made use of every day, and yet they are all wrong. Some will say, “He did not deliver the address last night, so well as he wished to have done." This have done should be to do. The error is one of time. What was meant, was, that the person did not deliver the address, last night, so well as he wished to do, at that time; or so well as he wished to do it, at that time; or so well as he wished to deliver it, at that time.
270. To do, meaning to perform, or to execute, is an active verb; and can never, in any of its forms, supply the place of a neuter verb. We cannot correctly say, though it frequently is said, “I did not sleep so well as I wished to do;" that is, so well as I wished to perform, or execute the act of sleeping !! The verb must be repeated in all such cases; thus: “I did not sleep so well as I wished to sleep." Per. sons often say,
“I feel much better than I would have done, if I had not taken the medicine;' that is, much better than I would have performed, or executed the act of feeling!
271. Take care, however, not to confound do and did, as parts of a principal verb, with the same words, as parts of an auxiliary; for do and did, as auxiliaries, are used with neuter, as well as with active verbs; but it is not their business, when used with neuter, to supply the place of other verbs; they then merely add strength to what is affirmed or denied, or mark the time: as, “I did sleep well last night; I do not feel much better." Done, however, which is the passive participle of the active verb to do, can never be an auxiliary. Mind this, for it is of importance. Do and did are auxiliaries as well as principals; but done is always a principal.
272. I have now given you all the information that is necessary, with regard to the numbers, persons, and times.
There yet remain to be noticed, the modes. These I will briefly refer to; and you will then, I trust, he able justly to call yourself a master of English grammar: The in. finitive mode has, in nearly all respects, the powers of a noun : "To reflect improves the mind." "To die is not so difficult.” In these instances, the infinitive is the nomina. tive. “To work, to walk, to bathe, promote the health of the human system.” Here the verb in the plural number, is made to agree with the infinitive, exactly as it would be with the noun. It cannot, however, be made a plural, like a noun can ; that is, by adding s, or es to the singular. But it may be in the objective case; as, “I love to skute.” “He desires to ride."
273. The imperative mode is of very little importance. What I have said concerning it in Letter VIII, paragraph 94, is sufficient. The indicative and the subjunctive modes, however, are of importance, and must be attended to. The indicative mode, is used when an action, a movement, or a state of existence, is required to be mentioned without any other action, movement, or state of existence, being dependent thereon; when the action is stated positively; when there is no doubtfulness about the matter; when there is no connection that can make one action a condition or consequence of another. For instance : “le strikes ; he writes well." But there may be a suhjoined circumstance dependent upon this striking and writing; and if so, these verbs must be in the subjunctive mode; as, “if he strike us, he will be sorry for the act; if he write well, he is indebted to no one for his knowledge.” In these instances, there is an uncertainty with regard to what the verbs express; we do not know whether he will or will not strike us; nor do we know whether he can or cannot write well. He may do both; or he may do neither. And owing to this uncertainty, we drop the s at the end of each verb; we say strike instead of strikes ; write instead of writes. What we mean, is, “if he should strike us, he will be sorry for the act; if he should, or may, or can (any of the signs) write well, he is indebted to no one for his knowledge.” This is the whole secret of the subjunctive mode; there is always a sign in this mode, either expressed or