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understood; and such being the fact, you instantly see that you could not put the s after any verb, when a sign preceded it; thus: “If he should strikes us; if he can writes well.” Pay great attention to these observations.
274. All verbs, excepting the verb to be, have always the same form in the present time of the indicative mode, that they have in the present time of the subjunctive, in the first person singular, and in all the persons plural. The only difference in the modes, lies in the second and third persons singular. We say, in the indicative, “I strike, you strike, we strike, they strike ;” and in the subjunctive we say the same; but in the second and third persons of the indicative, we say, thou strickest, he strikes, while in the subjunctive, we say, thou strike, he strike; that is, thou mayest, or mightest, or couldest, or wouldest, or shouldest strike; he may, or might, or could, or would, or should strike. Recollect then, that in all verbs excepting the verb to be, there is no difference of termination on account of mode, but what is here stated. This verb to be, however, varies its form more than any other in our language. The present time of the indicative of all other verbs, in both numbers, and in all the persons, except the second and third singular, is just the same as the infinitive mode, excepting that the word, to, precedes, and is part of the infinitive. For example: to love, to hope, to fear; 1 love, I hope, I fear; or, we love, we hope, we fear; or, you love, you hope, you fear; or, they love, they hope, they fear, But the verb which varies so much, is in the infinitive, to be, and in the present of the indicative, I am, thou art, he is, we ure, you are, they are. These are, indeed, great varia. tions. And as the subjunctive in both its numbers, and all its persons, takes the infinitive mode, this verb, to be, will illustrate our object in the clearest manner. Instead of saying, I am, thou art, he is, we are, you are, they are, we must say in the subjunctive, I be, thou be, he be, we be, you be, they be ; that is, I should be, or may be ; and
Just look back at the conjugation of to be, in paragraph 116, and you will better understand what I tell you. You see that in this verb there is a past time of the subjunctive, different from the past time of the
indicative. This is a matter of importance, and I charge you to pay attention. This is the only verb in the language that has such a difference. In all other verbs, the past time of the subjunctive is exactly the same as the past time of the indicative; as, I had, I thought ; if I had, if I thought. But in this verb, in the indicative, we say, I was, he was; and then in the subjunctive, if I were, if he were.
e75. Knowing now the difference between the indica. tive and the subjunctive, and knowing also the circum. stances under which the latter is required to be used, you are prepared to proceed at once to matters of practice.
276. The most of grammarians declare that some conjunctions, such as if, though, unless, except, and whether, govern verbs, in the subjunctive mode; that is, force them to be in that mode. Though, at the same time, these persons declare, that verbs, when following these conjunctions, are not always in the subjunctive mode ; but are sometimes in the indicative. Now, why do conjunctions govern in some instances and not in others? The gram. marians assign no reason; and the truth is, that none ever can be assigned. How can we say that in “if Wellington he dead, his death is a smalt loss to mankind,” the conjunction governs; but that in “if Washington is dead, he lives in the memory of every American,” the conjunc. tion does not govern? If it governs in the former instance, why not in the latter ? Aye, why? The fact is, that a conjunction never governs the mo:le of any verb. The sense, and nothing but the sense, of the sentence governs the verb. We say, “if Wellington be dead, his death is a small loss to mankind," because there is an uncer.. tainty with regard to his death. We do not know whether he be dead or not. Perhaps he is, perhaps he is not. And we say, " if Washington is dead, he lives in the memory of every American,” because there is no uncertainty with regard to his death. We know positively, that he is dead. We could say in the former instance, “ if Wellington should or may be dead;" but we could not say in the latter, “ if Washington should or may be dead." Thus you see that the conjunction if, has nothing to do with the government of the verb.
277. Some persons pretend to say that these conjunc. tions themselves, imply conditionality. This is a very silly assertion ; for we have seen in the paragraph above, that in if there is no conditionality whatever, implied ; and what holds good with regard to if, will hold good with regard to every other conjunction known. Let me give you a few examples in proof of this : Though Henry Brougham is very talented, he is not to be compared with Henry Clay.” Here is though used, and yet the verb is not in the subjunctive mode; and the reason is, because there is no uncertainty about what is expressed. “Though he be very talented, he will not master grammar, unless he be attentive." You see, here is be, instead of is, in two places; and the reason is, because we do not know whether he be talented or not; or whether he will be attentive or not. There is a sign understood before each be; as, though he may be very talented, he will not master grammar, unless he should be attentive.” This mode must be, by this time, plain enough to you. And I have now nothing to do, but to give you a few instances in which the rules re. lating to this mode, are violated.
278. George Gordon Byron, in one of his letters, (letter DXXXVII, Dearborne's edition) says, “I do not know that I am addressing a clergyman; but I you will not be affronted by the mistake (if it is one) on the address of his letter."
279. Here is the indicative, which is the positive mode, used, when the writer himself declares that he is in doubt, with regard to the calling of him whom he is addressing. Of course, the subjunctive inust be used in order to make the sentence correct. “ You will not be affronted by the mistake, if it be one ;'' that is, “if it should be one;" and not if it should is one."
280. At last we corno to the end of this Lotter. A Letter which is, by far, the most important in this book. A Letter, every part and every word of which, must bc read, and re-read. Do not be satisfied with one, or two, or three read. ings of it. But read it, and read it, until you are perfectly master of all it contains, even if you have to do so, a dozen times. The value of the knowledge, and the pride and
self approbation resulting from the possession of this knowl. edge, will doubly compensate you for the time, and at. tention, and labor given.
MY YOUNG FRIEND,
281. You know what adverbs are. You know that they are used to express something in addition to all that is expressed by the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns. But in order to refresh your memory with regard to this part of speech, just turn back to Letter IX, and read what you there find.
282. It frequently happens that several words form only one adverb; and that these words separately considered, are nouns, adjectives, prepositions, and other parts of speech. For example : “He writes very forcibly; or, he writes with great force." "He is, candidly speaking, or, to speak with candour, or, if I speak with candour, a writer I very much admire." Here, the words following or, express precisely the same meaning that those preceding it do; and therefore, notwithstanding there are prepositions, and adjectives, and nouns, and verbs used, they all go merely to express one adverb. The rules relating to the verb agreeing with its nominative, and the pronoun agreeing with the noun, and all other rules already laid down, continue in force, and must be as thoroughly attended to, when an adverb of the kind just given, occurs, as under any other circumstances,
283. It may appear very strange, that one adverb will embrace words which belong to several parts of speech ; but yet it is so. I have never found any difficulty, what. ever, in parsing sentences in this way; and I feel assured that no difficulty can arise. Unconnected, the words be. long to the parts of speech that their already defined ety. mological functions cause them to ; but connected, so as to
form one mass, or whole, they are merely an adverb. Ad. verbs are used for the purpose of clearness, of explanation, of adding comprehensiveness, to what is stated. In the three examples last given, the adverbs, “ very forcibly,"
candidly speaking," and " very much,” explain, and add to what is expressed by the other parts of speech. We might leave out these adverbs, and say, "he writes ;" " he is a writer I admire ;" but the sentences would not be so clear, and not so satisfactory.
284. Hundreds and thousands of errors are committed by good writers, in using the adjective instead of the ad. verb; particularly when a comparison is made ; thus : “ The horse ran swifter than I ever knew him to." “ He ate heartier than he does commonly." "She speaks louder than he." "He works steadier than he used to." Now, these sentences, every body, even writers of grammars, would say were correct. There is no grammar book ex. tant, that takes any notice of them. But nevertheless, all the italicised words are misused. They are adjectives of the comparative degree; and no adjective is ever correctly used to express the manner of an action, which is the purpose for which these are here used; for they express the manner of the running, the manner of the eating, the manner of the speaking, and the manner of the working. Adjectives are used to express the quality, property, appearance, and the like, of the noun. The word, swifter, must, therefore, be changed to more swiftly; the word, heartier, to more heartily; the word, louder, to more loudly; and the word, steadier, to more steadily. If you always bear in mind the proper functions of the adjective, and the adverb, you will never commit this every hour error.