Part 10 out of 54
pronoun, and generally expresses quality.
_Horses_ is a noun. 1. A noun is the name of any person, place, or thing,
that can be known or mentioned.
_Along_ is a preposition. 1. A preposition is a word used to express some
relation of different things or thoughts to each other, and is generally
placed before a noun or a pronoun.
_A_ is the indefinite article. 1. An article is the word _the, an_, or _a_,
which we put before nouns to limit their signification. 2. The indefinite
article is _an_ or _a_, which denotes one thing of a kind, but not any
_Sandy_ is an adjective. 1. An adjective is a word added to a noun or
pronoun, and generally expresses quality.
_Road_ is a noun. 1. A noun is the name of any person, place, or thing,
that can be known or mentioned.
"The Honourable, the Corporation of the city, granted the use of the common
council chamber, for holding the Convention; generously adding the
privilege of occupying the rotunda, or the new court-room, if either would
better suit the wishes of the committee."--_Journal of Literary
Convention_, N. Y., 1830.
"When the whole is put for a part, or a part for the whole; the genus for a
species, or a species for the genus; the singular number for the plural, or
the plural for the singular; and, in general, when any thing less, or any
thing more, is put for the precise object meant; the figure is called a
Synecdoche."--See _Blair's Rhet._, p. 141.
"The truth is, a representative, as an individual, is on a footing with
other people; but, as a representative of a State, he is invested with a
share of the sovereign authority, and is so far a governor of the
people."--See _Webster's Essays_, p. 50.
"Knowledge is the fruit of mental labour--the food and the feast of the
mind. In the pursuit of knowledge, the greater the excellence of the
subject of inquiry, the deeper ought to be the interest, the more ardent
the investigation, and the dearer to the mind the acquisition of the
truth."--_Keith's Evidences_, p. 15.
"Canst thou, O partial Sleep! give thy repose
To the wet seaboy in an hour so rude?"--_Shakspeare_.
"Every family has a master; (or a mistress--I beg the ladies' pardon;) a
ship has a master; when a house is to be built, there is a master; when the
highways are repairing, there is a master; every little school has a
master: the continent is a great school; the boys are numerous, and full of
roguish tricks; and there is no master. The boys in this great school play
truant, and there is no person to chastise them."--See _Webster's Essays_,
"A man who purposely rushes down a precipice and breaks his arm, has no
right to say, that surgeons are an evil in society. A legislature may
unjustly limit the surgeon's fee; but the broken arm must be healed, and a
surgeon is the only man to restore it."--See _ib._, p. 135.
"But what new sympathies sprung up immediately where the gospel prevailed!
It was made the duty of the whole Christian community to provide for the
stranger, the poor, the sick, the aged, the widow, and the
orphan."--_M'Ilvaine's Evi._, p. 408.
"In the English language, the same word is often employed both as a noun
and as a verb; and sometimes as an adjective, and even as an adverb and a
preposition also. Of this, _round_ is an example."--See _Churchill's
Gram._, p. 24.
"The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket, arose from the well."--_Woodworth_.
"Most of the objects in a natural landscape are beautiful, and some of them
are grand: a flowing river, a spreading oak, a round hill, an extended
plain, are delightful; and even a rugged rock, and a barren heath, though
in themselves disagreeable, contribute by contrast to the beauty of the
whole."--See _Kames's El. of Crit._, i, 185.
"An animal body is still more admirable, in the disposition of its several
parts, and in their order and symmetry: there is not a bone, a muscle, a
blood-vessel, a nerve, that hath not one corresponding to it on the
opposite side; and the same order is carried through the most minute
parts."--See _ib._, i, 271. "The constituent parts of a plant, the roots,
the stem, the branches, the leaves, the fruit, are really different
systems, united by a mutual dependence on each other."--_Ib._, i, 272.
"With respect to the form of this ornament, I observe, that a circle is a
more agreeable figure than a square, a globe than a cube, and a cylinder
than a parallelopipedon. A column is a more agreeable figure than a
pilaster; and, for that reason, it ought to be preferred, all other
circumstances being equal. An other reason concurs, that a column connected
with a wall, which is a plain surface, makes a greater variety than a
pilaster."--See _ib._, ii, 352.
"But ah! what myriads claim the bended knee!
Go, count the busy drops that swell the sea."--_Rogers_.
IMPROPRIETIES FOR CORRECTION.
ERRORS RESPECTING ARTICLES.
LESSON I.--ADAPT THE ARTICLES.
"Honour is an useful distinction in life."--_Milnes's Greek Grammar_, p.
[FORMULE.--Not proper, because the article _an_ is used before _useful_,
which begins with the sound of _yu_. But, according to a principle
expressed on page 225th, "_A_ is to be used whenever the following word
begins with a consonant sound." Therefore, _an_ should here be changed to
_a_; thus, "Honour is _a_ useful distinction in life."]
"No writer, therefore, ought to foment an humour of
innovation."--_Jamieson's Rhet._, p. 55. "Conjunctions require a situation
between the things of which they form an union."--_Ib._, p. 83. "Nothing is
more easy than to mistake an _u_ for an _a_."--_Tooke's Diversions_, i,
130. "From making so ill an use of our innocent expressions."--_Wm. Penn_.
"To grant thee an heavenly and incorruptible crown of glory."--_Sewel's
Hist., Ded._, p. iv. "It in no wise follows, that such an one was able to
predict."--_Ib._, p. viii. "With an harmless patience they have borne most
heavy oppressions,"--_Ib._, p. x. "My attendance was to make me an happier
man."--_Spect._, No. 480. "On the wonderful nature of an human
mind."--_Ib._, 554. "I have got an hussy of a maid, who is most craftily
given to this."--_Ib._, No. 534. "Argus is said to have had an hundred
eyes, some of which were always awake."--_Classic Stories_, p. 148.
"Centiped, an hundred feet; centennial, consisting of a hundred
years."--_Town's Analysis_, p. 19. "No good man, he thought, could be an
heretic."--_Gilpin's Lives_, p. 72. "As, a Christian, an infidel, an
heathen."--_Ash's Gram._, p. 50. "Of two or more words, usually joined by
an hyphen."--_Blair's Gram._, p. 7. "We may consider the whole space of an
hundred years as time present."--BEATTIE: _Murray's Gram._, p. 69. "In
guarding against such an use of meats and drinks."--_Ash's Gram._, p. 138.
"Worship is an homage due from man to his Creator."--_Annual Monitor for_
1836. "Then, an eulogium on the deceased was pronounced."--_Grimshaw's U.
S._, p. 92. "But for Adam there was not found an help meet for
him."--_Gen._, ii, 20. "My days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are
burned as an hearth."--_Psalms_, cii, 3. "A foreigner and an hired servant
shall not eat thereof"--_Exod._, xii, 45. "The hill of God is as the hill
of Bashan; an high hill, as the hill of Bashan."--_Psalms_, lxviii, 15.
"But I do declare it to have been an holy offering, and such an one too as
was to be once for all."--_Wm. Penn_. "An hope that does not make ashamed
those that have it."--_Barclay's Works_, Vol. i, p. 15. "Where there is not
an unity, we may exercise true charity."--_Ib._, i, 96. "Tell me, if in any
of these such an union can be found?"--_Brown's Estimate_, ii, 16.
"Such holy drops her tresses steeped,
Though 'twas an hero's eye that weeped."--_Sir W. Scott_.
LESSON II.--INSERT ARTICLES.
"This veil of flesh parts the visible and invisible world."--_Sherlock_.
[FORMULE.--Not proper, because the article _the_ is omitted before
_invisible_, where the sense requires it. But, according to a suggestion on
page 225th, "Articles should be inserted as often as the sense requires
them." Therefore, _the_ should be here supplied; thus, "This veil of flesh
parts the visible and the invisible world."]
"The copulative and disjunctive conjunctions operate differently on the
verb."--_Murray's Gram._, Vol. ii, p. 286. "Every combination of a
preposition and article with the noun."--_Ib._, i, 44. "_Either_ signifies,
'the one or the other;' _neither_ imports _not either_, that is, 'not one
nor the other.'"--_Ib._, i, 56. "A noun of multitude may have a pronoun, or
verb, agreeing with it, either of the singular or plural number."--_Bucke's
Gram._, p. 90. "Copulative conjunctions are, principally, and, as, both,
because, for, if, that, then, since, &c."--See _ib._, 28. "The two real
genders are the masculine and feminine."--_Ib._, 34. "In which a mute and
liquid are represented by the same character, _th_."--_Music of Nature_, p.
481. "They said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee."--_Luke_, vii, 20.
"They indeed remember the names of abundance of places."--_Spect._, No.
474. "Which created a great dispute between the young and old
men."--_Goldsmith's Greece_, Vol. ii, p. 127. "Then shall be read the
Apostles' or Nicene Creed."--_Com. Prayer_, p. 119. "The rules concerning
the perfect tenses and supines of verbs are Lily's."--_King Henry's Gram._,
p. iv. "It was read by the high and the low, the learned and
illiterate."--_Johnson's Life of Swift_. "Most commonly, both the pronoun
and verb are understood."--_Buchanan's Gram._, p. viii. "To signify the
thick and slender enunciation of tone."--_Knight, on the Greek Alph._, p.
9. "The difference between a palatial and guttural aspirate is very
small."--_Ib._, p. 12. "Leaving it to waver between the figurative and
literal sense."--_Jamieson's Rhet._, p. 154. "Whatever verb will not admit
of both an active and passive signification."--_Alex. Murray's Gram._, p.
31. "_The_ is often set before adverbs in the comparative or superlative
degree."--_Ib._, p. 15; _Kirkham's Gram._, 66. "Lest any should fear the
effect of such a change upon the present or succeeding age of
writers."--_Fowle's Common School Gram._, p. 5. "In all these measures, the
accents are to be placed on even syllables; and every line is, in general,
more melodious, as this rule is more strictly observed."--_L. Murray's
Octavo Gram_, p. 256; _Jamieson's Rhet._, 307. "How many numbers do nouns
appear to have? Two, the singular and plural."--_Smith's New Gram._, p. 8.
"How many persons? Three persons--the first, second, and third."--_Ib._, p.
10. "How many cases? Three--the nominative, possessive and
objective."--_Ib._, p. 12.
"Ah! what avails it me, the flocks to keep,
Who lost my heart while I preserv'd sheep."
POPE'S WORKS: _British Poets_, Vol. vi, p. 309: Lond., 1800.
LESSON III.--OMIT ARTICLES.
"The negroes are all the descendants of Africans."--_Morse's Geog_.
[FORMULE.--Not proper, because the article _the_ before _descendants_, is
useless to the construction, and injurious to the sense. But, according to
a principle on page 225th, "Needless articles should be omitted; they
seldom fail to pervert the sense." Therefore, _the_ should be here omitted;
thus, "The negroes are all _descendants_ of Africans."]
"A Sybarite was applied as a term of reproach to a man of dissolute
manners."--_Morse's Ancient Geog._, p. 4. "The original signification of
knave was a boy."--_Webster's El. Spell._, p. 136. "The meaning of these
will be explained, for the greater clearness and precision."--_Bucke's
Gram._, p. 58. "What Sort of a Noun is Man? A Noun Substantive
common."--_Buchanan's Gram._, p. 166. "Is _what_ ever used as three kinds
of a pronoun?"--_Kirkham's Gram._, p. 117. "They delighted in the having
done it, as well as in the doing of it."--_Johnson's Gram. Com._, p. 344.
"Both the parts of this rule are exemplified in the following
sentences."--_Murray's Gram._, p. 174. "He has taught them to hope for
another and a better world."--_S. L. Knapp_. "It was itself only
preparatory to a future, a better, and perfect revelation."--_Keith's
Evid._, p. 23. "_Es_ then makes another and a distinct syllable."--
_Brightland's Gram._, p. 17. "The eternal clamours of a selfish and a
factious people."--_Brown's Estimate_, i, 74. "To those whose taste in
Elocution is but a little cultivated."--_Kirkham's Eloc._, p. 65. "They
considered they had but a Sort of a Gourd to rejoice in."--_Bennet's
Memorial_, p. 333. "Now there was but one only such a bough, in a spacious
and shady grove."--_Bacon's Wisdom_, p. 75. "Now the absurdity of this
latter supposition will go a great way towards the making a man
easy."--_Collier's Antoninus_ p. 131. "This is true of the mathematics,
where the taste has but little to do."--_Todd's Student's Manual_, p. 331.
"To stand prompter to a pausing, yet a ready comprehension."--_Rush, on the
Voice_, p. 251. "Such an obedience as the yoked and the tortured negro is
compelled to yield to the whip of the overseer."--_Chalmers's Serm._, p.
90. "For the gratification of a momentary and an unholy
desire."--_Wayland's Mor. Sci._, p. 288. "The body is slenderly put
together; the mind a rambling sort of a thing."--_Collier's Antoninus_, p.
26. "The only nominative to the verb, is, _the officer_."--_Murray's
Gram._, ii, 22. "And though in the general it ought to be admitted,
&c."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 376. "Philosophical writing admits of a polished,
a neat, and elegant style."--_Ib._, p. 367. "But notwithstanding this
defect, Thomson is a strong and a beautiful describer."--_Ib._, p. 405. "So
should he be sure to be ransomed, and a many poor men's lives
saved."--SHAK.: _Hen._ v.
"Who felt the wrong, or fear'd it, took the alarm,
Appeal'd to Law, and Justice lent her arm."--_Pope_, p. 406.
LESSON IV.--CHANGE ARTICLES.
"To enable us to avoid the too frequent repetition of the same
word."--_Bucke's Gr._, p, 52.
[FORMULE.--Not proper, because the article _the_ is used to limit the
meaning of "repetition," or "too frequent repetition," where _a_ would
better suit the sense. But, according to a principle on page 225th, "The
articles can seldom be put one for the other, without gross impropriety;
and either is of course to be preferred to the other, as it better suits
the sense." Therefore, "_the_" should be _a_, which, in this instance,
ought to be placed after the adjective; thus, "To enable us to avoid _too
frequent a repetition_ of the same word."]
"The former is commonly acquired in the third part of the time."--_Burn's
Gram._, p. xi. "Sometimes the adjective becomes a substantive, and has
another adjective joined to it: as, 'The chief good.'"--_L. Murray's
Gram._, i, 169. "An articulate sound is the sound of the human voice,
formed by the organs of speech."--_Ib._, i, 2; _Lowth's Gram._, 2; _T.
Smith's_, 5. "Tense is the distinction of time: there are six
tenses."--_Maunder's Gram._, p. 6. "In this case, the ellipsis of the last
article would be improper."--_L. Murray's Gram._, i, p. 218. "Contrast has
always the effect to make each of the contrasted objects appear in the
stronger light."--_Ib._, i, 349; _Blair's Rhet._, p. 167. "These remarks
may serve to shew the great importance of the proper use of the
article."--_Lowth's Gram._, p. 12; _Murray's_, i, 171. "'Archbishop
Tillotson,' says an author of the History of England, 'died in this
year.'"--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 107. "Pronouns are used instead of
substantives, to prevent the too frequent repetition of them."--_Alex.
Murray's Gram._, p. 22. "_That_, as a relative, seems to be introduced to
save the too frequent repetition of _who_ and _which_."--_Ib._, p. 23. "A
pronoun is a word used instead of a noun to avoid the too frequent
repetition of the same word."--_L. Murray's Gram._, i, p. 28. "_That_ is
often used as a relative, to prevent the too frequent repetition of _who_
and _which_."--_Kirkham's Gram._, p. 109; _L. Murray's_, i, 53; _Hiley's_,
84. "His knees smote one against an other."--_Logan's Sermons_. "They stand
now on one foot, then on another."--_Walker's Particles_, p. 259. "The Lord
watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another."--_Gen._,
xxxi, 49. "Some have enumerated ten [parts of speech], making a participle
a distinct part."--_L. Murray's Gram_, i, p. 29. "Nemesis rides upon an
Hart, because a Hart is a most lively Creature."--_Bacon's Wisdom_, p. 50.
"The transition of the voice from one vowel of the diphthong to
another."--_Wilson's Essay on Gram._, p. 29. "So difficult it is to
separate these two things from one another."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 92.
"Without the material breach of any rule."--_Ib._, p. 101. "The great
source of a loose style, in opposition to precision, is the injudicious use
of those words termed synonymous."--_Ib._, p. 97. "The great source of a
loose style, in opposition to precision, is the injudicious use of the
words termed _synonymous_."--_Murray's Gram._, i, p. 302. "Sometimes one
article is improperly used for another."--_Sanborn's Gram._, p. 197.
"Satire of sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?"--_Pope_, p. 396.
LESSON V.--MIXED EXAMPLES.
"He hath no delight in the strength of an horse."--_Maturin's Sermons_, p.
311. "The head of it would be an universal monarch."--_Butler's Analogy_,
p. 98. "Here they confound the material and formal object of
faith."--_Barclay's Works_, Vol. iii, p. 57. "The Irish and Scotish Celtic
are one language; the Welsh, Cornish, and Armorican, are another."--_Dr.
Murray's Hist._, Vol. ii, p. 316. "In an uniform and perspicuous
manner."--_Ib._, i, 49. "SCRIPTURE, _n._ Appropriately, and by way of
distinction, the books of the Old and New Testament; the
Bible."--_Webster's Dict._ "In two separate volumes, entitled the Old and
the New Testaments."--_Wayland's Mor. Sci._, p. 139. "The Scriptures of the
Old and New Testament contain a revelation."--_Ib._ "Q has ever an u after
it; which is not sounded in words derived from the French."--_Wilson's
Essay_, p. 32. "What should we say of such an one? That he is regenerate?
No."--_Hopkins's Prim. Ch._, p. 22. "Some grammarians subdivide vowels into
the simple and the compound."--_Murray's Gram._, i, p. 8. "Emphasis has
been further distinguished into the weaker and stronger emphasis."--_Ib._,
i, 244. "Emphasis has also been divided into superior and the inferior
emphasis."--_Ib._, i, 245, "Pronouns must agree with their antecedents, or
nouns which they represent, in gender, number, and person."--_Merchant's
Gram._, pp. 86, 111, and 130. "The adverb _where_, is often improperly
used, for the relative pronoun and preposition."--_Ib._, 94. "The
termination _ish_ imports diminution, or lessening the quality."--_Ib._,
79. "In this train all their verses proceed: the one half of the line
always answering to the other."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 384. "To an height of
prosperity and glory, unknown to any former age."--_Murray's Sequel_, p.
352. "HWILC, who, which, such as, such an one, is declined as
follows."--_Gwilt's Saxon Gram._, p. 15. "When a vowel precedes _y_, an _s_
only is required to form a plural."--_Bucke's Gram._, p. 40. "He is asked
what sort of a word each is, whether a primitive, derivative, or
compound."--_British Gram._, p. vii. "It is obvious, that neither the 2d,
3d, nor 4th chapter of Matthew is the first; consequently, there are not
_four first_ chapters."--_Churchill's Gram._, p. 306. "Some thought, which
a writer wants art to introduce in its proper place."--_Blair's Rhet._, p.
109. "Groves and meadows are most pleasing in the spring."--_Ib._, p. 207.
"The conflict between the carnal and spiritual mind, is often
long."--_Gurney's Port. Ev._, p. 146. "A Philosophical Inquiry into the
Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful."--_Burke's Title-page_.
"Silence, my muse! make not these jewels cheap,
Exposing to the world too large an heap."--_Waller_, p. 113.
A Noun is the name of any person, place, or thing, that can be known or
mentioned: as, _George, York, man, apple, truth_.
OBS. 1.--All words and signs taken _technically_, (that is, independently
of their meaning, and merely as things spoken of,) are _nouns_; or, rather,
are _things_ read and construed _as nouns_; because, in such a use, they
temporarily assume the _syntax_ of nouns: as, "For this reason, I prefer
_contemporary_ to _cotemporary_."--_Campbell's Rhet._, p. 175; _Murray's
Gram._, i, p. 368. "I and J were formerly expressed by the same character;
as were U and V."--_W. Allen's Gram._, p. 3. "_Us_ is a personal
pronoun."--_Murray_. "_Th_ has two sounds."--_Ib._ "The _'s_ cannot be a
contraction of _his_, because _'s_ is put to _female_ [feminine] nouns; as,
_Woman's beauty, the Virgin's delicacy_."--_Dr. Johnson's Gram._ "_Their_
and _theirs_ are the possessives likewise of _they_, when _they_ is the
plural of _it_."--_Ib._ "Let B be a _now_ or instant."--_Harris's Hermes_,
p. 103. "In such case, I say that the instant B is the end of the time A
B."--_Ib._, 103. "_A_ is sometimes a noun: as, a great _A_."--_Todd's
Johnson_. "Formerly _sp_ was cast in a piece, as _st's_ are now."--_Hist.
of Printing_, 1770. "I write to others than he will perhaps include in his
_we_."--_Barclay's Works_, Vol. iii, p. 455. "Here are no fewer than eight
_ands_ in one sentence."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 112; _Murray's Gram._, Vol.
i, p. 319. "Within this wooden _O_;" i. e., circle.--_Shak._
OBS. 2.--In parsing, the learner must observe the sense and use of each
word, and class it accordingly. Many words commonly belonging to other
parts of speech are occasionally used as nouns; and, since it is the manner
of its use, that determines any word to be of one part of speech rather
than of an other, whatever word is used directly as a noun, must of course
be parsed as such.
1. Adjectives made nouns: "The _Ancient_ of days did sit."--_Bible_. "Of
the _ancients_."--_Swift_. "For such _impertinents_."--_Steele_. "He is an
_ignorant_ in it."--_Id._ "In the luxuriance of an unbounded
_picturesque_."--_Jamieson_. "A source of _the sublime_;" i. e., of
sublimity.--_Burke_. "The vast _immense_ of space:" i. e.,
immensity.--_Murray_. "There is none his _like._"--_Job_, xli, 33. "A
_little_ more than a _little_, is by _much_ too _much_."--_Shakspeare_.
"And gladly make _much_ of that entertainment."--_Sidney_. "A covetous man
makes _the most_ of what he has."--_L'Estrange_. "It has done _enough_ for
me."--_Pope_. "He had _enough_ to do."--_Bacon_.
"_All_ withers here; who _most_ possess, are losers by their gain,
Stung by full proof, that bad at best, life's idle _all_ is vain."
"Nor grudge I thee _the much_ the Grecians give,
Nor murm'ring take _the little_ I receive."
2. Pronouns made nouns: "A love of seeing the _what_ and _how_ of all about
him."--STORY'S LIFE OF FLAXMAN: _Pioneer_, Vol. i, p. 133. "The nameless
HE, whose nod is Nature's birth."--_Young_, Night iv. "I was wont to load
my _she_ with knacks."--_Shak. Winter's Tale_. "Or any _he_, the proudest
of thy sort."--_Shak_. "I am the happiest _she_ in Kent."--_Steele_. "The
_shes_ of Italy."--_Shak_. "The _hes_ in birds."--_Bacon_. "We should soon
have as many _hes_ and _shes_ as the French."--_Cobbet's E. Gram._, Para.
42. "If, for instance, we call a nation a _she_, or the sun a
_he_."--_Ib._, Para. 198. "When I see many _its_ in a page, I always
tremble for the writer."--_Ib._, Para. 196. "Let those two questionary
petitioners try to do this with their _whos_ and their _whiches_."--SPECT:
_Ash's Gr._, p. 131.
"Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
Is death to any _he_ that utters them."--_Shak_.
3. Verbs made nouns: "Avaunt all attitude, and _stare_, and _start_
theatric."--_Cowper_. "A _may-be_ of mercy is sufficient."--_Bridge_.
"Which _cuts_ are reckoned among the fractures."--_Wiseman_. "The officer
erred in granting a _permit_."--"Feel darts and charms, _attracts_ and
flames."--_Hudibras_. "You may know by the falling off of the _come_, or
sprout."--_Mortimer_. "And thou hast talk'd of _sallies_ and
"For all that else did come, were sure to fail;
Yet would he further none, but for _avail_."--_Spenser_.
4. Participles made nouns: "For the _producing_ of real
happiness."--_Crabb_. "For the _crying_ of the poor and the _sighing_ of
the needy, I will arise."--_Bible_. "Surely the _churning_ of milk bringeth
forth butter, and the _wringing_ of the nose bringeth forth blood; so the
_forcing_ of wrath bringeth forth strife."--_Prov._, xxx, 33. "_Reading,
writing_, and _ciphering_, are indispensable to civilized man."--"Hence was
invented the distinction between _doing_ and _permitting_."--_Calvin's
Inst._, p. 131. "Knowledge of the _past_ comes next."--_Hermes_, p. 113. "I
am my _beloved's_, and his desire is toward me."--_Sol. Song_, vii, 10.
"Here's--a simple _coming-in_ for one man."--_Shak_.
"What are thy rents? What are thy _comings-in_?
O Ceremony, show me but thy worth."--_Id._
5. Adverbs made nouns: "In these cases we examine the _why_, the _what_,
and the _how_ of things."--_L'Estrange_. "If a point or _now_ were
extended, each of them would contain within itself infinite other points or
_nows_."--_Hermes_, p. 101. "The _why_ is plain as way to parish
church."--_Shak_. "'Tis Heaven itself that points out _an
hereafter_."--_Addison_. "The dread of _a hereafter_."--_Fuller_. "The
murmur of the deep _amen_."--_Sir W. Scott_. "For their _whereabouts_ lieth
in a mystery."--_Book of Thoughts_, p. 14. Better: "Their _whereabout_
lieth," or, "Their _whereabouts lie_," &c.
"Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind;
Thou losest _here_, a better _where_ to find."--_Shak_.
6. Conjunctions made nouns: "The _if_, which is here employed, converts the
sentence into a supposition."--_Blair's Rhet._ "Your _if_ is the only
peacemaker; much virtue is in _if_."--_Shak_.
"So his Lordship decreed with a grave solemn tone,
Decisive and clear, without one _if_ or _but_--
That whenever the Nose put his spectacles on,
By daylight or candlelight--Eyes should be shut."--_Cowper_.
7. Prepositions made nouns: "O, not like me; for mine's beyond
_beyond_."--_Shakspeare: Cymb._, iii, 2. "I. e., her longing is _further
than beyond_; beyond any thing that desire can be said to be
beyond."--_Singer's Notes_. "You whirled them to the back of _beyont_ to
look at the auld Roman camp."--_Antiquary_, i. 37.
8. Interjections or phrases made nouns: "Come away from all the _lo-heres_!
and _lo-theres_!"--_Sermon_. "Will cuts him short with a '_What
then_?'"--_Addison_. "With _hark_ and _whoop_, and wild
_halloo_."--_Scott_. "And made a _pish_ at chance and sufferance."--_Shak_.
"A single look more marks th' internal wo,
Than all the windings of the lengthen'd _oh_."--_Lloyd_.
Nouns are divided into two general classes; _proper_ and _common_. I. A
_proper noun_ is the name of some particular individual, or people, or
group; as, _Adam, Boston_, the _Hudson_, the _Romans_, the _Azores_, the
II. A _common noun_ is the name of a sort, kind, or class, of beings or
things; as, _Beast, bird, fish, insect,--creatures, persons, children_.
The particular classes, _collective, abstract_, and _verbal_, or
_participial_, are usually included among common nouns. The name of a thing
_sui generis_ is also called common.
1. A _collective noun_, or _noun of multitude_, is the name of many
individuals together; as, _Council, meeting, committee, flock_.
2. An _abstract noun_ is the name of some particular quality considered
apart from its substance; as, _Goodness, hardness, pride, frailty_.
3. A _verbal_ or _participial noun_ is the name of some action, or state of
being; and is formed from a verb, like a participle, but employed as a
noun: as, "The _triumphing_ of the wicked is short."--_Job_, xx, 5.
4. A thing _sui generis_, (i. e., _of its own peculiar kind_,) is something
which is distinguished, not as an individual of a species, but as a sort by
itself, without plurality in either the noun or the sort of thing; as,
_Galvanism, music, geometry_.
OBS. 1.--Through the influence of an article, a proper name sometimes
acquires the import of a common noun: as, "He is _the Cicero_ of his age;"
that is, _the great orator_. "Many _a fiery Alp_;" that is, _high volcanic
mountain_. "Such is the following application of famous names; a Solomon
for a wise man, a Croesus for a rich man, a Judas for a traitor, a
Demosthenes for an orator, and a Homer for a poet."--_Campbell's Rhet._, p.
"Consideration, like an angel, came,
And whipp'd _th' offending Adam_ out of him."--_Shak_.
OBS. 2.--A common noun, with the definite article before it, sometimes
becomes proper: as, _The Park; the Strand; the Gharmel; the Downs; the
OBS. 3.--The common name of a thing or quality personified, often becomes
proper; our conception of the object being changed by the figure of speech:
as, "My power," said _Reason_, "is to advise, not to compel."--_Johnson_.
"Fair _Peace_ her olive branch extends." For such a word, the form of
parsing should be like this: "_Peace_ is a _common noun, personified
proper_; of the third person, singular number, feminine gender, and
nominative case." Here the construction of the word as a proper noun, and
of the _feminine gender_, is the result of the personification, and
contrary to the literal usage.
Nouns have modifications of four kinds; namely, _Persons, Numbers,
Genders_, and _Cases_.
Persons, in grammar, are modifications that distinguish the speaker, the
hearer, and the person or thing merely spoken of.
There are three persons; the _first_, the _second_, and the _third_.
The _first person_ is that which denotes the speaker or writer; as, "_I
Paul_ have written it."
The second person is that which denotes the hearer, or the person
addressed; as, "_Robert_, who did this?"
The third person is that which denotes the person or thing merely spoken
of; as, "_James_ loves his book."
OBS. 1.--The distinction of persons is founded on the different relations
which the objects mentioned in any discourse may bear to the discourse
itself. The speaker or writer, being the mover and maker of the
communication, of course stands in the nearest or _first_ of these
relations. The hearer or hearers, being personally present and directly
addressed, evidently sustain the next or _second_ of these relations; this
relation is also that of the reader, when he peruses what is addressed to
himself in print or writing. Lastly, whatsoever or whosoever is merely
mentioned in the discourse, bears to it that more remote relation which
constitutes the _third_ person. The distinction of persons belongs to
nouns, pronouns, and finite verbs; and to these it is always applied,
either by peculiarity of form or construction, or by inference from the
principles of concord. Pronouns are like their antecedents, and verbs are
like their subjects, in person.
OBS. 2.--Of the persons, numbers, genders, cases, and some other
grammatical modifications of words, it should be observed that they belong
not exclusively to any one part of speech, but jointly and equally, to two
or three. Hence, it is necessary that our _definitions_ of these things be
such as will apply to each of them in full, or under all circumstances; for
the definitions ought to be as general in their application as are the
things or properties defined. Any person, number, gender, case, or other
grammatical modification, is really but one and the same thing, in whatever
part of speech it may be found. This is plainly implied in the very nature
of every form of syntactical agreement; and as plainly contradicted in one
half, and probably more, of the definitions usually given of these things.
OBS. 3.--Let it be understood, that _persons, in grammar_, are not _words_,
but mere forms, relations, or modifications of words; that they are things,
thus named by a _figure_; _things_ of the neuter gender, and not living
souls. But persons, in common parlance, or in ordinary life, are
_intelligent beings_, of one or the other sex. These objects, different as
they are in their nature, are continually confounded by the makers of
English grammars: as, "The _first_ person is _the person who
speaks_."--_Comly's Gram._, p. 17. So Bicknell, of London: "The _first
person_ speaks of _himself_; as, _I John take thee Elizabeth_. The _second_
person has the speech directed to _him_, and is supposed to be present; as,
_Thou Harry art a wicked fellow_. The _third_ person is spoken of, or
described, and supposed to be _absent_; as, _That Thomas is a good man_.
And in the same manner the plural pronouns are used, when more than one are
spoken of."--_Bicknell's Grammatical Wreath_, p. 50. "The person speaking
is the first person; the person spoken to, the second; and the person
spoken of, the third."--_Russell's Gram._, p. 16. "The first person is the
speaker."--_Parker & Fox's Gram._, Part i, p. 6. "Person is that, which
distinguishes a noun, that speaks, one spoken to, or one spoken
about."--_S. B. Hall's Gram._, p. 6. "A noun that speaks!" A noun "spoken
to!" If ever one of Father Hall's nouns shall speak for itself, or answer
when "spoken to," will it not reprove him? And how can the _first person_
be "the _person_ WHO _speaks_," when every word of this phrase is of the
_third_ person? Most certainly, _it is not_ HE, nor any one of his sort. If
any body can boast of being "_the first person in grammar_," I pray, _Who_
is it? Is it not _I_, even _I_? Many grammarians say so. But nay: such
authors know not what the first person in grammar is. The Rev. Charles
Adams, with infinite absurdity, makes the three persons in grammar to be
never any thing but _three nouns_, which hold a confabulation thus: "Person
is defined to be _that_ which distinguishes a _noun that speaks, one spoken
to, or one spoken of_. The _noun_ that speaks [,] is the first person; as,
_I, James_, was present. The _noun_ that is spoken to, is the second
person; as, _James_, were you present? The _noun_ that is spoken of is the
third person; as, _James_ was present."--_Adams's System of English Gram._,
p. 9. What can be a greater blunder, than to call the first person of a
verb, of a pronoun, or even of a noun, "_the noun that speaks?_" What can
be more absurd than are the following assertions? "_Nouns_ are _in_ the
first person when _speaking_. Nouns are _of_ the second person when
_addressed_ or _spoken to_."--_O. C. Felton's Gram._, p. 9.
OBS. 4.--An other error, scarcely less gross than that which has just been
noticed, is the very common one of identifying the three grammatical
persons with certain _words_, called personal pronouns: as, "_I_ is the
first person, _thou_ the second, _he, she_ or _it_, the third."--_Smith's
Productive Gram._, p. 53. "_I_ is the first person, singular. _Thou_ is the
second person, singular. _He, she_, or _it_, is the third person, singular.
_We_ is the first person, plural. _Ye_ or _you_ is the second person,
plural. _They_ is the third person, plural."--_L. Murray's Grammar_, p. 51;
_Ingersoll's_, 54; _D. Adams's_, 37; _A. Flint's_, 18; _Kirkham's_, 98;
_Cooper's_, 34; _T. H. Miller's_, 26; _Hull's_, 21; _Frost's_, 13;
_Wilcox's_, 18; _Bacon's_, 19; _Alger's_, 22; _Maltby's_, 19; _Perley's_,
15; _S. Putnam's_, 22. Now there is no more propriety in affirming, that
"_I is the first person_," than in declaring that _me, we, us, am,
ourselves, we think, I write_, or any other word or phrase _of_ the first
person, _is_ the first person. Yet Murray has given us no other definitions
or explanations of the persons than the foregoing erroneous assertions;
and, if I mistake not, all the rest who are here named, have been content
to define them only as he did. Some others, however, have done still worse:
as, "There are _three_ personal pronouns; so called, because they denote
the three persons, _who_ are the subjects of a discourse, viz. 1st. _I, who
is_ the person _speaking_; 2d _thou, who is_ spoken to; 3d _he, she_, or
_it, who_ is spoken of, and their plurals, _we, ye_ or _you,
they_."--_Bingham's Accidence_, 20th Ed., p. 7. Here the two kinds of error
which I have just pointed out, are jumbled together. It is impossible to
write _worse English_ than this! Nor is the following much better: "Of the
personal pronouns there are five, viz. _I_, in the first person, speaking;
_Thou_, in the second person, spoken to; and _He, she, it_, in the third
person, spoken of."--_Nutting's Gram._, p. 25.
OBS. 5.--In _written_ language, the _first person_ denotes the writer or
author; and the _second_, the reader or person addressed: except when the
writer describes not himself, but some one else, as uttering to an other
the words which he records. This exception takes place more particularly in
the writing of dialogues and dramas; in which the first and second persons
are abundantly used, not as the representatives of the author and his
reader, but as denoting the fictitious speakers and hearers that figure in
each scene. But, in discourse, the grammatical persons may be changed
without a change of the living subject. In the following sentence, the
three grammatical persons are all of them used with reference to one and
the same individual: "Say ye of _Him whom_ the Father hath sanctified and
sent into the world, _Thou blasphemest_, because _I said I am_ the _Son_ of
_God?_"--_John_, x, 36.
OBS. 6.-The speaker seldom refers to himself _by name_, as the speaker;
and, of the objects which there is occasion to name in discourse, but
comparatively few are such as can ever be supposed to speak. Consequently,
_nouns_ are rarely used in the first person; and when they do assume this
relation, a pronoun is commonly associated with them: as, "_I John_,"--"_We
Britons_." These words I conceive to agree throughout, in person, number,
gender, and case; though it must be confessed, that agreement like this is
not always required between words in apposition. But some grammarians deny
the first person to nouns altogether; others, with much more consistency,
ascribe it; while very many are entirely silent on the subject. Yet it
is plain that both the doctrine of concords, and the analogy of general
grammar, require its admission. The reason of this may be seen in the
following examples: "_Themistocles ad te veni_." "I Themistocles have come
to you."--_Grant's Latin Gram._, p. 72. "_Adsum Troius AEneas_."--_Virgil_.
"_Romulus Rex regia arma offero_."--Livy. "_Annibal peto pacem_."--Id.
"_Callopius recensui._"--See _Terence's Comedies, at the end_. "_Paul_, an
apostle, &c., unto Timothy, _my_ own son in the faith."--_1 Tim._, i, 2.
Again, if the word _God_ is of the second person, in the text, "_Thou,
God_, seest me," why should any one deny that _Paul_ is of the first
person, in this one? "_I Paul_ have written it."--_Philemon_, 19. Or this?
"The salutation by the hand of _me Paul_."--_Col._, iv, 18. And so of the
plural: "Of _you builders_."--_Acts_, iv, 11. "Of _us the apostles_."--_2
Pet._, iii, 2. How can it be pretended, that, in the phrase, "_I Paul_,"
_I_ is of the first person, as denoting the speaker, and _Paul_, of some
other person, as denoting something or somebody that is _not_ the speaker?
Let the admirers of Murray, Kirkham, Ingersoll, R. C. Smith, Comly,
Greenleaf, Parkhurst, or of any others who teach this absurdity, answer.
OBS. 7.--As, in the direct application of what are called Christian names,
there is a kind of familiarity, which on many occasions would seem to
indicate a lack of proper respect; so in a frequent and familiar use of the
second person, as it is the placing of an other in the more intimate
relation of the hearer, and one's self in that of the speaker, there is a
sort of assumption which may seem less modest and respectful than to use
the third person. In the following example, the patriarch Jacob uses both
forms; applying the term _servant_ to himself, and to his brother Esau the
term _lord_: "Let _my lord, I_ pray _thee_, pass over before _his servant_:
and _I_ will lead on softly."--_Gen._, xxxiii, 14. For when a speaker or
writer does not choose to declare himself in the _first_ person, or to
address his hearer or reader in the _second_, he speaks of both or either
in the _third_. Thus Moses relates what _Moses_ did, and Caesar records the
achievements of _Caesar_. So Judah humbly beseeches Joseph: "Let _thy
servant_ abide in stead of the lad a bondman to _my lord_."--_Gen._, xliv,
33. And Abraham reverently intercedes with God: "Oh! let not _the Lord_ be
angry, and I will speak."--_Gen._, xviii, 30. And the Psalmist prays:
"_God_ be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause _his_ face to shine
upon us."--_Ps._, lxvii, 1. So, on more common occasions:--
"As will the rest, so _willeth Winchester_."--_Shak_.
"Richard of York, how _fares_ our dearest _brother_?"--_Id._
OBS. 8.--When inanimate things are spoken to, they are _personified_; and
their names are put in the second person, because by the figure the objects
are _supposed_ to be capable of hearing: as, "What ailed thee, _O thou
sea_, that thou fleddest? _thou Jordan_, that thou wast driven back? _Ye
mountains_, that ye skipped like rams; and _ye little hills_, like lambs?
Tremble, _thou earth_, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the
God of Jacob."--_Psalms_, cxiv, 5-7.
Numbers, in grammar, are modifications that distinguish unity and
There are two numbers; the _singular_ and the _plural_.
The _singular number_ is that which denotes but one; as, "The _boy
The _plural number_ is that which denotes more than one; as, "The _boys
The plural number _of nouns_ is regularly formed by adding _s_ or _es_ to
the singular: as, _book, books; box, boxes; sofa, sofas; hero, heroes_.
When the singular ends in a sound which will unite with that of _s_, the
plural is generally formed by adding _s only_, and the number of syllables
is not increased: as, _pen, pens; grape, grapes_.
But when the sound of _s_ cannot be united with that of the primitive word,
the regular plural adds _s_ to final _e_, and _es_ to other terminations,
and forms a separate syllable: as, _page, pages; fox, foxes_.
OBS. 1.--The distinction of numbers serves merely to show whether we speak
of one object, or of more. In some languages, as the Greek and the Arabic,
there is a _dual_ number, which denotes _two_, or a _pair_; but in ours,
this property of words, or class of modifications, extends no farther than
to distinguish unity from plurality, and plurality from unity. It belongs
to nouns, pronouns, and finite verbs; and to these it is always applied,
either by peculiarity of form, or by inference from the principles of
concord. Pronouns are like their antecedents, and verbs are like their
subjects, in number.
OBS. 2.--The most common way of forming the plural of English nouns, is
that of simply adding to them an _s_; which, when it unites with a sharp
consonant, is always sharp, or hissing; and when it follows a vowel or a
flat mute, is generally flat, like _z_: thus, in the words, _ships, skiffs,
pits, rocks, depths, lakes, gulfs_, it is sharp; but in _seas, lays,
rivers, hills, ponds, paths, rows, webs, flags_, it is flat. The
terminations which always make the regular plural in _es_, with increase of
syllables, are twelve; namely, _ce, ge, ch_ soft, _che_ soft, _sh, ss, s,
se, x, xe, z_, and _ze_: as in _face, faces; age, ages; torch, torches;
niche, niches; dish, dishes; kiss, kisses; rebus, rebuses; lens, lenses;
chaise, chaises; corpse, corpses; nurse, nurses; box, boxes; axe, axes;
phiz, phizzes; maze, mazes._ All other endings readily unite in sound
either with the sharp or with the flat _s_, as they themselves are sharp or
flat; and, to avoid an increase of syllables, we allow the final _e_ mute
to remain mute after that letter is added: thus, we always pronounce as
monosyllables the words _babes, blades, strifes, tithes, yokes, scales,
names, canes, ropes, shores, plates, doves_, and the like.
OBS. 3.--Though the irregular plurals of our language appear considerably
numerous when brought together, they are in fact very few in comparison
with the many thousands that are perfectly simple and regular. In some
instances, however, usage is various in writing, though uniform in speech;
an unsettlement peculiar to certain words that terminate in vowels: as,
_Rabbis_, or _rabbies; octavos_, or _octavoes; attornies_, or _attorneys_.
There are also some other difficulties respecting the plurals of nouns, and
especially respecting those of foreign words; of compound terms; of names
and titles; and of words redundant or deficient in regard to the numbers.
What is most worthy of notice, respecting all these puzzling points of
English grammar, is briefly contained in the following observations.
OBS. 4.--It is a general rule of English grammar, that all singular nouns
ending with a vowel preceded by an other vowel, shall form the plural by
simply assuming an _s_: as, _Plea, pleas; idea, ideas; hernia, hernias;
bee, bees; lie, lies; foe, foes; shoe, shoes; cue, cues; eye, eyes; folio,
folios; bamboo, bamboos; cuckoo, cuckoos; embryo, embryos; bureau, bureaus;
purlieu, purlieus; sou, sous; view, views; straw, straws; play, plays; key,
keys; medley, medleys; viceroy, viceroys; guy, guys._ To this rule, the
plurals of words ending in _quy_, as _alloquies, colloquies, obloquies,
soliloquies_, are commonly made exceptions; because many have conceived
that the _u_, in such instances, is a mere appendage to the _q_, or is a
consonant having the power of _w_, and not a vowel forming a diphthong with
the _y_. All other deviations from the rule, as _monies_ for _moneys,
allies_ for _alleys, vallies_ for _valleys, chimnies_ for _chimneys_, &c.,
are now usually condemned as errors. See Rule 12th for Spelling.
OBS. 5.--It is also a general principle, that nouns ending in _y_ preceded
by a consonant, change the _y_ into _i_, and add _es_ for the plural,
without increase of syllables: as, _fly, flies; ally, allies; city, cities;
colony, colonies_. So nouns in _i_, (so far as we have any that are
susceptible of a change of number,) form the plural regularly by assuming
_es_: as, _alkali, alkalies; salmagundi, salinagundies._ Common nouns
ending in _y_ preceded by a consonant, are numerous; and none of them
deviate from the foregoing rule of forming the plural: thus, _duty,
duties_. The termination added is _es_, and the _y_ is changed into _i_,
according to the general principle expressed in Rule 11th for Spelling.
But, to this principle, or rule, some writers have supposed that _proper
nouns_ were to be accounted exceptions. And accordingly we sometimes find
such names made plural by the mere addition of an _s_; as, "How come the
_Pythagoras'_, [it should be, _the Pythagorases_,] the _Aristotles_, the
_Tullys_, the _Livys_, to appear, even to us at this distance, as stars of
the first magnitude in the vast fields of ether?"--_Burgh's Dignity_, Vol.
i, p. 131. This doctrine, adopted from some of our older grammars, I was
myself, at one period, inclined to countenance; (see _Institutes of English
Grammar_, p. 33, at the bottom;) but further observation having led me to
suspect, there is more _authority_ for changing the _y_ than for retaining
it, I shall by-and-by exhibit some examples of this change, and leave the
reader to take his choice of the two forms, or principles.
OBS. 6.--The vowel _a_, at the end of a word, (except in the questionable
term _huzza_, or when silent, as in _guinea_,) has always its Italian or
middle sound, as heard in the interjection _aha!_ a sound which readily
unites with that of _s_ flat, and which ought, in deliberate speech, to be
carefully preserved in plurals from this ending: as, _Canada, the Canadas;
cupola, cupolas; comma, commas; anathema, anathemas_. To pronounce the
final _a_ flat, as _Africay_ for _Africa_, is a mark of vulgar ignorance.
OBS. 7.--The vowel _e_ at the end of a word, is generally silent; and, even
when otherwise, it remains single in plurals from this ending; the _es_,
whenever the _e_ is vocal, being sounded _eez_, or like the word _ease_:
as, _apostrophe, apostrophes; epitome, epitomes; simile, similes_. This
class of words being anomalous in respect to pronunciation, some authors
have attempted to reform them, by changing the _e_ to _y_ in the singular,
and writing _ies_ for the plural: as, _apostrophy, apostrophies; epitomy,
epitomies; simily, similies_. A reformation of some sort seems desirable
here, and this has the advantage of being first proposed; but it is not
extensively adopted, and perhaps never will be; for the vowel sound in
question, is not exactly that of the terminations _y_ and _ies_, but one
which seems to require _ee_--a stronger sound than that of _y_, though
similar to it.
OBS. 8.--For nouns ending in open _o_ preceded by a consonant, the regular
method of forming the plural seems to be that of adding _es_; as in
_bilboes, umboes, buboes, calicoes, moriscoes, gambadoes, barricadoes,
fumadoes, carbonadoes, tornadoes, bravadoes, torpedoes, innuendoes,
viragoes, mangoes, embargoes, cargoes, potargoes, echoes, buffaloes,
volcanoes, heroes, negroes, potatoes, manifestoes, mulattoes, stilettoes,
woes_. In words of this class, the _e_ appears to be useful as a means of
preserving the right sound of the _o_; consequently, such of them as are
the most frequently used, have become the most firmly fixed in this
orthography. In practice, however, we find many similar nouns very
frequently, if not uniformly, written with _s_ only; as, _cantos, juntos,
grottos, solos, quartos, octavos, duodecimos, tyros_. So that even the best
scholars seem to have frequently doubted which termination they ought to
regard as the _regular_ one. The whole class includes more than one hundred
words. Some, however, are seldom used in the plural; and others, never.
_Wo_ and _potato_ are sometimes written _woe_ and _potatoe_. This may have
sprung from a notion, that such as have the _e_ in the plural, should have
it also in the singular. But this principle has never been carried out;
and, being repugnant to derivation, it probably never will be. The only
English appellatives that are established in _oe_, are the following
fourteen: seven monosyllables, _doe, foe, roe, shoe, sloe, soe, toe_; and
seven longer words, _rockdoe, aloe, felloe, canoe, misletoe, tiptoe,
diploe_. The last is pronounced _dip'-lo-e_ by Worcester; but Webster,
Bolles, and some others, give it as a word of two syllables only.
OBS. 9.--Established exceptions ought to be enumerated and treated as
exceptions; but it is impossible to remember how to write some scores of
words, so nearly alike as _fumadoes_ and _grenados, stilettoes_ and
_palmettos_, if they are allowed to differ in termination, as these
examples do in Johnson's Dictionary. Nay, for lack of a rule to guide his
pen, even Johnson himself could not remember the orthography of the common
word _mangoes_ well enough to _copy_ it twice without inconsistency. This
may be seen by his example from King, under the words _mango_ and
_potargo_. Since, therefore, either termination is preferable to the
uncertainty which must attend a division of this class of words between the
two; and since _es_ has some claim to the preference, as being a better
index to the sound; I shall make no exceptions to the principle, that
common nouns ending in _o_ preceded by a consonant take _es_ for the
plural. Murray says, "_Nouns which_ end in _o_ have sometimes _es_ added,
to form the plural; as, cargo, echo, hero, negro, manifesto, potato,
volcano, wo: and sometimes only _s_; as, folio, nuncio, punctilio,
seraglio."--_Octavo Gram._, p. 40. This amounts to nothing, unless it is to
be inferred from his _examples_, that others like them in form are to take
_s_ or _es_ accordingly; and this is what I teach, though it cannot be said
that Murray maintains the principle.
OBS. 10.--Proper names of _individuals_, strictly used as such, have no
plural. But when several persons of the same name are spoken of, the noun
becomes in some degree common, and admits of the plural form and an
article; as, "_The Stuarts, the Caesars_."--_W. Allen's Gram._, p. 41.
These, however, may still be called _proper nouns_, in parsing; because
they are only inflections, peculiarly applied, of certain names which are
indisputably such. So likewise when such nouns are used to denote
character: as, "_Solomons_, for wise men; _Neros_, for tyrants."--_Ib._
"Here we see it becomes a doubt which of the two _Herculeses_, was the
monster-queller."--_Notes to Pope's Dunciad_, iv, 492. The proper names of
_nations, tribes_, and _societies_, are generally plural; and, except in a
direct address, they are usually construed with the definite article: as,
"_The Greeks, the Athenians, the Jews, the Jesuits_." But such words may
take the singular form with the indefinite article, as often as we have
occasion to speak of an individual of such a people; as, "_A Greek, an
Athenian, a Jew, a Jesuit_." These, too, may be called _proper nouns_;
because they are national, patrial, or tribal names, each referring to some
place or people, and are not appellatives, which refer to actual sorts or
kinds, not considered local.
OBS. 11.--Proper names, when they form the plural, for the most part form
it regularly, by assuming _s_ or _es_ according to the termination: as,
_Carolina_, the _Carolinas_; _James_, the _Jameses_. And those which are
only or chiefly plural, have, or ought to have, such terminations as are
proper to distinguish them as plurals, so that the form for the singular
may be inferred: as, "The _Tungooses_ occupy nearly a third of
Siberia."--_Balbi's Geog._, p. 379. Here the singular must certainly be _a
Tungoose_. "The principal tribes are the _Pawnees_, the _Arrapahoes_, and
the _Cumanches_, who roam through the regions of the Platte, the Arkansaw,
and the Norte."--_Ib._, p. 179. Here the singulars may be supposed to be a
_Pawnee_, an _Arrapaho_, and a _Cumanche_. "The Southern or Floridian
family comprised the _Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Seminoles_,
and _Natchez_."--_Ib._, p. 179. Here all are regular plurals, except the
last; and this probably ought to be _Natchezes_, but Jefferson spells it
_Natches_, the singular of which I do not know. Sometimes foreign words or
foreign terminations have been improperly preferred to our own; which last
are more intelligible, and therefore better: as, _Esquimaux_, to
_Esquimaus_; _Knistenaux_, to _Knistenaus_, or _Crees; Sioux_, to _Sious_,
or _Dahcotahs; Iroquois_, to _Iroquoys_, or _Hurons_.
OBS. 12.--Respecting the plural of nouns ending in _i, o, u_, or _y_,
preceded by a consonant, there is in present usage much uncertainty. As any
vowel sound may be uttered with an _s_, many writers suppose these letters
to require for plurals strictly regular, the _s_ only; and to take _es_
occasionally, by way of exception. Others, (perhaps with more reason,)
assume, that the most usual, regular, and proper endings for the plural, in
these instances, are _ies, oes, and ues_: as, _alkali, alkalies; halo,
haloes; gnu, gnues; enemy, enemies_. This, I think, is right for common
nouns. How far proper names are to be made exceptions, because they are
proper names, is an other question. It is certain that some of them are not
to be excepted: as, for instance, _Alleghany_, the _Alleghanies_; _Sicily_,
the Two _Sicilies_; _Ptolemy_, the _Ptolemies_; _Jehu_, the _Jehues_. So
the names of tribes; as, The _Missouries_, the _Otoes_, the _Winnebagoes_.
Likewise, the _houries_ and the _harpies_; which words, though not strictly
proper names, are often written with a capital as such. Like these are
_rabbies, cadies, mufties, sophies_, from which some writers omit the _e_.
Johnson, Walker, and others, write _gipsy_ and _gipsies_; Webster, now
writes _Gipsey_ and _Gipseys_; Worcester prefers _Gypsy_, and probably
_Gypsies_: Webster once wrote the plural _gypsies_; (see his _Essays_, p.
333;) and Johnson cites the following line:--
"I, near yon stile, three sallow _gypsies_ met."--_Gay_.
OBS. 13.--Proper names in _o_ are commonly made plural by _s_ only. Yet
there seems to be the same reason for inserting the _e_ in these, as in
other nouns of the same ending; namely, to prevent the _o_ from acquiring a
short sound. "I apprehend," says Churchill, "it has been from an erroneous
notion of proper names being unchangeable, that some, feeling the necessity
of obviating this mispronunciation, have put an apostrophe between the _o_
and the _s_ in the plural, _in stead of an e_; writing _Cato's, Nero's_;
and on a similar principle, _Ajax's, Venus's_; thus using the possessive
case singular for the nominative or objective plural. Harris says very
properly, 'We have our _Marks_ and our _Antonies_: _Hermes_, B. 2, Ch. 4;
for which those would have given us _Mark's_ and _Antony's_."--_New Gram._,
p. 206. Whatever may have been the motive for it, such a use of the
apostrophe is a gross impropriety. "In this quotation, ['From the
Socrates's, the Plato's, and the Confucius's of the age,'] the proper names
should have been pluralized like common nouns; thus, From the _Socrateses_,
the _Platoes_, and the _Confuciuses_ of the age."--_Lennie's Gram._, p.
126; _Bullions's_, 142.
OBS. 14.--The following are some examples of the plurals of proper names,
which I submit to the judgement of the reader, in connexion with the
foregoing observations: "The Romans had their plurals _Marci_ and
_Antonii_, as we in later days have our _Marks_ and our
_Anthonies_."--_Harris's Hermes_, p. 40. "There seems to be more reason for
such plurals, as the _Ptolemies, Scipios, Catos_: or, to instance in more
modern names, the _Howards, Pelhams, and Montagues_."--_Ib._, 40. "Near the
family seat of the _Montgomeries_ of Coil's-field."--_Burns's Poems_, Note,
p. 7. "Tryphon, a surname of one of the _Ptolemies_."--_Lempriere's Dict._
"Sixteen of the _Tuberos_, with their wives and children, lived in a small
house."--_Ib._ "What are the _Jupiters_ and _Junos_ of the heathens to such
a God?"--_Burgh's Dignity_, i, 234. "Also when we speak of more than one
person of the same name; as, the _Henries_, the _Edwards_."--_Cobbetts E.
Gram._, 40. "She was descended from the _Percies_ and the
_Stanleys_."--_Loves of the Poets_, ii, 102. "Naples, or the _Two
Sicilies_."--_Balbi's Geog._, p. 273. The word _India_, commonly makes the
plural _Indies_, not _Indias_; and, for _Ajaxes_, the poets write _Ajaces_.
But Richard Hiley says, "Proper nouns, when pluralized, follow the same
rules as common nouns; as, Venus, the _Venuses_; Ajax, the _Ajaxes_; Cato,
the _Catoes_; Henry, the _Henries_."--_Hiley's E. Gram._, p. 18.
"He ev'ry day from King to King can walk,
Of all our _Harries_, all our Edwards talk."--_Pope's Satires_, iv.
OBS. 15.--When a name and a title are to be used together in a plural
sense, many persons are puzzled to determine whether the name, or the
title, or both, should be in the plural form. For example--in speaking of
two young ladies whose family name is Bell--whether to call them the _Miss
Bells_, the _Misses Bell_, or the _Misses Bells_. To an inquiry on this
point, a learned editor, who prefers the last, lately gave his answer thus:
"There are two young ladies; of course they are 'the Misses.' Their name is
Bell; of course there are two 'Bells.' Ergo, the correct phrase, in
speaking of them, is--'the Misses Bells.'"--_N. Y. Com. Adv_. This puts the
words in apposition; and there is no question, that it is _formally_
correct. But still it is less agreeable to the ear, less frequently heard,
and less approved by grammarians, than the first phrase; which, if we may
be allowed to assume that the two words may be taken together as a sort of
compound, is correct also. Dr. Priestley says, "When a name has a title
prefixed to it, as _Doctor, Miss, Master_, &c., the plural termination
affects only the latter of the two words; as, 'The two _Doctor
Nettletons_'--'The two _Miss Thomsons_;' though a strict analogy would
plead for the alteration of the former word, and lead us to say, 'The two
_Doctors Nettleton_'--'The two _Misses Thomson_.'"--_Priestley's Gram._, p.
59. The following quotations show the opinions of some other grammarians:
"Two or more nouns in concordance, and forming one complex name, or a name
and a title, have the plural termination annexed to the last only; as, 'The
_Miss Smiths_'--'The three _Doctor Simpsons_'--'The two _Master
Wigginses_.' With a few exceptions, and those not parallel to the examples
just given, we almost uniformly, in complex names, confine the inflection
to the last or the latter noun."--_Dr. Crombie_. The foregoing opinion from
Crombie, is quoted and seconded by Maunder, who adds the following
examples: "Thus, Dr. Watts: 'May there not be _Sir Isaac Newtons_ in every
science?'--'You must not suppose that the world is made up of _Lady Aurora
Granvilles_.'"--_Maunder's Gram._, p. 2.
OBS. 16.--These writers do not seem to accord with W. L. Stone, the editor
above quoted, nor would his reasoning apply well to several of their
examples. Yet both opinions are right, if neither be carried too far. For
when the words are in apposition, rather than in composition, the first
name or title must be made plural, if it refers to more than one: as, "The
_Misses Bell and Brown_,"--"_Messrs. Lambert and Son_,"--"The _Lords
Calthorpe and Erskine_,"--"The _Lords Bishops_ of Durham and St.
David's,"--"The _Knights Hospitalers_,"--"The _Knights Templars_,"--"The
_Knights Baronets_." But this does not prove the other construction, which
varies the last word only, to be irregular; and, if it did, there is
abundant authority for it. Nor is that which varies the first only, to be
altogether condemned, though Dr. Priestley is unquestionably wrong
respecting the "_strict analogy_" of which he speaks. The joining of a
plural title to one singular noun, as, "_Misses Roy_,"--"_The Misses
Bell_,"--"_The two Misses Thomson_," produces a phrase which is in itself
the _least analogous_ of the three; but, "_The Misses Jane and Eliza
Bell_," is a phrase which nobody perhaps will undertake to amend. It
appears, then, that each of these forms of expression may be right in some
cases; and each of them may be wrong, if improperly substituted for either
of the others.
OBS. 17.--The following statements, though erroneous in several
particulars, will show the opinions of some other grammarians, upon the
foregoing point: "Proper nouns have the plural only when they refer to a
race or family; as, _The Campbells_; or to several persons of the same
name; as, _The eight Henrys; the two Mr. Sells; the two Miss Browns_; or,
without the numeral, _the Miss Roys._ But in addressing letters in which
both or all are equally concerned, and also when the names are different,
we pluralize the _title_, (Mr. or Miss,) and write, _Misses_ Brown;
_Misses_ Roy; _Messrs_, (for Messieurs, Fr.) Guthrie and Tait."_--Lennie's
Gram._, p. 7. "If we wish to distinguish the _unmarried_ from the _married_
Howards, we call them _the Miss Howards._ If we wish to distinguish these
Misses from other Misses, we call them the _Misses Howard_."--_Fowle's
Gram._ "To distinguish several persons of the same name and family from
others of a different name and family, the _title_, and not the _proper
name_, is varied to express the distinction; as, the _Misses_ Story, the
_Messrs._ Story. The elliptical meaning is, the Misses and Messrs, _who are
named_ Story. To distinguish _unmarried_ from _married_ ladies, _the proper
name_, and not the _title_, should be varied; as, the _Miss_ Clarks. When
we mention more than one person of different names, the title should be
expressed before each; as, _Miss_ Burns, _Miss_ Parker, and _Miss_
Hopkinson, were present."--_Sanborn's Gram._, p. 79. In the following
examples from Pope's Works, the last word only is varied: "He paragons
himself to two _Lord Chancellors_ for law."--Vol. iii, p. 61. "Yearly
panegyrics upon the _Lord Mayors_."--_Ib._, p. 83.
"Whence hapless Monsieur much complains at Paris
Of wrongs from Duchesses and _Lady Maries_."_--Dunciad_, B. ii, L 135.
OBS. 18.--The following eleven nouns in _f_, change the _f_ into _v_ and
assume _es_ for the plural: _sheaf, sheaves; leaf, leaves; loaf, loaves;
leaf, beeves; thief, thieves; calf, calves; half, halves; elf, elves;
shelf, shelves; self, selves; wolf, wolves_. Three others in _fe_ are
similar: _life, lives; knife, knives; wife, wives._ These are specific
exceptions to the general rule for plurals, and not a series of examples
coming under a particular rule; for, contrary to the instructions of nearly
all our grammarians, there are more than twice as many words of the same
endings, which take _s_ only: as, _chiefs, kerchiefs, handkerchiefs,
mischiefs, beliefs, misbeliefs, reliefs, bassreliefs, briefs, feifs,
griefs, clefs, semibrefs, oafs, waifs, coifs, gulfs, hoofs, roofs, proofs,
reproofs, woofs, califs, turfs, scarfs, dwarfs, wharfs, fifes, strifes,
safes._ The plural of _wharf_ is sometimes written _wharves_; but perhaps
as frequently, and, if so, more accurately, _wharfs_. Examples and
authorities: "_Wharf, wharfs_."--_Brightland's Gram._, p. 80; _Ward's_, 24;
_Goar's_, 26; _Lennie's_, 7; _Bucke's_, 39. "There were not in London so
many _wharfs_, or _keys_, for the landing of merchants' goods."--CHILD: _in
Johnson's Dict._ "The _wharfs_ of Boston are also worthy of
notice."--_Balbi's Geog._, p. 37. "Between banks thickly clad with
dwelling-houses, manufactories, and _wharfs_."_--London Morn. Chronicle_,
1833. Nouns in _ff_ take _s_ only; as, _skiffs, stuffs, gaffs_. But the
plural of _staff_ has hitherto been generally written _staves_; a puzzling
and useless anomaly, both in form and sound: for all the compounds of
_staff_ are regular; as, _distaffs, whipstaffs, tipstaffs, flagstaffs,
quarterstaffs_; and _staves_ is the regular plural of _stave_, a word now
in very common use with a different meaning, as every cooper and every
musician knows. _Staffs_ is now sometimes used; as, "I saw the husbandmen
bending over their _staffs_."--_Lord Carnarvon_. "With their _staffs_ in
their hands for very age."--_Hope of Israel_, p. 16. "To distinguish
between the two _staffs_."--_Comstock's Elocution_, p. 43. In one instance,
I observe, a very excellent scholar has written _selfs_ for _selves_, but
the latter is the established plural of _self_:
"Self-love would cease, or be dilated, when
We should behold as many _selfs_ as men."_--Waller's Poems_, p. 55.
OBS. 19.--Of nouns purely English, the following thirteen are the only
simple words that form distinct plurals not ending in _s_ or _es_, and four
of these are often regular: _man, men; woman, women; child, children;
brother, brethren_ or _brothers; ox, oxen; goose, geese; foot, feet; tooth,
teeth; louse, lice; mouse, mice; die, dice_ or _dies; penny, pence_ or
_pennies; pea, pease_ or _peas_. The word _brethren_ is now applied only to
fellow-members of the same church or fraternity; for sons of the same
parents we always use _brothers_; and this form is sometimes employed in
the other sense. _Dice_ are spotted cubes for gaming; _dies_ are stamps for
coining money, or for impressing metals. _Pence_, as _six pence_, refers to
the amount of money in value; _pennies_ denotes the corns themselves. "We
write _peas_, for two or more individual seeds; but _pease_, for an
indefinite number in quantity or bulk."_--Webster's Dict._ This last
anomaly, I think, might well enough "be spared; the sound of the word being
the same, and the distinction to the eye not always regarded." Why is it
not as proper, to write an order for "a bushel of _peas_," as for "a bushel
of _beans_?" "_Peas_ and _beans_ may be severed from the ground before they
be quite dry."_--Cobbett's E. Gram._, 31.
OBS. 20.--When a compound, ending with any of the foregoing irregular
words, is made plural, it follows the fashion of the word with which it
ends: as, _Gentleman, gentlemen; bondwoman, bondwomen; foster-child,
foster-children; solan-goose, solan-geese; eyetooth, eyeteeth; woodlouse,
woodlice_; _dormouse, dormice; half-penny, halfpence, half-pennies_.
In this way, these irregularities extend to many words; though some of the
metaphorical class, as _kite's-foot, colts-foot, bear's-foot, lion's-foot_,
being names of plants, have no plural. The word _man_, which is used the
most frequently in this way, makes more than seventy such compounds. But
there are some words of this ending, which, not being compounds of _man_,
are regular: as, _German, Germans; Turcoman, Turcomans; Mussulman,
Mussulmans; talisman, talismans; leman, lemans; caiman, caimans_.
OBS. 21.--Compounds, in general, admit but one variation to form the
plural, and that must be made in the principal word, rather than in the
adjunct; but where the terms differ little in importance, the genius of the
language obviously inclines to a variation of the last only. Thus we write
_fathers-in-law, sons-in-law, knights-errant, courts-martial,
cousins-german, hangers-on, comings-in, goings-out, goings-forth_, varying
the first; and _manhaters, manstealers, manslayers, maneaters, mandrills,
handfuls, spoonfuls, mouthfuls, pailfuls, outpourings, ingatherings,
downsittings, overflowings_, varying the last. So, in many instances, when
there is a less intimate connexion of the parts, and the words are written
with a hyphen, if not separately, we choose to vary the latter or last: as,
_fellow-servants, queen-consorts, three-per-cents, he-goats, she-bears,
jack-a-dandies, jack-a-lanterns, piano-fortes_. The following mode of
writing is irregular in two respects; first, because the words are
separated, and secondly, because both are varied: "Is it unreasonable to
say with John Wesley, that '_men buyers_ are exactly on a level with _men
stealers_?"--GOODELL'S LECT. II: _Liberator_, ix, 65. According to analogy,
it ought to be: "_Manbuyers_ are exactly on a level with _manstealers_." J.
W. Wright alleges, that, "The phrase, 'I want two _spoonfuls_ or
_handfuls_,' though common, is improperly constructed;" and that, "we
should say, 'Two _spoons_ or _hands full_.'"--_Philos. Gram._, p. 222. From
this opinion, I dissent: both authority and analogy favour the former mode
of expressing the plural of such quantities.
OBS. 22.--There is neither difficulty nor uncertainty respecting the proper
forms for the plurals of compound nouns in general; but the two irregular
words _man_ and _woman_ are often varied at the beginning of the looser
kind of compounds, contrary to what appears to be the general analogy of
similar words. Of the propriety of this, the reader may judge, when I shall
have quoted a few examples: "Besides their _man-servants_ and their
_maid-servants_."--_Nehemiah_, vii, 67. "And I have oxen and asses, flocks,
and _men-servants_, and _women-servants_."--_Gen._, xxxii, 5. "I gat me
_men-singers_, and _women-singers_, and the delights of the sons of
men."--_Ecclesiastes_, ii, 8. "And she brought forth a _man-child_, who was
to rule all nations with a rod of iron."--_Rev._, xii, 5.--"Why have ye
done this, and saved the _men-children_ alive?"--_Exod._, i, 18. Such terms
as these, if thought objectionable, may easily be avoided, by substituting
for the former part of the compound the separate adjective _male_ or
_female_; as, _male child, male children_. Or, for those of the third
example, one might say, "_singing men_ and _singing women_," as in
_Nehemiah_, vii, 67; for, in the ancient languages, the words are the same.
Alger compounds "_singing-men_ and _singing-women_."
OBS. 23.--Some foreign compound terms, consisting of what are usually, in
the language from which they come, distinct words and different parts of
speech, are made plural in English, by the addition of _e_ or _es_ at the
end. But, in all such cases, I think the hyphen should be inserted in the
compound, though it is the practice of many to omit it. Of this odd sort of
words, I quote the following examples from Churchill; taking the liberty to
insert the hyphen, which he omits: "_Ave-Maries, Te-Deums, camera-obscuras,
agnus-castuses, habeas-corpuses, scire-faciases, hiccius-docciuses,
hocus-pocuses, ignis-fatuuses, chef-d'oeuvres, conge-d'elires,
flower-de-luces, louis-d'-ores, tete-a-tetes_."--_Churchill's Gram._, p.
OBS. 24.--Some nouns, from the nature of the things meant, have no plural.
For, as there ought to be no word, or inflection of a word, for which we
cannot conceive an appropriate meaning or use, it follows that whatever is
of such a species that it cannot be taken in any plural sense, must
naturally be named by a word which is singular only: as, _perry, cider,
coffee, flax, hemp, fennel, tallow, pitch, gold, sloth, pride, meekness,
eloquence_. But there are some things, which have in fact neither a
comprehensible unity, nor any distinguishable plurality, and which may
therefore be spoken of in either number; for the distinction of unity and
plurality is, in such instances, merely verbal; and, whichever number we
take, the word will be apt to want the other: as, _dregs_, or _sediment;
riches_, or _wealth; pains_, or _toil; ethics_, or _moral philosophy;
politics_, or _the science of government; belles-lettres_, or _polite
literature_. So _darkness_, which in English appears to have no plural, is
expressed in Latin by _tenebrae_, in French by _tenebres_, which have no
singular. It is necessary that every noun should be understood to be of one
number or the other; for, in connecting it with a verb, or in supplying its
place by a pronoun, we must assume it to be either singular or plural. And
it is desirable that singulars and plurals should always abide by their
appropriate forms, so that they may be thereby distinguished with
readiness. But custom, which regulates this, as every thing else of the
like nature, does not always adjust it well; or, at least, not always upon
principles uniform in themselves and obvious to every intellect.
OBS. 25.--Nouns of multitude, when taken collectively, generally admit the
regular plural form; which of course is understood with reference to the
individuality of the whole collection, considered as one thing: but, when
taken distributively, they have a plural signification without the form;
and, in this case, their plurality refers to the individuals that compose
the assemblage. Thus, a _council_, a _committee_, a _jury_, a _meeting_, a
_society_, a _flock_, or a _herd_, is singular; and the regular plurals are
_councils, committees, juries, meetings, societies, flocks, herds_. But
these, and many similar words, may be taken plurally without the _s_,
because a collective noun is the name of many individuals together. Hence
we may say, "The _council were_ unanimous."--"The _committee are_ in
consultation."--"The _jury were_ unable to agree."--"The _meeting have
shown their_ discretion."--"The _society have settled their_
dispute."--"The _flock are_ widely scattered."--"The whole _herd were
drowned_ in the sea." The propriety of the last example seems questionable;
because _whole_ implies unity, and _were drowned_ is plural. Where a purer
concord can be effected, it may be well to avoid such a construction,
though examples like it are not uncommon: as, "Clodius was acquitted by _a
corrupt jury_, that had palpably taken shares of money before _they gave
their_ verdict."--_Bacon_. "And the _whole multitude_ of the people _were
praying_ without, at the time of incense."--_Luke_, i, 10.
OBS. 26.--Nouns have, in some instances, a unity or plurality of meaning,
which seems to be directly at variance with their form. Thus, _cattle_, for
beasts of pasture, and _pulse_, for peas and beans, though in appearance
singulars only, are generally, if not always, plural; and _summons,
gallows, chintz, series, superficies, molasses, suds, hunks, jakes,
trapes_, and _corps_, with the appearance of plurals, are generally, if not
always, singular. Dr. Webster says that _cattle_ is of both numbers; but
wherein the oneness of cattle can consist, I know not. The Bible says, "God
made--_cattle after their kind_."--_Gen._, i, 25. Here _kind_ is indeed
singular, as if _cattle_ were a natural genus of which one must be _a
cattle_; as _sheep_ are a natural genus of which one is _a sheep_: but
whether properly expressed so or not, is questionable; perhaps it ought to
be, "and cattle after their _kinds_." Dr. Gillies says, in his History of
Greece, "_cattle was regarded_ as the most convenient _measure_ of value."
This seems to me to be more inaccurate and unintelligible, than to say,
"_Sheep was regarded_ as the most convenient _measure_ of value." And what
would this mean? _Sheep_ is not singular, unless limited to that number by
some definitive word; and _cattle_ I conceive to be incapable of any such
OBS. 27.--Of the last class of words above cited, some may assume an
additional _es_, when taken plurally; as, _summonses, gallowses, chintses_:
the rest either want the plural, or have it seldom and without change of
form. _Corps_, a body of troops, is a French word, which, when singular, is
pronounced _c=ore_, and when plural, _c=ores_. But _corpse_, a dead body,
is an English word, pronounced _k~orps_, and making the plural in two
syllables, _corpses_. _Summonses_ is given in Cobb's Dictionary as the
plural of _summons_; but some authors have used the latter with a plural
verb: as, "But Love's first _summons_ seldom _are_ obey'd."--_Waller's
Poems_, p. 8. Dr. Johnson says this noun is from the verb _to summon_; and,
if this is its origin, the singular ought to be _a summon_, and then
_summons_ would be a regular plural. But this "singular noun with a plural
termination," as Webster describes it, more probably originated from the
Latin verb _submoneas_, used in the writ, and came to us through the jargon
of law, in which we sometimes hear men talk of "_summonsing_ witnesses."
The authorities for it, however, are good enough; as, "_This_ present
_summons_."--SHAK.: _Joh. Dict._ "_This summons_ he resolved to
disobey."--FELL: _ib._ _Chints_ is called by Cobb a "substantive _plural_"
and defined as "cotton _cloths_, made in India;" but other lexicographers
define it as singular, and Worcester (perhaps more properly) writes it
_chintz_. Johnson cites Pope as speaking of "_a charming chints_," and I
have somewhere seen the plural formed by adding es. "Of the Construction of
single Words, or _Serieses_ of Words."--_Ward's Gram._, p. 114. Walker, in
his Elements of Elocution, makes frequent use of the word "_serieses_," and
of the phrase "_series of serieses_." But most writers, I suppose, would
doubt the propriety of this practice; because, in Latin, all nouns of the
fifth declension, such as _caries, congeries, series, species,
superficies_, make their nominative and vocative cases alike in both
numbers. This, however, is no rule for writing English. Dr. Blair has used
the word _species_ in a plural sense; though I think he ought rather to
have preferred the regular English word _kinds_: "The higher _species_ of
poetry seldom _admit_ it."--_Rhet._, p. 403. _Specie_, meaning hard money,
though derived or corrupted from _species_, is not the singular of that
word; nor has it any occasion for a plural form, because we never speak of
_a specie_. The plural of _gallows_, according to Dr. Webster, is
_gallowses_; nor is that form without other authority, though some say,
_gallows_ is of both numbers and not to be varied: "_Gallowses_ were
occasionally put in order by the side of my windows."--_Leigh Hunt's
Byron_, p. 369.
"Who would not guess there might be hopes,
The fear of _gallowses_ and ropes,
Before their eyes, might reconcile
Their animosities a while?"--_Hudibras_, p. 90.
OBS. 28.--Though the plural number is generally derived from the singular,
and of course must as generally imply its existence, we have examples, and
those not a few, in which the case is otherwise. Some nouns, because they
signify such things as nature or art has made plural or double; some,
because they have been formed from other parts of speech by means of the
plural ending which belongs to nouns; and some, because they are compounds
in which a plural word is principal, and put last, are commonly used in the
plural number only, and have, in strict propriety, no singular. Though
these three classes of plurals may not be perfectly separable, I shall
endeavour to exhibit them in the order of this explanation.
1. Plurals in meaning and form: _analects, annals, archives, ashes,
assets, billiards, bowels, breeches, calends, cates, chops, clothes,
compasses, crants, eaves, embers, estovers, forceps, giblets, goggles,
greaves, hards_ or _hurds, hemorrhoids, ides, matins, nippers, nones,
obsequies, orgies, piles, pincers_ or _pinchers, pliers, reins,
scissors, shears, skittles, snuffers, spectacles, teens, tongs, trowsers,
tweezers, umbles, vespers, victuals_.
2. Plurals by formation, derived chiefly from adjectives: _acoustics,
aeronautics, analytics, bitters, catoptrics, commons, conics, credentials,
delicates, dioptrics, economics, ethics, extraordinaries, filings, fives,
freshes, glanders, gnomonics, goods, hermeneutics, hustings, hydrodynamics,
hydrostatics, hydraulics, hysterics, inwards, leavings, magnetics,
mathematics, measles, mechanics, mnemonics, merils, metaphysics, middlings,
movables, mumps, nuptials, optics, phonics, phonetics, physics,
pneumatics, poetics, politics, riches, rickets, settlings, shatters,
skimmings, spherics, staggers, statics, statistics, stays, strangles,
sundries, sweepings, tactics, thanks, tidings, trappings, vives, vitals,
wages, withers, yellows_.
3. Plurals by composition: _backstairs, cocklestairs, firearms,
headquarters, hotcockles, spatterdashes, self-affairs_. To these may be
added the Latin words, _aborigines, antipodes, antes, antoeci, amphiscii,
anthropophagi, antiscii, ascii, literati, fauces, regalia_, and _credenda_,
with the Italian _vermicelli_, and the French _belles-lettres_ and
OBS. 29.--There are several nouns which are set down by some writers as
wanting the singular, and by others as having it. Of this class are the
following: _amends, ancients, awns, bots, catacombs, chives, cloves,
cresses, dogsears, downs, dregs, entrails, fetters, fireworks, greens,
gyves, hatches, intestines, lees, lungs, malanders, mallows, moderns,
oats, orts, pleiads, premises, relics, remains, shackles, shambles,
stilts, stairs, tares, vetches_. The fact is, that these words have, or
ought to have, the singular, as often as there is any occasion to use it;
and the same may, in general terms, be said of other nouns, respecting the
formation of _the plural_. For where the idea of unity or plurality
comes clearly before the mind, we are very apt to shape the word
accordingly, without thinking much about the authorities we can quote for
OBS. 30.--In general, where both numbers exist in common use, there is some
palpable oneness or individuality, to which the article _a_ or _an_ is
applicable; the nature of the species is found entire in every individual
of it; and a multiplication of the individuals gives rise to plurality in
the name. But the nature of a mass, or of an indefinite multitude taken
collectively, is not found in individuals as such; nor is the name, whether
singular, as _gold_, or plural, as _ashes_, so understood. Hence, though
every noun must be of one number or the other, there are many which have
little or no need of both. Thus we commonly speak of _wheat, barley, or
oats_, collectively; and very seldom find occasion for any other forms of
these words. But chafferers at the corn-market, in spite of Cobbett,
will talk about _wheats_ and _barleys_, meaning different kinds or
qualities; and a gardener, if he pleases, will tell of an _oat_, (as does
Milton, in his Lycidas,) meaning a single seed or plant. But, because
_wheat_ or _barley_ generally means that sort of grain in mass, if he will
mention a single kernel, he must call it a _grain of wheat_ or a
_barleycorn_. And these he may readily make plural, to specify any
particular number; as, _five grains of wheat_, or _three barleycorns_.
OBS. 31.--My chief concern is with general principles, but the illustration
of these requires many particular examples--even far more than I have room
to quote. The word _amends_ is represented by Murray and others, as being
singular as well as plural; but Webster's late dictionaries exhibit
_amend_ as singular, and _amends_ as plural, with definitions that
needlessly differ, though not much. I judge "_an amends_" to be bad
English; and prefer the regular singular, _an amend_. The word is of French
origin, and is sometimes written in English with a needless final _e_; as,
"But only to make a kind of honourable _amende_ to God."--_Rollin's Ancient
Hist._, Vol. ii, p. 24. The word _remains_ Dr. Webster puts down as plural
only, and yet uses it himself in the singular: "The creation of a Dictator,
even for a few months, would have buried every _remain_ of
freedom."--_Webster's Essays_, p. 70. There are also other authorities for
this usage, and also for some other nouns that are commonly thought to have
no singular; as, "But Duelling is unlawful and murderous, a _remain_ of the
ancient Gothic barbarity."--_Brown's Divinity_, p. 26. "I grieve with the
old, for so many additional inconveniences, more than their small _remain_
of life seemed destined to undergo."--POPE: _in Joh. Dict._ "A disjunctive
syllogism is one whose major _premise_ is disjunctive."--_Hedge's Logic_.
"Where should he have this gold? It is some poor fragment, some slender
_ort_ of his remainder."--SHAK.: _Timon of Athens_.
OBS. 32.--There are
several nouns which are usually alike in both numbers. Thus, _deer, folk,
fry, gentry, grouse, hose, neat, sheep, swine, vermin_, and _rest_, (i. e.
_the rest_, the others, the residue,) are regular singulars, but they are
used also as plurals, and that more frequently. Again, _alms, aloes,
bellows, means, news, odds, shambles_, and _species_, are proper plurals,
but most of them are oftener construed as singulars. _Folk_ and _fry_ are
collective nouns. _Folk_ means _people_; _a folk, a people_: as, "The ants
are _a people_ not strong;"--"The conies are but _a feeble
folk_."--_Prov._, xxx, 25, 26. "He laid his hands on a few sick _folk_, and
healed _them_."--_Mark_, vi, 5. _Folks_, which ought to be the plural of
_folk_, and equivalent to _peoples_, is now used with reference to a
plurality of individuals, and the collective word seems liable to be
entirely superseded by it. A _fry_ is a swarm of young fishes, or of any
other little creatures living in water: so called, perhaps, because their
motions often make the surface _fry_. Several such swarms might properly be
called _fries_; but this form can never be applied to the individuals,
without interfering with the other. "So numerous _was the fry_."--_Cowper_.
"The _fry betake themselves_ to the neighbouring pools."--_Quarterly
Review_. "You cannot think more contemptuously of _these gentry_ than
_they_ were thought of by the true prophets."--_Watson's Apology_, p. 93.
"_Grouse_, a heathcock."--_Johnson_.
"The 'squires in scorn will fly the house
For better game, and look for _grouse_."--_Swift_.
"Here's an English tailor, come hither for stealing out of _a_ French
_hose_."--_Shak_. "He, being in love, could not see to garter his
_hose_."--_Id._ Formerly, the plural was _hosen_: "Then these men were
bound, in their coats, their _hosen_, and their hats."--_Dan._, iii, 21. Of
_sheep_, Shakspeare has used the regular plural: "Two hot _sheeps_,
marry!"--_Love's Labour Lost_, Act ii, Sc. 1.
"Who both by his calf and his lamb will be known,
May well kill _a neat_ and _a sheep_ of his own."--_Tusser_.
"His droves of asses, camels, herds of _neat_,
And flocks of _sheep_, grew shortly twice as great."--_Sandys_.
"As a jewel of gold in _a swine's_ snout."--_Prov._, xi, 22. "A herd of
_many swine_, feeding."--_Matt._, viii, 30. "An idle person only lives to
spend his time, and eat the fruits of the earth, like a _vermin_ or a
wolf."--_Taylor_. "The head of a wolf, dried and hanged up, will scare away
_vermin_."--_Bacon_. "Cheslip, _a small vermin_ that lies under stones or
tiles."--SKINNER: in _Joh. and in Web. Dict._ "This is flour, the _rest is_
bran."--"And the _rest were_ blinded."--_Rom._, xi, 7. "The poor beggar
hath a just demand of _an alms_."--_Swift_. "Thine _alms are_ come up for a
memorial before God."--_Acts_, x, 4. "The draught of air performed the
function of _a bellows_."--_Robertson's Amer._, ii, 223. "As the _bellows
do_."--_Bicknell's Gram._, ii, 11. "The _bellows are_ burned."--_Jer._, vi,
29. "Let _a gallows_ be made."--_Esther_, v, 14. "_Mallows are_ very useful
in medicine."--_Wood's Dict._ "_News_," says Johnson, "is without the
singular, unless it be considered as singular."--_Dict._ "So _is_ good
_news_ from a far country."--_Prov._, xxv, 25. "Evil _news rides_ fast,
while good _news baits_."--_Milton_. "When Rhea heard _these news_, she
fled."--_Raleigh_. "_News were brought_ to the queen."--_Hume's Hist._, iv,
426. "The _news_ I bring _are_ afflicting, but the consolation with which
_they_ are attended, ought to moderate your grief."--_Gil Blas_, Vol. ii,
p. 20. "Between these two cases there _are_ great _odds_."--_Hooker_.
"Where the _odds is_ considerable."--_Campbell_. "Determining on which side
the _odds lie_."--_Locke_. "The greater _are the odds_ that he mistakes his
author."--_Johnson's Gram. Com._, p. 1. "Though thus _an odds_ unequally
they meet."--_Rowe's Lucan_, B. iv, l. 789. "Preeminent by so _much
odds_."--_Milton_. "To make a _shambles_ of the parliament house."--_Shak_.
"The earth has been, from the beginning, a great Aceldama, _a shambles_ of
blood."--_Christian's Vade-Mecum_, p. 6. "_A shambles_" sounds so
inconsistent, I should rather say, "_A shamble_." Johnson says, the
etymology of the word is _uncertain_; Webster refers it to the Saxon
_scamel_: it means _a butcher's stall, a meat-market_; and there would seem
to be no good reason for the _s_, unless more than one such place is
intended. "Who sells his subjects to the _shambles_ of a foreign
power."--_Pitt_. "A special idea is called by the schools _a
species_."--_Watts_. "He intendeth the care of _species_, or common
natures."--_Brown_. "ALOE, (al~o) _n.; plu._ ALOES."--_Webster's Dict._,
and _Worcester's_. "But it was _aloe_ itself to lose the reward."--
_Tupper's Crock of Gold_, p. 16.
"But high in amphitheatre above,
_His_ arms the everlasting _aloes_ threw."
--_Campbell_, G. of W., ii, 10.
OBS. 33.--There are some nouns, which, though really regular in respect to
possessing the two forms for the two numbers, are not free from
irregularity in the manner of their application. Thus _means_ is the
regular plural of _mean_; and, when the word is put for mediocrity, middle
point, place, or degree, it takes both forms, each in its proper sense; but
when it signifies things instrumental, or that which is used to effect an
object, most writers use _means_ for the singular as well as for the
plural: as, "By _this means_"--"By _those means_," with reference to
one mediating cause; and, "By _these means_,"--"By _those means_," with
reference to more than one. Dr. Johnson says the use of _means_ for _mean_
is not very grammatical; and, among his examples for the true use of the
word, he has the following: "Pamela's noble heart would needs gratefully
make known the valiant _mean_ of her safety."--_Sidney._ "Their virtuous
conversation was a _mean_ to work the heathens' conversion."--_Hooker._
"Whether his wits should by that _mean_ have been taken from him."--_Id._
"I'll devise a _mean_ to draw the Moor out of the way."--_Shak._ "No place
will please me so, no _mean_ of death."--_Id._ "Nature is made better by no
_mean_, but nature makes that _mean._"--_Id._ Dr. Lowth also questioned the
propriety of construing _means_ as singular, and referred to these same
authors as authorities for preferring the regular form. Buchanan insists
that _means_ is right in the plural only; and that, "The singular should be
used as perfectly analogous; by this _mean_, by that _mean_."--_English
Syntax_, p. 103. Lord Kames, likewise, appears by his practice to have been
of the same opinion: "Of this the child must be sensible intuitively, for
it has no other _mean_ of knowledge."--_Elements of Criticism_, Vol. i, p.
357. "And in both the same _mean_ is employed."--_Ib._ ii, 271. Caleb
Alexander, too, declares "_this means_," "_that means_." and "_a means_,"
to be "ungrammatical."--_Gram._, p. 58. But common usage has gone against
the suggestions of these critics, and later grammarians have rather
confirmed the irregularity, than attempted to reform it.
OBS. 34.--Murray quotes sixteen good authorities to prove that means may be
singular; but whether it _ought_ to be so or not, is still a disputable
point. Principle is for the regular word _mean_, and good practice favours
the irregularity, but is still divided. Cobbett, to the disgrace of
grammar, says, "_Mean_, as a noun, is _never used in the singular_. It,
like some other words, has broken loose from all principle and rule. By
universal consent, it _is become always a plural_, whether used with
_singular or plural_ pronouns and articles, _or not_."--_E. Gram._, p. 144.
This is as ungrammatical, as it is untrue. Both mean and means are
sufficiently authorized in the singular: "The prospect which by this mean
is opened to you."--_Melmoth's Cicero_. "Faith in this doctrine never
terminates in itself, but is _a mean_, to holiness as an end."--_Dr.
Chalmers, Sermons_, p. v. "The _mean_ of basely affronting him."--_Brown's
Divinity_, p. 19. "They used every _mean_ to prevent the re-establishment
of their religion."--_Dr Jamieson's Sacred Hist._, i, p. 20. "As a
necessary _mean_ to prepare men for the discharge of that duty."--
_Bolingbroke, on Hist._, p. 153. "Greatest is the power of a _mean_, when
its power is least suspected."--_Tupper's Book of Thoughts_, p. 37. "To the
deliberative orator the reputation of unsullied virtue is not only useful,
as a _mean_ of promoting his general influence, it is also among his most
efficient engines of persuasion, upon every individual occasion."--_J. Q.
Adams's Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory_, i, 352. "I would urge it upon
you, as the most effectual _mean_ of extending your respectability and
usefulness in the world."--_Ib._, ii, 395. "Exercise will be admitted to be
a necessary _mean_ of improvement."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 343. "And by _that
means_ we have now an early prepossession in their favour."--_Ib._, p. 348.
"To abolish all sacrifice by revealing a better _mean_ of reconciliation."
--_Keith's Evidences_, p. 46. "As a _mean_ of destroying the distinction."
--_Ib._, p. 3. "Which however is by no _mean_ universally the case."--
_Religious World Displayed_, Vol. iii, p. 155.
OBS. 35.--Again, there are some nouns, which, though they do not lack the
regular plural form, are sometimes used in a plural sense without the
plural termination. Thus _manner_ makes the plural _manners_, which last is
now generally used in the peculiar sense of behaviour, or deportment, but
not always: it sometimes means methods, modes, or ways; as, "At sundry
times and in divers _manners_."--_Heb._, i, 1. "In the _manners_ above
mentioned."--_Butler's Analogy_, p. 100. "There be three _manners_ of
trials in England."--COWELL: _Joh. Dict., w. Jury_. "These two _manners_ of
representation."--_Lowth's Gram._, p. 15. "These are the three primary
modes, or _manners_, of expression."--_Lowth's Gram._, p. 83. "In
arrangement, too, various _manners_ suit various styles."--_Campbell's
Phil. of Rhet._, p. 172. "Between the two _manners_."--_Bolingbroke, on
Hist._, p. 35. "Here are three different _manners_ of asserting."--
_Barnard's Gram._, p. 59. But _manner_ has often been put for _sorts_,
without the _s_; as, "The tree of life, which bare _twelve manner_ of
fruits."--_Rev._, xxii, 2. "All _manner_ of men assembled here in
arms."--_Shak_. "_All manner_ of outward advantages."--_Atterbury_. Milton
used _kind_ in the same way, but not very properly; as, "_All kind_ of
living creatures."--_P. Lost_, B. iv, l. 286. This irregularity it would be
well to avoid. _Manners_ may still, perhaps, be proper for modes or ways;
and _all manner_, if allowed, must be taken in the sense of a collective
noun; but for sorts, kinds, classes, or species, I would use neither the
plural nor the singular of this word. The word _heathen_, too, makes the
regular plural _heathens_, and yet is often used in a plural sense without
the _s_; as, "Why do the _heathen_ rage?"--_Psalms_, ii, 1. "Christianity
was formerly propagated among the _heathens_."--_Murray's Key_, 8vo, p.
217. The word _youth_, likewise, has the same peculiarities.
OBS. 36.--Under the present head come names of fishes, birds, or other
things, when the application of the singular is extended from the
individual to the species, so as to supersede the plural by assuming its
construction: as, Sing. "A great _fish_."--_Jonah_, i, 17. Plur. "For the
multitude of _fishes_'."--_John_, xxi, 6. "A very great multitude of
_fish_."--_Ezekiel_, xlvii, 9. The name of the genus being liable to
this last construction, men seem to have thought that the species should
follow; consequently, the regular plurals of some very common names of
fishes are scarcely known at all. Hence some grammarians affirm, that
_salmon, mackerel, herring, perch, tench_, and several others, are alike in
both numbers, and ought never to be used in the plural form. I am not so
fond of honouring these anomalies. Usage is here as unsettled, as it is
arbitrary; and, if the expression of plurality is to be limited to either
form exclusively, the regular plural ought certainly to be preferred. But,
_for fish taken in bulk_, the singular form seems more appropriate; as,
"These vessels take from thirty-eight to forty-five quintals of _cod_ and
_pollock_, and six thousand barrels of _mackerel_, yearly."--_Balbi's
Geog._, p. 28.
OBS. 37.--The following examples will illustrate the unsettled usage just
mentioned, and from them the reader may judge for himself what is right. In
quoting, at second-hand, I generally think it proper to make double
references; and especially in citing authorities after Johnson, because he
so often gives the same passages variously. But he himself is reckoned good
authority in things literary. Be it so. I regret the many proofs of his
fallibility. "Hear you this Triton of the _minnows?_"--_Shak_. "The shoal
of _herrings_ was of an immense extent."--_Murray's Key_, p. 185. "Buy my
_herring_ fresh."--SWIFT: _in Joh. Dict._ "In the fisheries of Maine, _cod,
herring, mackerel alewives, salmon_, and other _fish_, are
taken."--_Balbi's Geog._, p. 23. "MEASE, _n._ The quantity of 500; as, a
_mease_ of _herrings_."--_Webster's Dict._ "We shall have plenty of
_mackerel_ this season."--ADDISON: _in Joh. Dict._ "_Mackarel_ is the same
in both numbers. Gay has improperly _mackarels_."--_Churchill's Gram._, p.
208. "They take _salmon_ and _trouts_ by groping and tickling them under
the bellies."--CAREW: _in Joh. Dict._ "The pond will keep _trout_ and
_salmon_ in their seasonable plight."--_Id., ib., w. Trout_. "Some _fish_
are preserved fresh in vinegar, as _turbot_."--_Id., ib., w. Turbot_. "Some
_fish_ are boiled and preserved fresh in vinegar, as _tunny_ and
_turbot_."--_Id., ib., w. Tunny_. "Of round _fish_, there are _brit, sprat,
barn, smelts_."--_Id., ib., w. Smelt._ "For _sprats_ and _spurlings_ for
your house."--TUSSEE: _ib., w. Spurling_. "The coast is plentifully stored
with _pilchards, herrings_, and _haddock_."--CAREW: _ib., w. Haddock_. "The
coast is plentifully stored with round _fish, pilchard, herring, mackerel_,
and _cod_"--_Id., ib., w. Herring_. "The coast is plentifully stored with
_shellfish, sea-hedgehogs, scallops, pilcherd, herring_, and
_pollock_."--_Id., ib., w. Pollock_. "A _roach_ is _a fish_ of no great
reputation for his dainty taste. It is noted that _roaches_ recover
strength and grow a fortnight after spawning."--WALTON: _ib., w. Roach_. "A
friend of mine stored a pond of three or four acres with _carps_ and
_tench_."--HALE: _ib., w. Carp_. "Having stored a very great pond with
_carps, tench_, and other _pond-fish_, and only put in two small _pikes_,
this pair of tyrants in seven years devoured the whole."--_Id., ib., w.
Tench_. "Singular, _tench_; plural, _tenches_."--_Brightland's Gram._, p.
78. "The polar bear preys upon _seals, fish_, and the carcasses of
_whales_."--_Balbi's Geog._, p. 172. "_Trouts_ and _salmons_ swim against
the stream."--BACON: _Ward's Gram._, p. 130.
"'Tis true no _turbots_ dignify my boards,
But _gudgeons, flounders_, what my Thames affords."--_Pope_.
OBS. 38.--Prom the foregoing examples it would seem, if fish or fishes are
often spoken of without a regular distinction of the grammatical numbers,
it is not because the words are not susceptible of the inflection, but
because there is some difference of meaning between the mere name of the
sort and the distinct modification in regard to number. There are also
other nouns in which a like difference may be observed. Some names of
building materials, as _brick, stone, plank, joist_, though not destitute
of regular plurals, as _bricks, stones, planks, joists_, and not unadapted
to ideas distinctly singular, as _a brick, a stone, a plank, a joist_, are
nevertheless sometimes used in a plural sense without the _s_, and
sometimes in a sense which seems hardly to embrace the idea of either
number; as, "Let us make _brick_, and burn _them_ thoroughly."--_Gen._, xi,
3. "And they had _brick_ for _stone_."--_Ib._ "The tale of
_bricks_."--_Exod._, v, 8 and 18. "Make _brick_."--_Ib._, v, 16. "From your
_bricks_."--_Ib._, v, 19. "Upon altars of _brick_."--_Isaiah_. lxv, 3. "The
_bricks_ are fallen down."--_Ib._, ix, 10. The same variety of usage occurs
in respect to a few other words, and sometimes perhaps without good reason;
as, "Vast numbers of sea _fowl_ frequent the rocky cliffs."--_Balbi's
Geog._, p. 231. "Bullocks, sheep, and _fowls_."--_Ib._, p. 439. "_Cannon_
is used alike in both numbers."--_Everest's Gram._, p. 48. "_Cannon_ and
_shot_ may be used in the singular or plural sense."--_O. B. Peirce's
Gram._, p. 37. "The column in the Place Vendome is one hundred and
thirty-four feet high, and is made of the brass of the _cannons_ taken from
the Austrians and Prussians."--_Balbi's Geog._, p. 249. "As his _cannons_
roar."--_Dryden's Poems_, p. 81. "Twenty _shot_ of his greatest
cannon."--CLARENDON: _Joh. Dict._ "Twenty _shots_" would here, I think, be
more proper, though the word is not made plural when it means _little balls
of lead_. "And _cannons_ conquer armies."--_Hudibras_, Part III, Canto iii,
"Healths to both kings, attended with the roar
Of _cannons_ echoed from th' affrighted shore."--_Waller_, p. 7.
OBS. 39.--Of foreign nouns, many retain their original plural; a few are
defective; and some are redundant, because the English form is also in use.
Our writers have laid many languages under contribution, and thus furnished
an abundance of irregular words, necessary to be explained, but never to be
acknowledged as English till they conform to our own rules.
1. Of nouns in _a, saliva_, spittle, and _scoria_, dross, have no occasion
for the plural; _lamina_, a thin plate, makes _laminae_; _macula_, a spot,
_maculae_; _minutia_, a little thing, _minutiae_; _nebula_, a mist, _nebulae_;
_siliqua_, a pod, _siliqiuae_. _Dogma_ makes _dogmas_ or _dogmata_;
_exanthema, exanthemas_ or _exanthemata_; _miasm_ or _miasma, miasms_ or
_miasmata_; _stigma, stigmas_ or _stigmata_.
2. Of nouns in _um_, some have no need of the plural; as, _bdellium,
decorum, elysium, equilibrium, guaiacum, laudanum, odium, opium, petroleum,
serum, viaticum_. Some form it regularly; as, _asylums, compendiums,
craniums, emporiums, encomiums, forums, frustums, lustrums, mausoleums,
museums, pendulums, nostrums, rostrums, residuums, vacuums_. Others take
either the English or the Latin plural; as, _desideratums_ or _desiderata,
mediums_ or _media, menstruums_ or _menstrua, memorandums_ or _memoranda,
spectrums_ or _spectra, speculums_ or _specula, stratums_ or _strata,
succedaneums_ or _succedanea, trapeziums_ or _trapezia, vinculums_ or
_vincula_. A few seem to have the Latin plural only: as, _arcanum, arcana;
datum, data; effluvium, effluvia; erratum, errata; scholium, scholia_.
3. Of nouns in _us_, a few have no plural; as, _asparagus, calamus, mucus_.
Some have only the Latin plural, which usually changes _us_ to _i_; as,
_alumnus, alumni; androgynus, androgyni; calculus, calculi; dracunculus,
dracunculi; echinus, echini; magus, magi_. But such as have properly become
English words, may form the plural regularly in _es_; as, _chorus,
choruses_: so, _apparatus, bolus, callus, circus, fetus, focus, fucus,
fungus, hiatus, ignoramus, impetus, incubus, isthmus, nautilus, nucleus,
prospectus, rebus, sinus, surplus_. Five of these make the Latin plural
like the singular; but the mere English scholar has no occasion to be told
which they are. _Radius_ makes the plural _radii_ or _radiuses_. _Genius_
has _genii_, for imaginary spirits, and _geniuses_, for men of wit.
_Genus_, a sort, becomes _genera_ in Latin, and _genuses_ in English.
_Denarius_ makes, in the plural, _denarii_ or _denariuses_.
4. Of nouns in _is_, some are regular; as, _trellis, trellises_: so,
_annolis, butteris, caddis, dervis, iris, marquis, metropolis, portcullis,
proboscis_. Some seem to have no need of the plural; as, _ambergris,
aqua-fortis, arthritis, brewis, crasis, elephantiasis, genesis, orris,
siriasis, tennis_. But most nouns of this ending follow the Greek or Latin
form, which simply changes _is_ to _=es_: as, _amanuensis, amanuenses;
analysis, analyses; antithesis, antitheses; axis, axes; basis, bases;
crisis, crises; diaeresis, diaereses; diesis, dieses; ellipsis, ellipses;
emphasis, emphases; fascis, fasces; hypothesis, hypotheses; metamorphosis,
metamorphoses; oasis, oases; parenthesis, parentheses; phasis, phases;
praxis, praxes; synopsis, synopses; synthesis, syntheses; syrtis, syrtes;
thesis, theses_. In some, however, the original plural is not so formed;
but is made by changing _is_ to _~ides_; as, _aphis, aphides; apsis,
apsides; ascaris, ascarides; bolis, bolides; cantharis, cantharides;
chrysalis, chrysalides; ephemeris, ephemerides; epidermis, epidermides_. So
_iris_ and _proboscis_, which we make regular; and perhaps some of the
foregoing may be made so too. Fisher writes _Praxises_ for _praxes_, though
not very properly. See his _Gram_, p. v. _Eques_, a Roman knight, makes
_equites_ in the plural.
5. Of nouns in _x_, there are few, if any, which ought not to form the
plural regularly, when used as English words; though the Latins changed _x_
to _ces_, and _ex_ to _ices_, making the _i_ sometimes long and sometimes
short: as, _apex, apices_, for _apexes; appendix, appendices_, for
_appendixes; calix, calices_, for _calixes_; _calx, calces_, for _calxes;
calyx, calyces_, for _calyxes; caudex, caudices_, for _caudexes; cicatrix,
cicatrices_, for _cicatrixes; helix, helices_, for _helixes; index,
indices_, for _indexes; matrix, matrices_, for _matrixes; quincunx,
quincunces_, for _quincunxes; radix, radices_, for _radixes; varix,
varices_, for _varixes; vertex, vertices_, for _vertexes; vortex,
vortices_, for _vortexes_. Some Greek words in _x_ change that letter to
_ges_; as, _larynx, larynges_, for _larinxes; phalanx, phalanges_, for
_phalanxes_. _Billet-doux_, from the French, is _billets-doux_ in the
6. Of nouns in _on_, derived from Greek, the greater part always form the
plural regularly; as, _etymons, gnomons, ichneumons, myrmidons, phlegmons,
trigons, tetragons, pentagons, hexagons, heptagons, octagons, enneagons,
decagons, hendecagons, dodecagons, polygons_. So _trihedrons, tetrahedrons,
pentahedrons_, &c., though some say, these last may end in _dra_, which I
think improper. For a few words of this class, however, there are double
plurals in use; as, _automata_ or _atomatons, criteria_ or _criterions,
parhelia_ or _parhelions_; and the plural of _phenomenon_ appears to be
7. The plural of _legumen_ is _legumens_ or _legumina_; of _stamen,
stamens_ or _stamina_: of _cherub, cherubs_ or _cherubim_; of _seraph,
seraphs_ or _seraphim_; of _beau, beaus_ or _beaux_; of _bandit, bandits_
or _banditti_. The regular forms are in general preferable. The Hebrew
plurals _cherubim_ and _seraphim_, being sometimes mistaken for singulars,
other plurals have been formed from them; as, "And over it the _cherubims_
of glory."--_Heb_. ix, 5. "Then flow one of the _seraphims_ unto
me."--_Isaiah_, vi, 6. Dr. Campbell remarks: "We are authorized, both by
use and by analogy, to say either _cherubs_ and _seraphs_, according to the
English idiom, or _cherubim_ and _seraphim_, according to the oriental. The
former suits better the familiar, the latter the solemn style. I shall add
to this remark," says he, "that, as the words _cherubim_ and _seraphim_ are
plural, the terms _cherubims_ and _seraphims_, as expressing the plural,
are quite improper."--_Phil. of Rhet._, p. 201.
OBS. 40.--When other parts of speech become nouns, they either want the
plural, or form it regularly, like common nouns of the same endings;
as, "His affairs went on at _sixes_ and _sevens_."--_Arbuthnot_. "Some
mathematicians have proposed to compute by _twoes_; _others_, by _fours_;
_others_, by _twelves_."--_Churchill's Gram._, p. 81. "Three _fourths_,
nine _tenths_."--_Ib._, p. 230. "Time's _takings_ and _leavings_."--
_Barton_. "The _yeas_ and _nays_."--_Newspaper_. "The _ays_ and
_noes_."--_Ib._ "_Oes_ and _spangles_."--_Bacon_. "The _ins_ and the
_outs_."--_Newspaper_."--We find it more safe against _outs_ and
_doubles_."--_Printer's Gram._ "His _ands_ and his _ors_."--_Mott_. "One of
the _buts_."--_Fowle_. "In raising the mirth of _stupids_."--_Steele_.
"_Eatings, drinkings, wakings, sleepings, walkings, talkings, sayings,
doings_--all were for the good of the public; there was not such a things
as a secret in the town."--LANDON: _Keepsake_, 1833. "Her innocent
_forsooths_ and _yesses_."--_Spect._, No. 266.
"Henceforth my wooing mind shall be expressed
In russet _yeas_ and honest kersey _noes_."
--SHAK. See _Johnson's Dict., w. Kersey_.
Genders, in grammar, are modifications that distinguish objects in regard
There are three genders; the _masculine_, the _feminine_, and the _neuter_.
The _masculine gender_ is that which denotes persons or animals of the male
kind; as, _man, father, king_.
The _feminine gender_ is that which denotes persons or animals of the
female kind; as, _woman, mother, queen_.
The _neuter gender_ is that which denotes things that are neither male nor
female; as, _pen, ink, paper_.
Hence, names of males are masculine; names of females, feminine; and names
of things inanimate, literally, neuter.
Masculine nouns make regular feminines, when their termination is changed
to _ess_: as, _hunter, huntress_; _prince, princess_; _lion, lioness_.
OBS. 1.--The different genders in grammar are founded on the natural
distinction of sex in animals, and on the absence of sex in other things.
In English, they belong only to nouns and pronouns; and to these they are
usually applied, not arbitrarily, as in some other languages, but agreeably
to the order of nature. From this we derive a very striking advantage over
those who use the gender differently, or without such rule; which is, that
our pronouns are easy of application, and have a fine effect when objects
are personified. Pronouns are of the same gender as the nouns for which
OBS. 2.--Many nouns are equally applicable to both sexes; as, _cousin,
friend, neighbour, parent, person, servant_. The gender of these is usually
determined by the context; and they are to be called masculine or feminine
accordingly. To such words, some grammarians have applied the unnecessary
and improper term _common gender_. Murray justly observes, "There is no
such gender belonging to the language. The business of parsing can be
effectually performed, without having recourse to a _common
gender_."--_Gram._, 8vo. p. 39. The term is more useful, and less liable to
objection, as applied to the learned languages; but with us, whose genders
_distinguish objects in regard to sex_, it is plainly a solecism.
OBS. 3.--A great many of our grammars define gender to be "_the distinction
of sex_," and then speak of a _common gender_, in which the two sexes are
left _undistinguished_; and of the _neuter gender_, in which objects are
treated as being of _neither sex_. These views of the matter are obviously
inconsistent. Not genders, or a gender, do the writers undertake to define,
but "gender" as a whole; and absurdly enough, too; because this whole of
gender they immediately distribute into certain _other genders_, into
genders of gender, or kinds of gender, and these not compatible with their
definition. Thus Wells: "Gender is _the distinction_ of objects, with
regard to sex. There are four genders;--the _masculine_, the _feminine_,
the _common_, and the _neuter_."--_School Gram._, 1st Ed., p. 49. [Those]
"Nouns which are applicable _alike to both sexes_, are of the _common_
gender."--_Ib._ This then is manifestly no gender under the foregoing
definition, and the term _neuter_ is made somewhat less appropriate by the
adoption of a third denomination before it. Nor is there less absurdity in
the phraseology with which Murray proposes to avoid the recognition of the
_common gender_: "Thus we may say, _Parents_ is a noun of the _masculine
and feminine_ gender; _Parent_, if doubtful, is of the _masculine or
feminine_ gender; and _Parent_, if the gender is known by the construction,
is of the gender so ascertained."--_Gram._, 8vo, p. 39. According to this,
we must have _five genders_, exclusive of that which is called _common_;
namely, the _masculine_, the _feminine_, the _neuter_, the _androgynal_,
and the _doubtful_.
OBS. 4.--It is plain that many writers on grammar have had but a confused
notion of what a gender really is. Some of them, confounding gender with
sex, deny that there are more than two genders, because there are only two
sexes. Others, under a like mistake, resort occasionally, (as in the
foregoing instance,) to an _androgynal_, and also to a _doubtful_ gender:
both of which are more objectionable than the _common gender_ of the old
grammarians; though this _common_ "distinction with regard to sex," is, in
our language, confessedly, no distinction at all. I assume, that there are
in English the three genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter, and no more;
and that every noun and every pronoun must needs be of some gender;
consequently, of some one of these three. A gender is, literally, a sort, a
kind, a sex. But genders, _in grammar_, are attributes of words, rather
than of persons, or animals, or things; whereas sexes are attributes, not
of words, but of living creatures. He who understands this, will perceive
that the absence of sex in some things, is as good a basis for a
grammatical distinction, as the presence or the difference of it in others;
nor can it be denied, that the neuter, according to my definition, is a
gender, is a distinction "in _regard_ to sex," though it does not embrace
either of the sexes. There are therefore three genders, and only three.
OBS. 5.--Generic names, even when construed as masculine or feminine, often
virtually include both sexes; as, "Hast thou given _the horse_ strength?
hast thou clothed _his_ neck with thunder? Canst thou make _him_ afraid as
a grasshopper? the glory of _his_ nostrils is terrible."--_Job_, xxxix, 19.
"Doth _the hawk_ fly by thy wisdom, and stretch _her_ wings toward the
south? Doth _the eagle_ mount up at thy command, and make _her_ nest on
high?"--_Ib._, ver. 26. These were called, by the old grammarians,
_epicene_ nouns--that is, _supercommon_; but they are to be parsed each
according to the gender of the pronoun which is put for it.
OBS. 6.--The gender of words, in many instances, is to be determined by the
following principle of universal grammar. Those terms which are equally
applicable to both sexes, (if they are not expressly applied to females,)
and those plurals which are known to include both sexes, should be called
masculine in parsing; for, in all languages, the masculine gender is
considered the most worthy, and is generally employed when both sexes
are included under one common term. Thus _parents_ is always masculine, and
must be represented by a masculine pronoun, for the gender of a word is a
property indivisible, and that which refers to the male sex, always takes
the lead in such cases. If one say, "Joseph took _the young child and his
mother_ by night, and fled with _them_ into Egypt," the pronoun _them_ will
be masculine; but let "_his_" be changed to _its_, and the plural pronoun
that follows, will be feminine. For the feminine gender takes precedence of
the neuter, but not of the masculine; and it is not improper to speak of a
young child without designating the sex. As for such singulars as _parent,
friend, neighbour, thief, slave_, and many others, they are feminine when
expressly applied to any of the female sex; but otherwise, masculine.
OBS. 7.--Nouns of multitude, when they convey the idea of unity or take the
plural form, are of the neuter gender; but when they convey the idea of
plurality without the form, they follow the gender of the individuals which
compose the assemblage. Thus a _congress_, a _council_, a _committee_, a
_jury_, a _sort_, or a _sex_, if taken collectively, is neuter; being
represented in discourse by the neuter pronoun _it_: and the formal
plurals, _congresses, councils, committees, juries, sorts, sexes_, of
course, are neuter also. But, if I say, "The committee disgraced
_themselves_," the noun and pronoun are presumed to be masculine, unless it
be known that I am speaking of a committee of females. Again: "The _fair
sex, whose_ task is not to mingle in the labours of public life, have
_their_ own part assigned _them_ to act."--_Comly's Gram._, p. 132. Here
_sex_, and the three pronouns which have that word for their antecedent,
are all feminine. Again: "_Each sex_, dressing _themselves_ in the clothes
of the other."--_Wood's Dictionary_, v. _Feast of Purim_. Here _sex_, and
the pronoun which follows, are masculine; because, the male sex, as well as
the female, is here spoken of plurally.
OBS. 8.--To _persons_, of every description, known or unknown, real or
imaginary, we uniformly ascribe sex. But, as personality implies
intelligence, and sex supposes some obvious difference, a _young child_ may
be spoken of with distinction of sex or without, according to the notion of
the speaker; as, "I went to see the _child_ whilst they were putting on
_its cloaths_."--_Priestley's Gram._, p. 125. "Because the _child_ has no
idea of any nurse besides _his_ own."--_Ib._, p. 153. To _brute animals_
also, the same distinction is generally applied, though with less
uniformity. Some that are very small, have a gender which seems to be
merely occasional and figurative; as, "Go to the _ant_, thou sluggard;
consider _her_ ways, and be wise."--_Prov._, vi, 6. "The _spider_ taketh
hold with _her_ hands, and is in kings' palaces."--_Prov._, xxx, 28. So the
_bee_ is usually made feminine, being a little creature of admirable
industry and economy. But, in general, irrational creatures whose sex is
unknown, or unnecessary to be regarded, are spoken of as neuter; as, "And
it became a _serpent_; and Moses fled from before _it_. And the Lord said
unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take _it_ by the tail. And he put
forth his hand and caught _it_, and _it_ became a rod in his
hand."--_Exod._, iv, 3, 4. Here, although the word _serpent_ is sometimes
masculine, the neuter pronoun seems to be more proper. So of some imaginary
creatures: as, "_Phenix_, the fowl which is said to exist single, and to
rise again from _its_ own ashes."--_Webster's Dict._ "So shall the
_Phoenix_ escape, with no stain on _its_ plumage."--_Dr. Bartlett's Lect._,
OBS. 9.--But this liberty of representing animals as of no sex, is often
carried to a very questionable extent; as, "The _hare_ sleeps with _its_
eyes open."--_Barbauld_. "The _hedgehog_, as soon as _it_ perceives
_itself_ attacked, rolls _itself_ into a kind of ball, and presents nothing
but _its_ prickles to the foe."--_Blair's Reader_, p. 138. "The _panther_
is a ferocious creature: like the tiger _it_ seizes _its_ prey by
surprise."--_Ib._, p. 102. "The _leopard_, in _its_ chace of prey, spares
neither man nor beast."--_Ib._, p. 103. "If a man shall steal an _ox_, or a
_sheep_, and kill _it_, or sell _it_."--_Exod._, xxii, 1. "A _dog_ resists
_its_ instinct to run after a hare, because _it_ recollects the beating
_it_ has previously received on that account. The _horse_ avoids the stone
at which _it_ once has stumbled."--_Spurzheim, on Education_, p. 3. "The
_racehorse_ is looked upon with pleasure; but it is the _warhorse_, that
carries grandeur in _its_ idea."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 30.
OBS. 10.--The sexes are distinguished _by words_, in four different ways.
First, by the use of different terminations: as, _Jew, Jewess; Julius,
Julia; hero, heroine_. Secondly, by the use of entirely different names:
as, _Henry, Mary; king, queen_. Thirdly, by compounds or phrases including
some distinctive term: as, _Mr. Murray, Mrs. Murray; Englishman,
Englishwoman; grandfather, grandmother; landlord, landlady; merman,
mermaid; servingman, servingmaid; man-servant, maid-servant; schoolmaster,
schoolmistress; school-boy, school-girl; peacock, peahen; cock-sparrow,
hen-sparrow; he-goat, she-goat; buck-rabbit, doe-rabbit; male elephant,
female elephant; male convicts, female convicts_. Fourthly, by the pronouns
_he, his, him_, put for nouns masculine; and _she, her, hers_, for nouns