Part 16 out of 54
_Singular_. 1. I saw, 2. Thou sawest, 3. He saw;
_Plural_. 1. We saw, 2. You saw, 3. They saw.
_Singular_. 1. I have seen, 2. Thou hast seen, 3. He has seen;
_Plural_. 1. We have seen, 2. You have seen, 3. They have seen.
_Singular_. 1. I had seen, 2. Thou hadst seen, He had seen;
_Plural_. 1. We had seen, 2. You had seen, 3. They had seen.
_Singular_. 1. I shall see, 2. Thou wilt see, He will see;
_Plural_. 1. We shall see, 2. You will see, 3. They will see.
_Singular_. 1. I shall have seen, 2. Thou wilt have seen, 3. He will have
_Plural_. 1. We shall have seen, 2. You will have seen, 3. They will have
_Singular_. 1. I may see, 2. Thou mayst see, 3. He may see;
_Plural_. 1. We may see, 2. You may see, 3. They may see.
_Singular_. 1. I might see, 2. Thou mightst see, 3. He might see;
_Plural_. 1. We might see, 2. You might see, 3. They might see.
_Singular_. 1. I may have seen, 2. Thou mayst have seen, 3. He may have
_Plural._ 1. We may have seen, 2. You may have seen, 3. They may have seen.
_Singular_. 1. I might have seen, 2. Thou mightst have seen, 3. He might
_Plural_. 1. We might have seen, 2. You might have seen, 3. They might have
_Singular_. 1. If I see, 2. If thou see, 3. If he see;
_Plural_. 1. If we see, 2. If you see, 3. If they see.
_Singular_. 1. If I saw, 2. If thou saw, 3. If he saw;
_Plural_. 1. If we saw, 2. If you saw, 3. If they saw.
_Singular._ 2. See [thou,] _or_ Do thou see; _Plural._ 2. See [ye _or_
you,] _or_ Do you see.
1. _The Imperfect_. 2. _The Perfect_. 3. _The Preperfect_.
Seeing. Seen. Having seen.
NOTE I--The student ought to be able to rehearse the form of a verb, not
only according to the order of the entire conjugation, but also according
to the synopsis of the several persons and numbers. One sixth part of the
paradigm, thus recited, gives in general a fair sample of the whole: and,
in class recitations, this mode of rehearsal will save much time: as, IND.
I see _or_ do see, I saw _or_ did see, I have seen, I had seen, I shall
_or_ will see, I shall _or_ will have seen. POT. I may, can, _or_ must see;
I might, could, would, _or_ should see; I may, can, _or_ must have seen; I
might, could, would, _or_ should have seen. SUBJ. If I see, If I saw.
NOTE II.--In the familiar style, the second person singular of this verb is
usually and more properly formed thus: IND. Thou seest _or_ dost see, Thou
saw _or_ did see, Thou hast seen, Thou had seen, Thou shall _or_ will see,
Thou shall _or_ will have seen. POT. Thou may, can, _or_ must see; Thou
might, could, would, _or_ should see; Thou may, can, _or_ must have seen;
Thou might, could, would, _or_ should have seen. SUBJ. If thou see, If thou
saw. IMP. See [thou,] _or_ Do thou see.
_The irregular neuter verb BE, conjugated affirmatively_.
_Present._ _Preterit._ _Imp. Participle._ _Perf. Participle._
Be. Was. Being. Been.
To have been.
1. I am, 1. We are,
2. Thou art, 2. You are,
3. He is; 3. They are.
1. I was, 1. We were,
2. Thou wast, (_or_ wert,) 2. You were,
3. He was; 3. They were.
1. I have been, 1. We have been,
2. Thou hast been, 2. You have been,
3. He has been; 3. They have been.
1. I had been, 1. We had been,
2. Thou hadst been, 2. You had been,
3. He had been; 3. They had been.
1. I shall be, 1. We shall be,
2. Thou wilt be, 2. You will be,
3. He will be; 3. They will be.
1. I shall have been, 1. We shall have been,
2. Thou wilt have been, 2. You will have been,
3. He will have been; 3. They will have been.
1. I may be, 1. We may be,
2. Thou mayst be, 2. You may be,
3. He may be, 3. They may be.
1. I might be, 1. We might be,
2. Thou mightst be, 2. You might be,
3. He might be; 3. They might be.
1. I may have been, 1. We may have been,
2. Thou mayst have been, 2. You may have been,
3. He may have been; 3. They may have been.
1. I might have been, 1. We might have been,
2. Thou mightst have been, 2. You might have been,
3. He might have been; 3. They might have been.
1. If I be, 1. If we be,
2. If thou be, 2. If you be,
3. If he be; 3. If they be.
1. If I were, 1. If we were,
2. If thou were, _or_ wert, 2. If you were,
3. If he were; If they were.
_Singular_. 2. Be [thou,] _or_ Do thou be;
_Plural_. 2. Be [ye _or_ you,] _or_ Do you be.
1. _The Imperfect_. 2. _The Perfect_. 3. _The Preperfect_.
Being. Been. Having been.
FAMILIAR FORM WITH 'THOU.'
NOTE.--In the familiar style, the second person singular of this verb, is
usually and more properly formed thus: IND. Thou art, Thou was, Thou hast
been, Thou had been, Thou shall _or_ will be, Thou shall _or_ will have
been. POT. Thou may, can, _or_ must be; Thou might, could, would, _or_
should be; Thou may, can, _or_ must have been; Thou might, could, would,
_or_ should have been. SUBJ. If thou be, If thou were. IMP. Be [thou,] _or_
Do thou be.
OBS. 1.--It appears that _be_, as well as _am_, was formerly used for the
indicative present: as, "I be, Thou beest, He be; We be, Ye be, They be."
See _Brightland's Gram._, p. 114. Dr. Lowth, whose Grammar is still
preferred at Harvard University, gives both forms, thus: "I am, Thou art,
He is; We are, Ye are, They are. Or, I be, Thou beest, He _is_; We be, Ye
be, They be." To the third person singular, he subjoins the following
example and remark: "'I think it _be_ thine indeed, for thou liest in it.'
Shak. Hamlet. _Be_, in the singular number of this time and mode,
especially in the third person, is obsolete; and _is become_ somewhat
antiquated _in the plural_."--_Lowth's Gram._, p. 36. Dr. Johnson gives
this tense thus: "_Sing_. I am; thou art; he is; _Plur_. We are, _or_ be;
ye are, _or_ be; they are, _or_ be." And adds, "The plural _be_ is now
little in use."--_Gram. in Johnson's Dict._, p. 8. The Bible commonly has
_am, art, is_, and _are_, but not always; the indicative _be_ occurs in
some places: as, "We _be_ twelve brethren."--_Gen._, xlii, 32. "What _be_
these two olive branches?"--_Zech._, iv, 12. Some traces of this usage
still occur in poetry: as,
"There _be_ more things to greet the heart and eyes
In Arno's dome of Art's most princely shrine,
Where Sculpture with her rainbow sister vies;
There _be_ more marvels yet--but not for mine."
--_Byron's Childe Harold_, Canto iv, st. 61.
OBS. 2.--Respecting the verb _wert_, it is not easy to determine whether it
is most properly of the indicative mood only, or of the subjunctive mood
only, or of both, or of neither. The _regular_ and _analogical_ form for
the indicative, is "Thou _wast_;" and for the subjunctive, "If thou
_were_." Brightland exhibits, "I _was_ or _were_, Thou _wast_ or _wert_, He
_was_ or _were_," without distinction of mood, for the three persons
singular; and, for the plural, _were_ only. Dr. Johnson gives us, for the
indicative, "Thou wast, _or_ wert;" with the remark, "_Wert_ is properly of
the _conjunctive_ mood, and ought not to be used in the
indicative."--_Johnson's Gram._, p. 8. In his conjunctive (or subjunctive)
mood, he has, "Thou _beest_," and "Thou _wert_." So Milton wrote, "If thou
_beest_ he."--_P. Lost_, B. i, l. 84. Likewise Shakspeare: "If thou _beest_
Stephano."--_Tempest_. This inflection of _be_ is obsolete: all now say,
"If thou _be_." But _wert_ is still in use, to some extent, _for both
moods_; being generally placed by the grammarians in the subjunctive only,
but much oftener written for the indicative: as, "Whate'er thou art or
_wert_."--_Byron's Harold_, Canto iv, st. 115. "O thou that _wert_ so
happy!"--_Ib._, st. 109. "Vainly _wert_ thou wed."--_Ib._, st. 169.
OBS. 3.--Dr. Lowth gave to this verb, BE, that form of the subjunctive
mood, which it now has in most of our grammars; appending to it the
following examples and questions: "'Before the sun, Before the Heavens,
thou _wert_.'--_Milton_. 'Remember what thou _wert_.'--_Dryden_. 'I knew
thou _wert_ not slow to hear.'--_Addison_. 'Thou who of old _wert_ sent to
Israel's court.'--_Prior_. 'All this thou _wert_.'--_Pope_. 'Thou, Stella,
_wert_ no longer young.'--_Swift_. Shall we, in deference to these great
authorities," asks the Doctor, "allow _wert_ to be the same with _wast_,
and common to the indicative and [the] subjunctive mood? or rather abide by
the practice of our best ancient writers; the propriety of the language,
which requires, as far as may be, distinct forms, for different moods; and
the analogy of formation in each mood; I _was_, thou _wast_; I _were_, thou
_wert_? all which conspire to make _wert_ peculiar to the subjunctive
mood."--_Lowth's Gram._, p. 37; _Churchill's_, p. 251. I have before shown,
that several of the "best ancient writers" _did not inflect_ the verb
_were_, but wrote "_thou were_;" and, surely, "the analogy of formation,"
requires that the subjunctive _be not inflected_. Hence "the propriety
which requires distinct forms," requires not _wert_, in either mood. Why
then should we make this contraction of the old indicative form _werest_, a
_solitary exception_, by fixing it in the subjunctive only, and that in
opposition to the best authorities that ever used it? It is worthier to
take rank with its kindred _beest_, and be called an _archaism_.
OBS. 4.--The chief characteristical difference between the indicative and
the subjunctive mood, is, that in the latter the verb is _not inflected at
all_, in the different persons: IND. "Thou _magnifiest_ his work." SUBJ.
"Remember that thou _magnify_ his work."--_Job_, xxxvi, 24. IND. "He _cuts_
off, _shuts_ up, and _gathers_ together." SUBJ. "If he _cut_ off, and
_shut_ up, or _gather_ together, then who can hinder him?"--_Job_, xl, 10.
There is also a difference of meaning. The Indicative, "If he _was_,"
admits the fact; the Subjunctive, "If he _were_," supposes that he was
not. These moods may therefore be distinguished by the sense, even when
their forms are alike: as, "Though _it thundered_, it did not
rain."--"Though _it thundered_, he would not hear it." The indicative
assumption here is, "Though it _did thunder_," or, "Though there _was
thunder_;" the subjunctive, "Though it _should thunder_," or, "Though there
_were_ thunder." These senses are clearly different. Writers however are
continually confounding these moods; some in one way, some in an other.
Thus S. R. Hall, the teacher of a _Seminary for Teachers_: "SUBJ. _Present
Tense_. 1. If I be, _or_ am, 2. If thou be, _or_ art, 3. If he be, _or_ is;
1. If we be, _or_ are, 2. If ye _or_ you be, _or_ are, 3. If they be, _or_
are. _Imperfect Tense_. 1. If I were, _or_ was, 2. If thou wert, _or_ wast,
3. If he were, _or_ was; 1. If we were, 2. If ye _or_ you were, 3. If they
were."--_Hall's Grammatical Assistant_, p. 11. Again: "SUBJ. _Present
Tense_. 1. If I love, 2. If thou _lovest_, 3. If he love," &c. "The
remaining tenses of this _mode_, are, _in general_, similar to the
correspondent tenses of the Indicative _mode, only_ with the conjunction
prefixed."--_Ib._, p. 20. Dr. Johnson observes, "The indicative and
conjunctive moods are by modern writers frequently confounded; or rather
the conjunctive is wholly neglected, when some convenience of versification
does not invite its revival. It is used among the purer writers of former
times; as, 'Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham _be_ ignorant of
us, and Israel _acknowledge_ us not.'"--_Gram. in Joh. Dict._, p. 9. To
neglect the subjunctive mood, or to confound it with the indicative, is to
augment several of the worst faults of the language.
II. COMPOUND OR PROGRESSIVE FORM.
Active and neuter verbs may also be conjugated, by adding the Imperfect
Participle to the auxiliary verb BE, through all its changes; as, "I _am
writing_ a letter."--"He _is sitting_ idle."--"They _are going_." This form
of the verb denotes a _continuance_ of the action or state of being, and
is, on many occasions, preferable to the simple form of the verb.
_The irregular active verb READ, conjugated affirmatively, in the Compound
PRINCIPAL PARTS OF THE SIMPLE VERB.
_Present._ _Preterit._ _Imp. Participle._ _Perf. Participle._
R=ead. R~ead. R=eading. R~ead.
To be reading.
To have been reading.
1. I am reading, 1. We are reading,
2. Thou art reading, 2. You are reading,
3. He is reading; 3. They are reading.
1. I was reading, 1. We were reading,
2. Thou wast reading, 2. You were reading,
3. He was reading; 3. They were reading.
1. I have been reading, 1. We have been reading,
2. Thou hast been reading, 2. You have been reading,
3. He has been reading; 3. They have been reading.
1. I had been reading, 1. We had been reading,
2. Thou hadst been reading, 2. You had been reading,
3. He had been reading; 3. They had been reading.
1. I shall be reading, 1. We shall be reading,
2. Thou wilt be reading, 2. You will be reading,
3. He will be reading; 3. They will be reading.
1. I shall have been reading, 1. We shall have been reading,
2. Thou wilt have been reading, 2. You will have been reading,
3. He will have been reading; 3. They will have been reading.
1. I may be reading, 1. We may be reading,
2. Thou mayst be reading, 2. You may be reading,
3. He may be reading; 3. They may be reading.
1. I might be reading, 1. We might be reading,
2. Thou mightst be reading, 2. You might be reading,
3. He might be reading; 3. They might be reading.
1. I may have been reading, 1. We may have been reading,
2. Thou mayst have been reading, 2. You may have been reading,
3. He may have been reading; 3. They may have been reading.
1. I might have been reading, 1. We might have been reading,
2. Thou mightst have been reading, 2. You might have been reading,
3. He might have been reading; 3. They might have been reading.
1. If I be reading, 1. If we be reading,
2. If thou be reading, 2. If you be reading,
3. If he be reading; 3. If they be reading.
1. If I were reading, 1. If we were reading,
2. If thou were reading, 2. If you were reading,
3. If he were reading; 3. If they were reading.
Sing. 2. Be [thou] reading, _or_ Do thou be reading;
Plur. 2. Be [ye or you] reading, _or_ Do you be reading.
1. _The Imperfect_. 2. _The Perfect_. 3. _The Preperfect_.
Being reading. --------- Having been reading.
FAMILIAR FORM WITH 'THOU.'
NOTE.--In the familiar style, the second person singular of this verb, is
usually and more properly formed thus: IND. Thou art reading, Thou was
reading, Thou hast been reading, Thou had been reading, Thou shall _or_
will be reading, Thou shall _or_ will have been reading. POT. Thou may,
can, _or_ must be reading; Thou might, could, would, _or_ should be
reading; Thou may, can, _or_ must have been reading; Thou might, could,
would, _or_ should have been reading. SUBJ. If thou be reading, If thou
were reading. IMP. Be [thou,] reading, _or_ Do thou be reading.
OBS. 1.--Those verbs which, in their simple form, imply continuance, do not
admit the compound form: thus we say, "I _respect_ him;" but not, "I _am
respecting_ him." This compound form seems to imply that kind of action,
which is susceptible of intermissions and renewals. Affections of the mind
or heart are supposed to last; or, rather, actions of this kind are
complete as soon as they exist. Hence, _to love, to hate, to desire, to
fear, to forget, to remember_, and many other such verbs, are _incapable_
of this method of conjugation. It is true, we often find in grammars
such models, as, "I _was loving_, Thou _wast loving_, He _was loving_," &c.
But this language, to express what the authors intend by it, is not
English. "He _was loving_," can only mean, "He was _affectionate_:" in
which sense, loving is an adjective, and susceptible of comparison. Who, in
common parlance, has ever said, "He _was loving me_," or any thing like it?
Yet some have improperly published various examples, or even whole
conjugations, of this spurious sort. See such in _Adam's Gram._, p. 91;
_Gould's Adam_, 83; _Bullions's English Gram._, 52; _his Analyt. and Pract.
Gram._, 92; _Chandler's New Gram._, 85 and 86; _Clark's_, 80; _Cooper's
Plain and Practical_, 70; _Frazee's Improved_, 66 and 69; _S. S. Greene's_,
234; _Guy's_, 25; _Hallock's_, 103; _Hart's_, 88; _Hendrick's_, 38;
_Lennie's_, 31; _Lowth's_, 40; _Harrison's_, 34; _Perley's_, 36; _Pinneo's
OBS. 2.--Verbs of this form have sometimes a passive signification; as,
"The books _are now selling_."--_Allen's Gram._, p. 82. "As the money _was
paying_ down."--_Ainsworth's Dict., w._ As. "It requires no motion in the
organs whilst it _is forming_."--_Murray's Gram._, p. 8. "Those works _are
long forming_ which must always last."--_Dr. Chetwood_. "While the work of
the temple _was carrying_ on."--_Dr. J. Owen_. "The designs of Providence
_are carrying on_."--_Bp. Butler_. "A scheme, which _has been carrying_ on,
and _is_ still _carrying_ on."--_Id., Analogy_, p. 188. "We are permitted
to know nothing of what _is transacting_ in the regions above us."--_Dr.
Blair_. "While these things _were transacting_ in Germany."--_Russell's
Modern Europe_, Part First, Let. 59. "As he _was carrying_ to execution, he
demanded to be heard."--_Goldsmith's Greece_, Vol. i, p. 163. "To declare
that the action _was doing_ or done."--_Booth's Introd._, p. 28. "It _is
doing_ by thousands now."--_Abbott's Young Christian_, p. 121. "While the
experiment _was making_, he was watching every movement."--_Ib._, p. 309.
"A series of communications from heaven, which _had been making_ for
fifteen hundred years."--_Ib._, p. 166. "Plutarch's Lives _are
re-printing_."--_L. Murray's Gram._, 8vo, p. 64. "My Lives _are
reprinting_."--DR. JOHNSON: _Worcester's Univ. and Crit. Dict._, p. xlvi.
"All this _has been transacting_ within 130 miles of London."--BYRON:
_Perley's Gram._, p. 37. "When the heart _is corroding_ by
vexations."--_Student's Manual_, p. 336. "The padlocks for our lips _are
forging_."--WHITTIER: _Liberator_, No. 993. "When his throat _is
cutting_."--_Collier's Antoninus_. "While your story _is
telling_."--_Adams's Rhet._, i, 425. "But the seeds of it _were sowing_
some time before."--_Bolingbroke, on History_, p. 168. "As soon as it was
formed, nay even whilst it _was forming_."--_Ib._, p. 163. "Strange schemes
of private ambition _were formed and forming_ there."--_Ib._, p. 291. "Even
when it _was making and made_."--_Ib._, 299. "Which have been made and _are
making_."--HENRY CLAY: _Liberator_, ix, p. 141. "And they are in measure
_sanctified_, or _sanctifying_, by the power thereof."--_Barclay's Works_,
i, 537. "Which _is_ now _accomplishing_ amongst the uncivilized countries
of the earth."--_Chalmers, Sermons_, p. 281. "Who _are ruining_, or
_ruined_, [in] this way."--_Locke, on Ed._, p. 155. "Whilst they _were
undoing_."--_Ibid._ "Whether he was employing fire to consume [something,]
or _was_ himself _consuming_ by fire."--_Crombie, on Etym. and Syntax_, p.
148. "At home, the greatest exertions _are making_ to promote its
progress."--_Sheridan's Elocution_, p. iv. "With those [sounds] which _are
uttering_."--_Ib._, p. 125. "Orders _are now concerting_ for the dismissal
of all officers of the Revenue marine."--_Providence Journal_, Feb. 1,
1850. Expressions of this kind are condemned by some critics, under the
notion that the participle in _ing_ must never be passive; but the usage is
unquestionably of far better authority, and, according to my apprehension,
in far better taste, than the more complex phraseology which some late
writers adopt in its stead; as, "The books _are_ now _being sold_."--"In
all the towns about Cork, the whiskey shops _are being closed_, and soup,
coffee, and tea houses [are] _establishing_ generally."--_Dublin Evening
OBS. 3.--The question here is, Which is the most correct expression, "While
the bridge _was building_,"--"While the bridge was _a_ building,"--or,
"While the bridge _was being built_?" And again, Are they all wrong? If
none of these is right, we must reject them all, and say, "While _they were
building_ the bridge;"--"While the bridge _was in process of
erection_;"--or resort to some other equivalent phrase. Dr. Johnson, after
noticing the compound form of active-intransitives, as, "I _am
going_"--"She _is dying_,"--"The tempest _is raging_,"--"I _have been
walking_," and so forth, adds: "There is another manner of using the active
participle, which gives it a _passive_ signification: as, The grammar
is now printing, _Grammatica jam nunc chartis imprimitur_. The brass is
forging, _AEra excuduntur_. This is, in my opinion," says he, "a _vitious_
expression, probably corrupted from a phrase more pure, but now somewhat
obsolete: The book is _a_ printing, The brass is _a_ forging; _a_ being
properly _at_, and _printing_ and _forging_ verbal nouns signifying action,
according to the analogy of this language."--_Gram. in Joh. Dict._, p. 9.
OBS. 4.--_A_ is certainly sometimes a _preposition_; and, as such, it may
govern a participle, and that without converting it into a "_verbal noun_."
But that such phraseology ought to be preferred to what is exhibited with
so many authorities, in a preceding paragraph, and with an example from
Johnson among the rest, I am not prepared to concede. As to the notion of
introducing a new and more complex passive form of conjugation, as, "The
bridge is _being built_," "The bridge _was being built_," and so forth, it
is one of the most absurd and monstrous innovations ever thought of. Yet
some two or three men, who seem to delight in huge absurdities, declare
that this "modern _innovation_ is _likely to supersede_" the simpler mode
of expression. Thus, in stead of, "The work _is now publishing_," they
choose to say, "The work is _now being published_."--_Kirkham's Gram._, p.
82. This is certainly no better English than, "The work _was being
published, has been being published, had been being published, shall or
will be being published, shall or will have been being published_;" and so
on, through all the moods and tenses. What a language shall we have when
our verbs are thus conjugated!
OBS. 5.--A certain _Irish_ critic, who even outdoes in rashness the
above-cited American, having recently arrived in New York, has republished
a grammar, in which he not only repudiates the passive use of the
participle in _ing_, but denies the usual passive form of the present
tense, "_I am loved, I am smitten_" &c., as taught by Murray and others, to
be good English; and tells us that the true form is, "_I am being loved, I
am being smitten_," &c. See the 98th and 103d pages of _Joseph W. Wright's
Philosophical Grammar_, (_Edition of_ 1838,) _dedicated_ "TO COMMON
SENSE!"  But both are offset, if not refuted, by the following
observations from a source decidedly better: "It has lately become common
to use the present participle passive [,] to express the suffering of an
action as _continuing_, instead of the participle in _-ing_ in the passive
sense; thus, instead of, 'The house _is building_,' we now very frequently
hear, 'The house _is being built_.' This mode of expression, besides being
awkward, is incorrect, and _does not express the idea intended_. This will
be obvious, I think, from the following considerations.
"1. The expression, '_is being_,' is equivalent to '_is_,' and expresses no
more; just as, '_is loving_,' is equivalent to, '_loves_.' Hence, '_is
being built_,' is precisely equivalent to, '_is built_.'
"2. '_Built_,' is a perfect participle; and therefore cannot, in any
connexion, express an action, or the suffering of an action, _now in
progress_. The verb _to be_, signifies _to exist_; '_being_,' therefore, is
equivalent to '_existing_.' If then we substitute the synonyme, the nature
of the expression will be obvious; thus, 'the house is _being built_,' is,
in other words, 'the house is _existing built_,' or more simply as before,
'the house _is built_;' plainly importing an action not progressing, but
now _existing in a finished state_.
"3. If the expression, '_is being built_,' be a correct form of the present
indicative passive, then it must be equally correct to say in the perfect,
'_has been being built_;' in the past perfect, '_had been being built_;' in
the present infinitive,'_to be being built_;' in the perfect
infinitive,'_to have been being built_;' and in the present participle,
'_being being built_;' which all will admit to be expressions as incorrect
as they are inelegant, but precisely analogous to that which now begins to
prevail."--_Bullions's Principles of English Gram._, p. 58.
OBS. 6.--It may be replied, that the verbs _to be_ and _to exist_ are not
always synonymous; because the former is often a mere auxiliary, or a mere
copula, whereas the latter always means something positive, as _to be in
being, to be extant_. Thus we may speak of a thing as _being destroyed_, or
may say, it _is annihilated_; but we can by no means speak of it as
_existing destroyed_, or say, it _exists annihilated_. The first argument
above is also nugatory. These drawbacks, however, do not wholly destroy the
force of the foregoing criticism, or at all extenuate the obvious tautology
and impropriety of such phrases as, _is being, was being_, &c. The
gentlemen who affirm that this new form of conjugation "_is being
introduced_ into the language," (since they allow participles to follow
possessive pronouns) may very fairly be asked, "What evidence have you of
_its being being introduced_?" Nor can they, on their own principles,
either object to the monstrous phraseology of this question, or tell how to
OBS. 7.--D. H. Sanborn, an other recent writer, has very emphatically
censured this innovation, as follows: "English and American writers have of
late introduced a new kind of phraseology, which has become quite prevalent
in the periodical and popular publications of the day. Their intention,
doubtless, is, to supersede the use of the verb in the _definite form_,
when it has a passive signification. They say, 'The ship is _being_
built,'--'time is _being wasted_,"--'the work is _being advanced_,' instead
of, 'the ship is _building_, time is _wasting_, the work is _advancing_.'
Such a phraseology is a solecism too palpable to receive any favor; it is
at war with the practice of the most distinguished writers in the English
language, such as Dr. Johnson and Addison. "When an individual says, 'a
house is being burned,' he declares that a house is _existing, burned_,
which is impossible; for _being_ means existing, and _burned, consumed by
fire_. The house ceases to exist as such, after it is consumed by fire. But
when he says, 'a house _is burning_,' we understand that it is _consuming
by fire_; instead of inaccuracy, doubt, and ambiguity, we have a form of
expression perfectly intelligible, beautiful, definite, and
appropriate."--_Sanborn's Analytical Gram._, p. 102.
OBS. 8.--Dr. Perley speaks of this usage thus: "An attempt has been made of
late to introduce a kind of passive participial voice; as, 'The temple is
being built.' This ought not to be encouraged. For, besides being an
innovation, it is less convenient than the use of the present participle in
the passive sense. _Being built_ signifies action _finished_; and how can,
_Is being built_, signify an _action unfinished?"--Perley's Gram._, p. 37.
OBS. 9.--The question now before us has drawn forth, on either side, a deal
of ill scholarship and false logic, of which it would be tedious to give
even a synopsis. Concerning the import of some of our most common words and
phrases, these ingenious masters,--Bullions, Sanborn, and
Perley,--severally assert some things which seem not to be exactly true. It
is remarkable that critics can err in expounding terms so central to the
language, and so familiar to all ears, as "_be, being, being built, burned,
being burned, is, is burned, to be burned_," and the like. _That to be_ and
_to exist_, or their like derivatives, such as _being_ and _existing, is_
and _exists_, cannot always explain each other, is sufficiently shown
above; and thereby is refuted Sanborn's chief argument, that, "_is being
burned_," involves the contradiction of "_existing, burned_," or "_consumed
by fire_." According to his reasoning, as well as that of Bullions, _is
burned_ must mean _exists consumed; was burned, existed consumed_; and thus
our whole passive conjugation would often be found made up of bald
absurdities! That this new _unco-passive_ form conflicts with the older and
better usage of taking the progressive form sometimes passively, is
doubtless a good argument against the innovation; but that "Johnson and
Addison" are fit representatives of the older "practice" in this case, may
be doubted. I know not that the latter has anywhere made use of such
phraseology; and one or two examples from the former are scarcely an offset
to his positive verdict against the usage. See OBS. 3rd, above.
OBS. 10.--As to what is called "_the present_ or _the imperfect participle
passive_,"--as, "_being burned_," or "_being burnt_,"--if it is rightly
interpreted in _any_ of the foregoing citations, it is, beyond question,
very improperly _thus_ named. In participles, _ing_ denotes _continuance_:
thus _being_ usually means _continuing to be; loving, continuing to love;
building, continuing to build_,--or (as taken passively) _continuing to be
built_: i. e., (in words which express the sense more precisely and
certainly,) _continuing to be in process of construction_. What then is
"being built," but "_continuing to be built_," the same, or nearly the
same, as "_building_" taken passively? True it is, that _built_, when
alone, being a perfect participle, does not mean "_in process of
construction_," but rather, "_constructed_" which intimates _completion_;
yet, in the foregoing passive phrases, and others like them, as well as in
all examples of this unco-passive voice, continuance of the passive state
being first suggested, and cessation of the act being either regarded as
future or disregarded, the imperfect participle passive is for the most
part received as equivalent to the simple imperfect used in a passive
sense. But Dr. Bullions, who, after making "_is being built_ precisely
equivalent to _is built_," classes the two participles differently, and
both erroneously,--the one as a "_present_ participle," and the other, of
late, as a "_past_,"--has also said above, "'_Built_,' is a _perfect_
participle: and THEREFORE cannot, in _any connexion_, express an action, or
the suffering of an action, _now in progress_." And Dr. Perley, who also
calls the compound of _being_ a "_present_ participle," argues thus:
"_Being built_ signifies an _action, finished_; and how can _Is being
built_, signify an _action unfinished_?" To expound a _passive_ term
_actively_, or as "signifying _action_," is, at any rate, a near approach
to absurdity; and I shall presently show that the fore-cited notion of "a
perfect participle," now half abandoned by Bullions himself, has been the
seed of the very worst form of that ridiculous neology which the good
Doctor was opposing.
OBS. 11.--These criticisms being based upon the _meaning_ of certain
participles, either alone or in phrases, and the particular terms spoken of
being chiefly meant to represent _classes_, what is said of them may be
understood of their _kinds_. Hence the appropriate _naming_ of the kinds,
so as to convey no false idea of any participle's import, is justly brought
into view; and I may be allowed to say here, that, for the first participle
passive, which begins with "_being_," the epithet "_Imperfect_" is better
than "_Present_," because this compound participle denotes, not always
what is _present_, but always _the state_ of something by which an action
is, _or was, or will be, undergone or undergoing--a state continuing_, or
so regarded, though perhaps the action causative may be ended--or sometimes
perhaps imagined only, and not yet really begun. With a marvellous
instability of doctrine, for the professed systematizer of different
languages and grammars, Dr. Bullions has recently changed his names of the
second and third participles, in both voices, from "_Perfect_" and
"_Compound Perfect_," to "_Past_" and "_Perfect_." His notion now is, that,
"_The Perfect_ participle is always compound; as, _Having finished, Having
been finished_."--_Bullions's Analyt. and Pract. Grammar_, 1849, p. 77. And
what was the "_Perfect_" before, in his several books, is now called the
"_Past_;" though, with this change, he has deliberately made an other which
is repugnant to it: this participle, being the basis of three tenses
always, and of all the tenses sometimes, is now allowed by the Doctor to
lend the term "_perfect_" to the three,--"_Present-perfect, Past-perfect,
Future-perfect,"_--even when itself is named otherwise!
OBS. 12.--From the erroneous conception, that a perfect participle must, in
every connexion, express "_action finished_," _action past_,--or perhaps
from only a moiety of this great error,--the notion that such a participle
cannot, in connexion with an auxiliary, constitute a passive verb of the
_present tense_,--J. W. Wright, above-mentioned, has not very unnaturally
reasoned, that, "The expression, '_I am loved_,' which Mr. Murray has
employed to exhibit the passive conjugation of the _present tense_, may
much more _feasibly_ represent _past_ than _present_ time."--See _Wright's
Philosophical Gram._, p. 99. Accordingly, in his own paradigm of the
passive verb, he has formed _this_ tense solely from what he calls the
participle _present_, thus: "I _am being smitten_, Thou _art being
smitten_," &c.--_Ib._, p. 98. His "_Passed Tense_," too, for some reason
which I do not discover, he distinguishes above the rest by a _double
form_, thus: "I _was smitten, or being smitten_; Thou _wast smitten, or
being smitten_;" &c.--P. 99. In his opinion, "Few will object to _the
propriety of_ the more familiar phraseology, '_I am in the_ ACT,--or,
_suffering_ the ACTION _of_ BEING SMITTEN;' and yet," says he, "in
substance and effect, it is wholly the same as, '_I am being smitten_,'
which is THE TRUE FORM of the verb in the _present_ tense of the _passive
voice!_"--_Ibid._ Had we not met with some similar expressions of English
or American blunderers, "the _act_ or _action of being smitten_," would be
accounted a downright Irish bull; and as to this ultra notion of
neologizing all our passive verbs, by the addition of "_being_,"--with the
author's cool talk of "_the presentation of this theory, and_ [_the_]
_consequent suppression of that hitherto employed_,"--there is a
transcendency in it, worthy of the most sublime aspirant among grammatical
OBS. 13.--But, with all its boldness of innovation, Wright's Philosophical
Grammar is not a little _self-contradictory_ in its treatment of the
passive verb. The entire "suppression" of the usual form of its present
tense, did not always appear, even to this author, quite so easy and
reasonable a matter, as the foregoing citations would seem to represent it.
The passive use of the participle in _ing_, he has easily disposed of:
despite innumerable authorities for it, one false assertion, of seven
syllables, suffices to make it quite impossible. But the usual passive
form, which, with some show of truth, is accused of not having always
precisely the same meaning as the progressive used passively,--that is, of
not always denoting _continuance in the state of receiving continued
action_,--and which is, for that remarkable reason, judged worthy of
_rejection_, is nevertheless admitted to have, in very many instances, a
conformity to this idea, and therefore to "belong [thus far] to the present
tense."--P. 103. This contradicts to an indefinite extent, the proposition
for its rejection. It is observable also, that the same examples, '_I am
loved_' and 'I _am smitten_,'--the same "_tolerated, but erroneous forms_,"
(so called on page 103,) that are given as specimens of what he would
reject,--though at first pronounced "_equivalent_ in grammatical
construction," censured for the same pretended error, and proposed to be
changed alike to "_the true form_" by the insertion of "_being_,"--are
subsequently declared to "belong to" different classes and different
tenses. "_I am loved_," is referred to that "numerous" class of verbs,
which "_detail_ ACTION _of prior, but retained, endured, and continued
existence_; and therefore, in this sense, _belong to the present tense_."
But "_I am smitten_," is idly reckoned of an opposite class, (said by Dr.
Bullions to be "perhaps the greater number,") whose "ACTIONS described are
neither _continuous_ in their nature, nor _progressive_ in their duration;
but, on the contrary, _completed_ and _perfected_; and [which] are
consequently descriptive of _passed_ time and ACTION."--_Wright's Gram._,
p. 103. Again: "In what instance soever this latter form and signification
_can_ be introduced, _their import should be, and, indeed, ought to be,
supplied by the perfect tense construction_:--for example, '_I am
smitten_,' [should] be, '_I have been smitten_.'"--_Ib._ Here is
self-contradiction indefinitely extended _in an other way_. Many a good
phrase, if not every one, that the author's first suggestion would turn to
the unco-passive form, his present "_remedy_" would about as absurdly
convert into "the perfect tense."
OBS. 14.--But Wright's inconsistency, about this matter, ends not here: it
runs through all he says of it; for, in this instance, error and
inconsistency constitute his whole story. In one place, he anticipates and
answers a question thus: "To what tense do the constructions, 'I am
pleased;' 'He is expected;' '_I am smitten_;' 'He is bound;' belong?" "We
answer:--_So far as_ these and like constructions are applicable to the
delineation of _continuous_ and _retained_ ACTION, they express _present_
time; and must be treated accordingly."--P. 103. This seems to intimate
that even, "_I am smitten_," and its likes, as they stand, may have some
good claim to be of the present tense; which suggestion is contrary to
several others made by the author. To expound this, or any other passive
term, _passively_, never enters his mind: with him, as with sundry others,
"ACTION," "_finished_ ACTION," or "_progressive_ ACTION," is all any
_passive_ verb or participle ever means! No marvel, that awkward
perversions of the forms of utterance and the principles of grammar should
follow such interpretation. In Wright's syntax a very queer distinction is
apparently made between a passive verb, and the participle chiefly
constituting it; and here, too, through a fancied ellipsis of "_being_"
before the latter, most, if not all, of his other positions concerning
passives, are again disastrously overthrown by something worse--a word
"_imperceptibly understood_." "'_I am smitten_;' '_I was smitten_;' &c.,
are," he says, "the _universally acknowledged forms_ of the VERBS in these
tenses, in the passive voice:--not of the _PARTICIPLE_. In all verbal
constructions of the character of which we have hitherto treated, (see page
103) _and, where_ the ACTIONS described are _continuous_ in their
_operations_,--the participle BEING is _imperceptibly omitted, by
OBS. 15.--Dr. Bullions has stated, that, "The present participle active,
and the present participle passive, are _not counterparts_ to each other in
signification; [,] the one signifying the present doing, and the other the
present suffering of an action, [;] for the latter _always intimates the
present being of an_ ACT, _not in progress, but completed_."--_Prin. of
Eng. Gram._, p. 58. In this, he errs no less grossly than in his idea of
the "_action_ or the suffering" expressed by "a _perfect_ participle," as
cited in OBS. 5th above; namely, that it must have _ceased_. Worse
interpretation, or balder absurdity, is scarcely to be met with; and yet
the reverend Doctor, great linguist as he should be, was here only trying
to think and tell the common import of a very common sort of _English_
participles; such as, "_being loved_" and "_being seen_." In grammar, "_an
act_," that has "_present being_," can be nothing else than an act now
doing, or "_in progress_;" and if, "_the present being of an_ ACT _not in
progress_," were here a possible thought, it surely could not be intimated
by any _such_ participle. In Acts, i, 3 and 4, it is stated, that our
Saviour showed himself to the apostles, "alive after his passion, by many
infallible proofs, _being seen_ of them forty days, and _speaking_ of the
things _pertaining_ to the kingdom of God; and, _being assembled_ together
with them commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem." Now,
of these misnamed "_present_ participles," we have here one "_active_," one
"_passive_," and two others--(one in each form--) that are _neuter_; but
_no present time_, except what is in the indefinite date of "_pertaining_."
The events are past, and were so in the days of St. Luke. Yet each of the
participles denotes _continuance_: not, indeed, in or to the _present
time_, but _for a time_. "_Being seen_" means _continuing to be seen_; and,
in this instance, the period of the continuance was "forty days" of time
past. But, according to the above-cited "_principle of English Grammar_,"
so long and so widely inculcated by "the Rev. Peter Bullions, D. D.,
Professor of Languages," &c.,--a central principle of interpretation,
presumed by him to hold "_always_"--this participle must intimate "_the
present being of an act, not in progress, but completed_;"--that is, "_the
present being of" the apostles' act in formerly seeing the risen Saviour_!
OBS. 16.--This grammarian has lately taken a deal of needless pains to
sustain, by a studied division of verbs into two classes, similar to those
which are mentioned in OBS. 13th above, a part of the philosophy of J. W.
Wright, concerning our usual form of passives in the present tense. But, as
he now will have it, that the two voices sometimes tally as counterparts,
it is plain that he adheres but partially to his former erroneous
conception of a perfect or "past" participle, and the terms which hold it
"in any connexion." The awkward substitutes proposed by the Irish critic,
he does not indeed countenance; but argues against them still, and, in some
respects, very justly. The doctrine now common to these authors, on this
point, is the highly important one, that, in respect to half our verbs,
what we commonly take for the passive present, _is not such_--that, in "the
_second_ class, (perhaps the greater number,) the _present-passive_ implies
that _the act expressed by the active voice has ceased_. Thus, 'The house
is built.' * * * Strictly speaking, then," says the Doctor, "the PAST
PARTICIPLE with the verb TO BE _is not the present tense in the passive
voice of verbs thus used_; that is, this form does not express passively
the _doing_ of the act."--_Bullions's Analyt. and Pract. Grammar_, Ed. of
1849, p. 235. Thus far these two authors agree; except that Wright seems to
have avoided the incongruity of _calling_ that "_the present-passive_"
which he _denies_ to be such. But the Doctor, approving none of this
practitioner's "remedies," and being less solicitous to provide other
treatment than expulsion for the thousands of present passives which both
deem spurious, adds, as from the chair, this verdict: "These verbs either
_have no present-passive_, or it is made by annexing the participle in
_ing_, in its passive sense, to the verb _to be_; as, 'The house _is
building_.'"--_Ib._, p. 236.
OBS. 17.--It would seem, that Dr. Bullions thinks, and in reality Wright
also, that nothing can be a present passive, but what "_expresses passively
the_ DOING _of the act_." This is about as wise, as to try to imagine every
active verb to _express actively the receiving of an act_! It borders
exceedingly hard upon absurdity; it very much resembles the nonsense of
"_expressing receptively the giving of something_!" Besides, the word
"DOING," being used substantively, does not determine well what is here
meant; which is, I suppose, _continuance_, or an _unfinished state_ of the
act received--an idea which seems adapted to the participle in _ing_, but
which it is certainly no fault of a participle ending in _d, t_, or _n_,
not to suggest. To "_express passively the doing of the act_," if the
language means any thing rational, may be, simply to say, that the act _is_
or _was done_. For "_doings_" are, as often as any-wise, "_things done_,"
as _buildings_ are _fabrics built_; and "_is built_," and "_am smitten_,"
the gentlemen's choice examples of _false passives_, and of "_actions
finished_,"--though neither of them necessarily intimates either
continuance or cessation of the act suffered, or, if it did, would be the
less or the more passive or present,--may, in such a sense, "express _the
doing_ of the act," if any passives can:--nay, the "finished act" has such
completion as may be stated with degrees of progress or of frequency; as,
"The house _is partly built_."--"I _am oftener smitten_." There is,
undoubtedly, some difference between the assertions, "The house _is
building_,"--and, "The house _is partly built_;" though, for practical
purposes, perhaps, we need not always be very nice in choosing between
them. For the sake of variety, however, if for nothing else, it is to be
hoped, the doctrine above-cited, which limits half our passive verbs of the
present tense, _to the progressive form only_, will not soon be generally
approved. It impairs the language more than unco-passives are likely ever
to corrupt it.
OBS. 18.--"No _startling novelties_ have been introduced," says the preface
to the "Analytical and Practical Grammar of the English Language." To have
shunned all shocking innovations, is only to have exercised common
prudence. It is not pretended, that any of the Doctor's errors here
remarked upon, or elsewhere in this treatise, will _startle_ any body; but,
if errors exist, even in plausible guise, it may not be amiss, if I tell of
them. To suppose every verb or participle to be either "_transitive_" or
"_intransitive_," setting all _passives_ with the former sort, all
_neuters_ with the latter; (p. 59;)--to define the _transitive_ verb or
participle as expressing always "_an act_ DONE _by one person or thing to
another_;" (p. 60;)--to say, after making passive verbs transitive, "The
object of a transitive verb is in the _objective case_," and, "A verb that
does not make sense with an objective after it, is intransitive;" (p.
60;)--to insist upon a precise and almost universal _identity of "meaning_"
in terms so obviously _contrasted_ as are the two voices, "active" and
"passive;" (pp. 95 and 235;)--to allege, as a general principle, "that
whether we use the active, or the passive voice, _the meaning is the same_,
except in some cases in the present tense;" (p. 67;)--to attribute to the
forms naturally opposite in voice and sense, that sameness of meaning which
is observable only in certain _whole sentences_ formed from them; (pp. 67,
95, and 235;)--to assume that each "VOICE is a particular _form of the
verb_," yet make it include _two cases_, and often a preposition before one
of them; (pp. 66, 67, and 95;)--to pretend from the words, "The PASSIVE
VOICE represents the subject of the verb as _acted upon_," (p. 67,) that,
"_According to the_ DEFINITION, the passive voice expresses, passively,
_the same thing_ that the active does actively;" (p. 235;)--to affirm that,
"'Caesar _conquered_ Gaul,' and 'Gaul _was conquered_ by Caesar,' express
_precisely the same idea_,"--and then say, "It will be felt at once that
the expressions, 'Caesar _conquers_ Gaul,' and 'Gaul _is conquered_ by
Caesar,' _do not express the same thing_;" (p. 235;)--to deny that passive
verbs or neuter are worthy to constitute a distinct class, yet profess to
find, in one single tense of the former, such a difference of meaning as
warrants a general division of verbs in respect to it; (_ib._;)--to
announce, in bad English, that, "_In regard to this matter_ [,] there are
evidently Two CLASSES of verbs; namely, those _whose_ present-passive
expresses precisely the same thing, passively, as the active voice does
actively, and those _in which it_ does not:" (_ib._;)--to do these several
things, as they have been done, is, to set forth, not "novelties" only, but
errors and inconsistencies.
OBS. 19.--Dr. Bullions still adheres to his old argument, that _being_
after its own verb must be devoid of meaning; or, in his own words, "that
_is being built_, if it mean anything, can mean nothing more than _is
built_, which is not the idea intended to be expressed."--_Analyt. and
Pract. Gram._, p. 237. He had said, (as cited in OBS. 5th above,) "The
expression, '_is being_,' is equivalent to _is_, and expresses _no more_;
just as, '_is loving_,' is equivalent to '_loves_.' Hence, '_is being
built_,' is precisely equivalent to '_is built_.'"--_Principles of E.
Gram._, p. 58. He has now discovered "that _there is no progressive form_
of the verb _to be_, and no need of it:" and that, "hence, _there is no
such expression_ in English as _is being_."--_Analyt. and Pract. Gram._, p.
236. He should have noticed also, that "_is loving_" is not an authorized
"equivalent to _loves_;" and, further, that the error of saying "_is being
built_," is only in the relation of the _first two words_ to each other. If
"_is being_," and "_is loving_," are left unused for the same reason, the
truth may be, that _is_ itself, like _loves_, commonly denotes
"_continuance_;" and that _being_ after it, in stead of being necessary or
proper, can only be awkwardly tautologous. This is, in fact, THE GRAND
OBJECTION to the new phraseology--"_is being practised_"--"_am being
smitten_"--and the like. Were there no danger that petty writers would one
day seize upon it with like avidity, an other innovation, exactly similar
to this in every thing but tense--similar in awkwardness, in tautology, in
unmistakeableness--might here be uttered for the sake of illustration. Some
men conceive, that "The _perfect_ participle is always compound; as,
_having seen, having written_;"--and that the simple word, _seen_ or
_written_, had originally, and still ought to have, only a passive
construction. For such views, they find authorities. Hence, in lieu of the
common phrases, "_had we seen_," "_we have written_," they adopt such
English as this; "_Had we having seen_ you, we should have stopped."--"_We
have having written_ but just now, to our correspondent." Now, "_We are
being smitten_," is no better grammar than this;--and no worse: "The idea
intended" is in no great jeopardy in either case.
OBS. 20.--J. R. Chandler, of Philadelphia, in his Common School Grammar of
1847, has earnestly undertaken the _defence_ of this new and much-mooted
passive expression: which he calls "_the Definite Passive Voice_," or "_the
Passive Voice of the Definite Form_." He admits it, however, to be a form
that "does not _sound well_,"--a "_novelty_ that strikes the ear
unpleasantly;" but he will have the defect to be, not in the tautologous
conceit of "_is being_," "_was being_," "_has been being_," and the like,
but in everybody's organ of hearing,--supposing all ears corrupted, "from
infancy," to a distaste for correct speech, by "the habit of _hearing_ and
using words _ungrammatically_!"--See p. 89. Claiming this new form as "_the
true passive_," in just contrast with the progressive active, he not only
rebukes all attempts "to evade" the use of it, "by some real or supposed
_equivalent_," but also declares, that, "The attempt to deprive the
transitive definite verb of [this] _its passive voice_, is _to strike at
the foundation of the language_, and _to strip it of one of its most
important qualities_; that of making both actor and sufferer, each in turn
and at pleasure, the subject of conversation."--_Ibid._ Concerning
_equivalents_, he evidently argues fallaciously; for he urges, that the
using of them "_does not dispense with the necessity of the definite
passive voice_."--P. 88. But it is plain, that, of the many fair
substitutes which may in most cases be found, if any one is preferred, this
form, and all the rest, are of course rejected for the time.
OBS. 21.--By Chandler, as well as others, this new passive form is
justified only on the supposition, that the simple participle in _ing_ can
never with propriety be used passively. No plausible argument, indeed, can
be framed for it, without the assumption, that the simpler form, when used
in the same sense, _is ungrammatical_. But this is, in fact, a begging of
the main question; and that, in opposition to abundant authority for the
usage condemned. (See OBS. 3d, above.) This author pretends that, "_The
RULE of all grammarians_ declares the verb _is_, and a _present participle_
(_is building_, or _is writing_), to be in the active voice" only.--P. 88.
(I add the word "_only_," but this is what he means, else he merely
quibbles.) Now in this idea he is wrong, and so are the several grammarians
who support the principle of this imaginary "_RULE_." The opinion of
critics in general would be better represented by the following suggestions
of the Rev. W. Allen: "When the English verb does not signify _mental
affection_, the distinction of voice is often disregarded: thus we say,
_actively_, they _were selling_ fruit; and, _passively_, the books _are_
now _selling_. The same remark applies to the participle used as a noun:
as, actively, _drawing_ is an elegant amusement, _building_ is expensive;
and, passively, his _drawings_ are good, this is a fine
_building_."--_Allen's Elements of E. Gram._, p. 82.
OBS. 22.--Chandler admits, that, "When it is said, 'The house is
_building_,' the meaning is easily obtained; though," he strangely insists,
"_it is exactly opposite to the assertion_."--P. 89. He endeavours to show,
moreover, by a fictitious example made for the purpose, that the
progressive form, if used in both voices, will be liable to ambiguity. It
may, perhaps, be so in some instances; but, were there weight enough in the
objection to condemn the passive usage altogether, one would suppose there
might be found, somewhere, _an actual example or two_ of the abuse. Not
concurring with Dr. Bullions in the notion that the active voice and the
passive usually "express precisely the same thing," this critic concludes
his argument with the following sentence: "There is an _important
difference_ between _doing_ and _suffering_; and that _difference is
grammatically shown_ by the appropriate use of the active and passive
voices of a verb."--_Chandler's Common School Gram._, p. 89.
OBS. 23.--The opinion given at the close of OBS. 2d above, was first
published in 1833. An opposite doctrine, with the suggestion that it is
"_improper_ to say, '_the house is building_,' instead of 'the house _is
being built_,'"--is found on page 64th of the Rev. David Blair's Grammar,
of 1815,--"Seventh Edition," with a preface dated, "_October 20th_, 1814."
To any grammarian who wrote at a period much earlier than that, the
question about _unco-passives_ never occurred. Many critics have passed
judgement upon them since, and so generally with reprobation, that the man
must have more hardihood than sense, who will yet disgust his readers or
hearers with them. That "This new form has been used by _some
respectable writers_," we need not deny; but let us look at the given
"_instances of it_: 'For those who _are being educated_ in our seminaries.'
R. SOUTHEY.--'It _was being uttered_.' COLERIDGE.--'The foundation _was
being laid_.' BRIT. CRITIC."--_English Grammar with Worcester's Univ. and
Crit. Dict._, p. xlvi. Here, for the first example, it would be much better
to say, "For those who _are educated_," --or, "who _are receiving
their education_;" for the others, "It _was uttering_,"--"_was
uttered_,"--or, "_was in uttering_."--"The foundation _was laying_,"--"_was
laid_,"--or, "_was about being laid_." Worcester's opinion of the "new
form" is to be inferred from his manner of naming it in the following
sentence: "Within a few years, a _strange and awkward_ neologism has been
introduced, by which the _present passive participle_ is substituted, in
such cases as the above, for the participle in _ing_."--_Ibid._ He has two
instances more, in each of which the phrase is linked with an expression of
disapprobation; "' It [[Greek: tetymmenos]] signifies properly, though _in
uncouth English_, one who _is being beaten_.' ABP. WHATELY.--'The bridge
_is being built_, and other phrases of the like kind, _have_ pained the
eye.' D. BOOTH."--_Ibid._
OBS. 24.--Richard Hiley, in the third edition of his Grammar, published in
London, in 1840, after showing the passive use of the participle in _ing_,
proceeds thus: "No ambiguity arises, we presume, from the use of the
participle in this manner. To avoid, however, affixing a passive
signification to the participle in _ing_, an attempt has lately been made
to substitute the passive participle in its place. Thus instead of 'The
house was _building_,' 'The work _imprinting_,' we sometimes hear, 'The
house was _being built_,' 'The work is _being printed_.' But this mode is
_contrary to the English idiom_, and has not yet obtained the sanction of
reputable authority."--_Hiley's Gram._, p. 30.
OBS. 25.--Professor Hart, of Philadelphia, whose English Grammar was first
published in 1845, justly prefers the usage which takes the progressive
form occasionally in a passive sense; but, in arguing against the new
substitute, he evidently remoulds the early reasoning of Dr. Bullions,
errors and all; a part of which he introduces thus: "I know the correctness
of this mode of expression has lately been very much assailed, and an
attempt, to some extent successful, has been made [,] to introduce the form
[,] _'is being built.'_ But, in the first place, the old mode of expression
is a well established usage of the language, being found in our best and
most correct writers. Secondly, _is being built_ does not convey the idea
intended, [;] namely [,] that of _progressive action. Is being_, taken
together, means simply _is_, just as _is writing_ means _writes_;
therefore, _is being built_ means _is built_, a perfect and not a
progressive ACTION. Or, if _being_ [and] _built_ be taken together, _they
signify an_ ACTION COMPLETE, and the phrase means, as before, _the house
is_ (EXISTS) _being built_."--_Hart's Gram._, p. 76. The last three
sentences here are liable to many objections, some of which are suggested
OBS. 26.--It is important, that the central phraseology of our language be
so understood, as not to be _misinterpreted with credit_, or falsely
expounded by popular critics and teachers. Hence errors of _exposition_ are
the more particularly noticed in these observations. In "_being built_,"
Prof. Hart, like sundry authors named above, finds nothing but "ACTION
COMPLETE." Without doubt, Butler interprets better, when he says, "'The
house _is built_,' denotes an _existing state_, rather than a _completed
action_." But this author, too, in his next three sentences, utters as many
errors; for he adds: "The name of the agent _cannot be expressed_ in
phrases of this kind. We _cannot say_, 'The house is built _by John_.' When
we say, 'The house is built by mechanics,' we _do not express an existing
state_."--_Butler's Practical Gram._, p. 80. Unquestionably, "_is built by
mechanics_," expresses _nothing else_ than the "_existing state_" of being
"built by mechanics," together with an affirmation:--that is, the "existing
state" of receiving the action of mechanics, is affirmed of "the house."
And, in my judgement, one may very well say, "_The house is built by
John_;" meaning, "_John is building the house._" St. Paul says, "Every
house _is builded by_ SOME MAN."--_Heb._, iii, 4. In this text, the common
"name of the agent" is "expressed."
OBS. 27.--Wells and Weld, whose grammars date from 1846, being remarkably
chary of finding anything wrong in "respectable writers," hazard no opinion
of their own, concerning the correctness or incorrectness of either of the
usages under discussion. They do not always see absurdity in the
approbation of opposites; yet one should here, perhaps, count them with the
majorities they allow. The latter says, "The participle in _ing_ is
sometimes used passively; as, forty and six years was this temple in
_building_; not in _being built_."--_Weld's English Gram._, 2d Ed., p. 170.
Here, if he means to suggest, that "_in being built_" would "not" be good
English, he teaches very erroneously; if his thought is, that this phrase
would "not" express the sense of the former one, "_in building_," he
palpably contradicts his own position! But he proceeds, in a note, thus:
"The form of expression, _is being built, is being committed_, &c., is
almost universally condemned by grammarians; but it is _sometimes_ met with
in respectable writers. It occurs most frequently in newspaper paragraphs,
and in hasty compositions."--_Ibid._ Wells comments thus: "Different
opinions have long existed among critics respecting this passive use of
the imperfect participle. Many respectable writers substitute the compound
passive participle; as, 'The house is _being built_;' 'The book is _being
printed_.' But the prevailing practice of the best authors is in favor of
the _simple form_; as, 'The house _is building_.'"--_Wells's School Gram._,
1st Ed., p. 148; 113th Ed., p. 161.
OBS. 28.--S. W. Clark, in the second edition of his Practical Grammar,
stereotyped and published in New York in 1848, appears to favour the
insertion of "_being_" into passive verbs; but his instructions are so
obscure, so often inaccurate, and so incompatible one with an other, that
it is hard to say, with certainty, what he approves. In one place, he has
this position: "The Passive Voice of a verb is formed by adding the
_Passive Participle_ of that verb, to the verb _be_. EXAMPLES--To _be_
loved. I _am_ feared. They _are_ worshipped."--Page 69. In an other, he has
this: "When the Subject is to be represented as receiving the action, _the
Passive Participle_ should be used. EXAMPLE--Henry's _lesson_ is BEING
RECITED."--P. 132. Now these two positions utterly confound each other; for
they are equally general, and "_the Passive Participle_" is first one
thing, and then an other. Again, he has the following assertions, both
false: "The Present (or First) Participle _always_ ends in _ing_, and is
_limited to the Active Voice_. The Past (or Second) Participle of Regular
Verbs ends in _d_ or _ed_, and is _limited to the Passive Voice_."--P. 131.
Afterwards, in spite of the fancied limitation, he acknowledges the passive
use of the participle in _ing_, and that there is "_authority_" for it;
but, at the same time, most absurdly supposes the word to predicate
"_action_," and also to be _wrong_: saying, "_Action_ is _sometimes_
predicated of a _passive_ subject. EXAMPLE--'The _house is building_,..
for.. 'The _house is being built_,'.. which means.. The house _is becoming
built_." On this, he remarks thus: "This is one of the instances in which
_Authority_ is against _Philosophy_. For an _act_ cannot _properly_ be
predicated of a _passive agent_. Many good writers _properly reject_ this
idiom. 'Mansfield's prophecy _is being realized_.'--MICHELET'S
LUTHER."--_Clark's Practical Gram._, p. 133. It may require some study to
learn from this _which idiom it is_. that these "many good writers reject:"
but the grammarian who can talk of "_a passive agent_," without perceiving
that the phrase is self-contradictory and absurd, may well be expected to
entertain a "Philosophy" which is against "Authority," and likewise to
prefer a ridiculous innovation to good and established usage.
most verbs are susceptible of both forms, the simple active and the
compound or progressive, and likewise of a transitive and an intransitive
sense in each; and as many, when taken intransitively, may have a meaning
which is scarcely distinguishable from that of the passive form; it often
happens that this substitution of the imperfect participle passive for the
simple imperfect in _ing_, is quite needless, even when the latter is not
considered passive. For example: "See by the following paragraph, how
widely the bane _is being circulated!_"--_Liberator_, No. 999, p. 34. Here
_is circulating_ would be better; and so would _is circulated_. Nor would
either of these much vary the sense, if at all; for "_circulate_" may mean,
according to Webster, "_to be diffused_," or, as Johnson and Worcester have
it, "_to be dispersed_." See the second marginal note on p. 378.
OBS. 30.--R. G. Parker appears to have formed a just opinion of the "modern
innovation," the arguments for which are so largely examined in the
foregoing observations; but the "principle" which he adduces as
"conclusive" against it, if _principle_ it can be called, has scarcely any
bearing on the question; certainly no more than has the simple assertion of
one reputable critic, that our participle in _ing_ may occasionally be used
passively. "Such expressions as the following," says he, "have recently
become very common, not only in the periodical publications of the day, but
are likewise finding favor with popular writers; as, 'The house _is being
built_.' 'The street _is being paved_.' 'The actions that _are_ now _being
performed_,' &c. 'The patents _are being prepared_.' The usage of the best
writers does not sanction these expressions; and Mr. Pickbourn lays down
the following principle, which is conclusive upon the subject. '_Whenever
the participle_ in _ing_ is joined by an auxiliary verb to a nominative
capable of the action, it is taken actively; but, when joined to one
incapable of the action, it becomes passive. If we say, _The man are
building a house_, the participle _building_ is evidently used in an active
sense; _because_ the men are capable of the action. But when we say, _The
house is building_, or, _Patents are preparing_, the participles _building_
and _preparing_ must necessarily be understood in a passive sense; because
neither the house nor the patents are capable of action.'--See Pickbourn on
the English Verb, pp. 78-80."--_Parker's Aids to English Composition_, p.
105. Pickbourn wrote his Dissertation before the question arose which he is
here supposed to decide. Nor is he right in assuming that the common
Progressive Form, of which he speaks, must be either _active-transitive_ or
_passive_: I have shown above that it may be _active-intransitive_, and
perhaps, in a few instances, _neuter_. The class of the verb is determined
by something else than the mere _capableness_ of the "_nominative_."
III. FORM OF PASSIVE VERBS.
Passive verbs, in English, are always of a
compound form; being made from active-transitive verbs, by adding the
Perfect Participle to the auxiliary verb BE, through all its changes: thus
from the active-transitive verb _love_, is formed the passive verb _be
The regular passive verb BE LOVED, conjugated affirmatively.
PRINCIPAL PARTS or THE ACTIVE VERB.
_Present_. _Preterit_. _Imp. Participle_. _Perf. Participle_.
Love. Loved. Loving. Loved.
To be loved.
To have been loved.
1. I am loved, 1. We are loved,
2. Thou art loved, 2. You are loved,
3. He is loved; 3. They are loved.
1. I was loved, 1. We were loved,
2. Thou wast loved, 2. You were loved,
3. He was loved; 3. They were loved.
1. I have been loved, 1. We have been loved,
2. Thou hast been loved, 2. You have been loved,
3. He has been loved; 3. They have been loved.
1. I had been loved, 1. We had been loved,
2. Thou hadst been loved, 2. You had been loved,
3. He had been loved; 3. They had been loved.
1. I shall be loved, 1. We shall be loved,
2. Thou wilt be loved, 2. You will be loved,
3. He will be loved; 3. They will be loved.
1. I shall have been loved, 1. We shall have been loved,
2. Thou wilt have been loved, 2. You will have been loved,
3. He will have been loved; 3. They will have been loved.
1. I may be loved, 1. We may be loved,
2. Thou mayst be loved, 2. You may be loved,
3. He may be loved; 3. They may be loved.
1. I might be loved, 1. We might be loved,
2. Thou mightst be loved, 2. You might be loved,
3. He might be loved; 3. They might be loved.
1. I may have been loved, 1. We may have been loved,
2. Thou mayst have been loved, 2. You may have been loved,
3. He may have been loved; 3. They may have been loved.
1. I might have been loved, 1. We might have been loved,
2. Thou mightst have been loved, 2. You might have been loved,
3. He might have been loved; 3. They might have been loved.
1. If I be loved, 1. If we be loved,
2. If thou be loved, 2. If you be loved,
3. If he be loved; 3. If they be loved.
1. If I were loved, 1. If we were loved,
2. If thou were loved, 2. If you were loved,
3. If he were loved; 3. If they were loved.
_Singular_. 2. Be [thou] loved, _or_ Do thou be loved;
_Plural_. 2. Be [ye or you] loved, _or_ Do you be loved.
1. _The Imperfect_. 2. _The Perfect_. 3. _The Preperfect_.
Being loved. Loved. Having been loved.
FAMILIAR FORM WITH 'THOU.' NOTE.--In the familiar style, the second person
singular of this verb, is usually and more properly formed thus: IND. Thou
art loved, Thou was loved, Thou hast been loved, Thou had been loved, Thou
shall or will be loved, Thou shall or will have been loved. POT. Thou may,
can, _or_ must be loved; Thou might, could, would, _or_ should be loved;
Thou may, can, _or_ must have been loved; Thou might, could, would, _or_
should have been loved. SUBJ. If thou be loved, If thou were loved. IMP. Be
[thou] loved, or Do thou be loved.
OBS. 1.--A few active-intransitive verbs, that signify mere motion, change
of place, or change of condition, may be put into this form, with a
_neuter_ signification; making not _passive_ but _neuter_ verbs, which
express nothing more than the state which results from the change: as, "_I
am come_."--"She _is gone_."--"He _is risen_."--"They _are fallen_." These
are what Dr. Johnson and some others call "_neuter_ passives;" a name which
never was very proper, and for which we have no frequent use.
OBS. 2.--Most neuter verbs of the passive form, such as, "_am grown, art
become, is lain, are flown, are vanished, are departed, was sat, were
arrived_," may now be considered errors of conjugation, or perhaps of
syntax. In the verb, _to be mistaken_, there is an irregularity which ought
to be particularly noticed. When applied to _persons_, this verb is
commonly taken in a _neuter_ sense, and signifies, _to be in error, to be
wrong_; as, "I _am mistaken_, thou _art mistaken_, he _is mistake_." But,
when used of _things_, it is a proper passive verb, and signifies, _to be
misunderstood_, or _to be taken wrong_; as, "The sense of the passage _is
mistaken_; that is, not rightly understood." See _Webster's Dict., w.
Mistaken_. "I have known a shadow across a brook _to be mistaken_ for a
OBS. 3.--Passive verbs may be easily distinguished from neuter verbs of the
same form, by a reference to the agent or instrument, common to the former
class, but not to the latter. This frequently is, and always may be,
expressed after _passive_ verbs; but never is, and never can be, expressed
after _neuter_ verbs: as, "The thief has been caught _by the officer_."--
"Pens are made _with a knife_." Here the verbs are passive; but, "_I am not
yet ascended_," (John, xx, 17,) is not passive, because it does not convey
the idea of being ascended _by_ some one's agency.
OBS. 4.--Our ancient writers, after the manner of the French, very
frequently employed this mode of conjugation in a neuter sense; but, with a
very few exceptions, present usage is clearly in favour of the auxiliary
_have_ in preference to _be_, whenever the verb formed with the perfect
participle is not passive; as, "They _have_ arrived,"--not, "They _are_
arrived." Hence such examples as the following, are not now good English:
"All these reasons _are_ now ceased."--_Butler's Analogy_, p. 157. Say,
"_have now_ ceased." "Whether he _were_ not got beyond the reach of his
faculties."--_Ib._, p. 158. Say, "_had_ not got." "Which _is_ now grown
wholly obsolete."--_Churchill's Gram._, p. 330. Say, "_has_ now grown."
"And when he _was_ entered into a ship."--_Bible_. Say, "_had_ entered."--
"What _is_ become of decency and virtue?"--_Murray's Key_, p. 196. Say,
OBS. 5.--Dr. Priestley says, "It seems _not to have been determined_ by the
English grammarians, whether the _passive_ participles of verbs neuter
require the auxiliary _am_ or _have_ before them. The French, in this case,
confine themselves strictly to the former. 'What _has become_ of national
liberty?' Hume's History, Vol. 6. p. 254. The French would say, _what is
become_; and, in this instance, perhaps, with more propriety."--
_Priestley's Gram._, p. 128. It is no marvel that those writers who have
not rightly made up their minds upon this point of English grammar, should
consequently fall into many mistakes. The perfect participle of a neuter
verb is not "_passive_," as the doctor seems to suppose it to be; and the
mode of conjugation which he here inclines to prefer, is a mere
_Gallicism_, which is fast wearing out from our language, and is even now
but little countenanced by good writers.
OBS. 6.--There are a few verbs of the passive form which seem to imply that
a person's own mind is the agent that actuates him; as, "The editor _is
rejoiced_ to think," &c.--_Juvenile Keepsake_. "I _am resolved_ what to
do."--_Luke_, xvi, 4. "He _was resolved_ on going to the city to
reside."--_Comly's Gram._, p. 114. "James _was resolved_ not to indulge
himself."--_Murray's Key_, ii, 220. "He _is inclined_ to go."--"He _is
determined_ to go."--"He _is bent_ on going." These are properly passive
verbs, notwithstanding there are active forms which are nearly equivalent
to most of them; as, "The editor _rejoices_ to think."--"I _know_ what to
do."--"He _had resolved_ on going."--"James _resolved_ not to indulge
himself." So in the phrase, "I _am ashamed_ to beg," we seem to have a
passive verb of this sort; but, the verb _to ashame_ being now obsolete,
_ashamed_ is commonly reckoned an _adjective_. Yet we cannot put it before
a noun, after the usual manner of adjectives. _To be indebted_, is an other
expression of the same kind. In the following example, "_am remember'd_" is
used for _do remember_, and, in my opinion, _inaccurately_:
"He said mine eyes were black, and my hair black;
And, now I _am remember'd_, scorn'd at me."--_Shakspeare_.
IV. FORM OF NEGATION.
A verb is conjugated _negatively_, by placing the adverb _not_ after it, or
after the first auxiliary; but the infinitive and participles take the
negative first: as, Not to love, Not to have loved; Not loving, Not loved,
Not having loved.
FIRST PERSON SINGULAR.
IND. I love not, _or_ I do not love; I loved not, _or_ I did not love; I
have not loved; I had not loved; I shall not, _or_ will not, love; I shall
not, _or_ will not, have loved. POT. I may, can, _or_ must not love; I
might, could, would, _or_ should not love; I may, can, _or_ must not have
loved; I might, could, would, _or_ should not have loved, SUBJ. If I love
not, If I loved not.
SECOND PERSON SINGULAR.
SOLEMN STYLE:--IND. Thou lovest not, _or_ Thou dost not love; Thou lovedst
not, _or_ Thou didst not love; Thou hast not loved; Thou hadst not loved;
Thou shalt not, _or_ wilt not, love; Thou shalt not, _or_ wilt not, have
loved. POT. Thou mayst, canst, _or_ must not love; Thou mightst, couldst,
wouldst, _or_ shouldst not love; Thou mayst, canst, _or_ must not have
loved; Thou mightst, couldst, wouldst, _or_ shouldst not have loved. SUBJ.
If thou love not, If thou loved not. IMP. Love [thou] not, _or_ Do thou not
FAMILIAR STYLE:--IND. Thou lov'st not, _or_ Thou dost not love; Thou loved
not, _or_ Thou did not love; Thou hast not loved; Thou had not loved; Thou
shall not, _or_ will not, love; Thou shall not, _or_ will not, have loved.
POT. Thou may, can, _or_ must not love; Thou might, could, would, _or_
should not love; Thou may, can, _or_ must not have loved; Thou might,
could, would, _or_ should not have loved. SUBJ. If thou love not, If thou
loved not. IMP. Love [thou] not, _or_ Do [thou] not love.
THIRD PERSON SINGULAR.
IND. He loves not, _or_ He does not love; He loved not, _or_ He did not
love; He has not loved; He had not loved; He shall not, _or_ will not,
love; He shall not, _or_ will not, have loved. POT. He may, can, _or_ must
not love; He might, could, would, _or_ should not love; He may, can, _or_
must not have loved; He might, could, would, _or_ should not have loved.
SUBJ. If he love not, If he loved not.
V. FORM OF QUESTION.
A verb is conjugated _interrogatively_, in the indicative and potential
moods, by placing the nominative after it, or after the first auxiliary:
FIRST PERSON SINGULAR.
IND. Love I? _or_ Do I love? Loved I? _or_ Did I love? Have I loved? Had I
loved? Shall I love? Shall I have loved? POT. May, can, _or_ must I love?
Might, could, would, _or_ should I love? May, can, _or_ must I have loved?
Might, could, would, _or_ should I have loved?
SECOND PERSON SINGULAR.
SOLEMN STYLE:--IND. Lovest thou? _or_ Dost thou love? Lovedst thou? _or_
Didst thou love? Hast thou loved? Hadst thou loved? Wilt thou love? Wilt
thou have loved? POT. Mayst, canst, _or_ must thou love? Mightst, couldst,
wouldst, _or_ shouldst thou love? Mayst, canst, _or_ must thou have loved?
Mightst, couldst, wouldst, _or_ shouldst thou have loved?
FAMILIAR STYLE:--IND. Lov'st thou? _or_ Dost thou love? Loved thou? _or_
Did thou love? Hast thou loved? Had thou loved? Will thou love? Will thou
have loved? POT. May, can, _or_ must thou love? Might, could, would, _or_
should thou love? May, can, _or_ must thou have loved? Might, could, would,
_or_ should thou have loved?
THIRD PERSON SINGULAR.
IND. Loves he? _or_ Does he love? Loved he? _or_ Did he love? Has he loved?
Had he loved? Shall _or_ will he love? Will he have loved? POT. May, can,
_or_ must he love? Might, could, would, _or_ should he love? May, can, _or_
must he have loved? Might, could, would, _or_ should he have loved?
VI. FORM OF QUESTION WITH NEGATION.
A verb is conjugated _interrogatively and negatively_, in the indicative
and potential moods, by placing the nominative and the adverb _not_ after
the verb, or after the first auxiliary: as,
FIRST PERSON PLURAL.
IND. Love we not? _or_ Do we not love? Loved we not? _or_ Did we not love?
Have we not loved? Had we not loved? Shall we not love? Shall we not have
loved? POT. May, can, _or_ must we not love? Might, could, would, _or_
should we not love? May, can, _or_ must we not have loved? Might, could,
would, _or_ should we not have loved?
SECOND PERSON PLURAL.
IND. See ye not? _or_ Do you not see? Saw ye not? _or_ Did you not see?
Have you not seen? Had you not seen? Will you not see? Will you not have
seen? POT. May, can, _or_ must you not see? Might, could, would, _or_
should you not see? May, can, _or_ must you not have seen? Might, could,
would, _or_ should you not have seen?
THIRD PERSON PLURAL.
IND. Are they not loved? Were they not loved? Have they not been loved? Had
they not been loved? Shall _or_ will they not be loved? Will they not have
been loved? May, can, _or_ must they not be loved? Might, could, would,
_or_ should they not be loved? May, can, _or_ must they not have been
loved? Might, could, would, _or_ should they not have been loved?
OBS. 1.--In a familiar question or negation, the compound or auxiliary form
of the verb is, in general, preferable to the simple: as, "No man lives to
purpose, who _does not live_ for posterity."--_Dr. Wayland_. It is indeed
so much more common, as to seem the only proper mode of expression: as,
"_Do I say_ these things as a man?"--"_Do you think_ that we excuse
ourselves?"--"_Do you not know_ that a little leaven _leavens_ the whole
lump?"--"_Dost thou revile?_" &c. But in the solemn or the poetic style,
though either may be used, the simple form is more dignified, and perhaps
more graceful: as, "_Say I_ these things as a man?"--_1 Cor._, ix, 8.
"_Think ye_ that we excuse ourselves?"--_2 Cor._, xii, 19. "_Know ye not_
that a little leaven _leaveneth_ the whole lump?"--_1 Cor._, v, 6.
"_Revilest thou_ God's high priest?"--_Acts_. "King Agrippa, _believest
thou_ the prophets?"--_Ib._ "_Understandest thou_ what thou
readest?"--_Ib._ "Of whom _speaketh_ the prophet this?"--_Id._ "And the man
of God said, Where _fell it?_"--_2 Kings_, vi, 6.
"What! _heard ye not_ of lowland war?"--_Sir W. Scott, L. L._
"_Seems he not_, Malise, like a ghost?"--_Id., L. of Lake_.
"Where _thinkst thou_ he is now? _Stands he_, or _sits he?_
Or _does he walk?_ or _is he_ on his horse?"--_Shak., Ant. and Cleop._
OBS. 2.--In interrogative sentences, the auxiliaries _shall_ and _will_ are
not always capable of being applied to the different persons agreeably to
their use in simple declarations: thus, "_Will_ I go?" is a question which
there never can be any occasion to ask in its literal sense; because none
knows better than I, what my will or wish is. But "_Shall_ I go?" may
properly be asked; because _shall_ here refers to _duty_, and asks to know
what is agreeable to the will of an other. In questions, the first person
generally requires _shall_; the second, _will_; the third admits of both:
but, in the second-future, the third, used interrogatively, seems to
require _will_ only. Yet, in that figurative kind of interrogation which is
sometimes used to declare a negative, there may be occasional exceptions to
these principles; as, "_Will I eat_ the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood
of goats?"--_Psalms_, 1, 13. That is, _I will not eat_, &c.
OBS. 3.--_Cannot_ is not properly one word, but two: in parsing, the adverb
must be taken separately, and the auxiliary be explained with its
principal. When power is denied, _can_ and _not_ are now _generally
united_--perhaps in order to prevent ambiguity; as, "I _cannot_ go." But
when the power is affirmed, and something else is denied, the words are
written separately; as, "The Christian apologist _can not merely_ expose
the utter baseness of the infidel assertion, but he has positive ground for
erecting an opposite and confronting assertion in its place."--_Dr.
Chalmers._ The junction of these terms, however, is not of much importance
to the sense; and, as it is plainly contrary to analogy, some writers,--(as
Dr. Webster, in his late or "improved" works; Dr. Bullions, in his; Prof.
W. C. Fowler, in his new "English Grammar," 8vo; R. C. Trench, in his
"Study of Words;" T. S. Pinneo, in his "revised" grammars; J. R. Chandler,
W. S. Cardell, O. B. Peirce,--) always separate them. And, indeed, why
should we write, "I _cannot_ go, Thou _canst not_ go, He _cannot_ go?"
Apart from the custom, we have just as good reason to join _not_ to _canst_
as to _can_; and sometimes its union with the latter is a gross error: as,
"He _cannot only_ make a way to escape, but with the injunction to duty can
infuse the power to perform."--_Maturin's Sermons_, p. 287. The fear of
ambiguity never prevents us from disjoining _can_ and _not_ whenever we
wish to put a word between them: as, "Though the waves thereof toss
themselves, yet _can_ they _not_ prevail; though they roar, yet _can_ they
_not_ pass over it."--_Jeremiah_, v, 22. "Which then I _can_ resist
_not_."--_Byron's Manfred_, p. 1.
"_Can_ I _not_ mountain maiden spy,
But she must bear the Douglas eye?"--_Scott_.
OBS. 4.--In negative questions, the adverb _not_ is sometimes placed before
the nominative, and sometimes after it: as, "Told _not I_ thee?"--_Numb._,
xxiii, 26. "Spake _I not_ also to thy messengers?"--_Ib._, xxiv, 12.
"_Cannot I_ do with you as this potter?"--_Jer._, xviii, 6. "Art _not thou_
a seer?"--_2 Sam._, xv, 27. "Did _not Israel_ know?"--_Rom._, x, 19. "Have
_they not_ heard?"--_Ib._, 18. "Do _not they_ blaspheme that worthy
name?"--_James_, ii, 7. This adverb, like every other, should be placed
where it will sound most agreeably, and best suit the sense. Dr. Priestley
imagined that it could not properly come before the nominative. He says,
"When the nominative case is put after the verb, on account of _an_
interrogation, _no other word_ should be interposed between them.
[EXAMPLES:] 'May _not we_ here say with Lucretius?'--Addison on Medals, p.
29. May _we not_ say? 'Is _not it_ he.' [?] Smollett's Voltaire, Vol 18, p.
152. Is _it not_ he. [?]"--_Priestley's Gram._, p. 177.
OBS. 5.--In grave discourse, or in oratory, the adverb _not_ is spoken as
distinctly as other words; but, _ordinarily_, when placed before the
nominative, it is rapidly slurred over in utterance and the _o_ is not
heard. In fact, it is _generally_ (though inelegantly) contracted in
familiar conversation, and joined to the auxiliary: as, IND. Don't they do
it? Didn't they do it? Haven't they done it? Hadn't they done it? Shan't,
_or_ won't they do it? Won't they have done it? POT. Mayn't, can't, _or_
mustn't they do it? Mightn't, couldn't, wouldn't, _or_ shouldn't they do
it? Mayn't, can't, _or_ mustn't they have done it? Mightn't, couldn't,
wouldn't, _or_ shouldn't they have done it?
OBS. 6.--Well-educated people commonly utter their words with more
distinctness and fullness than the vulgar, yet without adopting ordinarily
the long-drawn syllables of poets and orators, or the solemn phraseology of
preachers and prophets. Whatever may be thought of the grammatical
propriety of such contractions as the foregoing, no one who has ever
observed how the English language is usually spoken, will doubt their
commonness, or their antiquity. And it may be observed, that, in the use of
these forms, the distinction of persons and numbers in the verb, is almost,
if not entirely, dropped. Thus _don't_ is used for _dost not_ or _does
not_, as properly as for _do not_; and, "_Thou can't_ do it, or _shan't_ do
it," is as good English as, "_He can't_ do it, or _shan't_ do it." _Will_,
according to Webster, was anciently written _woll_: hence _won't_ acquired
the _o_, which is long in Walker's orthoepy. _Haven't_, which cannot be
used for _has not_ or _hast not_, is still further contracted by the
vulgar, and spoken _ha'nt_, which serves for all three. These forms are
sometimes found in books; as, "WONT, a contraction of _woll not_, that is,
_will not_."--_Webster's Dict._ "HA'NT, a contraction of _have not_ or _has
not_."--_Id._ "WONT, (w=ont _or_ w~unt,) A contraction of _would not_:--
used for _will_ not."--_Worcester's Dict._ "HAN'T, (haent or h=ant,) A
vulgar contraction for _has not_, or _have not_."--_Id._ In the writing of
such contractions, the apostrophe is not always used; though some think it
necessary for distinction's sake: as, "Which is equivalent, because what
_can't_ be done _won't_ be done."--_Johnson's Gram. Com._, p. 312.
An _irregular verb_ is a verb that does not form the preterit and the
perfect participle by assuming _d_ or _ed_; as, _see, saw, seeing, seen_.
Of this class of verbs there are about one hundred and ten, beside their
several derivatives and compounds.
OBS. 1.--Regular verbs form their preterits and perfect participles, by
adding _d_ to final _e_, and _ed_ to all other terminations; the final
consonant of the verb being sometimes doubled, (as in _dropped_,) and final
_y_ sometimes changed into _i_, (as in _cried_,) agreeably to the rules for
spelling in such cases. The verb _hear, heard, hearing, heard_, adds _d_ to
_r_, and is therefore irregular. _Heard_ is pronounced _h~erd_ by all our
lexicographers, except _Webster_: who formerly wrote it _heerd_, and still
pronounces it so; alleging, in despite of universal usage against him, that
it is written "more correctly _heared_."--_Octavo Dict._, 1829. Such
pronunciation would doubtless require this last orthography, "_heared_;"
but both are, in fact, about as fanciful as his former mode of spelling,
which ran thus: "_Az_ I had _heerd_ suggested by _frends_ or indifferent
_reeders_."--_Dr. Webster's Essays, Preface_, p. 10.
OBS. 2.--When a verb ends in a sharp consonant, _t_ is sometimes improperly
substituted for _ed_, making the preterit and the perfect participle
irregular in spelling, when they are not so in sound; as, _distrest_ for
_distressed, tost_ for _tossed, mixt_ for _mixed, cract_ for _cracked_.
These contractions are now generally treated as _errors_ in writing; and
the verbs are accordingly (with a few exceptions) accounted regular. Lord
Kames commends Dean Swift for having done "all in his power to restore the
syllable _ed_;" says, he "possessed, if any man ever did, the true genius
of the English tongue;" and thinks that in rejecting these ugly
contractions, "he well deserves to be imitated."--_Elements of Criticism_,
Vol. ii, p. 12. The regular orthography is indeed to be preferred in all
such cases; but the writing of _ed_ restores no syllable, except in solemn
discourse; and, after all, the poems of Swift have so very many of these
irregular contractions in _t_, that one can hardly believe his lordship had
ever read them. Since the days of these critics still more has been done
towards the restoration of the _ed_, in orthography, though not in sound;
but, even at this present time, our poets not unfrequently write, _est_ for
_essed_ or _ess'd_, in forming the preterits or participles of verbs that
end in the syllable _ess_. This is an ill practice, which needlessly
multiplies our redundant verbs, and greatly embarrasses what it seems at
first to simplify: as,
"O friend! I know not which way I must look
For comfort, being, as I am, _opprest_,
To think that now our life is only _drest_
For show."--_Wordsworth's Poetical Works_, 8vo, p. 119.
OBS. 3.--When the verb ends with a smooth consonant, the substitution of
_t_ for _ed_ produces an irregularity in sound as well as in writing. In
some such irregularities, the poets are indulged for the sake of rhyme; but
the best speakers and writers of prose prefer the regular form, wherever
good use has sanctioned it: thus _learned_ is better than _learnt; burned_,
than _burnt; penned_, than _pent; absorbed_, than _absorbt; spelled_, than
_spelt; smelled_, than _smelt_. So many of this sort of words as are
allowably contracted, belong to the class of redundant verbs, among which
they may be seen in a subsequent table.
OBS. 4.--Several of the irregular verbs are variously used by the best
authors; redundant forms are occasionally given to some verbs, without
sufficient authority; and many preterits and participles which were
formerly in good use, are now obsolete, or becoming so. The _simple_
irregular verbs in English are about one hundred and ten, and they are
nearly all monosyllables. They are derived from the Saxon, in which
language they are also, for the most part, irregular.
OBS. 5.--The following alphabetical list exhibits the simple irregular
verbs, as they are _now generally_ used. In this list, those preterits and
participles which are supposed to be preferable, and best supported by
authorities, are placed first. Nearly all compounds that follow the form of
their simple verbs, or derivatives that follow their primitives, are here
purposely omitted. _Welcome_ and _behave_ are always regular, and therefore
belong not here. Some words which are obsolete, have also been omitted,
that the learner might not mistake them for words in present use. Some of
those which are placed last, are now little used.
LIST OF THE IRREGULAR VERBS.
_Present. Preterit. Participle. Participle_.
Arise, arose, arising, arisen.
Be, was, being, been.
Bear, bore _or_ bare, bearing, borne _or_ born.
Beat, beat, beating, beaten _or_ beat.
Begin, began _or_ begun, beginning, begun.
Behold, beheld, beholding, beheld.
Beset, beset, besetting, beset.
Bestead, bestead, besteading, bestead.
Bid, bid _or_ bade, bidding, bidden _or_ bid.
Bind, bound, bing, bound.
Bite, bit, biting, bitten _or_ bit.
Bleed, bled, bleeding, bled.
Break, broke, breaking, broken.
Breed, bred, breeding, bred.
Bring, brought, bringing, brought.
Buy, bought, buying, bought.
Cast, cast, casting, cast.
Chide, chid, chiding, chidden _or_ chid.
Choose, chose, choosing, chosen.
Cleave, cleft _or_ clove, cleaving, cleft _or_ cloven.
Cling, clung, clinging, clung.
Come, came, coming, come.
Cost, cost, costing, cost.
Cut, cut, cutting, cut.
Do, did, doing, done.
Draw, drew, drawing, drawn.
Drink, drank, drinking, drunk, _or_ drank.
Drive, drove, driving, driven.
Eat, ate _or_ ~eat, eating, eaten _or_ eat.
Fall, fell, falling, fallen.
Feed, fed, feeding, fed.
Feel, felt, feeling, felt.
Fight, fought, fighting, fought.
Find, found, finding, found.
Flee, fled, fleeing, fled.
Fling, flung, flinging, flung.
Fly, flew, flying, flown.
Forbear, forbore, forbearing, forborne.
Forsake, forsook, forsaking, forsaken.
Get, got, getting, got _or_ gotten.
Give, gave, giving, given.
Go, went, going, gone.
Grow, grew, growing, grown.
Have, had, having, had.
Hear, heard, hearing, heard.
Hide, hid, hiding, hidden _or_ hid.
Hit, hit, hitting, hit.
Hold, held, holding, held _or_ holden.
Hurt, hurt, hurting, hurt.
Keep, kept, keeping, kept.
Know, knew, knowing, known.
Lead, led, leading, led.
Leave, left, leaving, left.
Lend, lent, lending, lent.
Let, let, letting, let
Lie, lay, lying, lain.
Lose, lost, losing, lost.
Make, made, making, made.
Meet, met, meeting, met.
Outdo, outdid, outdoing, outdone.
Put, put, putting, put.
Read, r~ead, reading, r~ead.
Rend, rent, rending, rent.
Rid, rid, ridding, rid.
Ride, rode, riding, ridden _or_ rode.
Ring, rung _or_ rang, ringing, rung.
Rise, rose, rising, risen.
Run, ran _or_ run, running, run.
Say, said, saying, said.
See, saw, seeing, seen.
Seek, sought, seeking, sought.
Sell, sold, selling, sold.
Send, sent, sending, sent.
Set, set, setting, set.
Shed, shed, shedding, shed.
Shoe, shod, shoeing, shod.
Shoot, shot, shooting, shot.
Shut, shut, shutting, shut.
Shred, shred, shredding, shred.
Shrink, shrunk _or_ shrank, shrinking, shrunk _or_ shrunken.
Sing, sung _or_ sang, singing, sung.
Sink, sunk _or_ sank, sinking, sunk.
Sit, sat, sitting, sat.
Slay, slew, slaying, slain.
Sling, slung, slinging, slung.
Slink, slunk _or_ slank, slinking, slunk.
Smite, smote, smiting, smitten _or_ smit.
Speak, spoke, speaking, spoken.
Spend, spent, spending, spent.
Spin, spun, spinning, spun.
Spit, spit _or_ spat, spitting, spit _or_ spitten.
Spread, spread, spreading, spread.
Spring, sprung _or_ sprang, springing, sprung.
Stand, stood, standing, stood.
Steal, stole, stealing, stolen.
Stick, stuck, sticking, stuck.
Sting, stung, stinging, stung.
Stink, stunk _or_ stank, stinking, stunk.
Stride, strode _or_ strid, striding, stridden
Strike, struck, striking, struck _or_ stricken.
Swear, swore, swearing, sworn.
Swim, swum _or_ swam, swimming, swum.
Swing, swung _or_ swang, swinging, swung.
Take, took, taking, taken.
Teach, taught, teaching, taught.
Tear, tore, tearing, torn.
Tell, told, telling, told.
Think, thought, thinking, thought.
Thrust, thrust, thrusting, thrust.
Tread, trod, treading, trodden _or_ trod.
Wear, wore, wearing, worn.
Win, won, winning, won.
Write, wrote, writing, written.
A _redundant verb_ is a verb that forms the preterit or
the perfect participle in two or more ways, and so as to be both regular
and irregular; as, _thrive, thrived_ or _throve, thriving, thrived_ or
_thriven_. Of this class of verbs, there are about ninety-five, beside
sundry derivatives and compounds.
OBS. 1.--Those irregular verbs which have more than one form for the
preterit or for the perfect participle, are in some sense redundant; but,
as there is no occasion to make a distinct class of such as have double
forms that are never regular, these redundancies are either included in the
preceding list of the simple irregular verbs, or omitted as being improper
to be now recognized for good English. Several examples of the latter kind,
including both innovations and archaisms, will appear among the
improprieties for correction, at the end of this chapter. A few old
preterits or participles may perhaps be accounted good English in the
solemn style, which are not so in the familiar: as, "And none _spake_ a
word unto him."--_Job_, ii, 13. "When I _brake_ the five loaves."--_Mark_,
viii, 19. "And he _drave_ them from the judgement-seat."--_Acts_, xviii,
16. "Serve me till I have eaten and _drunken_."--_Luke_, xvii, 8. "It was
not possible that he should be _holden_ of it."--_Acts_, ii, 24. "Thou
_castedst_ them down into destruction."--_Psal._, lxxiii, 18. "Behold, I
was _shapen_ in iniquity."--_Ib._, li, 5. "A meat-offering _baken_ in the
oven."--_Leviticus_, ii, 4.
"With _casted_ slough, and fresh celerity."--SHAK., _Henry V_.
"Thy dreadful vow, _loaden_ with death."--ADDISON: _in Joh. Dict._
OBS. 2.--The verb _bet_ is given in Worcester's Dictionary, as being always
regular: "BET, _v. a._ [_i_. BETTED; _pp_. BETTING, BETTED.] To wager; to
lay a wager or bet. SHAK."--_Octavo Dict._ In Ainsworth's Grammar, it is
given as being always irregular: "_Present_, Bet; _Imperfect_, Bet;
_Participle_, Bet."--Page 36. On the authority of these, and of some others
cited in OBS. 6th below, I have put it with the redundant verbs. The verb
_prove_ is redundant, if _proven_, which is noticed by Webster, Bolles, and
Worcester, is an admissible word. "The participle _proven_ is used in
Scotland and in some parts of the United States, and sometimes, though
rarely, in England.--'There is a mighty difference between _not proven_ and
_disproven_.' DR. TH. CHALMERS. 'Not _proven_.' QU. REV."--_Worcester's
Universal and Critical Dict._ The verbs _bless_ and _dress_ are to be
considered redundant, according to the authority of Worcester, Webster,
Bolles, and others. Cobbett will have the verbs, _cast, chide, cling, draw,
grow, shred, sling, slink, spring, sting, stride, swim, swing_, and
_thrust_, to be always regular; but I find no sufficient authority for
allowing to any of them a regular form; and therefore leave them, where
they always have been, in the list of simple irregulars. These fourteen
verbs are a part of the long list of _seventy_ which this author says,
"are, by some persons, _erroneously_ deemed irregular." Of the following
_nine_ only, is his assertion true; namely, _dip, help, load, overflow,
slip, snow, stamp, strip, whip_. These nine ought always to be formed
regularly; for all their irregularities may well be reckoned obsolete.
After these deductions from this most erroneous catalogue, there remain
forty-five other very common verbs, to be disposed of contrary to this
author's instructions. All but two of these I shall place in the list of
_redundant_ verbs; though for the use of _throwed_ I find no written
authority but his and William B. Fowle's. The two which I do not consider
redundant are _spit_ and _strew_, of which it may be proper to take more
OBS. 3.--_Spit_, to stab, or to put upon a spit, is regular; as, "I
_spitted frogs_, I crushed a heap of emmets."--_Dryden. Spit_, to throw out
saliva, is irregular, and most properly formed thus: _spit, spit, spitting,
spit. "Spat_ is obsolete."--_Webster's Dict._ It is used in the Bible; as,
"He _spat_ on the ground, and made clay of the spittle."--_John_, ix, 6. L.
Murray gives this verb thus: "Pres. _Spit_; Imp. _spit, spat_; Perf. Part.
_spit, spitten_." NOTE: "_Spitten_ is nearly obsolete."--_Octavo Gram._, p.
106. Sanborn has it thus: "Pres. _Spit_; Imp. _spit_; Pres. Part.
_spitting_; Perf. Part. _spit, spat_."--_Analytical Gram._, p. 48. Cobbett,
at first, taking it in the form, "to _spit_, I _spat, spitten_," placed it
among the seventy which he so erroneously thought should be made regular;
afterwards he left it only in his list of irregulars, thus: "to _spit_, I
_spit, spitten_."--_Cobbett's E. Gram._, of 1832, p. 54. Churchill, in
1823, preferring the older forms, gave it thus: "_Spit, spat_ or _spit,
spitten_ or _spit_."--_New Gram._, p. 111. NOTE:--"Johnson gives _spat_ as
the preterimperfect, and _spit_ or _spitted_ as the participle of this
verb, when it means to pierce through with a pointed instrument: but in
this sense, I believe, it is always regular; while, on the other hand, the
regular form is now never used, when it signifies to eject from the mouth;
though we find in _Luke_, xviii, 32, 'He shall be _spitted_
on.'"--_Churchill's New Gram._, p. 264. This text ought to have been, "He
shall be _spit_ upon."
OBS. 4.--_To strew_ is in fact nothing else than an other mode of spelling
the verb _to strow_; as _shew_ is an obsolete form for _show_; but if we
pronounce the two forms differently, we make them different words. Walker,
and some others, pronounce them alike, _stro_; Sheridan, Jones, Jameson,
and Webster, distinguish them in utterance, _stroo_ and _stro_. This is
convenient for the sake of rhyme, and perhaps therefore preferable. But
_strew_, I incline to think, is properly a regular verb only, though Wells
and Worcester give it otherwise: if _strewn_ has ever been proper, it seems
now to be obsolete. EXAMPLES: "Others cut down branches from the trees, and
_strewed_ them in the way."--_Matt._, xxi, 8. "Gathering where thou hast
not _strewed_."--_Matt._, xxv, 24.
"Their name, their years, _spelt_ by th' unletter'd _muse_,
The place of fame and elegy supply;
And many _a holy text_ around she _strews_,
_That teach_ the rustic moralist to die."--_Gray_.
OBS. 5.--The list which I give below, prepared with great care, exhibits
the redundant verbs, as they are now generally used, or as they may be used
without grammatical impropriety. Those forms which are supposed to be
preferable, and best supported by authorities, are placed first. No words
are inserted here, but such as some modern authors countenance. L. Murray
recognizes _bereaved, catched, dealed, digged, dwelled, hanged, knitted,
shined, spilled_; and, in his early editions, he approved of _bended,