Practical Exercises in English by Huber Gray Buehler

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  • 1895
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Copyright, 1895, by Harper & Brothers All rights reserved.
W.P. 17


The art of using one’s native tongue correctly and forcibly is acquired for the most part through imitation and practice, and is not so much a matter of knowledge as of habit. As regards English, then, the first duty of our schools is to set before pupils excellent models, and, in all departments of school-work, to keep a watchful eye on the innumerable acts of expression, oral and written, which go to form habit. Since, however, pupils come to school with many of their habits of expression already formed on bad models, our schools must give some attention to the special work of pointing out common errors of speech, and of leading pupils to convert knowledge of these errors into new and correct habits of expression. This is the branch of English teaching in which this little book hopes to be useful.

All the “Exercises in English” with which I am acquainted consist chiefly of “sentences to be corrected.” To such exercises there are grave objections. If, on the one hand, the fault in the given sentence is not seen at a glance, the pupil is likely, as experience has shown, to pass it by and to change something that is not wrong. If, on the other hand, the fault is obvious, the exercise has no value in the formation of habit. Take, for example, two “sentences for correction” which I select at random from one of the most widely used books of its class: “I knew it was him,” and “Sit the plates on the table.” A pupil of any wit will at once see that the mistakes must be in “him” and “sit,” and knowing that the alternatives are “he” and “set,” he will at once correct the sentences without knowing, perhaps, why one form is wrong, the other right. He has not gained anything valuable; he has simply “slid” through his exercise. Moreover, such “sentences for correction” violate a fundamental principle of teaching English by setting before the impressionable minds of pupils bad models. Finally, such exercises are unnatural, because the habit which we hope to form in our pupils is not the habit of correcting mistakes, but the habit of avoiding them.

Correct English is largely a matter of correct choice between two or more forms of expression, and in this book an attempt has been made, as a glance at the pages will show, to throw the exercises, whenever possible, into a form consistent with this truth. Though a pupil may _change_ “who” to “whom” without knowing why, he cannot repeatedly _choose_ correctly between these forms without strengthening his own habit of correct expression.

This book has been prepared primarily as a companion to Professor A.S. Hill’s “Foundations of Rhetoric,” in answer to the request of many teachers for exercises to use with that admirable work.[1] Without the friendly encouragement of Professor Hill the task would not have been undertaken, and to him above all others I am indebted for assistance in completing it. He has permitted me to draw freely on his published works; he has provided me with advance sheets of the revised edition of “Principles of Rhetoric;” he has put at my disposal much useful material gleaned from his own experience; he has read the manuscript and proofs, and, without assuming any responsibility for shortcomings, he has suggested many improvements. I am also indebted to Mr. E.G. Coy, Headmaster of the Hotchkiss School, for many valuable suggestions, and to my colleague, Mr. J.E. Barss, for assistance in the proof-reading.

The quotations from “The Century Dictionary” are made under an arrangement with the owners of the copyright of that work. I am also indebted to Professor Barrett Wendell, Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., and Messrs. Macmillan & Co. for permission to use brief quotations from their works.


LAKEVILLE, CONN., _September_, 1895.

[1] See Appendix: Suggestions to Teachers.




* * * * *



Why is it that for the purposes of English composition one word is not so good as another? To this question we shall get a general answer if we examine the effect of certain classes of expressions.

PRESENT USE.–Let us examine first the effect produced by three passages in the authorized version of the English Bible–a version made by order of King James in 1611:–

“For these two years hath the famine been in the land, and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be _earing_ nor harvest” (Gen. xlv. 6).

“O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after _leasing_?” (Psa. iv. 2).

“Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, but was _let_ hitherto” (Rom. i. 18).

See also Gen. xxv. 29; Matt. iii 8; Acts viii. 3; 1 Thess. iv. 15.

An ordinary reader of our time cannot without assistance fully understand these passages, because the words “earing,” “leasing,” and “let” convey to his mind either no idea at all or a wrong idea. Two hundred and eighty years ago, when this translation of the Bible was made, these words were common words with plain meanings; but “earing” and “leasing” have since dropped out of common use, and “let” has acquired a different meaning; consequently an ordinary reader of the present time must consult a dictionary before he can be sure what the passages mean. Words and meanings which have gone out of use are called _obsolete_. There is not much temptation to use obsolete words; but the temptation sometimes comes. Therefore we note, as our first conclusion, that a person who wishes to be understood must avoid expressions and meanings which are not in _present use_.

NATIONAL USE.–A boy from southern Pennsylvania was visiting in New York State. In the midst of some preparations for a fishing excursion he said to his host, “Shall I take my _gums_ along?” His host burst out laughing and said, “Of course; did you think of taking them out of your mouth and leaving them at home?”[2] Unconsciously the boy had used a good English word in a sense peculiar to the district in which he lived; his host had understood the word in its proper sense.

On another occasion a gentleman who had just arrived at a hotel in Kennebunkport, Me., agreed to a proposal to “go down to the beach in the _barge_.” Going to his room, he prepared for a little excursion on the river which flowed by the hotel. When he returned, he was greatly surprised to find his friends about to start for the beach in _a large omnibus_. Another gentleman once asked a young lady to go “_riding_” with him. At the appointed hour he drove to her house in a buggy, and she came down to meet him in her riding habit.

These incidents show that if we use expressions that are only local, or use words in local senses, we are liable either to be misunderstood or not to be understood at all. Obscurity also arises from the use of words in senses which are peculiar to a certain class or profession. For example, to a person who is not familiar with commercial slang, this sentence from the market columns of a newspaper is a puzzle:–

“Java coffees are _dull_ and _easy_, though they are _statistically strong_.”

The following directions for anchoring in a gale of wind are taken from a book called “How to Sail a Boat”:–

“When everything is ready, bring the yacht _to the wind_, and let the sails shake _in the wind’s eye_; and, so soon as she gets _stern-way_, let go the _best bower_ anchor, taking care not to _snub her_ too quickly, but to let considerable of the cable run out before checking her; then take a turn or two around the _knight-heads_,” etc.

If a landsman’s safety depended on his understanding these directions, there would not be much hope for him.

The following extract is from a newspaper report of a game of ball:–

“In the eighth inning Anson jumped from one box into the other and whacked a wide one into extreme right. It was a three-base jolt and was made when Gastright intended to force the old man to first. The Brooklyns howled and claimed that Anson was out, but McQuaid thought differently. Both teams were crippled. Lange will be laid up for a week or so. One pitcher was batted out of the box.”

This narrative may seem commonplace to school-boys, but to their mothers and sisters it must seem alarming.

Our second conclusion, therefore, is that a person who wishes to be understood must avoid words and phrases that are not understood, and understood in the same sense, in every part of the country, and in every class or profession.[3]

REPUTABLE USE.–Let us examine now the effect produced by a third kind of expression, namely, words and phrases “not used by writers and speakers of established reputation.”[4] Let us take as our illustrations the familiar expressions, “He _done_ it” and “Please _set_ in this seat.” Each of these expressions is common at the present time, and its meaning is instantly clear to any one who speaks English. But these expressions, not being used by well-informed and careful speakers, produce in the mind of a well-informed bearer an impression of vulgarity like that which we get from seeing a person eat with his knife. In language, as in manners and fashions, the law is found in the custom of the best people; and persons who wish to be classed as cultivated people must speak and write like cultivated people. There is no moral wrong in a person’s saying “Please _set_ in this seat,” and if he does say it he will probably be understood; but persons who use this or any other expression which is not in reputable use run the risk of being classed as ignorant, affected, or vulgar.

GOOD USE.–It appears, therefore, that words and phrases, in order to be proper expressions for use in English prose, (1) must be in common use at the present time; (2) they must be used, and used in the same sense, in every part of the country, and in every class and profession; (3) they must be expressions used by writers and speakers of established reputation. In other words, our expressions must be in _present, national_, and _reputable_ use. Expressions which fulfil these three conditions are said to be in _good use_.

The next question that presents itself to one who wishes to use English correctly is, How am I to know what words and expressions are in good use?

CONVERSATION AND GOOD USE.–Good use cannot be determined solely by observing the conversation of our associates; for the chances are that they use many local expressions, some slang, and possibly some vulgarisms. “You often hear it” is not proof that an expression is in good use.

NEWSPAPERS AND GOOD USE.–Nor can good use be learned from what we see in newspapers. Newspapers of high rank contain from time to time, especially in their editorial columns, some of the best modern prose, and much literature that has become standard was first printed in periodicals; but most of the prose in newspapers is written necessarily by contributors who do not belong to the class of “speakers or writers whom the world deems the best.” As the newspaper in its news records the life of every day, so in its style it too frequently records the slang of daily life and the faults of ordinary conversation. A newspaper contains bits of English prose from hundreds of different pens, some skilled, some unskilled; and this jumble of styles does not determine good use.

NO ONE BOOK OR WRITER DECISIVE.–Nor is good use to be learned from our favorite author, unsupported by other authority; not even, as we have seen, from the English Bible, when it stands alone. No writer, even the greatest, is free from occasional errors; but these accidental slips are not to be considered in determining good use. Good use is decided by the prevailing usage of the writers whose works make up permanent English literature, not by their inadvertencies. “The fact that Shakspere uses a word, or Sir Walter Scott, or Burke, or Washington Irving, or whoever happens to be writing earnestly in Melbourne or Sidney, does not make it reputable. The fact that all five of these authorities use the word in the same sense would go very far to establish the usage. On the other hand, the fact that any number of newspaper reporters agree in usage does not make the usage reputable. The style of newspaper reporters is not without merit; it is very rarely unreadable; but for all its virtue it is rarely a well of English undefiled.”[5]

“Reputable use is fixed, not by the practice of those whom A or B deems the best speakers or writers, but by the practice of those whom the world deems the best,–those who are in the best repute, not indeed as to thought, but as to expression, the manner of communicating thought. The practice of no one writer, however high he may stand in the public estimation, is enough to settle a point; but the uniform or nearly uniform practice of reputable speakers or writers is decisive.”[6]

GOOD READING THE FOUNDATION OF GOOD SPEAKING AND WRITING.–To the question how to become familiar with good use the first answer is, read the best literature. Language, like manners, is learned for the most part by imitation; and a person who is familiar with the language of reputable writers and speakers will use good English without conscious effort, just as a child brought up among refined people generally has good manners without knowing it. Good reading is indispensable to good speaking or writing. Without this, rules and dictionaries are of no avail. In reading the biographies of eminent writers, it is interesting to note how many of them were great readers when they were young; and teachers can testify that the best writers among their pupils are those who have read good literature or who have been accustomed to hear good English at home. The student of expression should begin at once to make the acquaintance of good literature.

THE USE OF DICTIONARIES.–To become acquainted with good literature, however, takes a long time; and to decide, by direct reference to the usage of the best writers, every question that arises in composition, is not possible for beginners. In certain cases beginners must go to dictionaries to learn what good use approves. Dictionaries do not make good use, but by recording the facts learned by professional investigators they answer many questions regarding it. To one who wishes to speak and write well a good dictionary is indispensable.

“THE FOUNDATIONS OF RHETORIC.”–Dictionaries, however, are not always a sufficient guide; for, being records, they aim to give _all_ the senses in which a word is used, and do not always tell which sense is approved by the best usage. Large dictionaries contain many words which have gone out of good use and other words which have not yet come into good use. Moreover, they treat of words only, not of constructions and long expressions. Additional help in determining good use is required by beginners, and this help is to be found in such books as Professor A.S. Hill’s “Foundations of Rhetoric.” The investigations of a specialist are there recorded in a convenient form, with particular reference to the needs of beginners and of those who have been under the influence of bad models. Common errors are explained and corrected, and the fundamental merits of good expression are set forth and illustrated.

PURPOSE OF THESE EXERCISES.–In the following exercises, which are intended for drill on some of these elements of good expression, care has been taken to put the questions into the forms in which they arise in actual composition. The notes which precede the exercises are only hints; for full discussions of the principles involved the student must consult larger works.


/Phrases that have gone out of use, said | to be ARCHAIC or OBSOLETE. |
| Brand-new words which have not become | established in good use: as, “burglarize,” | “enthuse,” “electrocute.” |
BARBARISMS: Words and | Phrases introduced from foreign countries phrases not English; _i.e.,_ | (called FOREIGNISMS, ALIENISMS), or not authorized by good | peculiar to some district or province English use. The name < (called PROVINCIALISMS). A phrase introduced comes from a Greek | from France is called a _Gallicism_; word meaning "foreign," | from England, an _Anglicism_. A "strange." | phrase peculiar to America is called an | _Americanism_. Similarly we have the | terms _Latinism, Hellenism, Teutonism_, | etc. All these names may be applied | also to certain kinds of Improprieties \and Solecisms.

English words or phrases | Most errors in the use of English used in wrong senses: | are Improprieties, which are far more as, “I _guess_ I’ll go to > common than Barbarisms and Solecisms. bed;” “He is _stopping_ | No classification of them is here for a week at the Berkshire | attempted. Inn.” /

SOLECISMS: Constructions not English, commonly called cases of “bad grammar” or “false syntax”: as, “She invited Mrs. Roe and _I_ to go driving with her.” “Solecism” is derived from _Soli_, the name of a Greek tribe who lived in Cilicia and spoke bad Greek.

SLANG is a general name for current, vulgar, unauthorized language. It may take the form of barbarism, impropriety, or solecism.

A COLLOQUIALISM is an expression peculiar to familiar conversation.

A VULGARISM is an expression peculiar to vulgar or ignorant people.

[2] This and the two following incidents are from the writer’s own observation.
[3] A.S. Hill: Foundations of Rhetoric, p. 28. [4] Ibid., p. 20.
[5] Barrett Wendell: English Composition, p. 21. [6] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 16.


1. Make a list of the provincial expressions you can think of, and give their equivalents in national English. 2. Make a list of the slang or vulgar expressions you can think of, and give their equivalents in reputable English. 3. Make a list of the words, forms, and phrases not in present use which you can find in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, authorized version, and give their equivalents in modern English.


Which word in the following pairs should an American prefer? Consult Hill’s “Foundations of Rhetoric,” pp. 28-29: Coal, coals; jug, pitcher; street railway, tramway; post-card, postal-card; depA’t, station.


1. Arrange the following words in two columns, putting in the first column words that are in good use, in the second, words that are not in good use. Consult Hill’s “Foundations of Rhetoric,” pp. 27-29: Omnibus, succotash, welkin, ere, nA(C)e, depA’t, veto, function (in the sense of social entertainment), to pan out, twain, on the docket, kine, gerrymander, carven, caucus, steed, to coast (on sled or bicycle), posted (informed), to watch out, right (very). 2. Give good English equivalents for the words which are not in good use.



A or AN.[7]–The choice between these forms is determined by sound, not by spelling. Before a consonant sound “a” is used; before a vowel sound “an” is used.

[7] “Foundations,” pp. 32-36.


_Put the proper form, “a” or “an,” before each of these expressions_:–Elephant, apple, egg, union of states, uniform, uninformed person, universal custom, umpire, Unitarian church, anthem, unfortunate man, united people, American, European, Englishman, one, high hill, horse, honorable career, hypocrite, humble spirit, honest boy, hypothesis, history, historical sketch, heir, hundred, hereditary disease, household.

THE or A.[8]–“The” is a broken-down form of the old English _thoet_, from which we also get “that,” and is used to point out some particular person, thing, or class: as, “_The_ headmaster of _the_ school gave _the_ boys permission.” When “the” is used before the name of a particular class of persons or things it is called the “generic” article (from _genus_, “a class”): as, “None but _the_ brave deserve _the_ fair”; “_The_ eagle is our national bird.”

“An” (“a”) is a broken-down form of the old English word _ane_, meaning “one.” It is properly used when the object is thought of as one of a class: as, “There is _an_ eagle in the zoological garden.” It cannot properly be used before a word which is used as a class name, because a class name includes in its meaning more than “one.”

SUPERFLUOUS and OMITTED ARTICLES.[9]–The use of a superfluous “a” or “an” before a class name, especially after the words “sort” and “kind,” is a common and obstinate error. We may say, “This is an eagle,” meaning “one eagle.” But we may not say, “_An_ eagle is our national bird,” “This is a rare kind of _an_ eagle,” or, “It is not worthy of the name of _an_ eagle”; because in these sentences “eagle” is used as the name, not of a single bird, but of a class of birds, and includes in its meaning all the birds which belong to the class called “eagle.” The sentences are equivalent to: “The kind of bird called ‘eagle’ is our national bird;” “This is a rare species of the class of birds called ‘eagle;'” “It is not worthy of the name given to the birds which belong to the class called ‘eagle.'”

[8] Ibid., pp. 33-34.


_Tell the difference in meaning between_:–

1. The (a) house is on fire.
2. Yes, I heard (the) shouts in the street. 3. About eight o’clock (the) guests began to come. 4. Yes, I heard (the) noises in the next room. 5. The (an) elephant stood on a cask, and the (a) clown sat on the elephant’s back.
6. The President has appointed a commission to investigate the cause of (the) strikes.
7. Will he let us look at (the) stars through the (a) telescope? 8. (The) teacher and (the) pupil are interested in this question. 9. He told us about an (the) accident.
10. Fire is beautiful. The fire is beautiful. 11. He was a better scholar than (an) athlete. 12. A young and (a) delicate girl.
13. He liked the bread and (the) butter. 14. A pink and (a) lavender gown.
15. The wise and (the) good.
16. Wanted, a cook and (a) housemaid. 17. The black and (the) white cow.
18. The athlete, (the) soldier, (the) statesman, and (the) poet. 19. A secretary and (a) treasurer.
20. The corresponding and (the) recording secretary. 21. The honest, (the) wise, and (the) patriotic senators voted against the bill.
22. A cotton and (a) silk umbrella. 23. The tenth and (the) last chapter.

[9] “Foundations,” pp. 34-39.


_Insert the proper article (“a,” “an,” or “the”) in each blank place in the following, if an article is needed; if no article is needed, leave the place blank_:–

1. I began to suffer from —- want of food. 2. There are two articles, the definite and —- indefinite. 3. He did not say what kind of —- horse he wanted to buy. 4. Did Macaulay die of —- heart disease? 5. Nouns have two numbers, —- singular and —- plural. 6. —- third and —- fourth page are to be learned. 7. —- third and —- fourth pages are to be learned. 8. Many names of —- states are derived from —- Indian tongues. 9. This is a curious species of —- rose. 10. Study carefully —- first and —- second chapters. 11. A black and —- white boy were walking together. 12. —- violet is my favorite flower; —- robin, my favorite bird. 13. There is an impenetrable veil between —- visible and —- invisible world.
14. —- lion is —- king of beasts. 15. Thackeray was a greater writer than —- artist. Thackeray was greater as —- writer than as —- artist. 16. The bank closed its doors from —- lack of ready money. 17. I despise not —- giver, but —- gift. 18. —- whole is greater than any of its parts. 19. He is entitled to the name of —- scholar. 20. I do not use that sort of —- pen.
21. In —- warm weather you do not need so many wraps as in —- cold weather.
22. The Queen conferred on Tennyson the title of —- baron. 23. It does not matter what kind of —- man is appointed. 24. It is found in both —- old and —- new editions. 25. The fourth and —- fifth verse.
26. The fourth and —- fifth verses. 27. Abraham Lincoln was —- great and —- good man. 28. —- families of —- strikers are sadly in —- need of food. 29. Here are two bottles, —- one empty, —- other full of —- red liquid.
30. Ariel had —- power to control —- sea. 31. Evangeline travelled far in —- search of Gabriel. 33. Illustrate by an original sentence —- preterite and —- past participle of the following verbs.
33. To —- student of Latin or Greek a knowledge of —- difference in meaning in English between —- indicative and —- subjunctive is especially important.
34. In the verb “to be” —- present and —- past subjunctives have different forms.
35. —- life in Madras in —- time of Clive was different from what it is now.
36. I like so many sports that it is hard to tell which I like —- best. I like swimming, foot-ball, and riding more than —- others, but I do not know which of these three I like —- best.



HOW TO FORM THE POSSESSIVE CASE.[10]–As a rule, the possessive of nouns in the SINGULAR number is formed by adding an apostrophe and “s” (‘s): as, “The _boy’s_ coat.” Often the pronunciation of the added “s” makes a new syllable; and if this additional syllable makes an unpleasant sound, the possessive is indicated by the apostrophe alone (‘): as, “For _goodness’_ sake.” The putting in or the leaving out of the “s” in such cases is chiefly a matter of taste. If the “s” is sounded, it is always written; and whenever there is doubt, it is well to follow the regular rule: as, “_Horace’s_ odes,” “_Charles’s_ ball,” “_Dickens’s_ David Copperfield.”

In the PLURAL number, when the nominative plural ends in “s,” the possessive case is formed by adding an apostrophe alone (‘). If the nominative plural does not end in “s,” an apostrophe and an “s” (‘s) are both added, as in the singular: as, “_Men’s_ and _boys’_ shoes.”

The possessive case of COMPOUND nouns and expressions used as compound nouns is formed by adding the proper sign of the possessive to the end of the compound: as, “That is my _sister-in-law’s_ pony,” “This is the _Prince of Wales’s_ palace.”

[10] “Foundations,” pp. 41-43.


1. _Write the possessive case, singular and plural, of:_ Actor, king, fairy, calf, child, goose, lady, monkey, mouse, ox, woman, deer, eagle, princess, elephant, man, witness, prince, fox, farmer, countess, mouth, horse, day, year, lion, wolf, thief, Englishman. 2. _Write the possessive case of:_ James, Dickens, his sister Mary, Miss Austen, the Prince of Wales, Frederick the Great, Harper and Brothers, father-in-law, Charles, Jones, William the Conqueror, Henry the Eighth, man-of-war, Douglas, Eggleston and Company.

USE and MISUSE of the POSSESSIVE CASE.[12]–It is sometimes a question whether to use the possessive form or the preposition _of_. “As a general rule, the possessive case should be confined to cases of possession.”[13]

[11] TO THE TEACHER.–To have its full value this should be given as a dictation exercise.
[12] “Foundations,” pp. 43-44.
[13] Ibid., p. 44.


_Express relation between the words in the following pairs by putting one of them in the possessive case or by using the preposition “of,” as may seem best:–_

Charles the Second, reign; witness, testimony; horse, hoof; the President, public reception; Partridge, restaurant; aide-de-camp, horse; General Armistead, death; Henry the Eighth, wives; Napoleon, Berlin decree; teacher, advice; eagle, talons; enemy, repulse;[14] book, cover; princess, evening gowns; France, army; Napoleon, defeat; Napoleon, camp-chest; Major AndrA(C), capture; Demosthenes, orations; gunpowder, invention; mountain, top; summer, end; Washington, sword; Franklin, staff; torrent, force; America, metropolis; city, streets; strike, beginning; church, spire; we (our, us), midst; year, events; Guiteau, trial; sea, bottom; Essex, death; Adams, administration; six months, wages; world, government.

[14] There is, properly, no “objective possessive” in English corresponding to the “objective genitive” in other languages. It seems best to say “The siege of Paris,” rather than “Paris’s siege.”


_Distinguish between the following:–_ 1. The President’s reception. The reception of the President. 2. Mother’s love. Love of mother.
3. A sister’s care. Care of a sister. 4. A brother’s picture. The picture of a brother. 5. Clive’s reception in London. The reception of Clive in London. 6. Charles and Harry’s toys. Charles’s and Harry’s toys. 7. Let me tell you a story of Doctor Brown (Brown’s).


_Correct the following, giving the reason for each correction:–_ 1. A dog and a cat’s head are differently shaped. 2. Whose Greek grammar do you prefer–Goodwin or Hadley? 3. It is neither the captain nor the manager’s duty. 4. I consulted Webster, Stormonth, and Worcester’s dictionary. 5. I like Hawthorne better than Irving’s style. 6. John, Henry and William’s nose resembled one another. 7. The novel is one of Scott.
8. I have no time to listen to either John or Joseph’s talk.

SINGULAR and PLURAL.[15]–In modern English most nouns form the plural by adding “s” to the singular. The following variations from this rule are important:–

1. When the added sound of “s” makes an additional syllable, “es” is used: as, box, boxes; church, churches.

2. NOUNS ENDING IN “O.” If the final “o” is preceded by a vowel, the plural is formed regularly, i.e., by adding “s”: as, cameo, cameos. If the final “o” is preceded by a consonant, the tendency of modern usage is to form the plural by adding “es”: as, hero, heroes; potato, potatoes. The following common words, however, seem still to form the plural by adding “s” alone:–

canto lasso proviso torso duodecimo memento quarto tyro halo octavo solo
junto piano stiletto

3. NOUNS ENDING IN “Y.” If the “y” is preceded by a vowel, the plural is regular: as, valley, valleys.

If the “y” is preceded by a consonant, “y” is changed to “i” and “es” is added to form the plural: as, lady, ladies; city, cities.

4. PROPER NOUNS are changed as little as possible: as, Henry, Henrys; Mary, Marys; Cicero, Ciceros; Nero, Neros. 5. Most COMPOUND NOUNS form the plural by adding the proper sign of the plural to the fundamental part of the word, i.e., to the part which is described by the rest of the phrase: as, ox-cart, ox-carts; court-martial, courts-martial; aide-de-camp, aides-de-camp.

Note the difference between the _plural_ and the _possessive_ of compound nouns,–forms which are often confounded. See page 16.

6. Letters, figures, and other symbols are made plural by adding an apostrophe and “s” (‘s): as, “There are more _e’s_ than _a’s_ in this word”; “Dot your _i’s_ and cross your _t’s_.”

7. Some nouns have two plurals, which differ in meaning:–

_Singular. Plural_.

brother brothers (by birth), brethren (of a society). die dies (for coining or stamping), dice (for play). fish fishes (separate fish), fish (collective). index indexes (in books), indices (in algebra). penny pennies (separate coins), pence (sum of money). shot shots (discharges), shot (balls). staff staves (poles), staffs (bodies of assistants).

[15] “Foundations,” pp. 45-47.


_Write the plural of_: Lash, cage, race, buffalo, echo, canto, volcano, portfolio, ally, money, solo, memento, mosquito, bamboo, ditch, chimney, man, Norman,[17] Mussulman, city, negro, baby, calf, man-of-war, attorney, goose-quill, canon, quail, mystery, turkey, wife, body, snipe, knight-errant,[17] donkey, spoonful, aide-de-camp, Ottoman, commander-in-chief, major-general, pony, reply, talisman, court-martial, father-in-law, court-yard, man-trap, Brahman, journey, Henry, stepson, deer, mouthful, Miss Clark,[18] Mr. Jones, Dr. Brown, Dutchman, German, forget-me-not, poet-laureate, minister-plenipotentiary, hero, fish, trout, Mary, George, bill-of-fare.

[16] To THE TEACHER.–To have its full value this should be given as a dictation exercise.
[17] Consult a dictionary for this and similar nouns. [18] Proper names preceded by a title are made plural by changing either the name or the title, and using “the” before the expression. We may say “the Miss Smiths” or “the Misses Smith,” “the Doctors Young” or “the Doctor Youngs.”


_Distinguish between_:–

1. Two dice (dies) were found in the prisoner’s pockets. 2. He was always kind to his brothers (brethren). 3. How many shot (shots) did you count?
4. He carried two pailfuls (pails full) of water up the hill. 5. I have two handfuls (hands full) of gold-dust. 6. He gave the beggar six pennies (pence). 7. There are serious errors in the indexes (indices) in this new Algebra. 8. Ten shot (shots) were fired from the gun in fifteen minutes.


_Which of the following forms should be used? Consult Hill’s “Foundations,” pp. 45-47:_–

1. The members of the committee were greatly alarmed at this (these) news. 2. Tidings was (were) brought to them of the massacre on Snake River. 3. The endowment of the college was greatly increased by this (these) means.
4. The widow’s means was (were) at first large, but it was (they were) soon exhausted by the prodigality of her son. 5. The assets of the company are (is) $167,000. 6. The dregs in the cup was (were) found to be very bitter. 7. The eaves of the new house are (is) thirty-two feet above the ground. 8. Athletics are (is) run into the ground in many schools. 9. Politics is (are) like a stone tied around the neck of literature. 10. The nuptials of Gratiano and Nerissa were (was) celebrated at the same time as those (that) of Bassanio and Portia. 11. Ethics are (is) becoming more and more prominent in the discussions of political economists.
12. Have you seen my pincers? I have mislaid it (them). 13. The proceeds was (were) given to the hospital. 14. His riches took to themselves (itself) wings. 15. This (these) scissors is (are) not sharp. 16. Please pour this (these) suds on the rose plants in the oval flowerbed. 17. His tactics was (were) much criticised by old generals. 18. The United States has (have) informed Spain that it (they) will not permit Spanish interference in the affairs of Central America.

NOUNS of FOREIGN ORIGIN.[19]–The following is a list of nouns of foreign origin in common use which have peculiar number forms:–

_Singular. Plural_.
alumnus (masculine) alumni
alumna (feminine) alumnA|
analysis analyses
bacterium bacteria
beau beaux
cherub cherubim (or cherubs) crisis crises
curriculum curricula
datum data
genus (meaning “class”) genera
genius {geniuses (persons or great ability) {genii (spirits)
hypothesis hypotheses
oasis oases
parenthesis parentheses
phenomenon phenomena
seraph seraphim (or seraphs) stratum strata
tableau tableaux
thesis theses

[19] “Foundations,” pp. 47-48.


1. _Write the plural of_: Alumna, analysis, beau, cherub, crisis, curriculum, genus, genius, hypothesis, nebula, oasis, parenthesis, phenomenon, synopsis, seraph, stratum, tableau. 2. _Write the singular of_: Alumni, curricula, data, bacteria, cherubim, oases, phenomena, seraphim, strata, theses.

GENDER.–The following nouns of different genders are sometimes confounded or otherwise misused:–

_Masculine_. _Feminine_.
abbot abbess
actor actress
bachelor spinster, maid
buck doe (fallow deer)
bullock heifer
czar czarina
drake duck
duke duchess
earl countess
Francis Frances
gander goose
hero heroine
lion lioness
marquis, marquess marchioness
monk nun
ram ewe
stag, hart hind (red deer)
sultan sultana
tiger tigress
wizard witch

[20] TO THE TEACHER.–To have any value this must be given as a dictation exercise.


1. _Write the feminine word corresponding to:_ Abbot, actor, bachelor, buck, bullock, czar, duke, drake, earl, Francis, hero, lion, marquis, monk, ram, stag, sultan, hart, tiger.
2. _Write the masculine word corresponding to:_ Spinster, duck, doe, Frances, goose, heifer, ewe, hind, witch.

[21] TO THE TEACHER.–This should be used as a dictation exercise.


_Correct the following sentences:_–

1. The marquess was the executor of her husband’s estate. 2. He married a beautiful actor.
3. The tiger broke from its cage.
4. The duck was pluming his feathers after his swim, and the goose had wandered from his companions across the meadows. 5. The baby girl in “The Princess” may be called the real hero of the tale.

ABBREVIATIONS.–For the following exercise consult Hill’s Foundations of Rhetoric, pp. 49-50.


_Which of these words are in good use?_–

Pianist, harpist, poloist, violinist, phiz, ad, co-ed, curios, exam, cab, chum, gent, hack, gym, pants, mob, phone, proxy, photo, prelim, van, prof, varsity.

MISUSED NOUNS.[22]–Many errors in English consist in using words in senses which are not authorized. Sometimes the use of a word in a wrong sense makes the speaker’s meaning obscure. Sometimes it makes him seem ridiculous, as when a person of the writer’s acquaintance told a friend to clean an oil-painting by washing it in “torpid” water. In every case the misuse of a word leaves an unpleasant impression on the mind of a cultivated person, and, like all bad English, should be avoided as we avoid bad manners. In the following definitions and exercises a few nouns[23] are selected for study. The distinctions given are not always observed by reputable authors, but they indicate the _tendency_ of the best modern usage.


HOUSE, HOME.–A _house_ is a building. _Home_ means one’s habitual abode, “the abiding place of the affections.” It may or may not be in a house, and it may include the surroundings of a house.

PERSON, PARTY.–A _person_ is an individual, a _party_ is a company of persons, or, in legal usage, a person who is concerned in a contention or agreement.

SERIES, SUCCESSION.–A _series_ is a succession of similar things mutually related according to some law. _Succession_ is properly used of several things following one after the other; it denotes order of occurrence only, and does not imply any connection.

STATEMENT, ASSERTION.–A _statement_ is a formal setting forth of fact or opinion; an _assertion_ is simply an affirmation of fact or opinion.

VERDICT, TESTIMONY.–A _verdict_ is a decision made by a number of men acting as a single body. _Testimony_ is an expression of individual knowledge or belief.

THE WHOLE, ALL.–_The whole_ is properly used of something which is considered as one thing. When a number of persons or things are spoken of, the proper word is _all._

[22] TO THE TEACHER.–It may not be desirable to drill pupils on all the words whose meanings are discriminated here and in chapters V. and VI. In that case it will be easy to select for study those words which the pupils are most likely to misuse. The words discriminated in this book are for the most part those which are mentioned in the “Foundations of Rhetoric,” and they have been arranged in the same order. A few other words often misused by my pupils have been added.
[23] For misused _verbs_ and _adjectives_ see pages 92 and 119. [24] “Foundations,” pp. 50-53.


_Tell the difference in meaning between the following:–_ 1. Mr. Roscoe has no house (home).
2. The hotel clerk says he expects three more parties (persons) on the six o’clock train.
3. There are three persons (parties) concerned in this contract. 4. A succession (series) of delays.
5. This morning’s papers publish an assertion (a statement) by Mr. Pullman, which throws new light on the strike.


_Insert the proper word in each blank, and give the reason for your choice.–_

1. Whenever a tramp comes to our —-, the dog is untied. 2. His new —- will be finished in November. 3. Mr. S. owns a beautiful —- and has a happy —-. 4. One can build a very good —- for $6000. 5. —-s are built to live in, not to look on.

6. There is another —- coming on the evening train, but he will leave to-morrow.
7. A cross-looking —- alighted from the stage-coach and entered the inn. 8. The cause of both —-s shall come before the court. 9. Is the —- that wants a carriage at dinner or in his room? 10. He is attached to the king’s —-.
11. Who was that fat old —- who kept us all laughing?

12. The —- of Presidents is a long one. 13. This stamp belongs to the —- of 1864. 14. A —- of calamitous events followed this mistake in policy. 15. A —- of accidents prevented the sailing of the yacht.

16. The last —- of the bank has been examined. 17. —- unsupported by fact is worthless. 18. The Declaration of Independence contained a clear —- of grievances. 19. The orator’s —- was shown to be false.

20. The —- of history is that Christianity has improved the condition of women.
21. Let us await the —- of the public. 22. The early Christian martyrs sealed their —- with their blood. 23. The —- of those who saw the murder was contradictory.

24. —- (of) the dishes came tumbling to the floor. 25. Tell —- (the) truth.
26. Then you and I and —- of us fell down. 27. Washington was respected by —- (the) people. 28. We sold —- (of) our apples at sixty cents a bushel. 29. He has already packed —- of his books. 30. —- (the) adornments took an appropriate and sylvan character. 31. He readily confided to her —- (the) papers concerning the intrigue. 32. In the afternoon —- of them got into a boat and rowed across the lake.


ACCEPTANCE, ACCEPTATION.–_Acceptance_ is the “act of accepting”; also “favorable reception”: as, “The acceptance of a gift,” “She sang with marked acceptance.” _Acceptation_ now means “the sense in which an expression is generally understood or accepted.”

ACCESS, ACCESSION.–_Access_ has several meanings authorized by good use: (1) outburst; (2) admission; (3) way of entrance. _Accession_ means (1) the coming into possession of a right; or (2) an addition.

ACTS, ACTIONS.–“_Acts_, in the sense of ‘things done,’ is preferable to _actions_, since _actions_ also means ‘processes of doing.'”[26]

ADVANCE, ADVANCEMENT.–_Advance_ is used in speaking of something as moving forward; _advancement_, as being moved forward.

ALLUSION, ILLUSION, DELUSION.–An _allusion_ is an indirect reference to something not definitely mentioned. Roughly speaking, an _illusion_ is an error of vision; _delusion_, of judgment. “In literary and popular use an _illusion_ is an unreal appearance presented in any way to the bodily or the mental vision; it is often pleasing, harmless, or even useful…. A _delusion_ is a mental error or deception, and may have regard to things actually existing, as well as to _illusions_. _Delusions_ are ordinarily repulsive and discreditable, and may even be mischievous.”[27]

AVOCATION, VOCATION.–“_Vocation_ means ‘calling’ or ‘profession’; _avocation_, ‘something aside from one’s regular calling, a by-work.'”[28]

COMPLETION, COMPLETENESS.–_Completion_ is “the act of completing”; _completeness_ is “the state of being complete.”

OBSERVATION, OBSERVANCE.–_Observation_ contains the idea of “looking at”; _observance_, of “keeping,” “celebrating.” “We speak of the _observation_ of a fact, of a star; of the _observance_ of a festival, of a rule.”[29]

PROPOSAL, PROPOSITION.–“A _proposal_ is something proposed to be done, which may be accepted or rejected. A _proposition_ is something proposed for discussion, with a view to determining the truth or wisdom of it.”[30]

RELATIONSHIP, RELATION.–_Relationship_ properly means “the state of being related by kindred or alliance”: as, “A relationship existed between the two families.” _Relation_ is a word of much broader meaning. It does not necessarily imply kinship.

SOLICITUDE, SOLICITATION.–_Solicitude_ is “anxiety”; _solicitation_ is “the act of soliciting or earnestly asking.”

STIMULATION, STIMULUS, STIMULANT.–_Stimulation_ is “the act of stimulating or inciting to action”; _stimulus_, originally “a goad,” now denotes that which stimulates, the means by which one is incited to action; _stimulant_ has a medical sense, being used of that which stimulates the body or any of its organs. We speak of ambition as a _stimulus_, of alcohol as a _stimulant_.

[25] “Foundations,” pp. 53-56.
[26] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 18. [27] The Century Dictionary.
[28] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 39. [29] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 39. [30] The Century Dictionary.


_Tell the difference in meaning between_–

1. The acceptance (acceptation) of this word is doubtful. 2. The acts (actions) of Napoleon were carefully observed. 3. The colonel’s advance (advancement) was not long delayed. 4. Literature has been Dr. Holmes’s avocation (vocation). 5. The list of African dialects is approaching completeness (completion). 6. The completion (completeness) of this new dictionary of the Latin language will make scholars glad.
7. The professor advised me, when I went to Rome, to be especially careful in my observation (observance) of the religious ceremonies of Passion Week.
8. This proposal (proposition) made both Republican and Democratic senators indignant.
9. His mother’s solicitude (solicitation) induced Washington when he was a boy to give up his intention of going to sea. 10. Shall I give your son a stimulus (stimulant)?


_Insert the proper word in each blank, and give the reason for your choice_:–

1. The word “livery” is used in its original —-. 2. This is a true saying and worthy of —-. 3. The —- of a trust brings grave responsibility. 4. He sent to the President a formal —- of the position. 5. The assertion finds —- in every rank of society. 6. In its common —- “philosophy” signifies “the search after wisdom.” 7. The probability of this theory justifies its full —-.

8. We are denied —- to the king.
9. An —- of fever occurred at nightfall. 10. The emperor at his —- takes an oath to maintain the constitution. 11. —- to the outer court was through a massive door. 12. The only —- which the Roman Empire received was the province of Britain.
13. A sudden —- of violent, burning fever had laid Peter’s mother-in-law prostrate.
14. Victoria married after her —- to the throne. 15. This allusion led to a fresh —- of feeling.

16. I cannot do so cruel an —-.
17. Another mode of —- was proposed by Henry Clay. 18. The fifth book of the New Testament records the —-s of the Apostles. 19. To attempt resistance would be the —- of a madman. 20. The monkey imitates the —-s of its master.

21. The —- of the expedition was impeded by bad roads. 22. —- in the army is slow.
23. The Don and his companions, in their eager —-, had got entangled in deep glens.
24. My old position offered no hope of —-. 25. His hopes of —- in England failing, Swift returned to Ireland.

26. There were two —-s in his sermon to the riots. 27. The cleverest, acutest men are often under an (a) —- about women. 28. Longfellow’s “Footsteps of Angels” contains —-s to the death of his wife.
29. Our judgment of people is liable to be warped by —-s of the imagination.
30. Those other words of —- and folly, Liberty first and Union afterward.

31. Surgeons in the army are allowed by the enemy to pursue their —- unmolested.
32. The young lawyer, surrounded by his law-books, took up his —- with enthusiasm.
33. Let your base-ball be a pastime, not a trade; let it be your —-, not your —-.
34. Heaven is a pious man’s —-, and therefore he counts earthly employments —-s.
35. It seems that after his return, his disciples left him and returned to their ordinary —-s.

36. The —- of the railroad was celebrated by a general illumination in the village.
37. The comfort of passengers is secured by the —- of the equipment of the steamers of this line.
38. We hope for the —- of our new building by September. 39. We were surprised at the —- of the collection of minerals.

40. The —- of a few simple rules of health would have prolonged his life. 41. The North American Indian has great powers of —-. 42. He insisted on the prompt —- of the regulations. 43. The Pharisees were strict in their —- of religious festivals. 44. He is arranging for a careful —- of the eclipse.

45. I submit two —-s for consideration by the assembly. 46. The —- that each of us relinquish something was accepted. 47. Sealed —-s for building the cottage were handed in by three contractors.
48. He made a —- of marriage to her. 49. I dissent from that —-.
50. A nation dedicated to the —- that all men are created equal.

51. He made frequent —- for money and clothes. 52. My mother watched over my infancy with tender —-. 53. Coriolanus yielded at the —- of his mother.

54. He worked hard under the —- of a desire to get rich. 55. The providential —- of conscience is always present. 56. The doctor came and administered a gentle —- to the patient.


ABILITY, CAPACITY.–_Ability_ is the power of doing; _capacity_, the power of containing, of understanding, of acquiring.

ADHERENCE, ADHESION.–_Adherence_ is used of moral relations, _adhesion_, of physical connection. We speak of the _adhesion_ of glue to wood, of a man’s _adherence_ to the principles of his party.

AMOUNT, QUANTITY, NUMBER.–_Amount_ means “sum total,” and is used of numbers or quantities; _quantity_ is used of things which are measured; _number_, of things which are counted.

ARGUMENT, PLEA.–“_Plea_ (in the legal sense) is properly used of the pleadings or the arraignment before a trial, not of the _argument_ at a trial. A _plea_ is always addressed to the court; an _argument_ may be addressed either to the court or to the jury. A similar remark applies to the verbs _plead_ and _argue_.”[32]

BALANCE, REST, REMAINDER.–_Balance_, meaning “the difference between two sides of an account,” is a commercial term, and cannot properly be used for _rest_ or _remainder. Rest_ is used of persons or things, and of large as well as of small parts. _Remainder_ is used only of things, and denotes a comparatively small part.

CENTRE, MIDDLE.–The _centre_ is a point, or a definite place; the _middle_ is a line, or a space, and is less definite than _centre_.

CHARACTER, REPUTATION.–_Character_ is what a man is; _reputation_ is the prevailing opinion of his character.

COMPLEMENT, COMPLIMENT.–A _complement_ is a “full quantity or number” or “that which is needed to complete”; a _compliment_ is “an expression of praise.”

CONSCIENCE, CONSCIOUSNESS.–_Conscience_ is that within us which distinguishes right from wrong. _Consciousness_ is the state of being aware of one’s existence, thoughts, and surroundings.

COUNCIL, COUNSEL.–A _council_ is “a body of persons convened for consultation.” _Counsel_ denotes “advice,” or “a person, as a lawyer, engaged to give advice.”

CUSTOM, HABIT.–_Custom_ denotes the frequent repetition of the same act, and may be used of a number of persons taken together. _Habit_ is the effect of custom in a person. _Custom_ is voluntary; _habit_ is involuntary, often uncontrollable, sometimes unconscious.

DECEPTION, DECEIT.–_Deception_ is “the act of deceiving”; _deceit_ is “deceitfulness,” a trait of character; or a “trick,” an “artifice.”

EGOISTS, EGOISM, EGOTISM.–“The disciples of Descartes were _egoists_, the _ego_ being the basis of their philosophy.” _Egoism_ is the name of their system. _Egoism_ is sometimes used also in the sense of undue admiration of self, the outward expression of which is _egotism_. But “_egotism_, in the sense of ‘self-worship,’ is preferable to _egoism_, since _egoism_ also designates a system of philosophy.”[33]

EMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION.–_Emigration_ is the moving out from a country; _immigration_, the moving into it. Foreigners who come to live in America are _emigrants_ from their fatherland, _immigrants_ to America.

ENORMITY, ENORMOUSNESS.–“_Enormity_ is used of deeds of unusual horror; _enormousness_, of things of unusual size. We speak of the _enormity_ of CA|sar Borgia’s crimes, of the _enormousness_ of the Rothschilds’ wealth.”[34]

ESTEEM, ESTIMATE, ESTIMATION.–_Esteem_ as a noun seems to be going out of use; the word now commonly used in the sense of “opinion” or “regard” is _estimation_. An _estimate_ is “an approximate judgment, based on considerations of probability, of the number, amount, magnitude, or position of anything.”

FALSITY, FALSENESS.–“_Falsity_, in the sense of ‘non-conformity to truth,’ without any suggestion of blame, is preferable to _falseness_, since _falseness_ usually implies blame.”[35]

IDENTITY, IDENTIFICATION.–_Identity_ is “the state of being the same.” _Identification_ denotes “the act of determining what a given thing, or who a given person, is.”

IMPORT, IMPORTANCE.–_Import_, in the sense of “meaning,” must be distinguished from _importance_, “the quality of being important.”

INVENTION, DISCOVERY.–We _invent_ something new, contrived or produced for the first time. We _discover_ what existed before, but remained unknown.

LIMIT, LIMITATION.–_Limit_, in the sense of “bound,” is preferable to _limitation_, since _limitation_ also means “the act of limiting,” or a “restriction.”

LOT, NUMBER.–_Lot_ denotes “a distinct part or parcel”: as, “The auctioneer sold the goods in ten _lots_.” The word does not mean “a great number”; therefore it is improperly used in the sentences: “He has _lots_ of money,” and “I know a _lot_ of people in New York.”

MAJORITY, PLURALITY.–A _majority_ is more than half the whole number; a _plurality_ is the excess of votes given for one candidate over those given for another, and is not necessarily a _majority_ when there are more than two candidates.

NEGLIGENCE, NEGLECT.–“_Negligence_ is used of a habit or trait; _neglect_, of an act or succession of acts.”[36]

NOVICE, NOVITIATE.–_Novice_ properly means one who is new in any business or calling; _novitiate_, the state or time of being a _novice_.

ORGANISM, ORGANIZATION.–An _organism_ is a “living body composed of a number of essential parts.” _Organization_ denotes “the act of organizing,” or “an organized body of persons,” as a literary society.

PART, PORTION.–“_Part_ is the general word for that which is less than the whole: as, the whole is equal to the sum of all its _parts_…. _Portion_ is often used in a stilted way where _part_ would be simpler and better; _portion_ has always some suggestion of allotment or assignment: as, this is my _portion_; a _portion_ of Scripture. ‘Father, give me the _portion_ of goods that falleth to me.'”[37]

PLENTY, ABUNDANCE.–_Plenty_ is enough; _abundance_, more than enough.

PRODUCE, PRODUCT, PRODUCTION.–_Produce_ is always collective, and is used only of raw products: as, the _produce_ of the soil, of the flock. _Product_ denotes the result of some operation, usually physical labor. _Production_, meaning “the act of producing,” is also applied to a work of literature or art, as a book, a statue, or a painting. “_Product_, in the sense of ‘thing produced,’ is preferable to _production_, since _production_ is also used in an abstract sense.”[38]

PROMINENCE, PREDOMINANCE.–_Prominence_ means “a standing out from something, so as to be conspicuous.” _Predominance_ denotes “ascendency,” “a superiority in strength or influence,” “an over-ruling.” There may be many _prominent_ traits in a person’s character; there can be only one _predominant_ trait.

RECEIPT, RECIPE.–“_Receipt_, in the sense of ‘formula for a pudding, etc.,’ is preferable to _recipe_, since _recipe_ is commonly restricted to medical prescriptions.”[38]

RELATIVE, RELATION.–“_Relative_, in the sense of ‘member of a family,’ is preferable to _relation_, since _relation_ is also used in an abstract sense.”[38]

REQUIREMENT, REQUISITE, REQUISITION.–A _requirement_ is something required by a person or persons. A _requisite_ is something required by the nature of the case. A _requisition_ is an authoritative demand or official request for a supply of something.

RESORT, RECOURSE, RESOURCE.–_Resort_ denotes “the act of going to some person or thing”; or “that which is resorted to or habitually visited.” _Recourse_ means “resort for help or protection.” _Resource_ denotes “something which is a source of help or support.”

SECRETING, SECRETION.–_Secreting_ is the act of hiding; _secretion_, a physiological process or fluid.

SEWAGE, SEWERAGE.–_Sewage_ means the contents, _sewerage_, the system, of sewers.

SITUATION, SITE.–“_Situation_ embraces all the local aspects and relationships[39] in which a thing is placed. The _site_ is confined to the ground on which it is erected or reposes.”[40]

SPECIALITY, SPECIALTY.–“_Speciality_, in the sense of ‘distinctive quality,’ is preferable to _specialty_, since _specialty_ is also used in the sense of ‘distinctive thing.'”[41]

UNION, UNITY.–_Union_ is “the joining of two or more things into one.” _Unity_ means “oneness,” “harmony.”

VISITANT, VISITOR.–_Visitant_ was formerly used to denote a supernatural being; _visitor_, a human one. _Visitant_ seems now to be going out of use, _visitor_ being used in both senses.

[31] “Foundations,” p. 56. If it seem undesirable to drill pupils on all the words which are here discriminated, the teacher may select those words which they are most likely to misuse. See note 2, p. 22. [32] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 40. [33] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 19. [34] Ibid., p. 38.
[35] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 19. [36] Ibid., p. 39.
[37] The Century Dictionary.
[38] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 19. [39] Is “relationships” the proper word here? [40] Smith’s Synonyms Discriminated.
[41] A.S. Hill: Principles of Rhetoric, revised edition, p. 19.


_Tell the difference in meaning between_– 1. He is a person of great ability (capacity). 2. A good character (reputation) is a precious possession. 3. The man seemed to be without conscience (consciousness). 4. The counsel (council) was not wise.
5. It is John’s custom (habit) to speak slowly. 6. Her deceit (deception) amazed me.
7. This man is an egoist (egotist). 8. The government does not encourage immigration (emigration). 9. In Mr. E.’s estimate (estimation) the cost of lumber and paint is low. 10. It was only yesterday that I heard of the identification (identity) of the men who robbed Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith. 11. Mr. Gladstone’s remark at the banquet was an utterance of great import (importance).
12. This is a remarkable discovery (invention). 13. Calhoun was nominated by a majority (plurality). 14. His death was caused by his own neglect (negligence). 15. The privileges of a novice (novitiate) are not many. 16. What a queer organism (organization)! 17. The expedition has plenty (an abundance) of provisions. 18. He proposes to lay a tax on all English produce (products, productions).
19. He quickly attained prominence (predominance) in the committee. 20. Please copy this receipt (recipe).
21. My relatives (relations) here are charming. 22. Wanted, a boy to do light work in a first-class store. Ability to read and write is a requirement (requisite). 23. The sewage (sewerage) of inland cities presents problems of great difficulty.
24. The site (situation) of the temple is not known. 25. Unity (union) of religious denominations is hoped for by many.


_Insert the proper word in each blank, and give the reason for your choice_:–

1. The —- of the room is not great. 2. They gave, each according to his —-. 3. What is —- but the power of doing a thing? 4. Let me drink of Thee according to my —-. (From a prayer.) 5. Some students do not have —- to master Greek; but what most need is —- to work persistently.
6. My father does not think Judge X. has much–as a lawyer.

7. The —- of the parts which were cemented together is still perfect. 8. He showed an obstinate —- to false rules of conduct. 9. Marks on the blackboard depend on the —- of chalk to the slate. 10. Professor A.’s —- to the doctrines of Adam Smith is seen in his last book.

11. Our monthly expenditures vary in —-. 12. You could see any —- of cabs standing in front of the theatre. 13. A great —- of books and papers covered the table. 14. Gulliver asked the king of Lilliput for a large —- of iron bars and a considerable —- of rope.
15. What —- of paper is needed for one issue of _Harper’s Weekly_? 16. Such a (an) —- of sheep as we saw to-day! 17. There is a large —- of silver bullion in the Treasury waiting to be coined.

18. Every whisper in the court-room was hushed as Mr. N. rose before the jury and began his–in behalf of the prisoner.

19. The —- of Smith, when arraigned before the court, was that he had acted in self-defence.

20. The only —- available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.

21. The —- of the hour is spent in the study of some poem. 22. I have a —- at my banker’s.
23. The —- of the boys went home. 24. For the —- of the week we stayed at home. 25. The account shows a —- of $12.46.
26. Give John and Horace four of the six apples; you may have the —-. 27. Give the —- of our dinner to Tommy, our cat.

28. There is a crack running down the —- of the wall. 29. A table stood in the —- of the room. 30. A path runs through the —- of the park. 31. In the —- of the garden was a fountain. 32. He parts his hair in the —-.
33. The arrow struck the —- of the target.

34. This man has an excellent —- for honesty. 35. Every one admires the —- of Washington. 36. Mr. Arnold won great —- as a critic. 37. Oh, I have lost my —-.
38. The outlaws of Yorkshire were men of loose —-. 39. A distinguished general may lose his —- through a single blunder. 40. —- is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.

41. Present my —-s to your father. 42. The ship has its —- of stores.
43. The —- of an angle is the difference between the angle and a right angle.
44. “True friendship loathes such oily —-.” 45. In the sentence, “He is ill,” “ill” is the —- of the verb “is.” 46. “This barren verbiage, current among men, Light coin, the tinsel clink of —-.”

47. The —- of the purity of his motives consoled him for his unpopularity.
48. My —- hath a thousand several tongues. 49. I felt a shock, I saw the car topple over, and then I lost —-.

50. “No man will take —-, but every man will take money; therefore money is better than —-.”–_Swift._
51. The members of the cabinet form a sort of secret —- of the President. 52. Webster was one of the —- in the trial of the Knapps for the murder of Captain White.

53. De Quincey acquired the —- of using opium from first using it to relieve neuralgic pains.
54. Dancing round a May-pole is a —- many hundreds of years old. 55. As his —- was, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. 56. Man is a bundle of —-s.
57. Those national —-s are best which lead to good —-s among the people.
58. A loose life brings a man into —-s of dissipation. 59. It was the —- of Scotch Highlanders to go bareheaded. 60. It is a good —- to rise early, because this will soon become a —-.

61. He was guilty of a long course of —-. 62. Her character would be charming if it were not for her —-. 63. He won my confidence by base —-.
64. Deceivers seldom profit by their —-. 65. —- Is of the very nature and essence of sin.

66. He is an —-, for he is always talking about himself. 67. —-s are the pest of society; they are always obtruding their ailments on others.

68. The increase in Chinese —- is a matter for serious consideration by the United States Senate.
69. The Chinese government encourages —- to America. 70. —- is one cause of the rapid growth of our population. 71. The —- of the French nobility at the time of the French Revolution was a political blunder.

72. The —- of the cost of the civil war startles the student of history. 73. Burke drew such a vivid picture of the —- of the Nabob of Arcot’s crimes that ladies in the audience fainted. 74. Visitors do not at first realize the —- of St. Peter’s, at Rome.

75. In what —- is he held by his townsmen? 76. In my —- she is the best of women. 77. We can form an —- of the amount of water in the air.

78. We have already seen the —- of that hypothesis. 79. Arnold was despised for his —-.
80. Piety is opposed to hypocrisy and —-. 81. The prince is in danger of betrayal through the —- of his servant. 82. The —- of this reasoning is evident.

83. The bodies were so disfigured that their —- was difficult. 84. In no form of government is there absolute —- of interest between the people and their rulers.

85. He heard the tolling of the bell and trembled at its —-. 86. The oath of the President contains three words, all of equal —-; namely, that he will “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution. 87. He was engaged in business of the highest —-. 88. You misunderstood the —- of my remarks.

89. Newton’s —- of the law of gravitation. 90. The —- of the telescope was made by Galileo. 91. The —- of the properties of the magnetic needle is said to have been made by the Chinese; also, the —- of gunpowder. 92. The —- of the circulation of blood was made by Harvey. 93. The steam-engine is one of the greatest —-s of this age. 94. The —- of the telephone is claimed by several persons.

95. All kinds of knowledge have their —-s. 96. Titus Quintius was appointed to the command of the army without any —-s.
97. Athens insisted upon —- of the right to vote. 98. The prisoners were free to roam within certain —-s, but their employments were subject to —-.

99. If A has 21 votes, B 18, and C 10, A is elected by a —-, not a —-. 100. Smith had 37 of the 52 votes, a good —-. 101. Jones had 20 votes, Smith 14, and Brown 11; Jones therefore was elected by a safe —-.

102. “Without blame
Or our —- we lost her as we came.”–_Comus._ 103. Through —- to do what ought to be done we soon acquire habits of —-.
104. Rescue my poor remains from vile —-. 105. The gate has fallen from its hinges, the wooden steps are rotted, and the house shows similar signs of —-. 106. —- is a grave fault.

107. For most men a —- of silence is profitable before they enter on the business of life.
108. I am young, a —- in the trade. 109. It was in this abbey that I served my —-. 110. When I was a —- in this place, there was here a pious monk.

111. Germs of microscopic —-s exist abundantly on the surface of all fruits.
112. Lieutenant Peary has completed the —- of his arctic expedition. 113. The Jacobin club was a political —-. 114. What a complex —- the human body is!

115. A —- of my work is done.
116. The younger —- of the community. 117. The priests had a —- of land assigned them by Pharaoh. 118. The whole is equal to the sum of all its —-s. 119. Each received his —- of the estate. 120. The lower —-s of his body were cold. 121. “This,” said he, “is a —- of the true cross.”

122. If you do not waste your money, you will have —- for your expenses. 123. They did cast in of their —-; but she of her want. 124. The expedition has —- of provisions, but none to spare. 125. Last year there was —- of corn; it was estimated that we had enough to feed the whole nation for two years.

126. The manufacturers brought their —-s to market. 127. The farmers bring their —- to town or haul it to the nearest railway station.
128. The apple is especially an American —-. 129. Lowell’s “Commemoration Ode” is a noble —-. 130. Great Britain exports chiefly manufactured —-. 131. The component elements of —- are labor and capital.

132. The Indian race is marked by a —- of the cheek-bones. 133. The English settlers were _prominent (predominant)_ in the New World. 134. “Childe Harold” brought Byron into —- as a poet. 135. As a man Byron had many _prominent (predominant)_ faults; it is not easy to say which one was _prominent (predominant)._

136. Please send me your —- for making chocolate ice-cream. 137. Paracelsus furnished a —- for making a fairy, but had the delicacy to refrain from using it.
138. He gave me a —- for a liniment, which he said was excellent for sprains.

139. He has no —- in this part of the country. 140. I am the nearest —- he has in the world.

141. One of the —-s in a great commander is coolness. 142. The —-s for admission to college vary. 143. One of the —-s in a United States minister to France is that he be wealthy, for the salary paid is insufficient to defray the expenses of the minister’s social obligations. 144. That locomotive engineers be not color-blind is a just —-. 145. The wars of Napoleon were marked by the enormous —-s which were made on invaded countries.

146. The woods were her favorite–. 147. The United States has unlimited–s. 148. Asheville has long been a–of wealthy society people. 149. When women engage in any art or trade, it is usually as a last —-. 150. General Lee had–to stratagem.

151. Jailers are watchful to prevent the —- of poison in letters sent to condemned prisoners.
153. Saliva is a —-.

153. The water of rivers that have received —- is not good to drink. 154. The vast and intricate —- of Paris is described by Victor Hugo in “Les Miserables.”

155. The —- of Samaria is far more beautiful than the —- of Jerusalem, though not so grand and wild.
156. Dr. Schliemann made excavations to discover the —- of Troy. 157. Our school buildings have a fine —-. 158. Has the —- of Professor Richard’s house been fixed? 159. One of Nebuchadnezzar’s temples is thought to have stood on the —- of the Tower of Babel.

160. It is the —- of vice that it is selfishly indifferent to the injurious consequences of actions.
161. Diseases of the throat are Dr. Hall’s —-. 162. Fountain-pens a —-.
163. “Toughness” is the —- of Salisbury iron; therefore Salisbury iron is much in demand for car-wheels.

164. How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in —-.
165. The —- of soul and body is ended by death. 166. In the temper of Lord Bacon there was a singular —- of audacity and sobriety.
167. This composition lacks —-; the writer treats of several distinct subjects.


_Tell why the italicized words in the following sentences are misused, and substitute for them better expressions:_–

1. The West End Railway Company is the _factor_[42] which can remedy all this.
2. Addison’s “Cato” was _a success._ 3. Decoration Day is a fitting _observance_ of those who gave their lives for their country.
4. At the end of each day the _teams_[43] are so broken up that they have to go into the repair-shop, where the carpenter and blacksmith are able to fix any part of them.
5. The _majority_ of the news is unfavorable. 6. Search-lights would be an indispensable _factor_ in a night attack. 7. Bishop Hatto lived in a country where all the _productions_ were spoiled by the weather.
8. The _whole_ of the stupid boys in Germany struggle to pass this test. 9. The police are looking for the guilty _parties_. 10. A _lot_ of men from the country came to town to see the circus. 11. In the shed is a _mixture_[44] of oars, seats, sails, rudders, booms, and gaffs.
12. They had to take the _balance_ of his arm off. 13. Addison’s essays were a great _factor_ in improving the morals of his age.
14. General Manager Payson Tucker at once sent detectives to the scene, and every effort will be made to secure the guilty _parties_. 15. For a few days Coxey’s army was _a success_ as a show. 16. If it were not for him and a few others of his _ilk_ the matter would have been settled long ago.

[42] “Foundations,” p. 51.
[43] Ibid., p. 52.
[44] Consult a good dictionary.


_Illustrate by original sentences the correct use of these words:_–

Home, party, series, statement, verdict, acceptation, actions, advance, advancement, avocation, completion, allusion, illusion, observation, observance, proposal, proposition, solicitude, solicitation, stimulus, stimulant, capacity, adherence, adhesion, amount, quantity, number, centre, middle, character, complement, compliment, conscience, consciousness, council, counsel, custom, habit, deception, deceit, egoist, emigration, immigration, enormity, enormousness, esteem, estimate, falsity, falseness, import, invention, discovery, limitation, majority, plurality, negligence, neglect, novitiate, organization, organism, produce, product, production, prominence, predominance, recipe, requirement, requisition, requisite, resort, resource, secretion, sewage, sewerage, situation, site, speciality, specialty, union, unity.

[45] TO THE TEACHER.–It is easy to underestimate the difficulty which this exercise presents to pupils. In assigning the lesson care must be taken not to call for more of this kind of work than can be done well. Constructing a sentence to illustrate the correct use of a word is a valuable exercise, but it is a difficult one; and persons who know the correct use of a word may be put to their wit’s end to illustrate that use. It will be well to assign this exercise little by little, while the class works through the definitions and exercises on pages 23-41; or else to select from the list the words on which the class needs most drill. With some pupils it may be wise to omit the exercise entirely.



POSSESSIVE FORMS.[46]–No apostrophe is used in forming the possessive case of personal pronouns. We write “ours,” “yours,” “hers,” “its,” “theirs.” “It’s” is a contraction for “it is.”

[46] “Foundations,” p. 60.


_Write from dictation_–
1. John’s hat is old, yours is new. 2. The bear was lying on its side, dead. 3. The Browns’ house is larger than ours, but ours is more convenient than theirs.
4. Yours very respectfully, John Smith. 5. See the yacht! it’s coining into the harbor under full sail. 6. Show Mary your doll; it should not grieve you that yours is not so pretty as hers.
7. That fault was not yours.
8. Helen’s eyes followed the direction of hers.

NOMINATIVE OR OBJECTIVE CASE.[47]–There are only seven words in the English language that now have different forms for the nominative and objective cases; therefore it is only in the use of these words that we need to observe any rules about “nominative” or “objective.” Since, however, these seven words are more frequently used than any other words, the possibilities of error in choosing between the nominative and the objective are many. Mistakes of this kind are common, and produce a very unpleasant effect on cultivated people. The seven words that have different forms for the nominative and objective cases are the following pronouns[48]:–

_Nominative. Objective._
I me
we us
thou thee
he him
she her
they them
who whom

It is taken for granted that the student has already learned the following principles of syntax:–

1. _Words used absolutely_ and the _subjects of finite verbs_ should in English be put in the NOMINATIVE form. 2. The _subjects of infinitives_ and the _objects_ of verbs and prepositions should be in the OBJECTIVE form. 3. Words in _apposition_ should be in the same case. 4. The verb “_to be,”_ or any of its forms _(am, is, are, were,_ etc.), does not take an object, but, being equivalent in meaning to the symbol “=,” takes the same case after it as before it: the nominative, if the form is “finite”; the objective, if the form is “infinitive” and has a subject of its own. “I know it is _he_,” “I know it to be _him,”_ and “The stranger is thought to be _he_” are grammatically correct.

Sentences like “She invited Mrs. R. and _I_ to go driving” are common, even among people generally well-informed. Such mistakes will be avoided if the speaker stops to think what the form would be if the pronoun were not coupled with a noun. No one would think of saying, “She invited _I_ to go driving.”

Persons who are in doubt as to which form of the pronoun to use often try to avoid the difficulty by using one of the pronouns ending in “-self”–pronouns which have the same form for both the nominative and the objective case. Thus many persons, uncertain whether to use “I” or “me” in the sentence quoted above, would say instead, “She invited Mrs. R. and _myself_ to go driving.” This is no better than “Mrs. R. and _I_,” or “her and _I_.” The pronouns in “-self” are properly used only for emphasis or in a reflexive sense.[49] It is right to say: “I will go _myself_”; “Carrie _herself_ went to the door”; “God helps those who help _themselves_.” It would be wrong to say, “Harry and _myself_ have bought a horse together.”

When a pronoun in “-self” is used reflexively, it refers to the subject of the clause in which it stands.

In sentences like “This advice is free to _whoever_ will take it,” the word ending in “-ever” is the subject of the verb “will take,” not the object of the preposition “to.” The right form, therefore, is “whoever,” not “whomever.” The object or, better, the “base” of the preposition “to” is the whole clause, “whoever will take it.”

[47] Ibid., pp. 61-62.
[48] I omit _ye, you,_ because they are used interchangeably. I omit also compounds of _who, whom._
[49] “Foundations,” p. 64.


_Insert the proper form of pronoun in each blank, and give the reason for your choice:–_


1. Taking a carriage, my brother and–drove to the east end of Cape Elizabeth.
2. Mr. C. and–walked around the lake by moonlight. 3. The walk gave pleasure to both Mr. C. and–. 4. Between you and–, affairs look dark. 5. The _Star_ contains a paper on “Our Streets,” which was written by–. > 6. He is taller than–.[50]
7. There is, you remember, an old agreement between you and– 8. May John and–go to the ball-game?
9. Please let John and–go to the ball-game. 10. They met Robert and–in the village. 11. Who is there? Only–.
12. To send–away, and for a whole year, too,–, who had never been away from home, was not easy for mother.
13. Will you let Brown and–have your boat? 14. Dr. Holmes shook hands with the girls,–among the rest. 15. Next month my brother and–are going to Bar Harbor. 16. It was–who called to you.
17. I was beside–.
18. Would you go, if you were–?
19. Father bought brother and–tickets for the concert. 20. He said he would bring some flowers to Frances and–. 21. You suffer from headache more than–. 22. We shall soon see which is the better boxer, you or–. 23. Who rang the bell?–.
24. The taller man was supposed to be–. 25. Every one has gone except you and–. 26. The world will rest content with such poor things as you and–. 27. He was a sublimer poet than–.
28. Was it–that you saw?
29. How can you thus address me,–, who am your friend? 30. Let you and–go for berries alone, if he will not go with us. 31. There is no one here but you and–.
32. Is it–you wish to see?
33. He said that you and–might ao. 34. Oh, no; it couldn’t have been–.
35. Harry left word for you and–to come to his room. 36. Other girls have books as well as–. 37. Its being–should make no difference. 38. Young Macdonald and–went to New York last Thursday. 39. She knew it to be–by my gait.

[50] In sentences like this the correct form will become evident if the speaker mentally completes the sentence thus: He is taller than–_am._ The greater part of the clause after “than” or “as” is generally omitted.


We, us, ourselves.
1. Our friends and–are going out to-night. 2. He has come to take our friends and–driving. 3. They are wiser than–, since they are older. 4. They will lose more than–by the failure of the bank. 5. The Germans are better plodders than–. 6. It may have been–who (whom) you saw. 7.–boys are having a fine time.
8. Have you seen the picture of–three girls in a boat, taken by Mr. B.? 9. There are five hundred miles between father and–. 10. They know that as well as–.
11. They don’t succeed any better than–. 12. They as well as–were disappointed.
13. –ought not to get angry when others criticise–for faults which–freely acknowledge.
14. “It is not fit for such as —
To sit with rulers of the land.”


Thou, thee, thyself.
1. I will not learn my duty from such as —-. 2. If they rob only such as —-, I hold them right honest folk. 3. Love —- last.
4. “The nations not so blest as —- Must in their turn to tyrants fall.”
5. “Wife, dost —- know that all the world seems queer except —- and me; and sometimes I think even —- art a little queer?” 6. “Hail to —-, blithe spirit;
Bird —- never wert.”


He, him, himself.
1. There is a difference between an employer and–who (whom) he employs. 2. John —- wrote that letter.
3. You are nearly as tall as —-.
4. All wore dress suits except Charles and–. 5. I know that it was —-.
6. I knew it to be —-.
7. —- being young, they tried to deceive him. 8. It was either —- or his brother that called. 9. What were you and —- talking about? 10. I can run as fast as —-.
11. —- who had always protected her, she now saw dead at her feet. 12. —- and his father are in business together. 13. She is as good as —-.
14. I should never have imagined it to be —-. 15. Boys like you and —- are expected to do what is right without being told.
16. Yes, I told them what you said, —- among the rest. 17. I did as well as —-.
18. It was Joseph, —- whom Pharaoh made prime-minister. 19. Let —- who made thee answer that.
20. Whom can I trust, if not —-?


1. Before leaving Mary we saw —- and her baggage safe on the train. 2. —- and her two cousins have been visiting us. 3. I would not go to town alone, if I were —-. 4. It was not —- but her sister that you met yesterday. 5. You are as old as —-.
6. —- and I are not in the same class. 7. Was it —- that did it?
8. I cannot let you and —- sit together. 9. You play the violin better than —-. 10. Such girls as —- are not good companions. 11. I am certain that it was —-.
12. Girls like —- are not good company. 13. If any one is embarrassed, it will not be —-. 14. If any one is late it will be sure to be —-.