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the universal desire in speaking of persons to substitute the familiar pronoun-sounds which occur most often, for the unfamiliar, and therefore less homely, forms which strike the ear as rude or strange.


There is a curious grammatical usage in English by which a verb of passive form is put with an objective case; e. g. They were paid their wages.' This takes place whenever the active verb is constructed with two cases; e. g. 'He paid them their wages.' The second case in sense becomes the nominative of the passive sentence and the objective case remains with the passive verb.


The explanation seems to be, that the English language does not distinguish between the cases of the remote and the near object, between the dative and accusative, but uses the same word-form for either. We say, 'They struck me' (acc.), and They told me' (dat.). And thus it comes to pass that just as the first case can be made into the nominative of a passive verb, e. g. 'I was struck;' so also the second case is treated in the same way, e. g. 'I was told.' If the active sentence contains an accusative as well as a dative, e. g. 'They told him a story,' this makes no difference, the dative case coming first is turned into the nominative of the passive sentence, and the accusative is not altered. For, as the meaning is active and transitive, in spite of the passive shape, the sense does not require any change. The wish to get part of the predicate early in the sentence for the sake of emphasis, leads to the use of many passive constructions in English.

The definite article is sometimes prefixed to the adjective with the effect of making it an abstract noun; e. g. 'The great, the sublime, the beautiful, the true.' The explanation of this is, that instead of one noun with which the adjective agrees, the adjective is supposed to be applied to every possible instance; and thus an abstract idea is formed. A further extension of this principle leads to such expressions as 'Succour the wretched, raise the fallen;' meaning every instance of wretchedness you meet.

In old English 'ye' is invariably the subject-form, 'you' the objective case; and 'ye,' 'you,' 'your,' are exclusively used in the

plural. In modern English 'you' is used for 'thou' and 'thee.' This arises from the desire to avoid the direct address, which sounds abrupt and rude. Hence the Germans say sie, 'they,' and the Italians ella, 'she,' in speaking to a gentleman, to soften the abruptness.

'It' is used as an indefinite subject-form or objective case: as, 'It rains;' 'He lords it.'

'It' is constantly used as a false subject before the verb, when it is convenient to place the real subject after it; as

It is the fate of liars to be deceived.

'To be deceived' is the real subject of the sentence. 'There' is used in the same way; as

There stood a lion in the way.

In old English 'his' is the possessive case both of 'he' and 'it,' and is consequently both masculine and neuter; as

It was round, and his height was five cubits.

Whose seed was in itself, after his kind.

'Its' is peculiar to modern English, and up to about a hundred years ago was printed 'it's.'

The possessive pronouns, when not in immediate union with nouns, are used in this form :—

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My hand and heart are hers.

The winds obey, for theirs is no divided allegiance.

What is ours we will try to keep.

Notice the following phrases :

A child of mine;

A country residence of the Duke of Rutland's ;

i. e. 'one of.' The expression is only used when there are, or

may probably be, more than one.

A father of yours.

We cannot say

A wife of yours.

A reflexive pronoun is formed by the use of 'self'—

Singular. Myself, thyself, or yourself,


Ourselves, yourselves,

Two reciprocal pronouns are formed thus

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himself, herself. themselves.

The possessive case is 'Each other's;' 'One another's.'
The old English 'either' is equivalent to 'each'—

Plighted their troth either to other; i. e. to each other.

Whoever, whosoever, whoso
Whatever, whatsoever
Whichever, whichsoever
Whenever, whensoever
Wherever, wheresoever




= every one who.



every thing which.
that one which.
= at any time when.
= at any place where.
= to any place to which.



from any place from which.
in anything in which.

in any degree in which.
in any way in which.

Relative pronouns may be of any person, and their verbs agree with them in person—

I, who am much taller, cannot reach it.

Thou that hearest plaintive music.

Dim dawn, who tremblest on yon brook.

Whoever will, may help himself.

Such of you as like, may go.

All ye that pass by.

I who speak, and ye who hear, are alike liable to be mistaken. This is plain; as pronouns can stand instead of any noun, the verb must agree with the noun which they really represent.

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The intransitive verb 'to dare,' sometimes makes 'dare' instead of 'dares' in the third person singular

I dare, thou darest, he dare; as, He dare not refuse.

The transitive verb ' to dare' is regular.

'Endeavour' is in old English a reflective verb

I will endeavour myself.

And also endeavour ourselves to follow the steps.


The following verbs have no infinitive and no passive participle:

must, ought.

Present. Can, may, shall, will, Past. Could, might, should, would, must, ought. The old English verb 'wit,' to know, has only the infinitive 'to wit,' and the past tense' wot;' as, 'I do you to wit' (make you know).

I wot,

he wot,

we wot,

they wot.

6 To wit' is used for 'that is to say;' as

He had only one object, to wit, to feed his own self-complacency.

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Quoth' has only the first and third persons singular of the past tense- Quoth I,'' quoth he.'

The preposition 'to,' before the verbal substantive or infinitive mood, is omitted after the auxiliaries Can, may, might, shall, will, must; and also after these verbs, See, hear, feel, bid, dare, need, make, help, do, let*; as

To know' is sometimes used with the infin. without to;' e. g. 'I have known him sit up all night.'

I can see you. I may not tell.

I might say. You shall speak. I will not hesitate. I must decline. I can see it sparkle. I hear you whisper. I feel the earth tremble. I bid you reflect.

I dare not provoke her. this,' i. e. 'challenge'). I help you finish it? marvel silently.

I dare say (but, 'I dare you to touch I will make you remember it. Shall He does nothing but laugh. I do but

The verb 'put' is used idiomatically in combination with several adverbs; as

To put up with an injury.

To put up a guest.

To put up a candidate (propose). To put on clothes, an appearance. Το put in an appearance (make your appearance). To put off (post-pone). To put off a troublesome question, a petitioner To put by money. I am much put about. He is put upon. To put down an abuse.

To put down an impertinent person.

To put out a candle. To put out a pamphlet.

Put across, over, against, along, &c.


The English Tenses are formed by the use of the auxiliary verbs-Be,' 'have,' 'may,' 'can,' 'shall,' 'will,' 'do,' used in various combinations.

These tenses are formed by adding participles to the auxiliary verbs, one or more; as, ‘I have been loved.' But it is quite possible to put other time combinations after the auxiliaries; e. g. 'About to be loved,' 'Going to be loved,' &c. This power gives great variety to the English language. The following combinations are most of them in common use. Those that are called

Tenses in the Table are marked as such here.

The principle pursued in giving the name 'Tense' to a combination has been this: the auxiliary verb must have lost its own original sense for the combination to be called a tense. This limitation excludes a very large number of common phrases from the name. Also the combination must be in constant use, or it is rather an idiom than a tense.

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