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regularly indicated in adjectives by the addition of er or r to the positive, as bright, brighter, true, truer, or by the use of more or less, as excellent, more excellent, less excellent; it is irregularly indicated by different words, as good, better. A few adverbs are compared in like manner, as often, oftener. The superlative degree is the highest degree of comparison of the adjective or adverb. In English it is formed either (a) by adding -st, -est, to the positive; as, brightest, ablest; (b) by prefixing the word most (or least) to the positive, which is done especially with words of more than two syllables; as, most delightful; (c) by prefixing an adverb of superlative meaning, as very, extremely, exceedingly, to the positive; as, very kind. The first two are called the superlative relative; the last the superlative absolute (without comparison); opposed to comparative, positive. A kind of superlative is also sometimes formed with the suffix -most from words that do not distinguish any positive and comparative; for example, midmost, undermost, northernmost, southmost, topmost.
An adverb is a part of speech used to modify words expressing action and quality; hence, it is any word used to modify verbs, adjectives, or adverbs. Adverbs denote the way or manner in which an action takes place, or the relations of place, time, manner, quality, and number, or an attribute of an attribute. Some adverbs are merely particles and indeclinable, as now, here, so; while others are not properly particles, but are capable of inflection to indicate degrees of comparison, as soon, sooner, soonest, brightly, most brightly. A relative adverb is an adverb derived from a relative pronoun and relating to an antecedent, as when, where, whence, etc.; usually introducing adverbial clauses. An adverbial clause is a dependent
proposition in a complex sentence, having the office of an adverb; as, he visited London when he came from Paris. An adverbial or adverb phrase is a phrase having the force of an adverb, as "in very truth."
So as not to exhaust the patience of the reader by extended explanations of the terms that remain to be considered, they are summarized briefly below. A conjunction is a word or part of speech that connects words, clauses, and sentences, or determines the relation between sentences, as and in "day and night." Conjunctions are of two principal kinds-coordinate (coordinating) and subordinate (subordinating)-according as they join coordinate clauses in compound sentences or subjoin subordinate clauses in complex sentences. (See coordinate and subordinate.) Conjunctions are called correlatives when they appear commonly in pairs, and each introduces an alternative or a correlate, as either and or. Adverbial conjunctions not only unite thoughts, but also express relations of place, time, causation, comparison, etc., as where, when, because, as, than, etc.
Coordinate conjunctions are those conjunctions that join coordinate clauses, etc. See conjunction, above. Coordinate (coordinating) conjunctions embrace (1) copulative, expressing addition or expansion (and, also, etc.); (2) adversative, expressing opposition (but, notwithstanding, etc.); (3) disjunctive, expressing exclusion (or, nor, etc.); (4) causal, expressing cause (because, etc.); (5) illative, or inferential, expressing consequence and inference (hence, therefore, etc.).
Subordinate conjunctions are those conjunctions that join subordinate to principal clauses. Subordinate conjunctions embrace (1) final, expressing purpose or result
(that, etc.); (2) temporal, expressing time (when, before, since, etc.); (3) local, expressing place (where, beyond, etc.); (4) conditional, expressing condition (if, etc.); and concessional, expressing concession (though, etc.).
A preposition is a part of speech or particle that denotes the relation of an object to an action or thing: so called because it is usually placed before its object. The object is expressed by a noun or pronoun, which with the preposition constitutes an adverbial phrase, and the action or thing by a verb, adjective, or other noun or pronoun. The relation expressed was originally that of space alone, but became extended to time, cause, etc. See language. English prepositions have been divided by Maetzner into (1) those referring originally to a starting-point, as of, from, since; (2) those supposing a movement or direction to an object, as to, toward, till, against, across; (3) those originally containing the idea of position or abiding; as in, on, at, with, among; (4) those that refer decidedly to a contrary determination, as but, save, notwithstanding.
An interjection is a part of speech that expresses sudden emotion, excitement, or feeling, as, oh! alas! hurrah!
This investigation may also include the tracing of the etymology of each word recorded if desired. But, sufficient has been given above to show how much benefit can be obtained by a systematic study of the contents of a dictionary. By turning back it is easy to see that one word leads to the other through the entire series until the whole subject has been traversed, and by following the plan herein outlined, any intelligent person with a dictionary before him can obtain with comparative ease at his desk extended knowledge of any subject on which he may wish
to inform himself. Apply the plan to some other branch of learning, and the result will be the same. The advantages of following such a course of study are various. In addition to acquiring a knowledge of the subject, one, almost unconsciously, learns to spell correctly, acquires an enlarged vocabulary of words and their derivations, and learns how to use them correctly.
The man or woman who purchases a dictionary for the purpose of educating himself purchases the short-cut to a complete education in all that it contains, IF he or she will use it intelligently. Properly used, the dictionary may be made the greatest of all factors in education. Approach it how we may, no matter how wide the range of our knowledge, it teaches us the wisdom of humility, for not one of us is certain that he has a complete mastery of its contents, even though some may delude themselves into believing that they have. He who purchases it may well consider its price a charity to himself.
The Function of Grammar
A KNOWLEDGE of the science that treats of the principles which govern the correct use of language in either oral or written form is essential but not indispensable to the correct use of English words. This science is known as grammar which has been defined as "the way to speak and write language correctly." A knowledge of grammar is a desirable adjunct to correct writing, because if one would become a master of English, one must have an accurate knowledge of the collocation of words and sentences, that is, the treating of their arrangement and relative positions and grammatical connection, producing euphony, clearness, and energy of expression.
Rules governing the correct use of English words are codified and are available in every grammar of the English language, where the exceptions to these rules are not always truthfully told. Grammarians, ever since the best usages of the language have been codified, have split hairs the one with the other so persistently that the student of language is sometimes puzzled to know whether the particular form of expression he wishes to use is or is not correct. In this respect most grammarians are helpless to aid him for they reflect only the views of their compilers. The student, therefore, is often unable to determine what form of expression will pass muster as good English.
A reviewer of Professor Thomas Lounsbury's book, "The