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THE ENGLISH GRAMMAR is divided into four parts; viz. Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody.

We purpose to deal with the first alone.

Orthography teaches the nature of letters, and the method of spelling words.

Letters are signs of articulate sounds.

The twenty-six letters of the English Alphabet are divided into vowels and consonants.

The vowels are a, e, i, o, u; also w and y, except when they begin a word or syllable.

The other letters are consonants; as are w and y, when they commence a word or a syllable.

When two vowels are united in a word so as to be pronounced by a simple impulse of the voice, as ea, in bean, the combination is called a diphthong; when there are three, as eau, in beautiful, it is a triphthong.

Words are signs of ideas. A syllable is such a word, or part of a word, as can be pronounced by a single impulse of the voice, as, a, an, and.

A word of one syllable is called a monosyllable; of two, a dissyllable; of three, a trisyllable; and a word of four, or more syllables, a polysyllable.

Words are either Primitive, Compound, or Derivative.

Primitive words are such as tree, hen, boy, and cannot be reduced to a simpler form.

Compound words are such as hat-brush, and consist of two or more words joined together.

A Derivative word is formed from a primitive one, by a change of letters, or by the addition of a prefix or an affix; as, uphold, maiden-hood.

A Prefix is a letter or syllable placed before the primitive word or root, as the up, in uphold. An Affix or Suffix is a letter or syllable placed after the primitive word, as the hood, in maidenhood.

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The Saxon is the foundation of the English language, but Greek, Latin, French, and other words, have been introduced into it.

The study of derivations may be useful and interesting to the advanced student, but it is not considered desirable to enter at length on this complicated subject in the present work: a writer may spell English words correctly, without tracing the very numerous sources from whence they have been derived; we give, however, in a subsequent page, some examples of Prefixes and Affixes derived from the Latin and other languages.


Before entering on the following rules and exercises, in addition to the advice offered in our introductory pages, we suggest that it may be well for the Pupil to test his progress by underlining all words in his exercises to which the rules he is working from apply.


A word of but one syllable, that ends
After one vowel, in f, l, or s,

Will have its final letter double,

As you may see in staff, miss, call, and dress.
The important exceptions are, as, has, his, thus,
If, of, is, this, was, yes, and the words gas, and us.


If other consonant than f, l, s,

After a vowel, should the final be

Of little monosyllable, it stands

Single, as in am, dig, and hit, we see.

The exceptions are add, butt (the noun mind), and err;
Besides these, inn, bunn, buzz, ebb, egg, odd, and purr.

Exercise on Rules 1 and 2.

That odd boy has run up the hill to fill his cap with mud; call him back, and tell him to take this mat to Miss Jones.— They make a fuss about the new inn being lighted with bad gas.-Columbus has taught the dullest of us how to make an egg stand on end.

'The free fair homes of England!
Long, long in hut and hall,

May hearts of native proof be reared

To guard each hallowed wall.'

Let Bob pat the cat, but mind he does not squeeze her and make her squeak; he may cause her pain, and she may retaliate by scratching him. She is pleased, I hear her purr.-My dog

wags his tail when he sees me put on my hat, or say dinner is ready; am I to call this reason or instinct?-Pray write to your client to apprise him I am forwarding his goods with an invoice, and hope he will approve my choice. If I had had a voice in the matter, I would not have trusted such a consignment at this season, and with a freight of so inflammable a character. The din and buzz of that pin manufactory has made my head ache till I am giddy and dizzy, and feel as if a puff of wind would blow me over.


(Final consonants: when doubled.)

A word, if monosyllable it be,

That ending with one consonant we see,
After one vowel, must its final make
Double, ere other syllable it take

Beginning with a vowel; as, beg, begging, begged;
Hot, hotter, hottest; and peg, pegging, pegged.
But if more syllables than one we find
Compose the word, then only, you must mind,
When on the last the stress and accent fall,
The double consonant you add at all;
As in defer, deferring, and deferred;
Remittance, or recurring, and recurred.


Syllabled words, though ending like the past,
Accented on other syllables than the last,

A double consonant should never take

When an addition to the word you make;

Write gather, gathering; grammar makes grammarian.
And so from unit, we form unitarian;

But jeweller will still be written wrong,

We have been used to double / so long.

Though this rule has been given by leading grammarians, some writers break through it, and the following words are very commonly spelt with the double consonant:-Bénefit, benefitting, benefitted; counsel, counselling, &c.; équal, equalling, &c.; lábel, labelling, &c.; model, modelling, &c.; quarrel, quarrelling, &c.; jewel, jéwelling, &c.; trável, travelling, traveller, &c.

Exercise on Rules 3 and 4.

It is useless referring and recurring to past grievances, or lamenting and fretting so bitterly over departed joys.-Though the soldiers have been wandering and trotting about the neighbourhood, I hear no accusation of their committing any depre

dations. Yesterday, on hearing the tapping of the drum, I
hastened to the village and saw them on parade. They are
circulating money, are admitted into most of the houses, and
do not prove quarrelsome or disorderly, which is creditable to
them. You know Lover's song on the superstition about angelic
voices whispering to an infant; Mary is incessantly humming
the air as she goes tripping about, without any consideration
for our nerves.

If with two consonants a word conclude
(Defend is one to which we now allude),

On adding ed, ing, er, or est, don't take the trouble
To make the consonant preceding double;
Write thicker, thickest, each with single k,
And mounting, mounted, the same rule obey.


If two vowels, followed by a consonant, should make
The final of a word, that word won't take

A double consonant, when something more

Is added on to what it was before:

We spell near, nearer, nearest; fearing, feared;

And on the same plan write cheer, cheering, cheered.

Rules 3, 4, 5, and 6 are very important to guide the writer when forming the participles of verbs, the comparatives of adjectives, &c.

Exercise on Rules 5 and 6.

Instead of working and earning his bread, he took to begging and stealing.-Mounting a fast trotting horse, he hastened, on one of the hottest days of summer, to the nearest of the neighbouring towns. I have no intention of debarring him from fitting amusements, or of keeping him without sufficient remittances.-The men were flagging, and, fearing they might be worn out, I rested them. The rogues decamped after robbing and ransacking the mill bent on spoiling what they could not conveniently earry away, they ripped open the sacks, and scattered the grain. -On one of the hottest days of autumn, he marched along through the thickest of the crowd, cheering and shouting.— Finding themselves defeated in their hopes of fermenting dissensions by their underhand proceedings, knowing that their liabilities are increasing, while their means are diminishing, our neighbours evidently think of retreating.-After the sound of those departing footsteps died away, I remained watchful and sleepless, until the voices of labouring men mounting the hill came nearer and nearer and thoroughly roused me up.


(Termination in a, o, w, or double letters: when retained.)
The words that with an a, an o, or w, finish,
Or with a double letter, don't diminish
Such letters, if an ed or ing they take;
See echo, echoing, kiss will kissing make;
And any double final, it is plain,
But double 7 will double still remain
Before ness, less, ly, ful;—if you observe,
Stiffly, and blissful, doubles still preserve.
But of two l's we often leave one out,
As in full, fulness, you perceive, no doubt.
That the rule has exceptions, I must tell :
For instance, illness keeps the double l.

Mark in some compound words a useless letter dropped,
In foretel, faithful, we this plan adopt.

Exercise on Rule 7.

We have been adding up our accounts, and agreeing that we must be careful. This wild treeless spot was filled with reptiles. -There is a stiffness about his manner, but he gives freely to the poor.-Smith is skilful, and never does his work carelessly.—The child was trying to sell a handful of matches; she was suffering from illness, and had chilblains.


(Silent e: when dropped, and when retained.)
If a word ends with silent e, the e omit
When you have reason to add ing to it,
As in abating, from the word abate.

Exceptions to this rule there are but eight—
Dyeing, eyeing, tingeing, swingeing,
Hoeing, shoeing, springeing, singeing.
Words taking ish, still with this rule agree,
And ticklish therefore write without an e;
And those with i-o-n, as contemplation,
Acceleration, and abbreviation.

Exercise on Rule 8.

I think of dyeing this silk, and am choosing a colour.
'Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives-

Followed the piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step by step they followed dancing.'
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
Oh! the pain, the bliss of dying.'

Lost in contemplation, he stood eyeing the fading illumination.

* From dye, to tinge with colour.

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