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138. Two qualities compared. When two qualities of the same object are compared with each other, the comparison with more is generally used (§ 133):
1. He is more witty than he is wise.
2. He is more witty than wise. (Exercise XIV, § 559.)
139. The, an. The demonstrative adjective the is usually called the definite article; it is generally less emphatic than this or that. The indefinite adjective an, or a, is usually called the indefinite article; it means one or any, without special emphasis.
The form an is used before words beginning with a vowel sound; a is used before words beginning with a consonant sound; but before words beginning with h, if not accented on the first syllable, an is sometimes preferred, especially before habitual and historical:
1. An apple, an egg, an hour, an umbrella, an x.
2. A boat, a history, a one-horse carriage, a union, a year.
3. A (or An) historian, hypothesis; an (or a) habitual, historical. 4. Four dollars a year; ten cents an ounce. (Thus regularly used to denote rate or price; see § 289.)
NOTE. The article the is sometimes printed in the form ye (as, 'Ye Red Horse Tavern'), in which y stands for an old character representing the letters th. This form is pronounced the (§ 423; not yē).
140. The with generic noun. A noun, singular or plural, is often used in a general sense, to denote a class of objects as a whole; it usually takes the:
1. The lion is the king of beasts.
2. The ants are an industrious people.
3. Man is mortal. Cats are domestic.
141. Many a, such a. An and a are often used after many and such (such or such a, as a mere intensive, is colloquial; § 380):
1. Many an opportunity; many a sailor.
2. There had never before been such a crowd in the church. 3. We had such a narrow escape. (Colloquial.)
142. Adjective repeated. Sense, clearness, or emphasis often requires that an adjective should be repeated; the repetition of the adjective may require a change in the number of the noun which it modifies (see § 200):
a. Adjective repeated; noun unchanged:
1. Some bread and milk was on the table. (One dish.)
Some bread and some milk were on the table. (Two dishes.) Some paper, pens, and ink. (No confusion; repetition of adjective unnecessary except for emphasis: Some paper, some pens, and some ink.)
2. A red and white cow was at the gate. (One cow.)
A red and a white cow were at the gate. (Two cows.)
3. Our secretary and treasurer is here. (One person.)
Our secretary and treasurer have been delayed by the storm. (Two persons, in a group.)
Our secretary and our treasurer have been delayed by the storm. (Two persons, distinct.)
4. Five girls and boys. (Five in all.)
Five girls and five boys. (Ten in all.)
5. His wife and children. (One family.)
His wife and his children. (Two parts of a family.)
6. The men and boys (= the defenders) fought; the women and children (= the defenceless) stayed in the cellar.
7. His aunt and uncle (one group) were there; his aunt and his uncle (distinct persons) were both there.
I saw his aunt and uncle (one group), and his grandfather
8. Among the Greeks and Romans. (One group.)
Between the Greeks and the Romans. (Two groups.)
9. The president and board of trustees.
The president and the board of trustees.
b. Adjective repeated; noun made singular:
1. The Old and New Testaments. (Two, in a group.)
The Old and the New Testament. (Two, distinct. Do not say 'Testaments', for there is no such thing as 'the New Testaments'; but 'my old and my new shoes', since there are two or more of each kind.)
2. His eldest and youngest sons.
His eldest and his youngest son.
3. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. (One period.) The fifteenth and the sixteenth century. (Two periods.)
4. Through the third and fourth centuries.
Through the third and the fourth century.
5. Between the first and the fourth century. (Not Between the first and fourth centuries', since between indicates two periods.) In the third or the fourth century. Both the Old and the New Testament.
6. The first, third, and fifth verses.
The first, the third, and the fifth verse.
7. Moral and social science lacks the same kind of, etc. (The singular verb shows that one composite thing is meant, namely, science that deals with moral and social problems.)
8. The Ohio and Mississippi rivers. (See § 441.)
The Ohio and the Mississippi River.
9. Primary and secondary education are not of the same kind. (The plural verb shows that two distinct things are meant. It would be an improvement to repeat the noun: Primary education and secondary education are not of the same kind.)
143. All, both. All (§§ 119, 207) and both generally stand before any other modifier of the noun which they modify; they generally follow the pronoun which they modify, but precede it if it is governed by of; they may also follow an auxiliary verb (§ 157):
1. All the boys (better than all of the boys'; of is rare in literary use except before pronouns, as in all of them); both our
hats (both of our hats' is colloquial, § 380); all day, all that day, all the next day, all the following night; all these are yours.
2. You shall see us all (or both); all (or both) of us.
3. They had all (or both) gone away.
144. Else, else's. The adjective else follows the word which it modifies; with such a word as anybody or everybody it forms a kind of phrase, and in the possessive case takes the sign's (which is then omitted from the other word):
1. I forgot all else; she had nothing else to do.
2. It is his business, and nobody else's. (Not 'nobody's else'.)
145. Else and other omitted. Else and other are often carelessly omitted; this omission not infrequently changes the meaning of the sentence:
1. Above all (else), don't fail to come. (Here commonly omitted, without particular harm.)
2. I like the chair better than anything else that John has made. (Here necessary if John made the chair.)
3. Turner knows more about it than any other architect in this country. (Here necessary if Turner is an architect and is in this country.)
146. First two, second two, etc. There is doubt in the minds of some whether to say the first two or the 'two first', the second two or the 'two second', and so forth. The former is the correct style. For example, in taking apples out of a basket, we may take them out one at a time, two at a time, and so on. If we take them out one at a time, the first apple we take out is the first one, the next the second one; if two at a time, the two that we take out first are the first two, the next the second two; but there cannot be two firsts'.
Similarly, we may assign lessons in a book, a page at a time, two pages at a time, and so on, and we tell the students to take the first page, the second page, or, if two at a time, the first two,
the second two, the next two. The same would hold true if there were only three pages in the book, and the lesson would be the first two or the last two.
And thus we say 'every four years', 'these four books', the last six weeks ', ' the next two years ', ' the other two boys', the first hundred years of our history', and so on, placing the cardinal numeral before the noun with which it forms a group.
147. Half. Half may stand before the noun which it modifies, or before another modifier of the noun; as a noun (§ 207), it may stand before a pronoun governed by of; if it is modified by an adjective, it may stand before a noun governed by of:
1. A half length; a half portion; a half sheet of paper.
2. Half the men (not 'half of '); half a pound; half his fortune; half a dozen eggs; "half a dozen of my select friends " (ADDISON). 3. Half of them remained for the concert. (Noun.)
4. The better half of his estate was lost. (Noun.)
148. Less, fewer. Do not use less for fewer. Less refers to degree, value, or amount; fewer refers to number:
1. There is less noise today.
2. I have less than ten dollars. (An amount.)
3. She has fewer (not 'less ') flowers this year.
4. No fewer (not 'less ') than twenty boys and girls came. 5. No less than fifty bushels of wheat was needed. (An amount.) 6. No fewer than fifty dozens of eggs were broken.
7. No fewer than a score of applications came in.
8. The reward is less than he deserves.
9. The rewards are less (in amount) than last year. 10. The rewards are fewer (in number) than last year. 11. Towns of fewer than three thousand inhabitants.
149. Male, female. The adjectives male and female are now not generally used to indicate gender unless the idea of sex is to be made prominent (as in legal or other technical