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The first thing you should attend to is, to speak whatever language you do speak, in the greatest purity, and according to the rules of Grammar; for we must never offend against Grammar; nor make use of words which are not really words. — LORD CHESTERFIELD.

And practise Rhetoric in your common talk. — SHAKESPEARE.

9. Grammar and rhetoric. Grammar teaches correctness in the forms and the uses of words, by presenting the usages of the best speakers and the best writers. By its aid we may not only speak and write correctly, but get a clearer meaning of what we read. Rhetoric teaches correctness and effectiveness in the choice and the arrangement of words.

Words, as we have seen, are divided into eight classes, which are called the parts of speech (§ 5).

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10. Noun. A noun is the name of a person or a thing :
1. James, farmer, Indian.
2. House, iron, village.

11. Noun phrase; noun clause. A phrase or a clause ($ $ 6–8) may be used as a noun:

1. Escape was impossible. (Noun.)
2. To escape was impossible. (Noun phrase.)
3. That we should escape was impossible. (Noun clause.)

4. Post office; dining room; commander in chief. (Noun phrases; see SS 498-500.)

12. Compound word. Many nouns are compound words, the parts being united directly or by means of the hyphen (see $$ 498-500):

1. Schoolhouse, bookcase, windowpane, whippoorwill, grasshopper, railroad, nickname, afternoon, inside, overcoat, outlaw, bypath, goldenrod, grandmother.

2. Quarter-deck, self-control, well-wisher, forget-me-not, jack-o'lantern, man-of-war, good-by.

13. Adjective as noun. Adjectives are often used as nouns: 1. The little girl wore blue. 2. It did me good to see him. (See § 238, a, 10.)

14. Abstract noun. When a noun is the name of a quality, action, or state, considered apart from any person or thing, it is called an abstract noun:

1. Sweetness, redness. (From the adjectives sweet and red.) 2. Reading, sleeping. (From the verbs read and sleep.) 3. Friendship, girlhood. (From the nouns friend and girl.)

15. Concrete noun. A concrete noun is any noun which denotes a person or a thing. Some nouns which in one meaning are abstract (that is, refer to ideas) may in another meaning be concrete (that is, refer to material things), and may then have a plural:

1. Beauty lives with kindness. (Abstract.) 2. The beauties of nature (as, green hills, flowers). (Concrete.)

16. Classification. There are two general classes of nouns, proper and common. A proper noun (or proper name) is the name of a particular person or thing; a common noun is a name which

may be applied to any one of a class of persons or things :

1. James, Baltimore, Bible, Spain. (Proper nouns.)
2. Man, city, book, Spaniard ($ 431, N.). (Common nouns.)

17. Capital letters. A proper noun begins with a capital letter; a common noun generally begins with a small letter (see $424)

18. Gender. A noun denoting a male is masculine (or of the masculine gender); a noun denoting a female is feminine (or of the feminine gender); a noun denoting neither a male nor a female is neuter (or of the neuter gender):

1. Man, boy, tiger. (Masculine.)
2. Woman, girl, tigress. (Feminine.)
3. Tree, brook, chair. (Neuter.)

19. Gender indicated. Masculine and feminine gender may be indicated in several ways:

a. By the use of different words: MASCULINE FEMININE

MASCULINE FEMININE bachelor spinster, maid


doe brother sister


duck king queen

horse monk

gander goose sir madam

hart (or stag) hind




b. By the addition of masculine or feminine words: boy cousin girl cousin ($ 149)

milkmaid 8 cash boy cash girl

milkman draftsman draftswoman

salesman saleswoman fisherman 1

cock sparrow hen sparrow fishwife 2

he-goat she-goat man clerk

woman clerk ($ 149) peacock peahen manservant maidservant

turkey cock

hen turkey

fish man


1 A fisherman is a man who catches fish; a fish man is a man who sells or delivers fish.

A fishwife is a woman who sells fish. 8 A milkmaid is a girl who does the milking. 4 A milkman is a man who sells or delivers milk.


6. By the addition of an ending, usually to designate the feminine; sometimes there is a slight change of form: actor actress


hostess bridegroom bride

Joseph Josephine duke duchess


mistress emperor empress

shepherd shepherdess executor executrix


testatrix heir heiress


waitress hero heroine

widower widow 20. Gender not indicated. Many nouns do not show by their form whether they are masculine or feminine : cousin, friend, schoolmate.

NOTE. Nouns like cousin, friend, and schoolmate are sometimes said to be of common gender.

21. Gender of animals. A large animal, such as the horse, dog, lion, or eagle, we often call he, and a small animal or a child we call it, without regard to sex; but usage varies according to our feelings.

22. Personification. We may speak of things as if they were persons. If they are noted for strength, grandeur, or terror, we usually consider them masculine; if for gentleness, beauty, or fertility, feminine; countries and cities we usually consider feminine (for capitalization, see $$ 433, 434):

1. Lo, steel-clad War his gorgeous standard rears. 2. Earth with her thousand voices praises God.

3. Ancient Rome was called the mistress of the world. (Exercises IV, V, $$ 549, 550.)

23. Number. That form of a noun which indicates one person or thing is called the singular; that form which indicates two or more is called the plural:

1. Toy, city, glass, fox, horse. (Singular.)
2. Toys, cities, glasses, foxes, horses. (Plural.)

24. Formation of plural. Nouns regularly form their plural by adding s or es to the singular; they add es when their singular ends in an s-sound (ch, s, sh, x, or 2):

1. Girl, girls; shoe, shoes; valley, valleys; cameo, cameos; curio, curios; oratorio, oratorios (see § 28).

2. Church, churches; dress, dresses; Lewis, Lewises; Jones, Joneses; bush, bushes; box, boxes; topaz, topases.

25. Nouns in -ey, -y. Nouns ending in ey form their plural regularly, by adding s ($ 24); nouns ending in y preceded by a consonant change y to ie (an old form), and add s; proper names ending in y preceded by a consonant form their plural in either ies (preferred by Webster) or s (preferred by the Oxford University Press):

1. Valley, valleys; turkey, turkeys; monkey, monkeys. 2. Story, stories; lady, ladies; monarchy, monarchies.

3. Mary, Maries (or Marys); Cary, the Carys; Merry, the Merrys. (But some long-established forms are invariable: the Ptolemies; the Two Sicilies.)

26. Nouns in -f, -fe. Most nouns ending in f or fe form their plural regularly, by adding s (as, roof, roofs; fife, fifes); but the following important nouns change for fe to ve, and add s (as, beef, beeves): beef half life sheaf

wharf calf knife loaf shelf

wife elf leaf self thief

wolf NOTE. The plural of wharf is usually wharves in the United States; in England it is more commonly wharfs. The plural of staff is staves, except when used in a military sense or when denoting a body of assistants (as in a hospital or on a newspaper), in which case it is staffs.

27. Nouns in -ful. Nouns ending in ful (from the adjective full) denote quantity or measure ; they form their plural regularly, by adding s ($ 24):

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