Family of Words

All the words in the English language belong to one or another of nine
families, each of which family has a special duty. If you will always
remember to which family a word belongs and just what that family does,
you will be saved from many very common errors. These nine families
are: 1, nouns; 2, adjectives; 3, articles; 4, verbs; 5, pronouns; 6,
adverbs; 7, prepositions; 8, conjunctions; 9, interjections. This order
of enumeration is not exactly the same as will be found in the grammars.
It is used here because it indicates roughly the order of the appearance
of the nine families in the logical development of language. Some forms
of interjections, however, may very probably have preceded any language
properly so called.


A noun is a word used as the name of anything that can be thought of,
_John_, _boy_, _paper_, _cold_, _fear_, _crowd_. There are three things
about a noun which indicate its relation to other words, its number, its
gender, and its case. There are two numbers, singular meaning one, and
plural meaning more than one.

The plural is generally formed by adding _s_ to the singular. There are
a small number of nouns which form their plurals differently, _mouse_,
_mice_; _child_, _children_; _foot_, _feet_. These must be learned
individually from a dictionary or spelling book. There are some nouns
which undergo changes in the final syllable when the _s_ is added,
_torch_, _torches_; _staff_, _staves_; _fly_, _flies_. These also must
be learned individually. There are some nouns which have no singular,
such as _cattle_, _clothes_, some which have no plural, such as
_physics_, _honesty_, _news_, and some which are the same in both
singular and plural, such as _deer_, _trout_, _series_. Care must be
taken in the use of these nouns, as in some cases their appearance is
misleading, e. g., _mathematics_, _physics_, and the like are singular
nouns having no plural, but owing to their form they are often mistaken
for plurals.

Compound nouns, that is to say, nouns formed by the combination of two
or three words which jointly express a single idea, generally change the
principal word in the forming of the plural, _hangers-on_, _ink
rollers_, but in a few cases both words change, for example,
_men-servants_. These forms must be learned by observation and practice.
It is very important, however, that they be thoroughly learned and
correctly used. Do not make such mistakes as _brother-in-laws_,

Perhaps the most important use of number is in the relation between the
noun and the verb. The verb as well as the noun has number forms and the
number of the noun used as subject should always agree with that of the
verb with which it is connected. Such expressions as "pigs is pigs,"
"how be you?" and the like, are among the most marked evidences of
ignorance to be found in common speech. When this paragraph was
originally written a group of high school boys were playing football
under the writer's window. Scraps of their talk forced themselves upon
his attention. Almost invariably such expressions as "you was," "they
was," "he don't," "it aint," and the like took the place of the
corresponding correct forms of speech.

Collective nouns, that is the nouns which indicate a considerable number
of units considered as a whole, such as _herd_, _crowd_, _congress_,
present some difficulties because the idea of the individuals in the
collection interferes with the idea of the collection itself. The
collective nouns call for the singular form of the verb except where the
thought applies to the individual parts of the collection rather than to
the collection as a whole, for instance, we say,

The crowd looks large.

but we say,

The crowd look happy.

because in one case we are thinking of the crowd and in the other of the
persons who compose the crowd. So in speaking of a committee, we may say

The Committee thinks that a certain thing should be done.

or that

The Committee think that a certain thing should be done.

The first phrase would indicate that the committee had considered and
acted on the subject and the statement represented a formal decision.
The second phrase would indicate the individual opinions of the members
of the committee which might be in agreement but had not been expressed
in formal action. In doubtful cases it is safer to use the plural.

Entire accuracy in these cases is not altogether easy. As in the case
with all the nice points of usage it requires practice and continual
self-observation. By these means a sort of language sense is developed
which makes the use of the right word instinctive. It is somewhat
analogous to that sense which will enable an experienced bank teller to
throw out a counterfeit bill instinctively when running over a large
pile of currency even though he may be at some pains to prove its
badness when challenged to show the reason for its rejection.

The young student should not permit himself to be discouraged by the
apparent difficulty of the task of forming the habit of correct speech.
It is habit and rapidly becomes easier after the first efforts.

The relation of a noun to a verb, to another noun, or to a preposition
is called its case. There are three cases called the nominative,
objective, and possessive. When the noun does something it is in the
nominative case and is called the subject of the verb.

The man cuts.

When the noun has something done to it it is in the objective case and
is called the object of the verb.

The man cuts paper.

When a noun depends on a preposition, it is also in the objective case
and is called the object of the preposition.

The paper is cut by machinery.

The preposition on which a noun depends is often omitted when not needed
for clearness.

The foreman gave (to) the men a holiday.

He came (on) Sunday.

Near (to) the press.

He was ten minutes late (late by ten minutes).

He is 18 years old (old by or to the extent of 18 years).

The nominative and objective cases of nouns do not differ in form. They
are distinguished by their positions in the sentence and their relations
to other words.

When one noun owns another the one owning is in the possessive case.

The man's paper is cut.

The possessive case is shown by the form of the noun. It is formed by
adding _s_ preceded by an apostrophe to the nominative case, thus,

John's hat.

There is a considerable difference of usage regarding the formation of
the possessives of nouns ending in _s_ in the singular. The general rule
is to proceed as in other nouns by adding the apostrophe and the other
_s_ as _James's hat_. DeVinne advises following the pronunciation. Where
the second _s_ is not pronounced, as often happens to avoid the
prolonged hissing sound of another _s_, he recommends omitting it in

Moses' hat, for Moses's hat.

For conscience' sake.

Plural nouns ending in _s_ add the apostrophe only; ending in other
letters they add the apostrophe and _s_ like singular nouns, _the Jones'
house_, _the children's toys_.

The possessive pronouns never take the apostrophe. We say _hers_,
_theirs_, _its_. _It's_ is an abbreviation for _it is_.

Care should be taken in forming the possessives of phrases containing
nouns in apposition, or similar compound phrases. We should say "I
called at Brown the printer's" or "since William the Conqueror's time."


An adjective is a word used to qualify, limit, or define a noun, or a
word or phrase which has the value of a noun. Nouns are ordinarily very
general and indefinite in meaning, for example, _man_ conveys only a
very general idea. To make that idea definite we need the help of one or
more descriptive words such as _black_, _tall_, _stout_, _good_.

I saw a man.

gives no definite idea of the person seen.

I saw a tall, thin, dark, old man.

presents a very definite picture. It will be noted that these
descriptive words have a way of forming combinations among themselves.
It must be remembered, however, that all the words thus used describe
the noun. Adjectives are sometimes used as substitutes for nouns. This
is one of the many verbal short cuts in which the English language

The good die young

means good people die young.

We should seek the good and beautiful

means we should seek good or beautiful things, or persons, or qualities,
or perhaps everything good and beautiful.

When adjectives indicate a quality they have three forms called degrees
indicating the extent or amount of the quality possessed by the noun
especially as compared with other objects of the same sort, _a big man_,
_a bigger man_, _the biggest man_. These degrees are called positive,
indicating possession of bigness; comparative, indicating possession of
more bigness than some other man; superlative, indicating possession of
more bigness than any other man. When we wish to tell the amount of the
quality without comparing the possessor with any other object or group
of objects we use a modifying word later to be described called an

I saw a very big man,

indicates that the man possessed much bigness, but makes no comparison
with any other man or group of men. Comparison is generally indicated in
two ways, first, by adding to the adjectives the terminations _er_ and
_est_ as _high_, _higher_, _highest_, or, second, by using the words
_more_ and _most_, as _splendid_, _more splendid_, _most splendid_. The
question which of the two methods should be used is not always easy to
decide. It depends somewhat on usage and on euphony or agreeableness of

Adjectives of three or more syllables use the long form, that is, the
additional word. We should not say _beautifuler_ or _beautifulest_.
Adjectives of two syllables may often be compared either way; for
example, it would be equally correct to say _nobler_ and _noblest_ or
_more noble_ and _most noble_. An example of the influence of euphony
may be found in the adjective _honest_. We might say _honester_ without
hesitation but we should be less likely to say _honestest_ on account of
the awkward combination of syllables involved. Adjectives of one
syllable usually take the short form but not invariably. The exceptions,
however, are more common in poetry than in prose. When any question
rises it is usually safer to use the long form of comparison in the case
of two-syllable adjectives and to use the short form in the case of
one-syllable adjectives. The proper use of the long form is one of those
niceties of diction which come only with careful observation and with
training of the ear and of the literary sense.

The word _most_ should never be used, as it often is, in the place of
_almost_. Careless people say "I am most ready" meaning "I am almost, or
nearly ready." The phrase "I am most ready," really means "I am in the
greatest possible readiness." Such use of _most_ is common in old
English but much less so in modern speech.

Two very common adjectives are irregularly compared. They are _good_,
_better_, _best_, and _bad_, _worse_, _worst_. In spite of the fact that
these adjectives are among the most common in use and their comparison
may be supposed to be known by everybody, one often hears the
expressions _gooder_, _goodest_, _more better_, _bestest_, _bader_,
_badest_, _worser_, and _worsest_. Needless to say, these expressions
are without excuse except that _worser_ is sometimes found in old

Illiterate people sometimes try to make their speech more forceful by
combining the two methods of comparison in such expressions as _more
prettier_, _most splendidest_. Such compounds should never be used.

Some adjectives are not compared. They are easily identified by their
meaning. They indicate some quality which is of such a nature that it
must be possessed fully or not at all, _yearly_, _double_, _all_. Some
adjectives have a precise meaning in which they cannot be compared and a
loose or popular one in which they can be; for example, a thing either
is or is not _round_ or _square_. Nevertheless we use these words in
such a loose general way that it is not absolutely incorrect to say
_rounder_ and _roundest_ or _squarer_ and _squarest_. Such expressions
should be used with great care and avoided as far as possible. None but
the very ignorant would say _onliest_, but one often sees the
expressions _more_ and _most unique_. This is particularly bad English.
Unique does not mean _rare_, _unusual_; it means one of a kind,
absolutely unlike anything else. Clearly this is a quality which cannot
be possessed in degrees. An object either does or does not have it.


An article is a little adjective which individualizes the noun, _a_ boy,
_an_ apple, _the_ crowd.

_A_ which is used before consonantal sounds and _an_ which is used
before vowel sounds are called indefinite articles because they
individualize without specializing. _The_ is called the definite article
because it both individualizes and specializes.

_A_ may be used before _o_ and _u_ if the sound is really consonantal as
in _such a one_, _a use_, _a utility_. _An_ may be used before _h_ if
the _h_ is not sounded, for example, _an hour_ but _a horror_.


A verb is a word which asserts or declares. In other words, it makes a
noun or pronoun tell something. _John paper_ tells nothing. _John wastes
paper_ tells something. Verbs are the most difficult of all the parts of
speech to understand and to use properly. As a rule, an English verb has
something more than fifty parts which, with their uses, should be
thoroughly learned from a grammar. This is not so difficult a matter as
it might appear, except to those whose native speech is not English.
Nevertheless you should be on the guard against such blunders as _I
seen_, _I seed_, for _I saw_, _I runned_ for _I ran_, _I et_ for _I
ate_, _I throwed_ for _I threw_, and the like. In most verbs these parts
are regular. In some they are irregular. A list of irregular verbs will
be found at the end of this volume.

While the plan of this book does not call for a systematic study of
verbs any more than of any other words, it is desirable to call
attention to some points as being the occasions of frequent mistakes.

A simple sentence consists of a verb, its subject, and its object. The
verb indicates the action, the subject is the noun (name of a person or
thing) which does the act, the object is the noun to which the thing is
done. Verbs have forms denoting person and number, for example:

Singular Plural

1st I love 1st We love
2nd You love (thou lovest) 2nd You love
formal and archaic.
3rd He loves 3rd They love

Singular Plural

1st I was 1st We were
2nd You were (thou wast) 2nd You were
3rd He was 3rd They were

Verbs agree with their subjects in person and number. We all know this
but we do not always remember it. Unless you are very careful, you will
find yourself using a singular subject with a plural verb or the
reverse. Mistakes of this sort are particularly liable to happen in the
case of collective nouns, in the use of personal pronouns as subjects,
and in cases where the subject and the verb are far separated in the

Those forms of the verb which tell whether the subject is acting or is
acted upon are called voices. When the subject is acting the verb is
said to be in the active voice. When the subject is acted upon the verb
is said to be in the passive voice. Verbs in the passive voice have no
objects because the subject, being acted upon, is itself in the place of
an object.

Those forms of the verb which tell whether the time of the action is
past, present, or future, are called tenses. They are six, viz.

Present, I _print_ (_am printing_) the book.

Past or imperfect, I _printed_ the book.

Future, I _shall print_ the book.

Perfect, or present perfect, I _have printed_ the book.

Pluperfect or past perfect, I _had printed_ the book before you

Future perfect, I will notify you when I _shall have printed_ the

When adverbs denoting time are indicated care should be taken to see
that the verb is consistent with the adverb. "I _printed_ it yesterday,"
not "I _have printed_ it yesterday;" "I _have not_ yet _printed_ it,"
not "I _did_ not _print_ it yet;" "I _have printed_ it already," not "I
_printed_ it already."

Trouble is sometimes found in choosing the right forms of the verb to be
used in subordinate clauses. The rule is:

Verbs in subordinate sentences and clauses must be governed by the tense
of the principal verb.

This rule rests on the exact meaning of the forms and words used and its
application can be checked by careful examination of these meanings. "He
_said_ he _did_ it." "He _said_ he _would do_ it." "He _says_ he _will_
do it."

Note that when the statement in the subordinate clause is of universal
application the present tense is always used whatever the tense of the
principal verb. "The lecturer said that warm weather always softens

Those forms of the verb which tell whether the action is an actual fact,
a possibility, a condition, or a command are called moods.

There are three moods, the indicative, subjunctive, and imperative.

The indicative mood indicates that the action is a fact. It is also used
in asking questions.

The subjunctive mood is less used in modern than in old English. It is
most commonly found in clauses beginning with _if_, though _if_ is not
to be regarded as the sign of the subjunctive in any such sense as _to_
is the sign of the infinitive.

The subjunctive _were_ should be used in purely hypothetical clauses
such as "If I were in your place."

The subjunctive _be_ should be used in the hypothesis or supposition of
a scientific demonstration,

If the triangle A be placed on the triangle B.

The subjunctive without _if_ is often used in wishes or prayers,

God forgive him.

O, that my brother were here.

The subjunctive is sometimes used to express condition,

Had you not been a coward, you would not have run away.

The imperative mood indicates a command,

Put that on the press.

The subject of the imperative mood is only expressed when it is

Go thou and do likewise.

Older grammarians speak of a fourth mood called potential. The present
tendency among grammarians is to treat these forms separately. They are
verb phrases which express ability, possibility, obligation, or
necessity. They are formed by the use of the auxiliary verbs _may_,
_can_, _must_, _might_, _could_, _would_, and _should_, with the
infinitive without _to_.

_May_ is used (a) to show that the subject is permitted to do something,
"You may go out," or (b) to indicate possibility or doubtful intention,
"I may not go to work tomorrow."

_Can_ is used to show that the subject is able to do something, "I can
feed a press." These two forms are often confused, with results which
would be ridiculous if they were not too common to attract attention.
The confusion perhaps arises from the fact that the ability to do a
thing often appears to depend on permission to do it. "May I see a
proof?" means "Have I permission, or will you allow me, to see a proof?"
and is the proper way to put the question. The common question, "Can I
see a proof?" is absurd. Of course you can, if you have normal eyesight.

_Must_ shows necessity or obligation.

You must obey the rules of the office.

_Ought_ which is sometimes confounded with _must_ in phrases of this
sort expresses moral obligation as distinguished from necessity.

You ought to obey the rules of the office,

indicates that it is your duty to obey because it is the right thing to
do even though no penalty is attached.

You must obey the rules of the office,

indicates that you will be punished if you do not obey.

Those forms of the verb which express the time of the action are called
tenses. No particular difficulty attends the use of the tenses except in
the case of _shall_ and _will_ and _should_ and _would_.

_Shall_ and _will_ are used as follows: In simple statements to express
mere futurity, use _shall_ in the first person, _will_ in the second and
third; to express volition, promise, purpose, determination, or action
which the speaker means to control use _will_ in the first person,
_shall_ in the second and third.

The following tables should be learned and practiced in a large variety
of combinations.

Futurity Volition, etc.

I shall We shall I will We will
You will You will You shall You shall
He will They will He shall They shall

A good example of the misuse of the words is found in the old story of
the foreigner who fell into the water and cried out in terror and
despair "I _will_ drown, nobody _shall_ help me."

In asking questions, for the first person always use _shall_, for the
second and third use the auxiliary expected in the answer.


Shall I (I shall) Shall we (We shall)
Shall you (I shall) Shall you (We shall)
Will he (He will) Will they (They will)

Volition, etc.

---- ---- ---- ----
Will you (I will) Will you (We will)
Shall he (He shall) Shall he (He shall)

In all other cases, as in subordinate clauses _shall_ is used in all
persons to express mere futurity, _will_ to express volition, etc.

In indirect discourse, when the subject of the principal clause is
different from the noun clause, the usage is like that in direct
statement, for example,

The teacher says that James will win the medal. (futurity),

but when the subject of the principal clause is the same as that of the
noun clause, the usage is like that in subordinate clauses,

The teacher says that he shall soon resign. (futurity).

Exceptions. _Will_ is often used in the second person to express an
official command.

You will report to the superintendent at once.

_Shall_ is sometimes used in the second and third persons in a prophetic

Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

The use of _should_ and _would_ is in general the same as that of
_shall_ and _will_ in indirect statement.


I should We would
You would You should
He would They should

In asking questions use _should_ in the first person to express mere
futurity and _would_ to express volition, etc; in the second and third
persons use the form that is expected in the answer.


Should I (I should) Should we (We should)
Should You (I should) Should You (We should)
Would he (He would) Would they (They would)

Volition, etc.

Would I (I would) Would we (We would)
Would You (You would) Would You (We would)
Should he (He should) Should they (They should)

In subordinate clauses _should_ is used in all persons to express
futurity, _would_ to express volition, etc.

In indirect discourse the usage is similar to that in direct statement.

The teacher said that John would win the medal.

Exceptions. _Should_ is often used to express moral obligation.

You should be honest under all conditions.

_Would_ is sometimes used to express frequentive action.

He would walk the floor night after night.

Mistakes are often made in the use of compound tenses on account of
failure to grasp the meaning of the words used.

I should have liked to have seen you,

is correct grammar but probably not correct statement of fact, as it
states a past desire to have done something at a period still further
remote, that is to say, "I should have liked (yesterday) to have seen
you (day before yesterday)." What is generally meant is either "I should
have liked to see you," that is "I (then) wished to see you," or "I
should like to have seen you," that is "I (now) wish I had seen you

Every word has its own value and nearly all our mistakes arise from lack
of regard for the exact value of the words to be used.

Where a participial construction is used as the object of a verb, the
noun or pronoun in the object should be in the possessive case and not
in the objective. You should not say, "I object to him watching me," but
"I object to his watching me."

Care should be taken not to give objects to passive verbs. The very
common expression "The man was given a chance" is incorrect. It should
be "A chance was given to the man."

Care should also be taken to avoid the omission of the prepositions
which are needed with certain verbs, for example, "beware the dog,"
"What happened him" should be "beware _of_ the dog," "What happened _to_

On the other hand superfluous prepositions are sometimes used in such
phrases as _consider of_, _accept of_ and the like.

Such errors are to be avoided by careful study of the meaning of words
and careful observation of the best written and spoken speech.


Pronouns are substitutes for nouns. They are labor saving devices. We
could say everything which we need to say without them, but at the
expense of much repetition of longer words. A child often says "John
wants Henry's ball" instead of "I want your ball." Constant remembrance
of this simple fact, that a pronoun is only a substitute for a noun, is
really about all that is needed to secure correct usage after the
pronouns themselves have once become familiar. A construction which
appears doubtful can often be decided by substituting nouns for pronouns
and vice versa.

A very common error is the use of the plural possessive pronouns with
the words _any_, _every_, _each_, _somebody_, _everybody_, and _nobody_,
all of which are always singular.

We could accomplish this if every one would do their part.

is wrong. It should be

We could accomplish this if every one would do his part.

Another common mistake is the confusion of the nominative and objective
cases in objective clauses where two pronouns or a noun and a pronoun

All this was done for you and I.

is a very common but entirely inexcusable mistake. One would hardly
think of saying

"All this was done for I."

I saw John and he leaving the shop.

is almost equally common and quite equally bad. Do not allow yourself to
be confused by a double object.

In general great care should be taken to avoid ambiguity in the use of
pronouns. It is very easy to multiply and combine pronouns in such a way
that while grammatical rules may not be broken the reader may be left
hopelessly confused. Such ambiguous sentences should be cleared up,
either by a rearrangement of the words or by substitution of nouns for
some of the pronouns.


An adverb is a helper to a verb, "I fear greatly," "that press works
badly." Adverbs modify or help verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs just
as adjectives modify nouns and pronouns. The use of adverbs presents
some difficulties, mainly arising from the adverbial use of many other
parts of speech and from the close relation between adverbs and

It should never be forgotten that while adverbs never modify nouns or
pronouns, adjectives never modify anything but nouns or pronouns.
Remembrance of this simple fact will settle most questions as to the use
of adverbs or adjectives. Careful observation and care in forming
correct habits of expression will do the rest.

Do not multiply negatives. They cancel each other like the factors in an
arithmetical problem. "He never did wrong" is correct in statement and
clear in meaning. "He never did nothing wrong" does not add force, it
reverses the meaning. The negatives have cancelled each other and you
are saying "He did wrong." "He never did nothing wrong to nobody" leaves
us with an odd negative and brings us back to the first statement, very
badly expressed.


A preposition is a hook for a noun or pronoun to hang on. It usually
precedes the noun or pronoun which hangs, or depends upon it, as
indicated by its name which is derived from the Latin _pre_-before and
_pono_-I place.

John is behind the press.

I shall work until Sunday.

A preposition shows the relation of a noun or pronoun used as its object
to some other word or words in the sentence or, as it has been otherwise
stated, makes the noun or pronoun to which it is joined equivalent to an
adjective or an adverb. The expression "John is behind the press" is
equivalent to an adjective describing John. That is, he is "John
behind-the-press." Prepositions are governing words and the words
governed by or depending on them are always in the objective case.


A conjunction is the coupling link between the parts of a train of
thought. It is of no purpose whatever except to connect.

I am cold and hungry and tired and I am going home.

Care should be taken to avoid confusing _and_ and _but_ and _and_ and

He sees the right and does the wrong.

should be

He sees the right but does the wrong.

The ideas are contrasted, not associated.

I did not see Thomas and John.

should be

I did not see Thomas or John.

The first phrase means that I did not see them together, it says nothing
about seeing them separately.

_Either_--_or_ and _neither_--_nor_ are called correlative conjunctions.
They should always be paired in this way. _Neither_ should never be
paired with _or_ nor _either_ with _nor_. Each member of the pair
should be placed in the same relative position, that is before the same
part of speech.

I could neither see him nor his father.

is wrong. It should be

I could see neither him nor his father.

This rule applies to all other correlatives, that is since they are
correlatives in form they should be correlatives in position also. It is
correct to say

It belongs both to you and to me.


It belongs to both you and me.

but not

It belongs both to you and me.


An interjection is a word or sound expressing emotion only such as a
shout, a groan, a hiss, a sob, or the like, such as _Oh_, _alas_,

_General Notes_

The position of words in a sentence is often very important.
Misplacement will frequently cause ambiguities and absurdities which
punctuation will not remove. What does the phrase "I only saw him" mean?
A newspaper advertisement describing a certain dog which was offered for
sale says "He is thoroughly house-broken, will eat anything, is very
fond of children." As a rule modifiers should be kept close to the
words, clauses, or phrases which they modify, but due regard should be
given to sense and to ease of expression.

A word or phrase which can be easily supplied from the context may often
be omitted. Care must be used in making these omissions or the result
will be either ambiguous or slovenly.

Washington is nearer New York than Chicago.

What exactly does this mean? One might get into serious trouble over the
interpretation of the phrase "He likes me better than you."

_All day_ and _all night_ are recognized as good expressions sanctioned
by long usage. _All morning_ and _all afternoon_ are not yet sanctioned
by good usage and give a decided impression of slovenliness.

Another objectionable omission is that of _to_ before _place_ and
similar words in such expressions as "Let's go some place" and the like.
It should be _to some place_ or, generally better, _somewhere_.

A decidedly offensive abbreviation is the phrase _Rev. Smith_. It should
be _Rev. John Smith_ or _Rev. Mr. Smith_. _Rev._ is not a title, or a
noun in apposition, but an adjective. It would be entirely correct to
say _Pastor Smith_ or _Bishop Smith_. The same error sometimes occurs in
using the prefix _Hon._

A knowledge of the correct use and combination of words is fully as
important as a knowledge of their grammatical forms and their relations.
This knowledge should be acquired by the use of books on rhetoric and by
careful study of words themselves. The materials for such study may be
found in the books named in the "Supplementary Reading" or in other
books of a similar character.

The task of the writer or speaker is to say what he has to say
correctly, clearly, and simply. He must say just what he means. He must
say it definitely and distinctly. He must say it, so far as the subject
matter will permit, in words that people of ordinary intelligence and
ordinary education cannot misunderstand. "The right word in the right
place" should be the motto of every man who speaks or writes, and this
rule should apply to his everyday talk as well as to more formal

Three abuses are to be avoided.

Do not use slang as a means of expression. There are occasions when a
slang phrase may light up what you are saying or may carry it home to
intellects of a certain type. Use it sparingly if at all, as you would
use cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce. Do not use it in writing at all.
Slang is the counterfeit coin of speech. It is a substitute, and a very
poor substitute, for language. It is the refuge of those who neither
understand real language nor know how to express themselves in it.

Do not use long, unusual words. Use short and simple words whenever they
will serve your turn. It is a mistake to suppose that a fluent use of
long words is a mark either of depth of thought or of extent of
information. The following bit of nonsense is taken from the news
columns of a newspaper of good standing: "The topography about Puebla
avails itself easily to a force which can utilize the heights above the
city with cannon." What was meant was probably something like this, "The
situation of Puebla is such as to give a great advantage to a force
which can plant cannon on the high ground overlooking the city."

Do not use inflated or exaggerated words.

A _heavy shower_ is not a _cloud burst_; a _gale_ is not a _blizzard_; a
_fire_ is not a _conflagration_; an _accident_ or a _defeat_ is not a
_disaster_; a _fatal accident_ is not a _holocaust_; a _sharp criticism_
is not an _excoriation_ or _flaying_, and so on.

_Rules for Correct Writing_

More than a century ago the great Scotch rhetorician Campbell framed
five canons or rules for correct writing. They have never been improved.
They should be learned by heart, thoroughly mastered, and constantly
practiced by every writer and speaker. They are as follows:

Canon 1.--When, of two words or phrases in equally good use, one is
susceptible of two significations and the other of but one, preference
should be given to the latter: e. g., _admittance_ is better than
_admission_, as the latter word also means _confession_; _relative_ is
to be preferred to _relation_, as the latter also means the telling of a

Canon 2.--In doubtful cases regard should be given to the analogy of the
language; _might better_ should be preferred to _had better_, and _would
rather_ is better than _had rather_.

Canon 3.--The simpler and briefer form should be preferred, other things
being equal, e. g., omit the bracketed words in expressions such as,
_open_ (_up_), _meet_ (_together_), _follow_ (_after_), _examine_
(_into_), _trace_ (_out_), _bridge_ (_over_), _crave_ (_for_), etc.

Canon 4.--Between two forms of expression in equally good use, prefer
the one which is more euphonious: e. g., _most beautiful_ is better than
_beautifullest_, and _more free_ is to be preferred to _freer_.

Canon 5.--In cases not covered by the four preceding canons, prefer that
which conforms to the older usage: e. g., _begin_ is better than

_The Sentence_

The proper construction of sentences is very important to good writing.
The following simple rules will be of great assistance in sentence
formation. They should be carefully learned and the pupil should be
drilled in them.

1. Let each sentence have one, and only one, principal subject of
thought. Avoid heterogeneous sentences.

2. The connection between different sentences must be kept up by adverbs
used as conjunctions, or by means of some other connecting words at the
beginning of the sentence.

3. The connection between two long sentences or paragraphs sometimes
requires a short intervening sentence showing the transition of thought.

_The Paragraph_

The proper construction of paragraphs is also of great importance. The
following rules will serve as guides for paragraphing. They should be
learned and the pupil should be drilled in their application.

1. A sentence which continues the topic of the sentence which precedes
it rather than introduces a new topic should never begin a paragraph.

2. Each paragraph should possess a single central topic to which all the
statements in the paragraph should relate. The introduction of a single
statement not so related to the central topic violates the unity.

3. A sentence or short passage may be detached from the paragraph to
which it properly belongs if the writer wishes particularly to emphasize

4. For ease in reading, a passage which exceeds three hundred words in
length may be broken into two paragraphs, even though no new topic has
been developed.

5. Any digression from the central topic, or any change in the viewpoint
in considering the central topic, demands a new paragraph.

6. Coherence in a paragraph requires a natural and logical order of

7. Smoothness of diction in a paragraph calls for the intelligent use of
proper connective words between closely related sentences. A common
fault, however, is the incorrect use of such words as _and_ or _but_
between sentences which are not closely related.

8. In developing the paragraph, emphasis is secured by a careful
consideration of the relative values of the ideas expressed, giving to
each idea space proportionate to its importance to the whole. This
secures the proper climax.

9. The paragraph, like the composition itself, should possess clearness,
unity, coherence, and emphasis. It is a group of related sentences
developing a central topic. Its length depends upon the length of the
composition and upon the number of topics to be discussed.

_Rules for the Use and Arrangement of Words_

The following rules for the use and arrangement of words will be found
helpful in securing clearness and force.

1. Use words in their proper sense.

2. Avoid useless circumlocution and "fine writing."

3. Avoid exaggerations.

4. Be careful in the use of _not_ ... _and_, _any_, _but_, _only_, _not_
... _or_, _that_.

5. Be careful in the use of ambiguous words, e. g., _certain_.

6. Be careful in the use of _he_, _it_, _they_, _these_, etc.

7. Report a speech in the first person where necessary to avoid

8. Use the third person where the exact words of the speaker are not
intended to be given.

9. When you use a participle implying _when_, _while_, _though_, or
_that_, show clearly by the context what is implied.

10. When using the relative pronoun, use _who_ or _which_, if the
meaning is _and he_ or _and it_, _for he_ or _for it_.

11. Do not use _and which_ for _which_.

12. Repeat the antecedent before the relative where the non-repetition
causes any ambiguity.

13. Use particular for general terms. Avoid abstract nouns.

14. Avoid verbal nouns where verbs can be used.

15. Use particular persons instead of a class.

16. Do not confuse metaphor.

17. Do not mix metaphor with literal statement.

18. Do not use poetic metaphor to illustrate a prosaic subject.

19. Emphatic words must stand in emphatic positions; i. e., for the most
part, at the beginning or the end of the sentence.

20. Unemphatic words must, as a rule, be kept from the end.

21. The Subject, if unusually emphatic, should often be transferred from
the beginning of the sentence.

22. The object is sometimes placed before the verb for emphasis.

23. Where several words are emphatic make it clear which is the most
emphatic. Emphasis can sometimes be given by adding an epithet, or an
intensifying word.

24. Words should be as near as possible to the words with which they are
grammatically connected.

25. Adverbs should be placed next to the words they are intended to

26. _Only_; the strict rule is that _only_ should be placed before the
word it affects.

27. When _not only_ precedes _but also_ see that each is followed by the
same part of speech.

28. _At least_, _always_, and other adverbial adjuncts sometimes produce

29. Nouns should be placed near the nouns that they define.

30. Pronouns should follow the nouns to which they refer without the
intervention of any other noun.

31. Clauses that are grammatically connected should be kept as close
together as possible. Avoid parentheses.

32. In conditional sentences the antecedent or "if-clauses" must be kept
distinct from the consequent clauses.

33. Dependent clauses preceded by _that_ should be kept distinct from
those that are independent.

34. Where there are several infinitives those that are dependent on the
same word must be kept distinct from those that are not.

35. In a sentence with _if_, _when_, _though_, etc. put the "if-clause"

36. Repeat the subject where its omission would cause obscurity or

37. Repeat a preposition after an intervening conjunction especially if
a verb and an object also intervene.

38. Repeat conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, and pronominal adjectives.

39. Repeat verbs after the conjunctions _than_, _as_, etc.

40. Repeat the subject, or some other emphatic word, or a summary of
what has been said, if the sentence is so long that it is difficult to
keep the thread of meaning unbroken.

41. Clearness is increased when the beginning of the sentence prepares
the way for the middle and the middle for the end, the whole forming a
kind of ascent. This ascent is called "climax."

42. When the thought is expected to ascend but descends, feebleness, and
sometimes confusion, is the result. The descent is called "bathos."

43. A new construction should not be introduced unexpectedly.

_Common Errors in the Use of Words_

The following pages contain a short list of the more common errors in
the use of words. Such a list might be extended almost indefinitely. It
is only attempted to call attention to such mistakes as are, for
various reasons, most liable to occur.

_A_ should be repeated for every individual. "A red and black book"
means one book, "a red and a black book" means two.

_Abbreviate_, and _abridge_; _abbreviation_ is the shortening of a piece
of writing no matter how accomplished. An _abridgement_ is a

_Ability_, power to do something, should be distinguished from
_capacity_, power to receive something.

_Above_ should not be used as an adjective, e. g., "The statement made
in _above_ paragraph." Substitute _preceding_, _foregoing_, or some
similar adjective.

_Accept_, not _accept of_.

_Accredit_, to give one credentials should be distinguished from
_credit_, to believe what one says.

_Administer_ is often misused. One _administers_ a dose of medicine, the
laws, an oath, or the government; one does not _administer_ a blow.

_Administer to_ is often incorrectly used for _minister to_, e. g., "The
red cross nurse _administers to_ the wounded."

_Admire_ should not be used to express delight, as in the phrase "I
should _admire_ to do so."

_Admit_ should be distinguished from _confess_.

_Advent_ should be distinguished from _arrival_, _advent_ meaning an
epoch-making _arrival_.

_Affable_ means "easy to speak to" and should not be confused with

_Affect_ should be distinguished from _effect_. To _affect_ is to
influence; to _effect_ is to cause or bring about.

_Aggravate_ should not be used for _annoy_ or _vex_ or _provoke_. It
means "to make worse."

_Ain't_ is a corruption of _am not_. It is inelegant though grammatical
to say I _ain't_ but absolutely incorrect in other persons and numbers.

_Alike_ should not be accompanied by _both_ as in the phrase "They are
_both alike_ in this respect."

_All_, _All right_ should never be written _alright_. _All_ and
_universally_ should never be used together. _All_ should not be
accompanied by _of_, e. g., "He received _all of_ the votes." Be careful
about the use of _all_ in negative statements. Do not say "All present
are not printers" when you mean "Not all present are printers." The
first statement means there are no printers present, the second means
there are some printers present.

_Allege_ is a common error for _say_, _state_, and the like. It means
"to declare," "to affirm," or "to assert with the idea of positiveness"
and is not applicable to ordinary statements not needing emphasis.

_Allow_ means _permit_, never _think_ or _admit_.

_Allude to_ is not the same as _mention_. A person or thing alluded to
is not mentioned but indirectly implied.

_Alone_ which means _unaccompanied_ should be distinguished from _only_
which means _no other_.

_Alternative_ should never be used in speaking of more than two things.

_Altogether_ is not the same as _all together_.

_Among_ should not be used with _one another_, e. g., "They divided the
spoil _among one another_." It should be "among themselves."

_And_ should not be placed before a relative pronoun in such a position
as to interfere with the construction. It should not be substituted for
_to_ in such cases as "Try _and_ take more exercise."

_And which_ should not be used for _which_.

_Another_ should be followed by _than_ not _from_, e. g., "Men of
another temper _from_ (_than_) the Greeks."

_Answer_ is that which is given to a question; _reply_ to an assertion.

_Anticipate_ should not be used in the sense of _expect_. It means "to

_Anxious_ should not be confused with _desirous_. It means "feeling

_Any_ is liable to ambiguity unless it is used with care. "Any of them"
may be either singular or plural. "It is not intended for _any_ machine"
may mean "There is no machine for which it is intended," or "It is not
intended for every machine, but only for a special type."

_Anybody else's_, idiomatic and correct.

_Anyhow_, bad, do not use it.

_Apparently_ is used of what seems to be real but may not be so. It
should not be confused with _evidently_ which is used of what both seems
to be and is real.

_Appear_ is physical in its meaning and should be distinguished from
_seem_ which expresses a mental experience. "The forest _appears_ to be
impenetrable," "This does not _seem_ to me to be right."

_Apt_ means "skilful" and should never be used in place of _likely_ or
_liable_. It also means "having a natural tendency."

_As_ should not be used as a causal conjunction, e. g., "Do not expect
me _as_ I am too uncertain of my time." The word _as_ stands here as a
contraction of inasmuch. Substitute a semicolon, or make two sentences.

_As to_ is redundant in such expressions as "_As to_ how far we can
trust him I cannot say."

_At_ is often incorrectly used for _in_, e. g., "He lives _at_ Chicago."
It is also improperly used in such expressions as "Where is he _at_?"

_As that_ should not be used for _that_ alone. Do not say "So _as that_
such and such a thing may happen."

_Audience_ is not the same as _spectators_. An _audience_ listens;
_spectators_ merely see. A concert has an _audience_; a moving picture
show has _spectators_.

_Aught_ means "anything" and should not be confused with _naught_ or the
symbol _0_ which means "nothing."

_Avenge_ means to redress wrongs done to others; _revenge_ wrong done to
ourselves. _Avenge_ usually implies just retribution. _Revenge_ may be
used of malicious retaliation.

_Avocation_ should not be confused with _vocation_. A man's _vocation_
is his principal occupation. His _avocation_ is his secondary

_Aware_ is not the same as _conscious_. We are _aware_ of things outside
of ourselves; we are _conscious_ of sensations or things within

_Awful_ and _awfully_ are two very much abused words. They mean "awe
inspiring" and should never be used in any other sense.

_Badly_ should not be used for _very much_. It should not be confused
with the adjective _bad_. "He looks badly" means he makes a bad use of
his eyes, say "He looks bad."

_Bank on_ is slang. Say _rely on_ or _trust in_.

_Beg_ is often incorrectly used in the sense of _beg leave_, not "I
_beg_ to say" but "I _beg leave_ to say."

_Beside_, meaning "by the side of" should not be confused with _besides_
meaning "in addition to."

_Between_ applies only to two persons or things.

_Blame on_ as a verb should never be used.

_Both_, when _both--and_ are used be sure they connect the right words,
"He can both spell and punctuate" not "He both can spell and punctuate."
Do not use such expressions as "They both resemble each other." Be
careful to avoid confusion in the use of negative statements. Do not say
"Both cannot go" when you mean that one can go.

_Bound_ in the sense of _determined_ is an Americanism and is better
avoided. We say "he is _bound_ to do it" meaning "he is _determined_ to
do it," but the phrase really means "He is under bonds, or obligation to
do it."

_Bring_ should be carefully distinguished from _fetch_, _carry_ and
_take_. _Bring_ means to transfer toward the speaker. _Fetch_ means to
go and bring back. _Carry_ and _take_ mean to transfer from the speaker,
e. g., "_Bring_ a book home from the library." "_Fetch_ me a glass of
water." "_Carry_ this proof to the proofreader." "_Take_ this book

_But_ is sometimes used as a preposition and when so used takes the
objective case. "The boy stood on the burning deck whence all _but_ him
had fled." _But_ should not be used in connection with _that_ unless
intended to express the opposite of what the meaning would be without
it, e. g., "I have no doubt _but that_ he will die" is incorrect because
his death is expected. "I have no fear _but that_ he will come" is
correct, as the meaning intended is "I am sure he will come."

_But what_ is often incorrectly used for _but that_. "I cannot believe
_but what_ he is guilty" probably means "I can but believe that he is
guilty." "I _cannot but_ believe" means "I must believe."

_Calculate_ does not mean _think_ or _suppose_.

_Calculated_ does not mean _likely_. It means "intended or planned for
the purpose."

_Can_ which indicates ability is to be distinguished from _may_ which
indicates permission.

_Cannot but_ should be carefully distinguished from _can but_, e. g., "I
_can but_ try" means "All I can do is try." "I _cannot but try_" means
"I cannot help trying."

_Can't seem_ should not be used for _seem unable_, e. g., "I _can't
seem_ to see it."

_Childlike_ should be carefully distinguished from _childish_.
_Childish_ refers particularly to the weakness of the child.

_Come_ should not be confused with _Go_. _Come_ denotes motion toward
the speaker; _go_ motion from the speaker, "If you will come to see me,
I will go to see you."

_Common_ should be distinguished from _mutual_. _Common_ means "shared
in common." _Mutual_ means "reciprocal" and can refer to but two persons
or things. A _common_ friend is a friend two or more friends have in
common. _Mutual_ friendship is the friendship of two persons for each

_Compare to_, _liken to_, _compare with_, means "measure by" or "point
out similarities and differences."

_Condign_ means "suitable" or "deserved," not necessarily _severe_.

_Condone_ means "to forgive" or "nullify by word or act," not "make
amends for."

_Consider_ in the sense of _regard as_ should not usually be followed by
_as_, e. g., "I consider him a wise man," not "_as_ a wise man."

_Contemptible_ is used of an object of contempt and it should be
distinguished from _contemptuous_ which is used of what is directed at
such an object, e. g., "He is a _contemptible_ fellow." "I gave him a
_contemptuous_ look."

_Continual_ should not be confused with _continuous_. _Continual_ means
"frequently repeated." _Continuous_ means "uninterrupted."

_Convene_, which means "to come together," should not be confused with
_convoke_ which means "to bring or call together." A legislature
_convenes_. It cannot be _convened_ by another, but it can be

_Crime_ is often used for offenses against the speaker's sense of right.
Properly _crime_ is a technical word meaning "offenses against law." A
most innocent action may be a _crime_ if it is contrary to a statute.
The most sinful, cruel, or dishonest action is no _crime_ unless
prohibited by a statute.

_Dangerous_ should not be used for _dangerously ill_.

_Data_ is plural.

_Deadly_, "that which inflicts death" should not be confused with
_deathly_, "that which resembles death."

_Decided_ must not be confused with _decisive_. A _decided_ victory is a
clear and unmistakable victory. A _decisive_ victory is one which
decides the outcome of a war or of a campaign.

_Decimate_ means to take away one-tenth. It is not properly used in a
general way of the infliction of severe losses.

_Definite_ which means "well defined" should not be confused with
_definitive_ which means "final."

_Demean_ is related to _demeanor_ and means "behave." It should be
carefully distinguished from _degrade_ or _lower_.

_Die._ We die _of_ a certain disease, not _with_ or _from_ it.

_Differ_ in the sense of disagree is followed by _with_. "I _differ
with_ you." _Differ_ as indicating unlikeness is followed by _from_.

_Different_ should be followed by _from_ never by _with_, _than_, or

_Directly_ should not be used for _as soon as_.

_Discover_, "to find something which previously existed" should be
distinguished from _invent_ something for the first time.

_Disinterested_ means "having no financial or material interest in a
thing." It should be carefully distinguished from _uninterested_ which
means "taking no interest in" a thing.

_Dispense_, "to distribute" should not be confused with _dispense with_,
"to do without."

_Disposition_ is not the same as _disposal_.

_Distinguish_ which means "to perceive differences" should not be
confused with _differentiate_ which means "to make or constitute a

_Divide_ should be carefully distinguished from _distribute_.

_Don't_ is a contraction of do not. _Doesn't_ is the contraction for
does not. _I don't_, _they don't_, _he doesn't_.

_Due_ should not be used for _owing to_ or _because of_.

_Each_ is distributive and is always singular. _Each other_ which is
applicable to two only should not be confused with _one another_ which
is applicable to more than two.

_Egotist_, a man with a high or conceited opinion of himself, should not
be confused with _egoist_ which is the name for a believer in a certain
philosophical doctrine.

_Either_ is distributive and therefore singular and should never be used
of more than two.

_Elegant_ denotes delicacy and refinement and should not be used as a
term of general approval.

_Else_ should be followed by _than_, not by _but_. "No one else _than_
(not _but_) he could have done so much."

_Emigrant_, one who goes out of a country should not be confused with
_immigrant_, one who comes into a country.

_Enormity_ is used of wickedness, cruelty, or horror, not of great size,
for which _enormousness_ should be used. We speak of the _enormity_ of
an offence but of the _enormousness_ of a crowd.

_Enthuse_ should not be used as a verb.

_Equally as_ well; say _equally well_, or _as well_.

_Every place_ used adverbially should be _everywhere_.

_Except_ should never be used in the sense of _unless_ or _but_.

_Exceptional_ which means "unusual," "forming an exception" should not
be confused with _exceptionable_ which means "open to objection."

_Expect_ which involves a sense of the future should not be confused
with _suppose_ and similar words, as in the phrase "I _expect_ you know
all about it."

_Factor_ is not to be confounded with _cause_.

_Falsity_ applies to things, _falseness_ to persons.

_At fault_ means "at a loss of what to do next." _In fault_ means "in
the wrong."

_Favor_ should not be used in the sense of _resemble_.

_Female_ should not be used for _woman_. The words _female_, _woman_,
and _lady_ should be used with careful attention to their respective
shades of meaning.

_Few_, which emphasizes the fact that the number is small should be
distinguished from _a few_ which emphasizes the fact that there is a
number though it be small. "_Few_ shall part where many meet." "_A few_
persons were saved in the ark."

_Fewer_ applies to number; _less_ to quantity.

_Firstly_ should not be used for _first_ although secondly and thirdly
may be used to complete the series.

_Fix_ should not be used in the sense of _repair_, _arrange_, or

_Former_ and _latter_ should never be used where more than two things
are involved.

_Frequently_ should be distinguished from commonly, _generally_,
_perpetually_, _usually_. _Commonly_ is the antithesis of _rarely_,
_frequently_ of _seldom_, _generally_ of _occasionally_, _usually_ of

_Funny_ should not be used to mean _strange_ or _remarkable_.

_Gentleman Friend_ and _Lady Friend_ are expressions which should be
avoided, say "man or woman friend" or "man or woman of my acquaintance"
or even "gentleman or lady of my acquaintance."

_Good_ should not be used in the sense of _well_. "I feel _good_."

_Got_ is said to be the most misused word in the language. The verb
means to secure by effort and should be used only with this meaning, e. g.,
"I have _got_ the contract." _Have got_ to indicate mere possession
is objectionable. Mere possession is indicated by _have_ alone. Another
common mistake is the use of _got_ to express obligation or constraint.
"I have _got_ to do it."

_Guess_ should not be used in the sense of _think_ or _imagine_.

_Handy_ should never be used to express nearness.

_Hanged_ should be used to express the execution of a human being.
_Hung_ is the past participle in all other uses.

_Hardly._ "I _can hardly_ see it," not "I _can't hardly_ see it."

_Healthy_ which means "possessed of health" should be distinguished
from _healthful_ and _wholesome_ which mean "health giving."

_High_ should not be confused with _tall_.

_Home_ is not a synonym for _house_. A beautiful _house_ is a very
different thing from a beautiful _home_.

_Honorable_ as a title should always be preceded by _the_.

_How_ should not be used for _what_, or for _that_. It means "in what

_How that_ should not be used when either one will do alone. Such a
sentence as "We have already noted how that Tillotson defied rubrical
order...." is very bad.

_If_ should not be used in the sense of _where_ or _that_.

_Ilk_ means "the same" not _kind_ or _sort_.

_Ill_ is an adverb as well as an adjective. Do not say illy.

_In_ should not be used for _into_ when motion is implied. You ride _in_
a car but you get _into_ it.

_Inaugurate_ should not be used for _begin_.

_Individual_ should not be used for _person_.

_Inside of_ should not be used as an expression of time.

_Invaluable_, meaning "of very great value" should not be confused with
_valueless_, meaning "of no value."

_Invite_ should not be used for _invitation_.

_Kind_ is not plural. Do not say "These" or "those" _kind_ of things.
_Kind of_ should never be followed by the indefinite article. "What
_kind of_ man is he?" not "What _kind of a_ man is he?" _Kind of_ or
_sort of_ should not be used in the sense of _rather_ or _somewhat_.

_Kindly_ is often misused in such expressions as "You are _kindly_
requested to recommend a compositor." Undoubtedly the idea of kindness
is attached to the recommendation not to the request and the sentence
should be so framed as to express it.

_Last_ is often misused for _latest_. "The _last_ number of the paper"
is not the one that appeared this morning but the one that finally
closes publication.

_Latter_ applies only to the last of two. If a longer series than two is
referred to, say _the last_.

_Lay_, which is a transitive verb, should not be confused with _lie_.
_Lay_ is a verb which expresses causitive action; _lie_ expresses
passivity. "He _lays_ plans." "He _lies_ down." The past tense of _lay_
is _laid_, that of _lie_ is _lay_.

_Learn_ should not be used in place of _teach_.

_Lengthy_ is a very poor substitute for _long_, which needs no

_Liable_ should not be used for _likely_. _Liable_ means an unpleasant
probability. _Likely_ means any probability. _Liable_ is also used to
express obligation. He is _liable_ for this debt.

_Like_ must never be used in the sense of _as_. "Do _like_ I do" should
be "Do _as_ I do."

_Literally_ implies that a statement to which it is attached is
accurately and precisely true. It is frequently misused.

_Loan_ is a noun, not a verb.

_Locate_ should not be used in the sense of _settle_.

_Lot_ or _lots_ should not be used to indicate a _great deal_.

_Love_ expresses affection or, in its biblical sense, earnest
benevolence. _Like_ expresses taste. Do not say "I should _love_ to go."

_Lovely_ means "worthy of affection" and, like _elegant_, should never
be used as a term of general approbation.

_Luxuriant_ which means "superabundant in growth or production" should
not be confounded with _luxurious_ which means "given over to luxury."
Vegetation is _luxuriant_, men are _luxurious_.

_Mad_ means _insane_ and is not a synonym for _angry_.

_Means_ may be either singular or plural.

_Meet_ should not be used in the sense of _meeting_ except in the case
of a few special expressions such as "a race meet."

_Mighty_ should not be used in the sense of _very_.

_Mind_ should not be used in the sense of _obey_.

_Minus_ should not be used in the sense of _without_ or _lacking_.

_Most_ should not be used instead of _almost_, as in such expressions as
"It rained _most_ every day."

_Must_ should not be used for _had to_ or _was obliged_. In its proper
use it refers to the present or future only.

_Necessities_ should be carefully distinguished from _necessaries_.

_Negligence_, which denotes a quality of character should be
distinguished from _neglect_ which means "a failure to act."

_Neither_ denotes one of two and should not be used for _none_ or _no
one_. As a correlative conjunction it should be followed by _nor_ never
by _or_.

_New beginner_. _Beginner_ is enough; all beginners are new.

_News_ is singular in construction.

_Never_ is sometimes used as an emphatic negative but such usage is not

_Nice_ should not be used in the sense of _pleasant_ or _agreeable_.

_No how_ should not be used for _anyway_.

_No place_ should be written as _nowhere_.

_None_ should be treated as a singular.

_Not_, like _neither_, must be followed by the correlative _nor_, e. g.,
"Not for wealth nor for fame did he strive."

_Not_ ... _but_ to express a negative is a double negative and therefore
should not be used, e. g., "I have _not_ had _but_ one meal to-day."

_Nothing like_ and _nowhere near_ should not be used for _not nearly_.

_O_ should be used for the vocative and without punctuation.

_Oh_ should be used for the ejaculation and should be followed by a
comma or an exclamation point.

_Obligate_ should not be used for _oblige_.

_Observe_ should not be used for _say_.

_Observation_ should not be used for _observance_.

_Of_ is superfluous in such phrases as _smell of_, _taste of_, _feel

_Off_ should never be used with _of_; one or the other is superfluous.

_Other._ After _no other_ use _than_, not _but_.

_Ought_ must never be used in connection with _had_ or _did_. "You
_hadn't ought_ or _didn't ought_ to do it" should be "You ought not to
have done it."

_Out loud_ should never be used for _aloud_.

_Panacea_ is something that cures all diseases, not an effective remedy
for one disease.

_Partake of_ should not be used in the sense of _eat_. It means "to
share with others."

_Party_ should never be used for _person_ except in legal documents.

_Per_ should be used in connection with other words of Latin form but
not with English words. _Per diem_, _per annum_, and the like are
correct. _Per day_ or _per year_ are incorrect. It should be _a day_, or
_a year_.

_Perpendicular_, which merely means at right angles to something else
mentioned, should not be used for _vertical_.

_Plenty_, a noun should not be confused with the adjective _plentiful_.

_Politics_ is singular.

_Post_ does not mean _inform_.

_Predicate_ should not be used in the sense of _predict_ or in the sense
of _base_ or _found_.

_Premature_ means "before the proper time." It should not be used in a
general way as equivalent to _false_.

_Pretty_ should not be used in the modifying sense, nor as a synonym for
_very_ in such phrases as "pretty good," "pretty near," and the like.

_Preventative_, no such word, say _preventive_.

_Promise_ should not be used in the sense of _assure_.

_Propose_, meaning "to offer" should not be confused with _purpose_
meaning "to intend."

_Proposition_ should not be confounded with _proposal_. A _proposition_
is a statement of a statement or a plan. A _proposal_ is the
presentation or statement of an offer.

_Providing_ should not be used for _provided_.

_Quality_ should never be used as an adjective or with an adjective
sense. "Quality clothes" is meaningless: "Clothes of quality" equally
so. All clothes have quality and the expression has meaning only when
the quality is defined as good, bad, high, low, and so forth.

_Quit_, "to go away from" is not the same as _stop_.

_Quite_ means "entirely," "wholly," and should never be used in the
modifying sense as if meaning _rather_ or _somewhat_. "Quite a few" is

_Raise_ is a much abused word. It is never a noun. As a verb it should
be distinguished from _rear_ and _increase_, as in such phrases as "He
was _raised_ in Texas." "The landlord _raised_ my rent."

_Rarely ever_ should not be used for _rarely_ or _hardly ever_.

_Real_ should not be used in the sense of _very_.

_Reference_ should be used with _with_ rather than _in_. Say _with_
reference to, not _in_ reference to. The same rule applies to the words
_regard_ and _respect_. Do not say "_in regards to_," say "_with regard

_Remember_ is not the same as _recollect_, which means "to remember by
an effort."

_Rendition_ should not be used for _rendering_.

_Researcher_ has no standing as a word.

_Reside_ in the sense of live, and residence in the sense of house or
dwelling are affectations and should never be used.

_Retire_ should not be used in the sense of "go to bed."

_Right_ should not be used in the sense of _duty_. "You _had a right_ to
warn me," should be "It was your duty to warn me, or you ought to have
warned me." _Right_ should not be used in the sense of _very_. Such
expressions as _right now_, _right off_, _right away_, _right here_ are
not now in good use.

_Same_ should not be used as a pronoun. This is a common usage in
business correspondence but it is not good English and can be easily
avoided without sacrificing either brevity or sense. _Same as_ in the
sense of _just as_, _in the same manner_ should be avoided.

_Score_ should not be used for _achieve_ or _accomplish_.

_Set_ should not be confused with _sit_. To set means "to cause to sit."

_Sewage_, meaning the contents of a sewer, should not be confused with
_sewerage_ which means the system.

_Show_ should not be used in the sense of _play_ or _performance_. _Show
up_ should not be used for _expose_.

_Since_ should not be used for _ago_.

_Size up_ should not be used for _estimate_ or _weigh_.

_Some_ should not be used for _somewhat_ as "I feel _some_ better."

_Sort of_ should not be used for _rather_.

_Splendid_ means _shining_ or _brilliant_ and should not be used as a
term of general commendation.

_Stand for_ means "be responsible for." Its recent use as meaning
_stand_, _endure_, or _permit_, should be avoided.

_Start_ should not be used for _begin_, e. g., "He _started_ (began) to

_State_ should not be used for _say_.

_Stop_ should not be used for _stay_.

_Such_ should not be used for _so_. Say "I have never seen _so_
beautiful a book before" not "I have never seen such a beautiful book

_Sure_ should not be used as an adverb. Say _surely_.

_Take_ is superfluous in connection with other verbs, e. g., "Suppose we
_take_ and _use_ that type." _Take_ should not be confused with _bring_.
_Take stock in_ should not be used for _rely_ or _trust in_.

_That_ should not be used in the sense of _so_. "I did not know it was
_that_ big."

_Think_ should not have the word _for_ added, e. g., "It is more
important than you _think for_."

_This_ should not be used as an adverb. "This much is clear" should be
"Thus much is clear."

_Through_ should not be used for _finished_.

_To_ is superfluous and wrong in such expressions as "Where did you go

_Too_ alone should not modify a past participle. "He was _too_ (much)
excited to reply."

_Transpire_ does not mean _happen_. It means to come to light or become

_Treat_ should be followed by _of_ rather than _on_. This volume treats
_of_ grammar, not _on_ grammar.

_Try_ should be followed by _to_ rather than _and_. "I will try _to_
go," not "I will try _and_ go."

_Ugly_ should never be used in the sense of _bad tempered_ or _vicious_.
It means "repulsive to the eye."

_Unique_ does not mean _rare_, _odd_, or _unusual_. It means alone of
its kind.

_Upward of_ should not be used in the sense of _more than_.

_Venal_ should not be confused with _venial_.

_Verbal_ should not be confused with _oral_. A _verbal_ message means
only a message in words; an _oral_ message is a message by word of

_Very_ should be used sparingly. It is a word of great emphasis and like
all such words defeats its purpose when used too frequently.

_Visitor_ is a human caller. _Visitant_ a supernatural caller.

_Want_ should not be used in the sense of _wish_, e. g., "I _want_ it"
really means "I feel the want of it" or "I lack it." _Want_, _wish_, and
_need_ should be carefully distinguished.

_Way_ should not be used in the sense of _away_ in such expressions as
"_Way_ down East."

_Ways_ should not be used for _way_, e. g., "It is quite a _ways_ (way)

_What_ is often misused for _that_, e. g., "He has no doubt but _what_
(that) he will succeed."

_Whence_ means "from what place or cause" and should not be preceded by
_from_. This applies equally to hence which means "from this place."

_Which_ should not be used with a clause as its antecedent, e. g., "He
replied hotly, _which_ was a mistake" should be "He replied hotly; this
was a mistake." _Which_ being a neuter pronoun should not be used to
represent a masculine or feminine noun. Use who. Between the two neuter
pronouns _which_ and _that_ let euphony decide.

_Who_ should not be misused for _whom_ or _whose_, e. g., "_Who_ (whom)
did you wish to see?" "Washington, than _who_ (whose) no greater name is
recorded." Impersonal objects should be referred to by _which_ rather
than _who_.

_Without_ should not be used for _unless_, e. g., "I will not go
_without_ (unless) you go with me."

_Witness_ should not be used for _see_.

_Worst kind_ or _worst kind of way_ should not be used for _very much_.

_Womanly_ means "belonging to woman as woman."

_Womanish_ means _effeminate_.

_Tables of Irregular Verbs_

Table 1 contains the principal parts of all irregular verbs whose past
tense and perfect participle are unlike.

Most errors in the use of irregular verbs occur with those in Table 1.
The past tense must not be used with _have_ (_has_, _had_). Do not use
such expressions as _have drove_ and _has went_. Equally disagreeable is
the use of the perfect participle for the past tense; as, _she seen_,
_they done_.


Present Tense Past Tense Perf. Part.

arise arose arisen
be or am was been
bear, _bring forth_ bore born[1], borne
bear, _carry_ bore borne
beat beat beaten, beat
begin began begun
bid bade, bid bidden, bid
bite bit bitten, bit
blow blew blown
break broke broken
chide chid chidden, chid
choose chose chosen
cleave, _split_ {cleft, clove {cleft, cleaved,
{(clave)[2] {cloven
come came come
do did done
draw drew drawn
drink drank drunk, drunken
drive drove driven
eat ate (eat) eaten (eat)
fall fell fallen
fly flew flown
forbear forbore forborne
forget forgot forgotten, forgot
forsake forsook forsaken
freeze froze frozen
give gave given
go went gone
grow grew grown
hide hid hidden, hid
know knew known
lie, _recline_ lay lain
ride rode ridden
ring rang, rung rung
rise rose risen
run ran run
see saw seen
shake shook shaken
shrink shrank, shrunk shrunk, shrunken
sing sung, sang sung
sink sank, sunk sunk
slay slew slain
slide slid slidden, slid
smite smote smitten
speak spoke (spake) spoken
spring sprang, spring sprung
steal stole stolen
stride strode stridden
strike struck struck, stricken
strive strove striven
swear swore (sware) sworn
swim swam, swum swum
take took taken
tear tore torn
throw threw thrown
tread trod trodden, trod
wear wore worn
weave wove woven
write wrote written


This table contains the principal parts of all irregular verbs whose
past tense and perfect participles are alike.

Present Tense Past Tense and Present Tense Past Tense and
Perf. Part. Perf. Part.

abide abode mean meant
behold beheld meet met
beseech besought pay paid
bind bound put put
bleed bled read read
breed bred rend rent
bring brought say said
build built seek sought
burst burst sell sold
buy bought send sent
cast cast set set
catch caught shed shed
cling clung shoe shod
cost cost shoot shot
creep crept shut shut
cut cut sit sat
deal dealt sleep slept
feed fed sling slung
feel felt slink slunk
fight fought spend spent
find found spin spun (span)
flee fled spit spit (spat)
fling flung split split
get got (gotten) spread spread
grind ground stand stood
have had stick stuck
hear heard sting stung
hit hit string strung
hold held sweep swept
hurt hurt swing swung
keep kept teach taught
lay laid tell told
lead led think thought
leave left thrust thrust
lend lent weep wept
let let win won
lose lost wring wrung
make made


This table includes verbs that are both regular and irregular.


Verbs in which the regular form is preferred.

Present Tense Past Tense Perf. Part.

bend bended, bent bended, bent
bereave bereaved, bereft bereaved, bereft
blend blended, blent blended, blent
bless blessed, blest blessed, blest
burn burned, burnt burned, burnt
cleave, _stick_ cleaved (clave) cleaved
clothe clothed, clad clothed, clad
curse cursed, curst cursed, curst
dive dived (dove) dived (dove)
dream dreamed, dreamt dreamed, dreamt
dress dressed, drest dressed, drest
gild gilded, gilt gilded, gilt
heave heaved, hove heaved, hove
hew hewed hewed, hewn
lade laded laded, laden
lean leaned, leant leaned, leant
leap leaped, leapt leaped, leapt
learn learned, learnt learned, learnt
light lighted, lit lighted, lit
mow mowed mowed, mown
pen, _shut up_ penned, pent penned, pent
plead {pleaded (plead _or_ {pleaded (plead _or_
{pled) {pled)
prove proved proved, proven
reave reaved, reft reaved, reft
rive rived rived, riven
saw sawed sawed, sawn
seethe seethed (sod) seethed, sodden
shape shaped shaped, shapen
shave shaved shaved, shaven
shear sheared sheared, shorn
smell smelled, smelt smelled, smelt
sow sowed sowed, sown
spell spelled, spelt spelled, spelt
spill spilled, spilt spilled, spilt
spoil spoiled, spoilt spoiled, spoilt
stave staved, stove staved, stove
stay stayed, staid stayed, staid
swell swelled swelled, swollen
wake waked, woke waked, woke
wax, _grow_ waxed waxed (waxen)
wed wedded wedded, wed
whet whetted, whet whetted, whet
work worked, wrought worked, wrought


Verbs in which the irregular form is preferred.

Present Tense Past Tense Perf. Part.

awake awoke, awaked awaked, awoke
belay belaid, belayed belaid, belayed
bet bet, betted bet, betted
crow crew, crowed crowed
dare durst, dared dared
dig dug, digged dug, digged
dwell dwelt, dwelled dwelt, dwelled
gird girt, girded girt, girded
grave graved graven, graved
hang hung, hanged[3] hung, hanged
kneel knelt, kneeled knelt, kneeled
knit knit, knitted knit, knitted
quit quit, quitted quit, quitted
rap rapt, rapped rapt, rapped
rid rid, ridded rid, ridded
shine shone (shined) shone (shined)
show showed shown, showed
shred shred, shredded shred, shredded
shrive shrived, shrove shriven, shrived
slit slit, slitted slit, slitted
speed sped, speeded sped, speeded
strew strewed strewn, strewed
strow strowed strown, strowed
sweat sweat, sweated sweat, sweated
thrive throve, thrived thrived, thriven
wet wet (wetted) wet (wetted)
wind wound (winded) wound (winded)

The verbs of the following list also are irregular; but as they lack one
or more of the principal parts, they are called defective verbs.

_Defective Verbs_

Present Past Present Past

can could ought .....
may might ..... quoth
must ..... beware .....
shall should methinks methought
will would

All the participles are wanting in defective verbs.

The verb _ought_, when used to express past duty or obligation, is
followed by what is called the perfect infinitive--a use peculiar to
itself because _ought_ has no past form.

_Example:_ I ought _to have gone_ yesterday.

Other verbs expressing past time are used in the past tense followed by
the root infinitive.

_Example:_ I intended _to go_ yesterday.


Composition and Rhetoric. By Lockwood and Emerson. Ginn & Co., Boston.

The Art of Writing and Speaking the English Language. By Sherwin Cody.
The Old Greek Press, Chicago.

The Writer's Desk Book. By William Dana Orcutt. Frederick Stokes
Company, New York.

A Manual for Writers. By John Matthews Manly and John Arthur Powell. The
University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Any good Grammar.

Putnam's Word Book. By Louis A. Flemming. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Chicago.
(For reference.)


In addition to the questions here given there should be constant and
thorough drill in the use of grammatical forms and the choice of words.
Frequent short themes should be required. In these themes attention
should be given to grammatical construction, choice of words, spelling,
capitalization, punctuation, sentence construction, and paragraphing.

1. Why is the subject important?

2. How many families of words are there, and what are they?

3. What is a noun?

4. What are the three things about a noun which indicates its relation
to other words?

5. How many numbers are there, and what do they mean?

6. How do ordinary nouns form their plurals?

7. How do compound nouns form their plurals?

8. What is one very important use of number?

9. What can you say of the use of the verb with collective nouns?

10. What is case?

11. How many cases are there, and what does each indicate?

12. What can you say about the relation of a noun to a preposition?

13. Are prepositions ever omitted, and why?

14. How are the nominative and objective cases distinguished?

15. How is the possessive case formed in the plural?

16. Do possessive pronouns take an apostrophe?

17. What is _it's_?

18. How are compound nouns, appositives, etc., treated in the

19. What is an adjective?

20. What do degrees indicate, and how many are there?

21. How are adjectives compared?

22. When should the long form of comparison be used and when the short?

23. What danger attends the use of _most_?

24. Give two irregular adjectives and compare them.

25. Should the two methods of comparison ever be combined?

26. Why are some adjectives never compared?

27. What is an article?

28. How many articles are there?

29. What kinds of articles are there?

30. When should you use _a_?

31. When should you use _an_?

32. What is a verb?

33. Of what three parts does a simple sentence consist?

34. Name them and describe each.

35. What is the relation of the verb to the subject with regard to
person and number?

36. What is voice?

37. How many voices are there, what is each called, and what does it

38. What is tense?

39. How many tenses are there, and what are they called?

40. What is the rule for tense in subordinate clauses?

41. What is the reason for the rule, and how can accuracy be determined?

42. What happens when the statement in the subordinate clause is of
universal application?

43. What is mood?

44. How many moods are there, and what are they called?

45. How is the indicative mood used?

46. How is the subjunctive mood used?

47. How is the imperative mood used?

48. What is the potential mood?

49. What is the exact meaning of (a) _may_, (b) _can_, (c) _must_, (d)

50. What is tense?

51. How are _shall_ and _will_ used in direct discourse (a) in simple
statements, (b) in questions, (c) in other cases?

52. How are _shall_ and _will_ used in indirect discourse?

53. What are the exceptions in the use of _shall_ and _will_?

54. What is the general use of _should_ and _would_?

55. How are should and would used in subordinate clauses, in indirect

56. What exceptions are there in the use of _should_ and _would_?

57. Why do we make mistakes in the use of compound tenses?

58. What is the case of the object in participial construction?

59. What should be avoided in the use of prepositions?

60. Do passive verbs ever have objects?

61. What is a pronoun?

62. What common error occurs in the use of plural possessive pronouns?

63. What common error occurs in the use of cases in subordinate clauses?

64. What danger is there in the use of pronouns, and how can it be

65. What is an adverb?

66. What is the important distinction in the use of adverbs and

67. What rule is to be observed in the use of negatives?

68. What is a preposition?

69. Where is it placed in the sentence?

70. What is a conjunction?

71. What is said of _and_ and _but_?

72. How should we pair _either_, _neither_, _or_, and _nor_?

73. What is the rule about placing correlatives?

74. What is an interjection?

75. Does it make much difference where words are put in a sentence? Why?

76. What is the general rule for placing words?

77. When may words be omitted?

78. What is the danger in such omission?

79. Mention some objectionable abbreviations of this sort.

80. What is the writer's task?

81. What three abuses are to be avoided?

82. What are Campbell's five canons?

83. What are the rules for the formation of sentences?

84. What are the rules for the formation of paragraphs?


AMBIGUITY--The possibility of more than one meaning.

APPOSITION--When the meaning of a noun or pronoun is made clear or
emphatic by the use of another noun or pronoun the two are said to be in
apposition, e. g., John, the old pressman.

AUXILIARY VERB--A verb used to help to express the meaning of another
verb by showing its voice, mood or tense.

CLAUSE--A group of words consisting of a subject and predicate with
their modifiers and forming a part of a sentence: a sentence within a

COLLECTIVE NOUN--A noun indicating a collection of units considered as a
whole, e. g., _crowd_.

COMPOUND WORDS--Words made up of two or more words used together to
express one idea.

CONTEXT--The entire writing from which a text or passage is taken.

CORRELATIVE--A term applied to pairs of conjunctions or other words or
phrases which imply or involve each other.

DICTION--The choice and use of words.

GRAMMAR--The science that treats of the principles that govern the
correct use of language in either spoken or written form; the science of
the sentence and its elements.

HETEROGENEOUS SENTENCES--Sentences containing unrelated ideas or dealing
with a variety of separate things.

HYPOTHESIS--A supposition, or imaginary state of things assumed as a
basis for reasoning.

HYPOTHETICAL CLAUSE--A clause containing a supposition.

METAPHOR--A figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another by
speaking of it as if it were that other, or calling it that other.

NOUN CLAUSE--A clause used as a noun.

OBJECT (OF A VERB)--The thing acted on.

PARTICIPIAL CONSTRUCTION--A participle and its modifiers used as the
subject or object of a verb.

PHRASE--An expression, consisting usually of but a few words, denoting a
single idea, or forming a separate part of a sentence.

PREDICATE (OF A SENTENCE)--That which is said of the subject. See

PRINCIPAL VERB--The verb in the main statement of a sentence.

PRONOMINAL ADJECTIVE--An adjective used as a pronoun.

RHETORIC--The art of perfecting man's power of communicating to others
his mental acts or states by means of language: art of discourse.

SUBJECT (OF A SENTENCE)--The thing spoken about in the sentence. See

SUBJECT (OF A VERB)--The thing acting.

SUBORDINATE CLAUSE--A clause explaining or otherwise modifying the main
statement of the sentence.


The following list of publications, comprising the TYPOGRAPHIC TECHNICAL
SERIES FOR APPRENTICES, has been prepared under the supervision of the
Committee on Education of the United Typothetae of America for use in
trade classes, in course of printing instruction, and by individuals.

Each publication has been compiled by a competent author or group of
authors, and carefully edited, the purpose being to provide the printers
of the United States--employers, journeymen, and apprentices--with a
comprehensive series of handy and inexpensive compendiums of reliable,
up-to-date information upon the various branches and specialties of the
printing craft, all arranged in orderly fashion for progressive study.

The publications of the series are of uniform size, 5 x 8 inches. Their
general make-up, in typography, illustrations, etc., has been, as far as
practicable, kept in harmony throughout. A brief synopsis of the
particular contents and other chief features of each volume will be
found under each title in the following list.

Each topic is treated in a concise manner, the aim being to embody in
each publication as completely as possible all the rudimentary
information and essential facts necessary to an understanding of the
subject. Care has been taken to make all statements accurate and clear,
with the purpose of bringing essential information within the
understanding of beginners in the different fields of study. Wherever
practicable, simple and well-defined drawings and illustrations have
been used to assist in giving additional clearness to the text.

In order that the pamphlets may be of the greatest possible help for use
in trade-school classes and for self-instruction, each title is
accompanied by a list of Review Questions covering essential items of
the subject matter. A short Glossary of technical terms belonging to the
subject or department treated is also added to many of the books.
  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: