Verb,—the word of the sentence.
199.The term verb is from the Latin verbum meaning word: hence it is the word of a sentence. A thought cannot be expressed without a verb. When the child cries, “Apple!” it means, See the apple! or I have an apple! In the mariner’s shout, “A sail!” the meaning is, “Yonder is a sail!”
Sentences are in the form of declarations, questions, or commands; and none of these can be put before the mind without the use of a verb.
One group or a group of words.
200.The verb may not always be a single word. On account of the lack of inflections, verb phrases are very frequent. Hence the verb may consist of:
(1) One word; as, “The young man obeyed.”
(2) Several words of verbal nature, making one expression; as, (a) “Some day it may be considered reasonable,” (b) “Fearing lest he might have been anticipated.”
(3) One or more verbal words united with other words to compose one verb phrase: as in the sentences, (a) “They knew well that this woman ruled over thirty millions of subjects;” (b) “If all the flummery and extravagance of an army were done away with, the money could be made to go much further;” (c) “It is idle cant to pretend anxiety for the better distribution of wealth until we can devise means by which this preying upon people of small incomes can be put a stop to.”
In (a), a verb and a preposition are used as one verb; in (b), a verb, an adverb, and a preposition unite as a verb; in (c), an article, a noun, a preposition, are united with verbs as one verb phrase.
Definition and caution.
201.A verb is a word used as a predicate, to say something to or about some person or thing. In giving a definition, we consider a verb as one word.
Now, it is indispensable to the nature of a verb that it is “a word used as a predicate.” Examine the sentences in Sec. 200: In (1), obeyed is a predicate; in (2, a), may be considered is a unit in doing the work of one predicate; in (2, b), might have been anticipated is also one predicate, but fearing is not a predicate, hence is not a verb; in (3, b), to go is no predicate, and not a verb; in (3, c), to pretend and preying have something of verbal nature in expressing action in a faint and general way, but cannot be predicates.
In the sentence, “Put money in thy purse,” put is the predicate, with some word understood; as, “Put thou money in thy purse.”
The nature of the transitive verb.
202.By examining a few verbs, it may be seen that not all verbs are used alike. All do not express action: some denote state or condition. Of those expressing action, all do not express it in the same way; for example, in this sentence from Bulwer,—”The proud lone took care to conceal the anguish she endured; and the pride of woman has an hypocrisy which can deceive the most penetrating, and shame the most astute,”—every one of the verbs in Italics has one or more words before or after it, representing something which it influences or controls. In the first, lone took what? answer, care; endured what? anguish; etc. Each influences some object, which may be a person, or a material thing, or an idea.Has takes the object hypocrisy; can deceive has an object, the most penetrating; (can) shame also has an object, the most astute.
In each case, the word following, or the object, is necessary to the completion of the action expressed in the verb.
All these are called transitive verbs, from the Latin transire, which means to go over. Hence
203.A transitive verb is one which must have an object to complete its meaning, and to receive the action expressed.
The nature of intransitive verbs.
204.Examine the verbs in the following paragraph:—
She sprang up at that thought, and, taking the staff which always guided her steps, she hastened to the neighboring shrine of Isis. Till she had been under the guardianship of the kindly Greek, that staff had sufficed to conduct the poor blind girl from corner to corner of Pompeii.—Bulwer
In this there are some verbs unlike those that have been examined. Sprang, or sprang up, expresses action, but it is complete in itself, does not affect an object;hastened is similar in use; had been expresses condition, or state of being, and can have no object; had sufficed means had been sufficient, and from its meaning cannot have an object.
Such verbs are called intransitive (not crossing over). Hence
205.An intransitive verb is one which is complete in itself, or which is completed by other words without requiring an object.
Study use, not form, of verbs here.
206. Many verbs can be either transitive or intransitive, according to their use in the sentence, It can be said, “The boy walked for two hours,” or “The boy walked the horse;” “The rains swelled the river,” or “The river swelled because of the rain;” etc.
The important thing to observe is, many words must be distinguished as transitive or intransitive by use, not by form.
207.Also verbs are sometimes made transitive by prepositions. These may be (1) compounded with the verb; or (2) may follow the verb, and be used as an integral part of it: for example,—
Asking her pardon for having withstood her.—Scott.
I can wish myself no worse than to have it all to undergo a second time.—Kingsley.
A weary gloom in the deep caverns of his eyes, as of a child that has outgrown its playthings.—Hawthorne.
It is amusing to walk up and down the pier and look at the countenances passing by.—B. Taylor.
He was at once so out of the way, and yet so sensible, that I loved, laughed at, and pitied him.—Goldsmith.
My little nurse told me the whole matter, which she had cunningly picked out from her mother.—Swift.
(a) Pick out the transitive and the intransitive verbs in the following:—
1. The women and children collected together at a distance.
2. The path to the fountain led through a grassy savanna.
3. As soon as I recovered my senses and strength from so sudden a surprise, I started back out of his reach where I stood to view him; he lay quiet whilst I surveyed him.
4. At first they lay a floor of this kind of tempered mortar on the ground, upon which they deposit a layer of eggs.
5. I ran my bark on shore at one of their landing places, which was a sort of neck or little dock, from which ascended a sloping path or road up to the edge of the meadow, where their nests were; most of them were deserted, and the great thick whitish eggshells lay broken and scattered upon the ground.
6. Accordingly I got everything on board, charged my gun, set sail cautiously, along shore. As I passed by Battle Lagoon, I began to tremble.
7. I seized my gun, and went cautiously from my camp: when I had advanced about thirty yards, I halted behind a coppice of orange trees, and soon perceived two very large bears, which had made their way through the water and had landed in the grove, and were advancing toward me.
(b) Bring up sentences with five transitive and five intransitive verbs.
Meaning of active voice.
208.As has been seen, transitive verbs are the only kind that can express action so as to go over to an object. This implies three things,—the agent, or person or thing acting; the verb representing the action; the person or object receiving the act.
In the sentence, “We reached the village of Sorgues by dusk, and accepted the invitation of an old dame to lodge at her inn,” these three things are found: the actor, or agent, is expressed by we; the action is asserted by reached and accepted; the things acted upon are village and invitation. Here the subject is represented as doing something. The same word is the subject and the agent. This use of a transitive verb is called the active voice.
209.The active voice is that form of a verb which represents the subject as acting; or
The active voice is that form of a transitive verb which makes the subject and the agent the same word.
A question.
210.Intransitive verbs are always active voice. Let the student explain why.
Meaning of passive voice.
211.In the assertion of an action, it would be natural to suppose, that, instead of always representing the subject as acting upon some person or thing, it must often happen that the subject is spoken of as acted upon; and the person or thing acting may or may not be expressed in the sentence: for example,—
All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. They are punished by fear.—Emerson.
Here the subject infractions does nothing: it represents the object toward which the action of are punished is directed, yet it is the subject of the same verb. In the first sentence the agent is not expressed; in the second, fear is the agent of the same action.
So that in this case, instead of having the agent and subject the same word, we have the object and subject the same word, and the agent may be omitted from the statement of the action.
Passive is from the Latin word patior, meaning to endure or suffer; but in ordinary grammatical use passive means receiving an action.
212.The passive voice is that form of the verb which represents the subject as being acted upon; or—
The passive voice is that form of the verb which represents the subject and the object by the same word.
(a) Pick out the verbs in the active and the passive voice:—
1. In the large room some forty or fifty students were walking about while the parties were preparing.
2. This was done by taking off the coat and vest and binding a great thick leather garment on, which reached to the knees.
3. They then put on a leather glove reaching nearly to the shoulder, tied a thick cravat around the throat, and drew on a cap with a large visor.
4. This done, they were walked about the room a short time; their faces all this time betrayed considerable anxiety.
5. We joined the crowd, and used our lungs as well as any.
6. The lakes were soon covered with merry skaters, and every afternoon the banks were crowded with spectators.
7. People were setting up torches and lengthening the rafts which had been already formed.
8. The water was first brought in barrels drawn by horses, till some officer came and opened the fire plug.
9. The exclusive in fashionable life does not see that he excludes himself from enjoyment, in the attempt to appropriate it.
(b) Find sentences with five verbs in the active and five in the passive voice.
213.The word mood is from the Latin modus, meaning manner, way, method. Hence, when applied to verbs,—
Mood means the manner of conceiving and expressing action or being of some subject.
The three ways.
214.There are three chief ways of expressing action or being:—
(1) As a fact; this may be a question, statement, or assumption.
(2) As doubtful, or merely conceived of in the mind.
(3) As urged or commanded.
Deals with facts.
215.The term indicative is from the Latin indicare (to declare, or assert). The indicative represents something as a fact,—
Affirms or denies.
(1) By declaring a thing to be true or not to be true; thus,—
Distinction is the consequence, never the object, of a great mind.—Allston.
I do not remember when or by whom I was taught to read; because I cannot and never could recollect a time when I could not read my Bible.—D. Webster.
Assumed as a fact.
(2) By assuming a thing to be true without declaring it to be so. This kind of indicative clause is usually introduced by if (meaningadmitting that, granting that, etc.), though, although, etc. Notice that the action is not merely conceived as possible; it is assumed to be a fact: for example,—
If the penalties of rebellion hung over an unsuccessful contest; if America was yet in the cradle of her political existence; if her population little exceeded two millions; if she was without government, without fleets or armies, arsenals or magazines, without military knowledge,—still her citizens had a just and elevated sense of her rights.—A. Hamilton.
(3) By asking a question to find out some fact; as,—
Is private credit the friend and patron of industry?—Hamilton.
With respect to novels what shall I say?—N. Webster.
216 .The indicative mood is that form of a verb which represents a thing as a fact, or inquires about some fact.
Meaning of the word.
217.Subjunctive means subjoined, or joined as dependent or subordinate to something else.
This meaning is misleading.
If its original meaning be closely adhered to, we must expect every dependent clause to have its verb in the subjunctive mood, and every clause not dependent to have its verb in some other mood.
But this is not the case. In the quotation from Hamilton (Sec. 215, 2) several subjoined clauses introduced by if have the indicative mood, and also independent clauses are often found having the verb in the subjunctive mood.
Three cautions will be laid down which must be observed by a student who wishes to understand and use the English subjunctive:—
(1) You cannot tell it always by the form of the word. The main difference is, that the subjunctive has no -s as the ending of the present tense, third person singular; as, “If he come.”
(2) The fact that its clause is dependent or is introduced by certain words will not be a safe rule to guide you.
(3) The meaning of the verb itself must be keenly studied.
218.The subjunctive mood is that form or use of the verb which expresses action or being, not as a fact, but as merely conceived of in the mind.
Subjunctive in Independent Clauses.
I. Expressing a Wish.
219.The following are examples of this use:—
Heaven rest her soul!—Moore.
God grant you find one face there You loved when all was young.—Kingsley.
Now tremble dimples on your cheek, Sweet be your lips to taste and speak.—Beddoes.
Long die thy happy days before thy death.—Shakespeare.
II. A Contingent Declaration or Question.
220.This really amounts to the conclusion, or principal clause, in a sentence, of which the condition is omitted.
Our chosen specimen of the hero as literary man [if we were to choose one] would be this Goethe.—Carlyle.
I could lie down like a tired child,And weep away the life of careWhich I have borne and yet must bear.—Shelley.
Most excellent stranger, as you come to the lakes simply to see their loveliness, might it not be as well to ask after the most beautiful road, rather than the shortest?—De Quincey.
Subjunctive in Dependent Clauses.
I. Condition or Supposition.
221.The most common way of representing the action or being as merely thought of, is by putting it into the form of a supposition or condition; as,—
Now, if the fire of electricity and that of lightning be the same, this pasteboard and these scales may represent electrified clouds.—Franklin.
Here no assertion is made that the two things are the same; but, if the reader merely conceives them for the moment to be the same, the writer can make the statement following. Again,—
If it be Sunday [supposing it to be Sunday], the peasants sit on the church steps and con their psalm books.—Longfellow.
222.There are three kinds of conditional sentences:—
Real or true.
(1) Those in which an assumed or admitted fact is placed before the mind in the form of a condition (see Sec. 215, 2); for example,—
If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of God. If their names were not found in the registers of heralds, they were recorded in the Book of Life.—Macaulay.
Ideal,—may or may not be true.
(2) Those in which the condition depends on something uncertain, and may or may not be regarded true, or be fulfilled; as,—
If, in our case, the representative system ultimately fail, popular government must be pronounced impossible.—D. Webster.
If this be the glory of Julius, the first great founder of the Empire, so it is also the glory of Charlemagne, the second founder.—Bryce.
If any man consider the present aspects of what is called by distinction society, he will see the need of these ethics. —Emerson.
Unreal—cannot be true.
(3) Suppositions contrary to fact, which cannot be true, or conditions that cannot be fulfilled, but are presented only in order to suggest what might be or might have been true; thus,—
If these things were true, society could not hold together. —Lowell.
Did not my writings produce me some solid pudding, the great deficiency of praise would have quite discouraged me.—Franklin.
Had he for once cast all such feelings aside, and striven energetically to save Ney, it would have cast such an enhancing light over all his glories, that we cannot but regret its absence.—Bayne.
NOTE.—Conditional sentences are usually introduced by if, though, except, unless, etc.; but when the verb precedes the subject, the conjunction is often omitted: for example, “Were I bidden to say how the highest genius could be most advantageously employed,” etc.
In the following conditional clauses, tell whether each verb is indicative or subjunctive, and what kind of condition:—
1. The voice, if he speak to you, is of similar physiognomy, clear, melodious, and sonorous.—Carlyle.
2. Were you so distinguished from your neighbors, would you, do you think, be any the happier?—Thackeray.
3. Epaminondas, if he was the man I take him for, would have sat still with joy and peace, if his lot had been mine.—Emerson.
4. If a damsel had the least smattering of literature, she was regarded as a prodigy.—Macaulay.
5. I told him, although it were the custom of our learned in Europe to steal inventions from each other,… yet I would take such caution that he should have the honor entire.—Swift.
6. If he had reason to dislike him, he had better not have written, since he [Byron] was dead.—N. P. Willis.
7. If it were prostrated to the ground by a profane hand, what native of the city would not mourn over its fall?—Gayarre.
8. But in no case could it be justified, except it be for a failure of the association or union to effect the object for which it was created.—Calhoun.
II. Subjunctive of Purpose.
223.The subjunctive, especially be, may, might, and should, is used to express purpose, the clause being introduced by that or lest; as,—
It was necessary, he supposed, to drink strong beer, that he might be strong to labor.—Franklin.
I have been the more particular…that you may compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there.—Id.
He [Roderick] with sudden impulse that way rode, To tell of what had passed, lest in the strife They should engage with Julian’s men.—Southey.
III. Subjunctive of Result.
224.The subjunctive may represent the result toward which an action tends:—
So many thoughts move to and fro,That vain it were her eyes to close.—Coleridge.
So live, that when thy summons comes to joinThe innumerable caravan…Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night.—Bryant.
IV. In Temporal Clauses.
225.The English subjunctive, like the Latin, is sometimes used in a clause to express the time when an action is to take place.
Let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming.—D. Webster.
Rise up, before it be too late!—Hawthorne.
But it will not be longEre this be thrown aside.—Wordsworth.
V. In Indirect Questions.
226.The subjunctive is often found in indirect questions, the answer being regarded as doubtful.
Ask the great man if there be none greater.—Emerson
What the best arrangement were, none of us could say.—Carlyle.
Whether it were morning or whether it were afternoon, in her confusion she had not distinctly known.—De Quincey.
VI. Expressing a Wish.
227.After a verb of wishing, the subjunctive is regularly used in the dependent clause.
The transmigiation of souls is no fable. I would it were! —Emerson.
Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art!—Keats.
I’ve wished that little isle had wings,And we, within its fairy bowers,Were wafted off to seas unknown.—Moore.
VII. In a Noun Clause.
228.The noun clause, in its various uses as subject, object, in apposition, etc., often contains a subjunctive.
The essence of originality is not that it be new.—Carlyle
Apposition or logical subject.
To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of those October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air.—Thoreau.
The first merit, that which admits neither substitute nor equivalent, is, that everything be in its place.—Coleridge.
As sure as Heaven shall rescue me, I have no thought what men they be.—Coleridge.
Some might lament that I were cold.—Shelley.
After verbs of commanding.
This subjunctive is very frequent after verbs of commanding.
See that there be no traitors in your camp.—Tennyson.
Come, tell me all that thou hast seen,And look thou tell me true.—Scott.
See that thy scepter be heavy on his head.—De Quincey.
VIII. Concessive Clauses.
229.The concession may be expressed—
(1) In the nature of the verb; for example,—
Be the matter how it may, Gabriel Grub was afflicted with rheumatism to the end of his days.—Dickens.
Be the appeal made to the understanding or the heart, the sentence is the same—that rejects it.—Brougham
(2) By an indefinite relative word, which may be
(a) Pronoun.
Whatever betide, we’ll turn aside,And see the Braes of Yarrow.—Wordsworth.
(b) Adjective.
That hunger of applause, of cash, or whatsoever victual it may be, is the ultimate fact of man’s life.—Carlyle.
(c) Adverb.
Wherever he dream under mountain or stream,The spirit he loves remains.—Shelley.
Prevalence of the Subjunctive Mood.
230.As shown by the wide range of literature from which these examples are selected, the subjunctive is very much used in literary English, especially by those who are artistic and exact in the expression of their thought.
At the present day, however, the subjunctive is becoming less and less used. Very many of the sentences illustrating the use of the subjunctive mood could be replaced by numerous others using the indicative to express the same thoughts.
The three uses of the subjunctive now most frequent are, to express a wish, a concession, and condition contrary to fact.
In spoken English, the subjunctive were is much used in a wish or a condition contrary to fact, but hardly any other subjunctive forms are.
It must be remembered, though, that many of the verbs in the subjunctive have the same form as the indicative. Especially is this true of unreal conditions in past time; for example,—
Were we of open sense as the Greeks were, we had found [should have found] a poem here.—Carlyle.
231.The imperative mood is the form of the verb used in direct commands, entreaties, or requests.
Usually second person.
232.The imperative is naturally used mostly with the second person, since commands are directed to a person addressed.
(1) Command.
Call up the shades of Demosthenes and Cicero to vouch for your words; point to their immortal works.—J. Q. Adams.
Honor all men; love all men; fear none.—Channing.
(2) Entreaty.
Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy faceSpare me and mine, nor let us need the wrathOf the mad unchained elements.—Bryant.
(3) Request.
Hush! mother,” whispered Kit. “Come along with me.”—Dickens
Tell me, how was it you thought of coming here?—Id.
Sometimes with first person in the plural.
But the imperative may be used with the plural of the first person. Since the first person plural person is not really I + I, but I + you, or I + they, etc., we may use the imperative with we in a command, request, etc., to you implied in it. This is scarcely ever found outside of poetry.
Part we in friendship from your land,And, noble earl, receive my hand.—Scott.
Then seek we not their camp—for thereThe silence dwells of my despair.—Campbell.
Break we our watch up.—Shakespeare.
Usually this is expressed by let with the objective: “Let us go.” And the same with the third person: “Let him be accursed.”
Exercises on the Moods.
(a) Tell the mood of each verb in these sentences, and what special use it is of that mood:—
1. Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart and her prayers be.
Mark thou this difference, child of earth!While each performs his part,Not all the lip can speak is worthThe silence of the heart.
3. Oh, that I might be admitted to thy presence! that mine were the supreme delight of knowing thy will!
‘Twere worth ten years of peaceful life,One glance at their array!
5. Whatever inconvenience ensue, nothing is to be preferred before justice.
The vigorous sun would catch it up at eveAnd use it for an anvil till he had filledThe shelves of heaven with burning thunderbolts.
Meet is it changes should controlOur being, lest we rust in ease.
Quoth she, “The Devil take the goose,And God forget the stranger!”
9. Think not that I speak for your sakes.
10. “Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.
11. Were that a just return? Were that Roman magnanimity?
12. Well; how he may do his work, whether he do it right or wrong, or do it at all, is a point which no man in the world has taken the pains to think of.
13. He is, let him live where else he like, in what pomps and prosperities he like, no literary man.
14. Could we one day complete the immense figure which these flagrant points compose!
15. “Oh, then, my dear madam,” cried he, “tell me where I may find my poor, ruined, but repentant child.”
That sheaf of darts, will it not fall unbound,Except, disrobed of thy vain earthly vaunt,Thou bring it to be blessed where saints and angels haunt?
Forget thyself to marble, tillWith a sad leaden downward castThou fix them on the earth as fast.
He, as though an instrument,Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,That they might answer him.
From the moss violets and jonquils peep,And dart their arrowy odor through the brain,Till you might faint with that delicious pain.
20. That a man parade his doubt, and get to imagine that debating and logic is the triumph and true work of what intellect he has; alas! this is as if you should overturn the tree.
The fat earth feed thy branchy rootThat under deeply strikes!The northern morning o’er thee shoot,High up in silver spikes!
22. Though abyss open under abyss, and opinion displace opinion, all are at last contained in the Eternal cause.
23. God send Rome one such other sight!
24. “Mr. Marshall,” continued Old Morgan, “see that no one mentions the United States to the prisoner.”
25. If there is only one woman in the nation who claims the right to vote, she ought to have it.
26. Though he were dumb, it would speak.
27. Meantime, whatever she did,—whether it were in display of her own matchless talents, or whether it were as one member of a general party,—nothing could exceed the amiable, kind, and unassuming deportment of Mrs. Siddons.
28. It makes a great difference to the force of any sentence whether there be a man behind it or no.
(b) Find sentences with five verbs in the indicative mood, five in the subjunctive, five in the imperative.
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