Chapter XIX


  Grammar a Difficult Study.—Of grammar, Latin and English, I shall say very little here. In the first place, grammar, being a study of words and not of things, is by no means attractive to the child, nor should he be hurried into it. English grammar, again, depending as it does on the position and logical connection of words, is peculiarly hard for him to grasp. In this respect the Latin grammar is easier; a change in the form, the shape of the word, to denote case, is what a child can see with his bodily eye, and therefore is plainer to him than the abstract ideas of nominative and objective case as we have them in English. Therefore, if he learns no more at this early stage than the declensions and a verb or two, it is well he should learn thus much, if only to help him to see what English grammar would be at when it speaks of a change in case or mood, yet shows no change in the form of the word.


          Words put together so as to make sense form what is called a sentence.
          ‘Barley oats chair really good and cherry’ is not a sentence, because it makes no(n)sense.
          ‘Tom has said his lesson’ is a sentence.
          It is a sentence because it tells us something about Tom.
          Every sentence speaks of someone or of something, and tells us something about that of which is speaks.
          So a sentence has two parts:
          (1) The thing we speak of;
          (2) What we say about it.
          In our sentence, we speak of ‘Tom.’
          We say about him that he ‘has learned his lesson.’
          The thing we speak of is often called the SUBJECT, which just means that which we talk about.
          People sometimes say ‘the subject of conversation was so and so,’ which is another way of saying ‘the thing we were speaking about was so and so.’
          To be learnt
          Words put together so as to make sense form a sentence.
          A sentence has two parts: that which we speak of, and what we say about it.
          That which we speak of is the SUBJECT.

Exercises on Lesson 1

          1. Put the first part to—
                    ———has a long mane.
                    ———is broken.
                    ———cannot do his sums.
                    ———played for an hour; etc., etc.

          2. Put the second part to—
                    That poor boy———.
                    My brother Tom———.
                    The broken flowerpot———.
                    Bread and jam———.
                    Brown’s tool-basket———; etc, etc.


          3. Put six different subjects to each half sentence in I.

          4. Make six different sentences with each subject in 2.

          5. Say which part of the sentence is wanting, and supply it in—
                    Has been mended
                    Tom’s knife
                    That little dog
                    Cut his finger
                    Ate too much fruit
                    My new book
                    The snowdrops in our garden, etc., etc.

          N.B.—Be careful to call the first part of each sentence the subject.
          Draw a line under the subject of each sentence in all the exercises.


          We may make a sentence with only two words—the name of the thing we speak of and what we say about it:—

                    John writes.
                    Birds sing.
                    Mary sews.

          We speak about ‘John.’
          We say about him that he ‘writes.’
          We speak about ‘birds.’
          We say about them that they ‘sing.’
          These words, writes, sing, sews, all come out of the same group of words, and the words in that group are
the chief words of all, for this reason—we cannot make sense, and therefore cannot make a sentence, without using at least one of them.
          They are called VERBS, which means words, because they are the chief words of all.
          A verb always tells one of two things about the subject. Either it tells what the subject is, as—

                    I am hungry.
                    The chair is broken.
                    The birds are merry;

or it tells what the subject does, as—

                    Alice writes.
                    The cat mews.

          To be learnt
          We cannot make a sentence without a verb.
          Verb means word.
          Verbs are the chief words.
          Verbs show that the subject is something—
          He is sleepy;
or does something—
          He runs.

                                                                     Exercises on Lesson II
          I. Put in a verb of being:—
                    Mary ———sleepy.
                    Boys ———rough.
                    Girls———  ———quiet.
                    He———first yesterday.
                    I———a little boy.
                    Tom and George———swinging before dinner.
                    We———  ———busy to-morrow.
                    He———  ———punished; etc., etc.

          2. Make three sentences with each of the following verbs:—Is, are, should be, was, am, were, shall be, will be.
          3. Make six sentences with verbs of being in each.
          4. Put a verb of doing to—

                    The boy with the pony———.
                    My cousins———; etc,etc.

          5. Make twenty sentences about—

                    That boy in kilts,

with verbs showing what he does.

          6. Find the verbs, and say whether of being or doing, in—

                    The bright sun rises over the hill.
                    We went away.
                    You are my cousin.
                    George goes to school.
                    He took his slate.
                    We are seven.

          7. Count how many verbs you use in your talk for the next ten minutes.
          8. Write every verb you can find in these exercises, and draw a line under it.

[1] See Appendix A.

[2] Palace Tales, Fielding Hall.

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