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The only justification for such inadequate, impotent, and irrelevant definitions was the want of the clue furnished by the Analysis of the Sentence. Many grammarians have adopted the new method. We have such forms as 'A verb asserts something of its subject'; 'A verb is a word by which we state something'; 'A verb is a word that affirms something of its nominative' (Lennie's Grammar, small type definition).
DEFINITION OF THE ADVERB. Grammarians have agreed to define the Adverb as qualifying the verb. It is to the verb what the adjective is to the
There is, however, the additional circumstance that it may also qualify an Adjective, or another Adverb. The only one of the notional parts of speech that it may not qualify is the Noun; so that a clear line is drawn between it and the Adjective.
Take a few specimens of the manner of wording the definition :- An Adverb expresses some quality or circumstance'; modifies the meaning of a verb, an adjective, or another adverb’; 'expresses the conditions of time, place, manner, degree, cause, effect, under which an event or attribute may be viewed'; expresses when, where, or in what inanner anything is done '.
As a definition, the best form is the simple statement-an adverb modifies or limits a verb. We must, however, by a verb understand the predicate of a sentence. A copula or incomplete verb by itself is not qualified by an adverb; when we say that is scarcely fair', we must regard scarcely' as modifying the predicate ‘is fair'. So when an adverb is used with a transitive verb completed by an object, — the prospect greatly charmed us ',--the adverb modifies the complete predicate charmed us'. The definitions that condescend upon the modes of adverb
A triangle is first defined as a right-lined plane figure having three sides : the class triangles 'so marked out are then divided into the subclasses-right-angled, &c. A mammal, a bird, or a fish, are each defined, before being subdivided into classes : the subdivision would not stand in place of the definition.
qualification-time, place, degree, manner, cause, &c.,-err in giving a division either in place of the definition, or along with it to help it out. Dividing or classifying adverbs is a separate and subsequent operation. This is the error committed in the prevailing definitions of the noun and the verb, although not in the other parts of speech. To ascertain the grammatical classes of adverbs, the classes marked out, on reasons of grammar, demands special consideration.
I do not enquire at present under what circumstances Adverbs may qualify Adjectives and other Adverbs.
THE PREPOSITION. The Preposition is defined 'a word showing the relation of two other words in the same sentence'. An improvement upon
this vague expression is a word placed before a noun or pronoun to show its relation to some other word of the sentence'. Dr. Latham defines it as a word that will combine only with Substantives and Pronouns.
Vossius defines the preposition as a word whereby a noun is joined to a verb' (vox per quam adjungitur verbo nomen, locum, tempus, aut causam significans, seu positivè seu privative); while Dr. Wm. Smith defines it, in the first instance,
a word showing the relation of one noun to another'. Sir John Stoddart gives an alternative—the relation of a substantive either to another substantive or to a verb. Dr. Mansel (criticizing Stoddart) is more precise:—'A preposition is a part of speech annexed to a noun or verb in a proposition, and serving to connect it with a noun or pronoun, by which it is limited as the subject or predicate of that proposition’; in other words it bears a part in making up a qualifying phrase.
The difficulty lies in drawing a line between prepositions and conjunctions. Conjunctions can, and often do, express a relation between two words in the same sentence :-'you and I will go together'; 'the tides are caused by the sun and the moon'; 'I waited an hour or two'.
Dr. Latham's definition—'words that will combine only with nouns and pronouns ', --if it were strictly true, would
make a distinction; for although 'conjunctions will combine with nouns and pronouns’, - you will find him and me and Baker'-still, conjunctions will unite verbs too_strike but hear'. Yet looking at the infinitive mood of the verb, 'to live', 'debarred from writing', we are not entitled to affirm that a preposition cannot be joined to a verb, unless we call the infinitive the noun form of the verb (which is the fact), and say that a preposition cannot be joined to a finite verb, as 'to is', 'from came'. With this allowance, Dr. Latham's definition keeps separate the preposition and the conjunction. So if the expression given by Vossius were correct-joining a noun to a verb-tbis too would be a clear line between the preposition and the conjunction. The conjunction may connect a verb with a verb, and a noun with a noun, but never connects a verb with a noun: not say—'I went and the town'. Amid all the irregularities of our grammar, this is a combination that cannot be instanced. Now, although it is not true that the preposition is limited to the connecting of nouns with verbs, yet we may judge of a preposition by thinking whether could connect a noun and a verb, ‘I went to the country'.
Equally pertinent is the circumstance implied, although not very explicitly stated, in Mansel's definition, that a preposition combines with a noun to qualify the predicate, or to make an adverbial adjunct or phrase: 'we came by degrees'. A conjunction is not capable of occupying this place, —'we came if degrees'. This is in substance the remark just made.
We may arrive at the characteristic of the preposition by adverting to the primary qualifying circumstance of movements, viz., Direction. The pronoun roots, which are also the leading prepositions, originally meant direction, and, through that, position in place; 'go to', 'bring from', put in'. Such words standing alone are treated as adverbs; but they seldom do stand alone. To show direction, we have to state a landmark or terminus, which is named by some noun; the two together making a definite phrase of direction—'go to town', 'speak to John'. A preposition is in its element when uniting a verb with a noun, so as to show the course of the action, or the outgoing of the movement or exertion indicated by the verb. A word that cannot play this part is not a preposition; a word that can do this, is a preposition.
It is the fact, however, that prepositions may connect one noun with another noun: he went from town to country', 'the house in the wood', 'a bottle of wine', 'the command of the army', 'guesses at truth'. Such cases may generally be explained by some tacit verb, or some equivalent of a verb. In the first instance, he went from town to country', the second phrase, 'to country' in reality qualifies the verb 'went' although in juxtaposition with 'town.' "The house in the wood’ is elliptical; the phrase qualifies a verb understood, situated.' 'A bottle of wine' is a bottle 'filled with wine'; 'the command of the army' is 'commanding the army’; the verbal noun command' being attended with an adverbial phrase, as if a verb: the same may be said of ‘guesses at truth'. In almost every case, it is possible to point out a verb at the bottom of the combination of preposition and noun, constituting it an adverbial phrase.
It is also the fact that a preposition may lie between an adjective and a noun: 'agreeable to your views', oblivious to consequences', 'far from righteousness', 'equal to the best', 'strong in body,' 'glorious in his apparel '. In the two first examples, the adjectives may be regarded as the equivalents of verbs, and like verbs to be qualified by adverbial phrases. “Equal to’ is a case considered under the Adjective. Certain adjectives are incomplete in sense without some phrase of reference, ' equal to nine', 'superior to his master'. So when we say " he was strong in body', we limit the adjective 'strong' by the phrase "in body’; the meaning is otherwise and more naturally expressed by ‘his body was strong'; ' his apparel was glorious'.
The foregoing considerations appear to justify us in defining the Preposition 'a word prefixed to a Noun or Pronoun (or equivalent) to make a qualifying or adverbial phrase '.
THE CONJUNCTION. The Conjunction is said to connect sentences, parts of sentences, and words. The concluding circumstance—the connecting of words—is what obscures the boundary between the preposition and the conjunction. Indeed so vague a description may mean almost anything.
If we could limit the conjunction to the connecting of sentences, the distinction between it and the preposition would be broad and clear. In point of fact, however, conjunctions often unite one noun to another noun, as happens also with prepositions—'I saw John and James '; 'send for John or James'.
Such examples are well known to be contracted forms, giving the meaning of two sentences in one; “I saw John, and I saw James', 'send for John, or send for James'. So far as these are concerned, the definition might still be kept up with the qualification, or explanation, that when two or more sentences are united into one, by omitting facts commor to both, the remaining members are coupled by the same words as the full sentences or clauses.
This does not meet the case where a conjunction is employed to connect words indicating the different parts of one operation; ‘James and John carried the basket (between them)'; 'two and three is five'; the wheel and axle is a mechanic power'; 'let AB, and BC, and CA, make up a triangle'. None of these could be readily resolved into independent sentences or clauses; we could not say 'two is five and three is five'. If there be an ellipsis or contraction, it is much more disguised, and its resolution more circuitous. We could expand such forms in this way:—* Take the line AB, and take the line BC, and take the line AC, and they will make up the triangle ABC'; 'take three and take two, and add them, and their sum is five'.
So far as I am aware, this case of collective action is the only obstacle to defining the conjunction as the connective of sentences or their contracted equivalents. But such an exception, even if it cannot be reconciled by the device above suggested, is too insignificant to interfere with the