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In the Introduction, I discussed the Definition of the Adjective. That definition has the merit, as I believe, of being precise. But it leaves a great deal for us to explain and reconcile.

I will first advert to what may be called the ordinary or typical Adjective; exemplified by such words as-large, quick, heavy, bright, blue, hard, sweet, hot, agreeable, old, important, difficult.

Every one of these words complies strictly with the definition. Used with a class noun they severally limit the extent of the class and add to its signification : a large stone, a quick pulse, heavy weights, a bright sky, blue beads, hard wood, sweet oranges, hot water, agreeable occupations. It matters not whether the noun is in the singular or in the plural.

And farther, such words may be compared for degree, in the manner of the Adjective: large, larger, largest. They are not inflected in the manner of any other part of speech; they have not plurals, like the Noun, nor tenses, like the Verb.

This Inflection test is often valuable when we are in doubt as to the Part of Speech that a word belongs to. It is especially required to decide between Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs.

Yet farther. These words all express simple and single properties or facts, such as may be superadded to, or withheld from, the meanings of common nouns. The adjective • large'expresses one single circumstance; and that circumstance may be present in, or wanting from, classes of things. We may have 'stones' mentioned without respect of size; we may impose the condition ‘large' or 'small', and thereby constitute new and selected classes distinguished by largeness or smallness.

Finally. All the typical adjectives are intelligible by themselves; they do not need any words inserted, any filling up of the connection, or any extra or peculiar knowledge on

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our part. If we know the vocabulary of the language, we at once understand 'old' as applied to a man, a tree, or a building

These three peculiarities (over and above compliance with the definition)-namely, comparison, singleness of meaning, and being intelligible in themselves—while belonging to the great body of adjectives, are not uniformly found in words that are called adjectives, still less are they found in words that are used instead of adjectives.


The strict function of an Adjective, as expressed by the definition, is also performed by a Clause. Wishing to limit the large class 'men'—that is, to construct a smaller, select class-we may say, 'the men that rise to eminence', 'the men that seek after riches'. These clauses are restrictive or defining relative clauses; and their proper relative is that’.

Any adjective may be expanded into a clause : an old tree, a tree that is old ; a perfect man, a man that has become perfect. This expansion does not make the adjective more intelligible; as regards meaning, therefore, it is superfluous. On some occasions it may be employed for emphasis. Eliphaz, in the book of Job, says— He that is wise may be profitable unto himself'. The meaning is the same as

a wise person',

but the detaching of 'wise' by the clause makes it more emphatic. Instead of—'A perfectly clear water will show objects at a depth of fifty feet', we might say with a little more effect—'A water that is perfectly clear'. So-'A man that is rich can bear injustice'.

The utility of the Clause becomes apparent, when the limi. tation or specification of the class cannot be given by a simple adjective, but needs a statement of circumstances at some length : "The houses that you see on the right'; the lands that were once at the bottom of the sea'; 'the people that God chose for himself'; 'the men that long experience has sobered'; 'hands that the rod of empire might have swayed';

“the flag that braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze'; 'the diseases that are most fatal in this country'.

Such constructions are innumerable. They are a legitimate employment of the restrictive relative clause. The circumstances are so various and so complicated that we could not express them by simple adjectives.

A djective Clauses abbreviated.

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We can often retain the full meaning of these adjective clauses, while changing the finite verb into the participle, and omitting the relative. This is a recognised means of obtaining conciseness, without loss of intelligibility: “The houses seen on your right'; 'the people chosen by God for hinself'; 'the men sobered by long experience'. Without the use of a participle we may have the same effect; we may have adjectives combined with qualifying phrases : 'hands able to have swayed the rod of empire'; 'the diseases most fatal in this country'. There are clauses that resist all such means of abbreviation : 'the flag that braved

We can often condense the adjective clause into a prepositional phrase, without loss of meaning: “The man that wants food', 'the man wanting food', 'the man in want of food'. * The house that is situated in the wood', 'the house situated in the wood', 'the house in the wood'. •The road that goes to the right', 'the road leading to the right', 'the road to the right'. "The members that represent London-representing London-for London'.

Up to this point, we have retained all the words essential to the full expression of the meaning. Abbreviation, however, does not stop here; important words are often left out, in the belief that they can be guessed by the hearer. • The books that are published for amusing the young at Christmas', might become 'books published for amusement at Christmas', an expression still containing the main circumstances. When, however, it is yet further shortened to Christmas books', we have to guess or divine the meaning. We reflect upon the connection there is between Christmas

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and books, and conclude that the books referred to are the amusing books presented to the young at Christmas. This is to apply our knowledge of the various usages of Christmas, to discover what is intended by the two words · Christmas books'; and but for such knowledge the combination could not be understood. This remark paves


way for considering


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The employing of one Noun to limit or qualify another, in the manner of an Adjective, is not a rare and random exception; it is a frequent and admitted process of the language. If it happened only now and then, we might treat it as merely a slight irregularity; but we find it practised upon system, and on the large scale. We are therefore bound to explain it according to some principle.

As the adjective is defined to be a word that limits the extent and augments the meaning of a class, general, or common noun, every word so employed should in strictness be reckoned an adjective. Yet when we meet with such expressions as diamond ring', 'horse guards', 'prize ox',

Sunday clothes', we treat the words-diamond, horse, prize, Sunday'-as Nouns. We apply to them the Inflection test, and find that they are not compared like adjectives, but declined as nouns.

Of the four peculiarities attaching to the ordinary adjective, these words usually possess only one—that expressed in the definition. They do not compare; they seldom express simple properties or facts that may be added to, or withheld from, a class of things; they are not intelligible by themselves.

Contrast · diamond ring' with bright ring', 'old ring', precious ring'. 'Diamond' cannot be compared. indeed express a fact that may be superadded to a ringwhich is the second of the specifying circumstances. But as regards the last point, it does not explain itself; we must

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supply from our independent knowledge, the fact that some rings are mounted with diamonds.

Contrast again Sunday clothes' with new clothes', 'cheap clothes', 'gay clothes' Sunday' does not express a simple fact that can be present in or absent from clothes ; it expresses a special day in the week characterised by numerous peculiarities and institutions. It cannot properly be joined with other nouns; the meanings of this noun and an ordinary class noun would refuse to blend; we could not embody the ideas-Sunday and tree, Sunday and star, Sunday and man. Finally, the combination Sunday clothes' does not explain itself; not only must we know what is the characteristic meaning of Sunday—the day of rest and of religious ordinances—but we must know minutely the habits and usages connected with it, such as that people put on their newest clothes. Bringing this minute information to bear, we discover that what is intended by · Sunday clothes' is clothes that are worn on Sunday'; and to express this fully to a person that knows only the more general features of Sunday, we need to expand the words into a clause, such as shall convey the omitted circumstance. It thus appears that the combinations made up of a noun qualified by another noun are abbreviated clauses, the abbreviation being carried so far as to drop words essential to the meaning. To show that a noun used as an Adjective does not explain itself in the way that the ordinary adjective does, take these four combinations—' diamond ring', diamond dust', diamond fields', diamond form'. The same word is present in all, but the meanings are totally different; the understanding of one is not a clue to the understanding of the others; • diamond ring,' a ring mounted with diamonds; "diamond dust', dust from powdered diamonds; diamond fields', fields containing diamonds ; ` diamond form' or crystallization, the crystalline form taken on by diamonds. Other examples :—Christmas books, Christmas gifts, Christmas shows, Christmas holidays, Christmas eve, Christmas carols; horse play, horse hirer, horse guards, horse flesh, horse power, horse hair, horse

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