Page images

[With meal in piecemeal compare German -mal in einmal. The suffix represents an old English word signifying 'piece,' 'measure,’ which was used in the dative plural to form adverbs.]

12. Point out any difference in the adverbial use of very and much. [Very qualifies adjectives in the positive and the superlative degree: e.g. ‘a very steep hill,' 'the very steepest hill.' Much qualifies adjectives in the comparative degree: e.g. 'a much steeper hill.' Again, very should not be used to qualify participles when used as participles. Thus we cannot say 'He is very amusing the company,' and we ought not to say 'The company seemed very amused.' Participles used as adjectives may, however, be qualified by very: e.g. 'He is a very amusing fellow'; ‘The company wore a very amused expression.']




195. A Preposition is a word which is used with a noun or pronoun to show its relation to some other word in the sentence.

Case was defined as the form of a noun or pronoun by which we show its relation to some other word in the sentence. But the relations in which a noun may stand are far more numerous than those which the supply of cases, even in an inflexional language like Latin, will enable us to represent. And in a non-inflexional language like our own, we are almost entirely dependent on Prepositions for the means of expressing these relations. Thus the Romans, like ourselves, had recourse to prepositions when they said. 'before the town,' 'against the town,' 'through the town,' 'across the town,' ante urbem, contra urbem, per urbem, trans urbem, although case-endings served their purpose in some instances in which we have to fall back on prepositions, and they could say moenia urbis, 'the walls of the town,' dat agros urbi, 'he gives lands to the town.'

196. A preposition and noun together form a phrase which is equivalent to either an adjective or an adverb. So, 'a statesman of eminence' is 'an eminent statesman'; 'a town in Holland' is a Dutch town'; 'a man without education' is 'an uneducated man.' The combination here is adjectival. In the following examples it is adverbial: by force, in a


curious fashion, with courage, at the present time, from this spot: for these phrases we might substitute the adverbs forcibly, curiously, courageously, now, hence.

197. In the language of grammar we speak of the preposition as 'governing' the noun or pronoun to which it is attached. In Greek, or Latin, or German, the student finds it a serious business to learn the cases which follow the various prepositions, but in modern English, owing to the loss of inflexions, we are spared any trouble of this kind. The noun governed by the preposition is 'in the objective case,' and the form of the objective is identical with the form of the nominative. In the pronouns the differences of form are limited to the pronouns of the First, Second, and Third Persons, and to the Relative who.

So, we may

Notice however that, though we speak of the noun as governed by the preposition, it is not necessary that the noun should come after the preposition. The preposition is often put at the end of the sentence. say 'This is the boy whom I gave it to,' 'What are you talking about?' and the construction is the same as if we had said “This is the boy to whom I gave it," About what are you talking?'

198. Prepositions might be classified, as Adverbs were classified in the preceding chapter, according to their meaning. But such a classification would be out of place in an elementary book. The relations in which things stand to other things are so various that the prepositions expressing these relations would require a large number of classes for their arrangement. Or, if the number of classes were small, the names of the classes would necessarily be so vague that the student would attach to them no clear and distinct meaning. Then again, the classification would be complicated by the fact that the same preposition is used in widely different senses and would therefore have its place in

several groups. As an illustration of this, let us notice some of the relations indicated by the preposition by. We can use it to mark time, 'by day'; or instrument, 'stunned by a blow'; or agency, 'stabbed by Brutus'; or manner, 'hung by the neck'; or measure, 'sold by the pound'; or place, 'he lives by the river'; or as an appeal, 'I beg you by whatever you hold dear'; and these are not all of its meanings.

199. We may also classify Prepositions according to their Origin.

(1) Some are Simple: at, by, to, up, on.

(2) Others are Compound: throughout, within, upon,


(3) A few are Participles: considering, regarding, concerning, during, pending.

200. The use of considering, or regarding, as a true participle may be seen in such sentences as these: 'Considering the temptation, they let him off,' ¿.e. ‘They, considering the temptation, let him off': 'Regarding your conduct, I am shocked,' i.e. 'I, regarding your conduct, am shocked.' But when we say, 'Considering the temptation, he was allowed to get off,' considering means 'in consideration of' and has become a preposition: when we say, 'Regarding your statement, you have been misinformed,' regarding means 'with regard to' and has become a preposition. The use of concerning as a preposition occurs in the A.V. in the passage, 'Now concerning the collection...even so do ye,' (1 Cor. xvi. 1): its participial origin is seen in such an expression as this; 'Your remarks concerning me are unfounded.' Commercial men are quite needlessly pressing the participle referring to' into their service as a preposition, and their letters begin in this objectionable fashion: 'Referring to yours of yesterday lard has gone up.' Here referring to is used as a preposition signifying 'with reference to' and is no longer a participle: if it were, the construction would be 'lard referring to your letter,' which is absurd.

Some of these forms may be explained as originally Absolute constructions of the participle: 'during the day' arose from 'the day during,' or 'lasting': 'pending the verdict,' from 'the verdict pending,' or 'being in suspense': 'notwithstanding the storm,' from 'the storm not withstanding,' or 'obstructing.' A similar explanation applies to except, which springs from the Latin past participle: 'all except John' was

originally 'all, John having been excepted.' Save, as a preposition, exhibits the same absolute construction: the word is here an adjective equivalent to safe. So, 'all, save one' was 'all, one being safe.'

201. The beginner will find little difficulty in distinguishing between the functions of the same word as Preposition and as Adverb, if he remembers that a Preposition is used with a noun or its substitute and governs it: where there is no noun thus governed, the word in question is not a preposition. A few examples will make this clear: the following words are used as




He is on the roof.

Take it off the table.

He is gone down the town.
It lies beyond the river.
We went along the bank.

Put it on.
Take it off.

He is gone down.
It lies beyond.

Go along.


I. Give the definition and derivation of (a) pronoun, (b) preposition. Shew how your answers apply to the words printed in italics in the following:

'To be, or not to be,--that is the question.'
"They had nothing to amuse themselves with.'

['Pronoun' from Latin, pro, 'for,' nomen, 'name'. 'Preposition' from prae, 'in front', positus, 'placed', not because prepositions are usually placed before nouns, for they often come after them, but because in Greek and Latin they were prefixed to verbs to form compounds. The derivation of the name is only a source of embarrassment to beginners, as it suggests order in a sentence, with which it has nothing to do.

What nouns

Remember that the infinitive is equivalent to a noun. can we substitute for 'to be,' 'not to be '?]

2. Specify the notions expressed by the preposition on in the following examples of its use:-'It rests on the earth'-'Weston is on the sea'— 'He lectures on medicine'-'We returned on Saturday'-'The dew descended on the parched earth'-'He made an attack on the enemy'— 'He started on receiving the telegram'-'He gave up business on account of his health.' [See Bain's Higher English Grammar, pp. 90-1.]

« PreviousContinue »