« PreviousContinue »
This account of the nature of a sentence served our purpose at the time when we made use of it, but as a definition applicable to sentences generally it is clearly incomplete. A Sentence may express—
(a) A Judgment; 'Birds fly,' 'The Bill will not pass,' 'Brutus killed Caesar.' In such cases we do 'say something about a thing,' or 'make assertions,' and sentences of this kind we took as the type of sentences in general. But in other sentences we give utterance to—
(b) A Command; 'Come,' 'Give it me.'
(c) A Question; 'Will he come?' 'Did you go?' (d) A Wish; 'Would he were here!' 'May you grow wiser !' 'God save the Queen !'
These four varieties of sentences may be called (1) Declaratory, (2) Imperative, (3) Interrogative, (4) Optative.
Shall we say then that a Sentence is a collection of words expressing a statement, command, question, or wish? This would be an enumeration of different kinds of sentences rather than a definition of a Sentence itself; just as it would be no definition of a triangle, if one were to say that a triangle is an equilateral, isosceles, or scalene figure. Perhaps a better as well as a shorter definition is this:
A Sentence is the complete expression of a thought in words.
In defining the Subject and the Predicate of a Sentence, for the sake of simplicity and conciseness we shall take cognisance only of sentences in which statements are expressed :
The Subject of the sentence is the word which stands for the thing about which the assertion is made.
The Predicate is the word by which the assertion is made.
221. The following points require careful notice:
(1) The Subject of a Sentence is a word, but the assertion is made about the thing. When we say 'The sun shines,' the word sun is the subject of the sentence, but we do not assert that the word shines.
(2) Our definition of the Subject of a Sentence, as the word which stands for the thing about which the assertion is made, has been attacked on the ground that, when we say 'Brutus killed Caesar,' we make an assertion about Caesar as much as about Brutus: yet 'Caesar' is not the Subject. To this criticism we may reply that, in the sentence 'Brutus killed Caesar,' our assertion is made directly, or explicitly, about Brutus, but only indirectly, or by implication, about Caesar. The assertion implied about Caesar is given in a direct form when we say 'Caesar was killed by Brutus.'
(3) Cannot a sentence be formed by a single word? Is not 'Go' a sentence?
Here the subject is understood, though not expressed. 'Go' is equivalent to 'Go (you),' and in analysing a sentence in the Imperative mood, we must supply the subject which is omitted in modern English.
(4) The Predicate is a verb or contains a verb. The sentence 'Birds fly' contains a complete predicate 'fly.' But in 'They are,' 'I shall be,' 'You became,' 'Walpole was created,' something is wanting to make sense; the verbs are incomplete predicates and require a complement to produce a meaning: "They are happy,' 'I shall be there,' 'You became secretary,' 'Walpole was created Earl of Orford.'
Again, some verbs need another verb in the Infinitive mood to carry on, or complete, their construction. Thus, 'I wish,' 'You must,' are meaningless unless we supply, in thought or expression, some complement; 'I wish to go,'
You must remain,' 'We are able to pay,' 'They ought to leave.' These infinitives are called Prolative, because they carry on' (Latin profero, prolatum) the meaning of the preceding verb.
222. Different kinds of subjects. As the subject of a sentence is the name of the thing about which we make an assertion, the subject of a sentence must be a noun or the equivalent of a noun. The following sentences illustrate different kinds of subjects:
I. Noun: Birds fly.'
Pronoun :-'They were defeated.'
Infinitive :-'To read good books improves the
4. Adjective with noun understood :—'Rich and poor live together.'
5. Noun-clause :-'That he did it is certain.'
223. When we join an adjective to a noun, we increase the meaning of the name and consequently limit its application. White horse suggests to our minds more attributes than horse, but is applicable as a name to only a smaller number of objects. As the adjective thus joined on to the noun attributes to the thing represented by the noun the possession of some quality, we call the adjective an attributive adjunct to the noun, and the noun which stands as the subject of a sentence is said to be enlarged or expanded by the attributive adjunct. So, in the sentence 'White horses are never driven in hearses,' the subject horses is enlarged or expanded by the attributive adjunct white; for though the number of things to which we could apply the name horse has been limited, or restricted, by the addition of the word white, the significance of white horse is greater than the significance of horse: horse denotes more things, but white horse implies more qualities.
The enlargement or expansion of the Subject is effected by adjectives and their equivalents :Adjective:-' Good wine needs no bush.'
2. Noun in Apposition:- Brunel, the engineer, designed the bridge.'
3. Noun in the Possessive case:- - Lucy's love restrained him,' or its equivalent with of, 'The love of Lucy restrained him.'
Adjective-clause:-'The man who stole the
money was arrested.'
5. Adjective-phrase:-The man, unsuspicious of any charge against him, left the town.'
6. Participle:-'The candidate, fuming and beaten, addressed the crowd.'
224. The student must notice the word Phrase which is introduced here for the first time. Our vocabulary provides us with three words, Sentence, Clause, and Phrase, of which we shall avail ourselves in this book in the following manner. A Sentence we have already defined and have distinguished three varieties,-Simple, Compound, and Complex. A Clause is a part of a sentence containing a finite verb: thus a Compound sentence must contain at least two co-ordinate clauses: We stayed, but he left.' A Complex sentence must also contain at least two clauses, one principal, the other subordinate: 'We stayed, after he left.' A collection of words without a finite verb we shall call a Phrase. In the sentence 'The boy got the prize,' we may enlarge the subject 'boy' by an adjective, 'the industrious boy'; by an adjective-clause, 'the boy who was industrious'; or by an adjective-phrase, 'the boy, possessed of industrious habits. Similarly we may enlarge the predicate by an adverb and say 'The boy got the prize easily'; by an adverbialclause, 'because nobody else went in for it'; or by an adverbialphrase, in a very easy fashion.'
225. The Object of a verb is the word which stands for the thing towards which the action indicated by the verb is directed.
There are the same possible substitutes for a noun as Object as there are for a noun as Subject in a sentence, and the Object can be enlarged in the same ways as those in which the Subject was shown to admit of enlargement. With a little reflexion the reader should be able to make his own sentences illustrating five different kinds of Object, and to enlarge the Object in six different ways.
Many verbs take two Objects, one the Direct, the other the Indirect or Dative-like Object. The verbs teach, tell, give, lend, show, provide, refuse, get, are examples. The noun which represents the Indirect Object might be construed with a preposition: thus, 'Give (to) me the book,' 'Show (to) us the way,' 'Provide (for) him accommodation,’ ‚''Get (for) me a cab.' See pp. 100, 144.
226. By attaching an adjective to a noun, we increase the meaning of the noun and limit its application. In like manner by attaching an adverb to a verb, we increase the meaning of the verb and limit its application. 'Sings sweetly' cannot be affirmed of as many individuals as simply 'sings,' but it signifies more. When we say of a prima donna 'She sings sweetly,' our statement goes further in the way of conveying information than the statement that 'she sings.' We may therefore describe the adverb sweetly as an enlargement or extension of the Predicate sings, because it adds to the meaning of the Predicate, though it narrows or restricts its application.
The Object of a Transitive Verb has really the force of an Adverbial Adjunct. If we say 'He loves' and then add 'music,' 'Mary,' 'his country,' 'virtue,' and so on, we limit in each case the application of the Predicate, but we increase, or enlarge, or extend, the information which it contains. The relation of the Object to the Transitive Verb is one of