Page images

and indicates that the subjects are to be taken separately, the verb must at any rate be singular. If we say am, the verb agrees with the subject I but not with the subject he: if we say is, it agrees with he but not with I. In practice it is easy, and also desirable, to avoid this difficulty by modifying the sentence thus: Either he is going or I am.'

Grammatical blunders often arise by mistaking for the subject a dependent noun of a different number from that of the subject, owing to its position immediately before the verb. The following are illustrations of this error:

[ocr errors]

'To Marat, and Danton, and Robespierre, are due the honour of having made it universal.' The subject of the verb is honour, and the verb should be singular.

'His knowledge of French and English literature were far beyond the common.' The writer is misled by the words 'French and English literature' which come next the verb, and forgets that the noun 'knowledge' in the singular is subject of the verb.

When words take irregular constructions owing to the influence of other words, they are said to be attracted.


Government. The Direct Object and the Indirect Object are dealt with on p. 100, the Cognate Object on p. 137, the Retained Object in the Passive construction with verbs which take a Direct and an Indirect Object on pp. 145, 238. Note that, when both Objects follow the verb, the Indirect Object precedes the Direct Object. For if this order is reversed, a preposition is required before the Indirect Object, and the noun or pronoun is then the object of the preposition and no longer the Indirect Object of the verb. So, 'Get me a cab' becomes 'Get a cab for me': 'I gave him a book' becomes 'I gave a book to him.'

262. Moods. The uses of the Subjunctive are set out on p. 147. The constructions of the different parts of the Verb Infinite, Noun and Adjective, are given on pp. 149-154. The student is advised to read these passages

again and then to consider carefully Questions 6 to 20 at the end of this Chapter.


Future Tense.

In the Chapter on Auxiliary Verbs, it was pointed out that Shall and Will, used as auxiliaries, express (1) futurity, (2) determination. A more detailed statement of the different uses of Shall and Will is given in a convenient form in the following table':

[blocks in formation]

1 Adapted from Sir E. B. Head's Shall and Will, p. 119.

The student should learn the first column of this table containing the list of different notions under which our uses of shall and will are classified. Then, if he grasps the meaning of the terms employed, he can easily make his own examples and write down either shall or will as appropriate to the different persons, by the exercise of his intelligence. This will be a much better course for him than burdening his mind with a table of details mechanically got by heart.

264. In like manner we can make a table of the uses of Should and Would.

[blocks in formation]

Principal Clause





W. E. G.





I should be surprised, if it rains.
You would be surprised, if it rains.
He would be surprised, if it rains.

265. Sequence of Tenses in a Subordinate Clause.

are followed by {

is followed by

If I should see him, I will tell him.
If you should see him, tell him.
If he should see you, tell him.

What is the rule for the sequence of tenses, when a principal sentence is followed by a subordinate one?

In general terms we may say that in English, as in Latin, Primary Tenses follow Primary, and Historic Tenses follow Historic. More explicitly—

I would go, if I could.
You would go, if you could.
He would go, if he could.

Subordinate Clause

Present or Future Indicative, or
Present Subjunctive.


Primary followed by Primary.

Examples: He says that he is working hard.
He says that he will work hard.
He works hard so that he may pass.
He has worked hard so that he may pass.
He will tell you that he is working hard.
He will tell you that he will work hard.
He will work hard so that he may pass.

Past followed by Past.

He said that he would come.

He hoped that he might pass.


He could do it if he liked.

He had said that he would do it.

If however the dependent clause affirms a proposition which is true for all time, the present tense is generally used, though the principal clause contain a past tense: so, 'Shakespeare affirmed that cowards die many times,' 'Carlyle asked if virtue is a gas.' But the past also would be quite admissible.

Is there any inaccuracy in saying 'I intended to have written'?

Verbs such as hope, expect, desire, intend, command, the import of which is future, require the present infinitive of the dependent verb, if it denotes an action simply subsequent in time to the time of the action of the principal verb. Clearly I cannot hope or intend now to have done something already, for hope or intend implies futurity. But if we wish to express the completeness at a future date of the action denoted by the dependent verb, the perfect infinitive is appropriate. Though I cannot say 'I hope to have written,' when I mean merely that I hope to write, I can say 'I hope this morning to have written ten pages by to-night,' where the to have written does not imply that the writing is prior to the hoping, which would be absurd, but implies that it will have been completed at a certain future time. In the same way we may legitimately say 'I intended yesterday to have written to you before you called to-day.'

266. Reported Speech. In reproducing the precise words used by a speaker we quote his speech directly. But if we introduce his remarks with 'He said that,' or an equivalent expression, it is necessary to alter the pronouns and tenses, and the speech is then reported indirectly, or in 'oblique narrative.' This distinction was denoted in Latin by the terms Oratio Recta and Oratio Obliqua. As an illustration, take the following passage:

"I wish you would play up," said the captain: "why are you all so slack? Do keep the ball low. They will get another goal directly, if you don't look out."

Here we have the speaker's own words given in direct narrative. They may be indirectly reported in three ways: (1) by the speaker himself;

(2) by one of the team; by an outsider.


Captain's original speech.

I wish you would play up. Why are you all so slack? Do keep the ball low. They will get another goal directly, if you don't look out.

One of the team reports Captain.

(He said) He wished we would play up. Why were we all so slack? We were to keep the ball low. They would get another goal directly, if we didn't look


Captain reports himself.

(I said) I wished they would play up. Why were they all so slack? They must keep the ball low. The other fellows would get another goal directly, if they didn't look out.

Outsider reports Captain.

(He said) He wished they would play up. Why were they all so slack? They must keep the ball low. The other fellows would get another goal directly, if they didn't look out.

After a present tense of the principal verb, (He says), the tenses of the reported speech will be different from those given above. The student can make the necessary alterations for himself, observing, as he does so, the working of the law of the Sequence of Tenses. When no directions are given to the contrary, a passage for conversion to indirect narrative is supposed to be introduced by the past tense, (He said), and the reporter is supposed not to form one of the persons addressed.

Copious examples for practice in the conversion from the direct to the indirect form, and from the indirect to the direct form of narrative, are furnished by the daily newspapers in their parliamentary reports.

As a further exercise let us write in the third person the following speech of King Richard, taking care to make the meaning plain, and commencing with King Richard said that:

'I wish I may forget my brother John's injuries as soon as he will forget my pardon of them.'

« PreviousContinue »