Tuesday, August 9, 2016



   Inflection is a change of form in a word indicating some change in its meaning. A word thus changed in form is said to be inflected.

  Thus the nouns  man ,  wife ,  dog , may change their form to    man’s ,  wife’s ,  dog’s , to express possession; or to  men ,    wives ,  dogs , to show that two or more are meant.

  The pronouns  I ,  she , may change their form to  our ,  her .

  The adjectives  large ,  happy ,  good , may change their form to    larger ,  happier ,  better , to denote a higher degree of the   quality; or to  largest ,  happiest ,  best , to denote the highest   degree.

  The verbs  look ,  see ,  sing , may change their form to  looked ,    saw ,  sang , to denote past time.

The examples show that a word may be inflected (1) by the addition of a final letter or syllable ( dog ,  dogs ;  look ,  looked ), (2) by the substitution of one letter for another ( man ,  men ), or (3) by a complete change of form ( good ,  better ,  best ).

   The inflection of a substantive is called its  declension ; that of an adjective or an adverb, its  comparison ; that of a verb, its  conjugation .

  NOTE. Some forms which we regard as due to inflection are really   distinct words. Thus  we  is regarded as a form of the pronoun  I ,   but it is in fact an altogether different word. Such irregularities,   however, are not numerous, and are properly enough included under the   head of inflection.

The table below gives a summary view of inflection, and may be used for reference with the following chapters.


    Gender { Masculine ( male )
           { Feminine ( female )
           { Neuter ( no sex )

    Number { Singular ( one )
           { Plural ( more than one )

    Person { First ( speaker )
           { Second ( spoken to )
           { Third ( spoken of )

    Case   { Nominative ( subject case )
           { Possessive ( ownership )
           { Objective ( object case )


    Comparison { Positive Degree
               { Comparative Degree
               { Superlative Degree


    Number { Singular }
                 { Plural   }
                Verb agrees with Subject      Person   { First    }   { Second   }  { Third    }

Tense  { Simple Tenses { Present
                                        { Past
                                        { Future
           { Compound Tenses { Perfect (or Present Perfect)
                            { Pluperfect (or Past Perfect)
                            { Future Perfect

    Mood    { Indicative ( all six tenses )
                { Imperative ( Present Tense only )
                { Subjunctive ( Present ,  Past ,  Perfect ,  Pluperfect )

    Voice  { Active ( Subject acts )
               { Passive ( Subject receives the action )

    Infinitives (Present and Perfect)

    Participles (Present, Past, and Perfect)



    A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing. 

    Nouns are divided into two classes--proper nouns and common nouns. 

1.  A proper noun is the name of a particular person, place, or thing. 

  EXAMPLES: Lincoln, Napoleon, Ruth, Gladstone, America, Denver,   Jove, Ohio, Monday, December, Yale, Christmas, Britannia, Niagara,   Merrimac, Elmwood, Louvre, Richardson, Huron, Falstaff.

2.  A common noun is a name which may be applied to any one of a class of persons, places, or things. 

  EXAMPLES: general, emperor, president, clerk, street, town, desk,   tree, cloud, chimney, childhood, idea, thought, letter, dynamo,
  cruiser, dictionary, railroad.

Proper nouns begin with a capital letter; common nouns usually begin with a small letter.

  NOTE. Although a proper noun is the name of a particular person,   place, or thing, that name may be given to more than one individual.
  More than one man is named  James ; but when we say  James , we think   of one particular person, whom we are calling by his own name. When   we say  man , on the contrary, we are not calling any single person   by name: we are using a noun which applies, in common, to all the   members of a large class of persons.

Any word, when mentioned merely  as a word , is a noun. Thus,--  

  And  is a conjunction.

   A common noun becomes a proper noun when used as the particular name of a ship, a newspaper, an animal, etc.

Nelson’s flagship was the  Victory .

  Give me this evening’s  Herald .

  My dog is named  Rover .

  The  Limited Express  is drawn by the  Pioneer .

   A proper noun often consists of a group of words, some of which are perhaps ordinarily used as other parts of speech.

  EXAMPLES: James Russell Lowell, Washington Elm, Eiffel Tower, Firth   of Clyde, North Lexington Junction, Stony Brook, Westminster Abbey,   Measure for Measure, White House, Brooklyn Bridge, Atlantic Railroad,   Sherman Act, The Return of the Native, Flatiron Building.

  NOTE. These are (strictly speaking) noun-phrases (§ 41); but, since   all are particular names, they may be regarded as proper nouns.

.  A proper noun becomes a common noun when used as a name that may be applied to any one of a class of objects.

  The museum owns two  Rembrandts  and a  Titian .

  I exchanged my old motor car for a new  Halstead .

  My fountain pen is a  Blake .

  Lend me your  Webster .

  He was a  Napoleon  of finance.

  I am going to buy a  Kazak .

Certain proper nouns have become common nouns when used in a special sense. These generally begin with a small letter.

  EXAMPLES: macadam (crushed stone for roads, so called from Macadam,   the inventor), mackintosh (a waterproof garment), napoleon (a coin),   guinea (twenty-one shillings), mentor (a wise counsellor), derringer   (a kind of pistol).

  A lifeless object, one of the lower animals, or any human quality or emotion is sometimes regarded as a person.

This usage is called  personification , and the object, animal, or quality is said to be  personified .

  Each old poetic  Mountain 
  Inspiration breathed around.--GRAY.

  Who’ll toll the bell?
  “I,” said the  Bull ,
  “Because I can pull.”

  His name was  Patience .--SPENSER.

  Smiles on past  Misfortune’s  brow
  Soft  Reflection’s  hand can trace;
  And o’er the cheek of  Sorrow  throw
    A melancholy grace.--GRAY.

   Love  is and was my lord and king,
    And in his presence I attend.--TENNYSON.

   Time  gently shakes his wings.--DRYDEN.

The name of anything personified is regarded as a proper noun and is usually written with a capital letter.

  NOTE. The rule for capitals is not absolute. When the personification   is kept up for only a sentence or two (as frequently in Shakspere),
  the noun often begins with a small letter.


 An abstract noun is the name of a quality or general idea. 

  EXAMPLES: blackness, freshness, smoothness, weight, height, length,   depth, strength, health, honesty, beauty, liberty, eternity,   satisfaction, precision, splendor, terror, disappointment, elegance,   existence, grace, peace.

Many abstract nouns are derived from adjectives.

  EXAMPLES: greenness (from  green ), depth (from  deep ), freedom   (from  free ), wisdom (from  wise ), rotundity (from  rotund ),
  falsity or falseness (from  false ), bravery (from  brave ).

   A collective noun is the name of a group, class, or multitude, and not of a single person, place, or thing. 

  EXAMPLES: crowd, group, legislature, squadron, sheaf, battalion,   squad, Associated Press, Mediterranean Steamship Company, Senior
  Class, School Board.

The same noun may be  abstract  in one of its meanings,  collective  in another.

  They believe in  fraternity . [Abstract.]

  The student joined a  fraternity . [Collective.]

  Abstract nouns are usually common, but become proper when the quality or idea is personified .

Collective nouns may be either proper or common.

  A noun consisting of two or more words united is called a compound noun. 

  EXAMPLES: (1) common nouns,--tablecloth, sidewalk, lampshade,   bedclothes, steamboat, fireman, washerwoman, jackknife, hatband,
  headache, flatiron, innkeeper, knife-edge, steeple-climber,  brother-in-law, commander-in-chief, window curtain, insurance   company; (2) proper nouns,--Johnson, Williamson, Cooperstown,   Louisville, Holywood, Elk-horn, Auburndale, Stratford-on-Avon, Lowell   Junction.

As the examples show, the parts of a compound noun may be joined (with or without a hyphen) or written separately. In some words usage is
fixed, in others it varies. The hyphen, however, is less used than formerly.

  NOTE. The first part of a compound noun usually limits the second   after the manner of an adjective. Indeed, many expressions may be
  regarded either (1) as compounds or (2) as phrases containing an   adjective and a noun. Thus  railway conductor  may be taken as a
  compound noun, or as a noun ( conductor ) limited by an adjective   ( railway ).


 In studying the inflection of nouns and pronouns we have to consider  gender ,  number ,  person , and  case .

1.  Gender is distinction according to sex. 

2.  Number is that property of substantives which shows whether they indicate one person or thing or more than one. 

3.  Person is that property of substantives which shows whether they designate (1) the speaker, (2) the person spoken to, or (3) the person
or thing spoken of. 

4.  Substantives have inflections of case to indicate their grammatical relations to verbs, to prepositions, or to other substantives. 

  These four properties of substantives are included under inflection   for convenience. In strictness, however, nouns are inflected for
  number and case only. Gender is shown in various ways,--usually by   the meaning of the noun or by the use of some pronoun. Person is
  indicated by the sense, by the pronouns used, and by the form of the   verb.

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