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"A verb is a word which signifies to be, to do, or to suffer ; or as in the theory wherein motion' and 'rest' are considered the distinctive characteristics of verbs.
Others have founded their definitions upon the function of the verb, that is, upon its power in a sentence; as, ' A verb is a part of speech which makes an assertion.'
320. I. Definitions founded upon Signification. (1). "A verb is a word which signifies to be, to do, or to suffer.'
There are three kinds of verbs, Active, Passive, and Neuter verbs.' -Lowth, English Grammar, p. 45.
(2). Theory of Sir Graves C. Haughton."
In the infancy of language the Verb merely denoted the modes of action peculiar to the simplest objects of nature-as, to fly, to run, to strike, &c.; but in process of time, as language became perfect, the Verb adapted itself to the expression of every want of the human
mind, and in this state it is considered as denoting action, being, or suffering. But it is solely by a metaphorical use that language is fitted for describing abstract ideas; and for this purpose the Verb divests itself of its essential attribute, which is motion in a physical sense.
If a verb denotes any particular kind of motion, depending or conceived to depend on the will of the agent, it is Active, but Intransitive; that is, it implies voluntary motion, which is commonly called Action, as “ he runs. And when the motion passes on to an object on which it reposes, it is Active and Transitive, as “he strikes the child.”
• Motion is the essential attribute of the Verb; and those who hold it to be a mere connective, have not perhaps sufficiently considered its origin; and have been led to observe its apparent use, which is often metaphorical, rather than its essential quality, which indicates different kinds of motion.'
• After use had first fixed the forms of the Verb, the rest were easily brought into existence, by that love of analogy which is inseparably connected with the nature of the human mind.' — Preface to a Dictionary, Bengáli and Sanskrit, by Sir Graves C. Haughton.
(3) Professor Key gives no general definition of the Verb; but his whole doctrine depends upon the theory of 'motion' and 'rest. He says, in his Latin Grammar, $$ 367–385 :
*An active verb denotes action or movement: as caed, “cut” or “strike;" curr, "run."
• The person (or thing) from whom the action proceeds is called the nominative to the verb.
• A transitive verb is one which admits an object or accusative after it: as caedit puerum, " he strikes the boy."
• An intransitive verb is one which does not admit an accusative; as, currit,
" he runs." · A static verb denotes a state; as ës, “be”; dormi, "sleep"; vigila, “ be awake”; jace, “ lie”; metu, " fear."
321. II. Definitions founded upon the Function of the Verb. (1). Sir John Stoddart says :
The Verb expresses that faculty of the mind by which we assert that anything exists or does not exist. And as all existence is contemplated by the
either simply as ace, or in one of its two distinguishable states, action or passion ; therefore, the common definition of the verb is sufficiently accurate-namely, that "the verb is a word which signifies to do, to suffer, or to be."
• Yet we must obserye, that the essence of the verb does not consist in the mere signification or naming of existence, or of action, or of passion; because, so far as that goes, the verb is a mere noun. For Mr. Tooko's observation is strictly correct, that "the verb is a noun and something more.
• This “ something more,” which is the true characteristic of the verb, is the power of assertion. It is by this peculiarity alone that the verb is distinguished from the noun.'
Sir John Stoddart then reviews several objections :
Objection 1. •We may assert without the express use of verbs. Numerous sentences, with the verb omitted, may be produced from Hebrew, Latin, and English.'
Answer. "True; but then the verb is understood.' [This is begging the question.]
Objection 2. That connection, not “assertion," is the distinguishing characteristic of verbs.'
Answer. Truly, the verb connects, but it does more ; connection is a secondary characteristic.'
Objection 3. • That attribution is the proper function of a verb.'
Answer. • But this is an accidental circumstance applying to some verbs, not as to verbs, but in regard to the nouns which they involve.'
Objection 4. • That to be significant of time is the characteristic of the verb.
Answer. “No doubt time is a necessary adjunct of assertion, but it is only secondary. Assertion is the appropriate function of the verb.'
Objection 5. •That the Infinitive mood asserts nothing. This objection is urged by Dr. Lowth (English Grammar, p. 54): That the participle is a mere mode of the verb is manifest, if our definition of a verb be admitted. For it signifies being, doing, or suffering, with the designation of time superadded. But if the essence of the verb be made to consist in affirmation, not only the participle will be excluded from its place in the verb, but the Infinitive itself also; which certain ancient grammarians of great authority held to be alone the genuine verb, denying that title to all other modes.'
Answer. "The Infinitive is not properly a verb, but rather a Verbal Noun (Ovoua pnuarikov).'—Stoddart, Universal Grammar Encyclopædia Metropolitana, pp. 45–47.
322. (2). Theory of Mr. Garnett. In the Proceedings of the Philological Society, vol. iii., we find several papers by the late Rev. Richard Garnett, on the Nature and Analysis of the Verb. These and other articles have been reprinted by his son, under the title of Philological Essays' (Williams and Norgate, 1859).
According to the view taken by Mr. Garnett,' the true definition of a verb appears to be, that it is a term of relation or predicate in grammatical combination with a subject, commonly pronominal. In some languages, any word in any given part of speech is capable of being made the basis of a verb, and of being regularly conjugated through moods, tenses, and persons; in others this license is considerably restricted.'
After remarking that there has been much discrepancy of opinion as to what constitutes a verb, and in what essential particular it differs from a noun, he observes, that much of the misapprehension and error prevalent on this subject has originated in confounding the finite verb with the root from which it is formed. It has been admitted that the essence of this part of speech consists in predication or assertion, a view to which no objection can be made. But this immediately destroys its claim to be considered as a primitive element of speech. There can be no predication in the concrete without a given subject ; every verb therefore must have its subject—that is, speaking grammatically, it must be in a definite person. The term expressing this person is an element perfectly distinct from the root; and when it is taken away, there is no predication, and consequently no verb. In short, a verb is not a simple but a complex term, and therefore no primary part of speech.'
But while Mr. Garnett considers that the root or predicative part of a simple verb is, or originally was, an abstract noun, he differs from those philologists who analyse the verb as consisting of a noun connected with a subject or nominative by means of a verb substantive understood. He denies that · Ego (sum) somnium' can be brought to mean 'Ego somnio.' He says : Grammarians have not been able to divest themselves of the idea that the subject of the verb must necessarily be a nominative ; and when it was ascertained that the distinctive terminations of the verb are in fact personal pronouns, they persisted in regarding those pronouns as nominatives, abbreviated indeed from the fuller forms, but still performing the same functions.'
Mr. Garnett holds that the personal terminations are pronouns, not however nominatives in apposition, but oblique cases, or (as he terms it) ,in regimine. He proves his point by an appeal to many languages; but no part of the proof is more satisfactory than his reference to the Welsh. He says: "The personal terminations in Welsh are prononns, and they are more clearly so than the corresponding endings in Sanskrit. But it is an important fact, that they are evidently in statu regiminis, not in apposition or concord; in other words, they are not nominatives, but oblique cases, precisely such as are affixed to various prepositions. For example, the second person plural does not end with the nominative chwi, but with ech, wch, och, ych, which last three forms are also found
coalescing with various prepositions, iwch, "to you,” ynoch, "in you," wrthych, “ through you."
"Ñow the roots of Welsh verbs are confessedly nouns, generally of abstract signification; as, for example, dysg is both doctrina, and the second person imperative doce. Dysg-och, or -wch, is not, thereforo, docetis or docebitis vos ; but doctrina vestrum,“ teaching of or by you." This leads to the important conclusion, that a verb is nothing but a noun combined with an oblique case of a personal pronoun, virtually including in it a connecting preposition. This is what constitutes the real copula between the subject and the attribute. Doctrina ego is a logical absurdity; but doctrina mei, " teaching of me,” necessarily includes in it the proposition ego doceo, enunciated in a strictly logical and unequivocal form.'
Mr. Garnett compares the prepositional forms with the verbal forms, thus: Prepositional forms:
• for me.' er-ot
for thee.' for him.'
• for us.' er-och
· for you. er-ynt
• for them.' Verbal forms :
"I will love.'
thou wilt love.'
we will love.'
'they will love. car-wynt And he concludes : No one capable of divosting his mind of preconceived systems, who compares the Welsh prepositional forms with the verbal forms, will deny the absolute formal identity of the respective sets of endings, or refuse to admit that the exhibition of parallel phenomena of languages of all classes, and in all parts of the world, furnishes a strong prima facie ground for the belief of a general principle of analogy running through all.' —Garnett, Philologioal Essays,
you will love.'
And we say :
323. Amid these diversities, we shall proceed rather by way of enumeration than by way of definition,
I. With regard to meaning;
(2). The Subjunctive mood is used to make a modi
fied assertion. (3). The Imperative mood is used to express com
mands, exhortations, or entreaties.
324. We divide verbs into two classes: (1) Transitive; (2) Intransitive.
A Transitive Verb generally requires an object to complete the meaning, and is commonly followed by an Objective that is, a substantive in the objective case.
An Intransitive Verb frequently furnishes a complete meaning, and does not, as a general rule, admit an objective case.
Transitive Verbs may be used in three relations, which are termed Active, Passive, and Reflective.
In some languages, there are distinct forms, involving changes of termination, to denote the change of relation. These forms are commonly termed Voices; and in Greek grammar, the Reflective form is called the Middle Voice, as though it held a middle place between Active and Passive.
In English we have a distinct form for the Active Voice of verbs Transitive: as,
William loves Mary.
William loved Mary. The Passive relation is denoted by the verb be coupled with the perfect participle, which, in Transitive Verbs, has a passive signification; thus,
Mary is loved by William. The Reflective relation is denoted by the word self, used in composition with certain pronouns, and governed by a Transitive Verb, in the Active Voice; as,
William loves himself.
Mary loves herself. In Early English, the personal pronouns me, him, her, &c., were used with a reflective force, where we employ myself, himself, &c.; as,