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declensions, conjugations, and rules, and in applying
them in parsing and in the correction of examples
in False Syntax. Pursued in this manner, it is an
artificial and arbitrary system built up apart from
the ground upon which as a science it must rest.
Definitions, rules, and forms, in Grammar are merely
words and mean nothing disconnected from the facts
and principles which underlie them.

Grammar is the science of sentences. English
Grammar is the science of the English sentence.
There are certain general principles which are ap-
plicable to the sentences of all languages, and there
are other principles which belong only to particular
languages. The division just made is therefore a
proper one. Grammar is not an art. Composition
treats of the art of speaking and writing.


Sentences are composed of words, and these words
may be classified according to their individual mean-
ing or office ; the modifications, properties, and re-
lations of each class may be determined ; and the
whole be made to constitute a system of English
Grammar. This method of studying the sentence
may be called Etymological inasmuch as it deals with
words as the best defined, integral parts of which
sentences are composed.

Sentences are composed of elements, some of them
essential and others non-essential, at some times
consisting of a single word and at other times of
several words combined, and these elements may be
classified according to their sentential relations,
each class become the subject of scientific investi-
gation, and the result be made to constitute another
system of English Grammar. This method of study-
ing the sentence may de called Logical inasmuch as
it is based upon the mutual relations of the elements
of sentences.

These two methods are both essentially analytical,
and are not at all antagonistic. Both ought to be
combined in practical teaching. The Logical method
might first consider sentences as wholes and then
find and dispose of their elements ; after which the
Etymological method might treat of the individual
words of which they are composed. J^either can
be dispensed with in the construction of a system
of Grammatical science.

To commence the study of the science of Gram-
mar proper, with the prospect of much profit, pupils
ought to possess considerable general knowledge,
and be from twelve to fifteen years of age. The


first steps may be easy, but it requires some maturity
of thought to comprehend the principles which are
soon involved. Previous to the time of their com-
mencing the study of the science of Grammar,
pupils should have much practice in elementary
Composition, of which it is intended to speak here-
after, and it would be greatly to their advantage to
be taught the exercises now about to be described.
I call them Etymological Exercises, and desire that
they should be considered as an introduction to the
study of Grammar.

Etymological Exercises.

Exercise First. — Nouns. — The class may be re-
quired to write on slates or blackboard the names
of the objects in the school-room. This work
having been criticised by one another and corrected
by the teacher in respect to spelling, punctuation,
neatness, &c., they may be required to write further
the names of things seen in coming to school, those
which stand for kinds of trees, flowers, the organs
of the body, the parts of ^a house, the tools used by
farmers or mechanics, the articles purchased at
stores, &c. ; and submit their work for correction as
before. They may now be told that the names of
objects are called i^ouns ; and much further practice
should be allowed them in selecting the IsTouns in
sentences and framing sentences containing ^ouns.

Exercise Second. — Kinds of Nouns. — The teacher
may name the boys in the class, and ask for the
name common to all. The girls may be named in
the same way, and also particular cities, rivers,


mountains, &c., and like inquiries be made concern-
ing them. Some common name can then be assigned
as horse, book, man, and the pupils required to write
all the particular names that they can think of which
are comprehended in the general name. This done,
the terms Common and Proper, as applied to Nouns,
can be defined, and pupils be profitably engaged in
classing them accordingly, in pointing them out in
sentences, and in constructing sentences containing

Exercise Third. — The Properties of Nouns. —
Gender, Number, and Person are the only Properties
of Nouns that can be taught intelligently without
an analysis of sentences. Case, therefore, except
the Possessive, cannot be treated of in this con-

The teacher need not point out many examples
to enable pupils to understand the distinctions of
Gender and Number. They can readily see, too,
that some objects speak, some are spoken to, and
others are spoken of. They should be required,
however, to write lists of words denoting objects in
each Gender, Number, and Person; and point them
out as they occur in sentences. Sentences may be
written containing such words.

Exercise Fourth. — Verbs. — The method of teach-
ing Verbs will be understood by the following illus-
tration : AVhat does the fire do ? Class. " It burns."
"Write the word " burns" on your slates. What does
the wind do ? Class. " It blows." Write " blows,"
also. What does the rain do ? Class. " It falls."


What are the birds doing in yonder grove ? Class.
*' They sing." What can you say of plants ? Class.
" They grow." Write the words "falls," sing," and
"grow" under the others, ^ow each take a place
at the blackboard, and write the names of all the acts
you can think of that boys do. The class write —
"boys play," "boys read," "boys write," "boys run,"
" boys eat," "boys laugh," &c., &c. The actions that
girls, horses, dogs, birds, &c., perform may then be
written, if time permit, or assigned for future lessons ;
and, when pupils are fully prepared to -understand it,
they may be told that all the names of actions are
called verbs. In further lessons, they may be re-
quired to form sentences containing particular verbs
and to point out the verbs in sentences.

Exercise Fifth. — Kinds of Verbs. — Adopting the
common classification of Verbs, lists of them may
be written upon the blackboard as follows : —


Boys play. The table stands. The boy was whipped.

Birds fly. The book lies. The soldier is wounded.

Men work. The curtains hang. The horses were sold.

Dogs bark. The teacher sits. The pitcher was broken.

Pupils having learned that the names of actions
are Verbs, can readily point out the Verbs in the
first hst. They may then be asked to point out the
words that most resemble Verbs in the second and
third lists. This done, they may be shown the dif-
ferences in the meaning of the three kinds of Verbs,
and learn to call them by their names — Active,
Neuter, and Passive. A great deal of practice must
be allowed pupils in naming the different kinds of


Verbs as they occur in sentences, and in composing
sentences containing tliem.

Exercise Sixth. — The Properties of Verbs. —
Whether Verbs are the names of actions which are
perceptible, or of those which are imperceptible;
whether they denote actions performed or actions
endured, they must have reference to time and man-
ner. Pupils can readily give orally or write the
names of actions which are taking place at the pre-
sent time; and it is not much more difficult to
suppose that the same actions took place yesterday,
or will take place to-morrow, and to express them
accordingly. After full practice upon the Present,
Past, and Future Tenses, the pupils may be made
acquainted with those subdivisions of them thought
to be necessary by Grammarians.

The teacher can write lists of sentences contain-
insr Verbs in the different Modes, and instruct his
pupils in those peculiarities of expression upon
which distinctions of Mode are founded.

Many examples of Verbs should then be given,
and the pupils be required to state their Tense and
Mode. Sentences can also be constructed containino*
Verbs of certain given Tenses and Modes.

Verbs denote by their form whether actions are
performed or received by one person or more, or by
a speaker, a person or thing spoken to, or a person
or thing spoken of. This can be readily exemplified
in the manner previously described.

Pupils should not only be required to commit the
Conjugation of verbs, in a certain order, but they
should be expected to answer questions asked mis-


cellaneously upon it. The teacher may name Modes,
Tenses, Numbers, and Persons, and demand of the
pupils forms of Verbs that answer the conditions,
he may require such Verbs to be embodied in sen-
tences, or he may assign the sentences and engage the
pupils in distinguishing and classifying the Verbs.

Exercises similar to those now described should
be given in respect to Pronouns, Adjectives, Ad-
verbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections;
but any teacher who has appreciated the spirit of
the method indicated can do it for himself The
spirit and form of these Exercises are identical with
those recommended in giving lessons on objects.
The more obscure distinctions in Etymological
Grammar can be presented in the same way to
pupils prepared to understand them. It must be
remembered, however, that these exercises do not
contemplate an exhaustive discussion of the Parts
of Speech.


An effort will now be made to point out the pro-
per method of teaching Grammar as a science.

Our thinking is regulated by laws. The science
which treats of these laws is Ti02:ic. Lano^uasre is
the verbal expression of thought, and therefore there
must be a close analogy between the laws of thought
and the laws of speech. Hence the relationship
which exists between Grammar and Lo2:ic.

We think, talk, and write in sentences. Discourse
is made up of sentences. A sentence in Grammar
corresponds to the unit in Mathematics. It is the


least integral part of discourse, as words are but frac-
tional parts of sentences. The first step in teaching
Grammar therefore is to communicate to pupils an
idea of a sentence. To do this a teacher may ask his
class to say something about a hook, a liorse, a bird ;
and what they say he may write on the blackboard.
These expressions and others like them they may
be told are called sentences. The division of their
reading lessons into sentences may be pointed out.
In this manner children can learn to know simple
sentences. Further practice should be given them
in writing sentences about particular things, and in
detecting combinations of words that do not form
sentences. A sentence is a form of words contain-
ing a proposition ; but such a definition would be
quite out of place at this stage of progress.

When pupils have learned to know simple sen-
tences, they may begin the work of analyzing them,
and the elements thus found must be classified and
investigated. The system thus built up should pre-
sent the principles of the language in a clear and
logical manner. A sufiicient number of steps in
this analysis will be presented to indicate to the
thoughtful teacher the method by which the whole
may be taught.

The Subject. — The teacher may write such sen-
tences upon the blackboard as birds fly, men work,
fire burns, rain falls, &c. ; and call the attention of
his class to the fact that in each of these sentences
there is a word which represents a thing of which
something is said. The pupils may then point out
such words or forms of words in these and nume-



rous other sentences, and learn that they are called
subjects. They may be asked to name things of
which something may be said, and to tell what can
be said to run, fly, eat, work, &c.

The Predicate. — In the same manner, it can be
shown that sentences like those named in the pre-
ceding examples contain words or forms of words
that are used to say something of the subject.
These are called Predicates. Pupils can be led to
point them out in such sentences and in others.
It is well also to give them practice in naming
words which are used to say something of things,
and to write on slate or blackboard what can be
said of hoys, girls, horses, fishes, birds, &c.

In miscellaneous exercises upon Subjects and Pre-
dicates, a Subject can be given and the pupils re-
quired to find suitable Predicates, or a Predicate
can be given and the pupils required to supply
suitable Subjects, thus:








-D • A Eat,

^ Write,

Required, ■^°^!'



• ^








"When able to point out the Subject and Predicate
in sentences, pupils may be told that the two taken
together constitute a Proposition, and then be
allowed to point out and to construct Propositions.


Kinds of Subjects. — The attention of the pnpll
should be called to lists of sentences printed in his
Grammar-book or written on the blackboard like
the following : John studies ; he studies ; to study is
right; that he studies is certain. When fully com-
prehending the ditierent kinds of Subjects, he may
be told that the name of the first kind of Subject
is IToun ; of the second, Pronoun ; of the third.
Phrase ; and of the fourth, Clause. Finally, he must
be allowed to point out the different kinds of
Subjects in numerous examples, and to construct
sentences containing any required form of Subject.

If the teacher deem it proper, his pupils may now
learn the nature of the Noun and Pronoun, their
kinds and their properties. The manner of doing
this has already been explained. The Phrase and
Clause must be treated of when the pupil is prepared
to understand them.

KiXDS OF Predicates. — The kinds of Predicates
can be taught in essentially the same manner as
kinds of Subjects. The teacher must first present
such sentences as: boi/s learn; they are to learn;
Spring is pleasant; it is as I told him. It is unneces-
sary to make more than two kinds of Predicates :
first, the Verb simply ; and, second, the Verb with
some added word, phrase or clause. The nature
of the Copula may be explained. Much practice
in pointing out and classifying Predicates, in sen-
tences, and in constructing sentences to contain
Predicates of a particular kind cannot be dispensed

If not done before, the teacher may now make


liis pupils acquainted with the nature of the Verb,
its kinds, and the properties which belong to it.

To the extent of the knowledge now acquired,
pupils may engage with great profit in the exercises,
beautiful when combined, of Analysis and Parsing.
ISTumerous miscellaneous sentences must be provided
for the purpose.

Pupils may be taught also that Pronouns, when
used as Subjects, are in the JSTominatiye Case, and
have a particular form, and that ^ouns are said to
be in the same Case when used in the same way.
Verbs also agree with their subjects in ^Number
and Person. Many sentences violating these princi-
ples may be submitted to the pupils for correction.

Adjective Elements. — A word or a form of words
used to modify the meaning of the Subject is called
an Adjective Element. The same name is applied
to the words, phrases, and clauses which modify
N"ouns and Pronouns in whatever relation they
may be placed. The teacher should begin his in-
struction by calling the attention of his class to sen-
tences in which the Subject is modified by simple
Adjectives, as: good hoys study ; pretty flowers grow^
&c. When they fully understand the nature of the
Adjective Modification, it will not be very difficult
to lead them to see the words and forms of words
that perform similar offices in such sentences as fol-
low : Ills hook is lost ; James, the caoyenter, huilt the
house ; Johns finger is hurt ; a hook of j^oerns is on the
tahle; the hoy who did not know his lesson is detained
after school This done, and all that remains neces-
sary is to allow full opportunity for practice in point-


ing out these elements in sentences and constructing
sentences containing them. Adjective elements
admit division into classes ; but it requires the ap-
plication of no special methods to teach them.
Rules of Syntax relating to the correct use of the
Adjective and Adjective element may now be given,
and examples of sentences in which this part of
speech is mcorrectly used, may be assigned for

Adverbial Elements. — A word or a form of Avords
used to modify the meaning of the Predicate may
be called an Adverbial Element. Adverbial Ele-
ments should be classified and taught in the same
manner as the Adjective Element; and repetition is
deemed unnecessary. Rules for the construction of
Adverbial Elements must not be overlooked.

Nothing special need be said in reference to
teaching the Preposition, Conjunction, and Interjection,
as the offices they severally perform in sentences
are easily detected, and readily illustrated.

All that has been said is intended to apply to sim-
ple Declarative sentences. At the proper time,
other forms of sentences must be presented to the
pupil, and he must be taught to trace their relations
to the Declarative form. Phrases and Clauses must
be carefully studied. The close analysis of Complex
and Compound Sentences, and the classification of
the elements thus found, the discussion of the idioms
of our language, the changes in construction it has
undergone, the relationship of thought and its ex-
pression in words, general and special Philological



laws, must complete a full course of instruction in

This discussion will be concluded with a summary
of the general principles by which the teaching of
Grammar should be governed, and which has guided
the preceding discussion.

1st. All Grammatical principles or rules should
be deduced directly from sentences, or proven by
reference to them.

2d. The pupil should begin the study of Gram-
mar by analyzing the simplest forms of simple sen-
tences, and then proceed by safe gradations from
the easy to the difficult. A sentence admits of a
logical discussion only by descending from the gen-
eral to the particular. A classification of sentences
ascends from species to genera.

3d. 'No definition or rule should be given that
presupposes knowledge that the pupil does not pos-
sess. The whole system should be logically con-
nected, and introduce the pupil ta new principles
just at the time he needs, and is prepared to under-
stand them.

4th. Rules of construction and government, with
examples in False Syntax, should be taught in con-
nection with the sentences or elements of sentences
to which they relate. This principle, logically
necessary, will be found of considerable practical

5th. The Analysis of a sentence consists in find-
ing its elements, or in reducing it to the Parts of
Speech, of which it is composed. Parsing consists
in finding out these Parts of Speech and determining
their properties and relations. Both should be com-


bined, as is the case in similar operations in other
sciences. The Botanist analyzes a plant, and then
names and describes its several parts. The Anato-
mist dissects a subject, and then characterizes the
organs thus brought to his notice. Grammar can
be studied successfully in no other way. Parsing,
without a preceding analysis, can lead but to a very
imperfect knowledge of the organic structure of

6th. Grammatical knowledge should be applied
throughout the whole course in the construction of
sentences. Pupils should be allowed ample oppor-
tunity of framing all the different kinds and varie-
ties of sentences, and of embodying in them, all the
elements of sentences, words, phrases, and clauses,
in all their forms, and with all their modifications.

7th. The study of the English language may be
made to yield the same kind of culture that is
derived from the study of the classical languages of
Greece and Rome. To do this, several standard
authors, or selections from many such authors, must
be subjected to a critical examination as to the
forms of sentences ; the location of the elements in
sentences, their relations, and their fitness to express
the thought intended ; and the origin, history, and
meaning of words.


It is by no means easy to define the limits of the
study of Rhetoric, or to fix its position among the
sciences. There seems to be no general agreement
among waiters respecting the ground which it should


Logic treats of tlie laws of thought. These laws
necessarily condition language. Grammar investi-
gates them as they occur in sentences. But as all
discourse is subject to logical conditions, there is
room for a science which may be called the Science
of discourse. Rhetoric, however, not only treats of
the laws of thought as they appear in discourse, but
likewise includes an application of the laws of taste.
It is based upon the science of Logic, on the one
hand, and Esthetics, on the other. It is also closely
related to Grammar.

Some writers deny to Rhetoric the rank of a sci-
ence ; but since, in addition to the principles it
embodies, that are found to grow out of the rela-
tions which the diiferent parts of discourse sustain
to one another, its rules are the generalizations
of what experience has shown to be most effec-
tive and pleasing in speaking and writing, it may,
at least, as justly claim that rank as any Inductive

It would not be proper in this connection to speak
of methods of teaching either Logic or Esthetics,
notwithstanding they constitute the foundation upon
which the superstructure of Rhetoric- is erected.
Rhetoric, as presented in our books, treats of the
several kinds of discourse, the qualities which expe-
rience shows to be necessary in good writing and
speaking, and the manner of arranging ideas and
expressing them in language. Of methods of teach-
ing Rhetoric, when thus considered, it is my pur-
pose to speak.

1. Kinds of Discourse. — It will be convenient to


coDsider first, discourse as classed with regard to form;
and, second, as classed with regard to matter.

Classed with regard to form, discourse presents
two great divisions, viz. : Prose and Poetry. A dif-
ference in form may not be the only difiTerence
between prose and poetic composition ; but it is the
most prominent.

The leading divisions of prose composition are
Orations, Lectures, Essays, Theses, Fictio7is, Narratives,
and Letters. Several of these classes of composition
admit of subdivisions.

The leading divisions of poetic composition are
Epic, Lyric, Pastoral, Dramatic, Didactic, and Satiric
Poetry. The form of Poetry differs also according
to the versification.

Classed with regard to matter, discourse may be
Novel, Witty, Humorous, Satirical, Sublime, and Beau-
tiful. Or from another point of view, discourse is
Explanatory, Argumentative, Pathetic, or Persuasive,
according as it narrates-or describes, argues, appeals
to the feelings, or attempts to move the will.

The teacher's whole duty to his pupils, in acquaint-
ing them with the different kinds of discourse, may
be expressed in three words, describe, define, and
illustrate. Each kind of discourse must be carefully
described, the general terms made use of must be
defined, and the whole must be impressed upon the
pupil's mind by numerous, appropriate illustrations.

2. Qualities which Characterize well Con-
structed Discourse. — All well constructed discourse
must be characterized by Purity, Propriety, Precision,
Perspicuity, Strength, Euphony, Harmony, and Unity.


In teaching, pupils must first be led to see what
is meant by these qualities. Many examples of each
should be exhibited to them. It will be greatly to
their advantage if extracts from authors, faulty in
respect to these qualities, be presented to them for

3. Arrangement and Style of Discourse. — The
invention of ideas, or, more properly, the obtaining
of ideas, does not properly belong to the Science of
Rhetoric. Ideas are furnished by investigations

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 16 of 31)