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41

A PRACTICAL AND CRITICAL

GRAMMAR

OF THE

ENGLISH LANGUAGE.

BY NOBLE BUTLER.

LOUISVILLE, KY.:

JOHN P. MORTON AND COMPANY,

PUBLISHERS.

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by

JOHN P. MORTON AND COMPANY,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

ELECTROTYPED BY ROBERT ROWELL, LOUISVILLE.

PREFACE.

606L% AON

A certain class of persons think to show their superiority to the common herd by speaking contemptuously of grammar. Like Mrs. Squeers, they are thankful that they are “no grammarians;" and if want is a good ground for thankfulness, it must be admitted that some of them have much to be thankful for. The cant which is fashionable among them is sometimes very amusing. Suppose, for instance, that one of them should conceive the idea of contending for the correctness of “Where is it at?" His argument would probably be in the following style: “In fullness of thought the common people show themselves superior to the mere grammarian. •Where is it?' expresses the idea to the grammarian's mind, it is true; but the man of the people feels his mind too full to be satisfied with so jejune an expression, and he pours out his fullness in Where is it at ?! »

Or suppose the beauties of you is should strike his fancy. He will then discourse in the following strain: “Nothing but the prejudice of grammarians has prevented the adoption of you is in stead of the stiff and pedantic you are. You being singular when it denotes but one, how absurd to have it pretending to be plural! It may be said that while you is of the second person is is of the third; but shall we reject so euphonious an expression for the sake of grammatical person? To call such expressions incorrect English is to assume the point. No one says that ella è is bad Italian, and that ella sei is good. Dr. Webster has proved that you were should be changed to you was, and to be consistent we should change you are to you is. Grammarians of the smaller order may contend for you are; but go into the fields and the markets, and you will find you is flowing from lips that disdain to be locked up by grammatical rules.”

The office of the grammar of a language is to state what the language is. If it does not do so, it is not grammar; if it does state what Uthe language is, he who sneers at it may think that he shows his

superiority, but he shows nothing but his vanity and presumption. He makes himself as ridiculous as did Carlyle's “Sigismund super Grammaticam,” who when an error he had made in his speech was

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