Word Study and English Grammar - A Primer of Information about Words, Their Relations and Their Uses
by Frederick W. Hamilton
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This volume, and those which follow it in Part VI of this series, is a compilation from various sources. The occasion does not call for an original treatise, but it does call for something somewhat different from existing text-books. The books prepared for school use are too academic and too little related to the specific needs of the apprentice to serve the turn of those for whom this book is intended. On the other hand the books for writers and printers are as a rule too advanced for the best service to the beginner. The authors of this Part, therefore, have tried to compile from a wide range of authorities such material as would be suited to the needs and the experience of the young apprentice.

The "Rules for the Use and Arrangement of Words" are taken with some modifications from "How to Write Clearly," Edwin A. Abbott, Boston; Roberts Bros. This is a very excellent little book but is now, I believe, out of print. The tables of irregular verbs are the same as those used in "English Grammar for Common Schools," Robert C. and Thomas Metcalf, New York; American Book Co.

The student is recommended to study some good grammar with great care. There are many good grammars. The one used in the schools in the apprentice's locality will probably do as well as any.

The student should learn to use the dictionary intelligently and should accustom himself to using it freely and frequently.

The student should also learn to use words correctly and freely. There are many good books devoted to the study of words, some of which ought to be easily available. One of the latest and one of the best is "Putnam's Word Book" published by Putnams, New York. It costs about a dollar and a half.

























Importance of the Subject

Word study and English grammar are important to the young printer for several reasons. In the first place, disregard of the correct use and combination of words is a distinct mark of inferiority and a serious bar to business and social advancement. A man's use of words is commonly taken as a measure of his knowledge and even of his intelligence. Carelessness in this regard often causes a man to be held in much less esteem than he really deserves.

In the second place, it is quite as important that the printer should know something about the words and sentences which he puts on paper as it is that he should know something about the paper on which he puts them, or the type, ink, and press by means of which he puts them there.

In the third place, knowledge of words and their uses is indispensable to correct proofreading which is itself a branch of the printer's craft. A working knowledge of words and their relations, that is, of rhetoric and grammar is therefore a tool and a very important tool of the printer.

This little book is not intended to be either a rhetoric or a grammar. It is only intended to review some of the simplest principles of both subjects, to point out a few of the commonest mistakes, and to show the importance to the apprentice of the careful study and constant use of some of the many books on words, their combinations, and their uses.

The Word Families

All the words in the English language belong to one or another of nine families, each of which family has a special duty. If you will always remember to which family a word belongs and just what that family does, you will be saved from many very common errors. These nine families are: 1, nouns; 2, adjectives; 3, articles; 4, verbs; 5, pronouns; 6, adverbs; 7, prepositions; 8, conjunctions; 9, interjections. This order of enumeration is not exactly the same as will be found in the grammars. It is used here because it indicates roughly the order of the appearance of the nine families in the logical development of language. Some forms of interjections, however, may very probably have preceded any language properly so called.


A noun is a word used as the name of anything that can be thought of, John, boy, paper, cold, fear, crowd. There are three things about a noun which indicate its relation to other words, its number, its gender, and its case. There are two numbers, singular meaning one, and plural meaning more than one.

The plural is generally formed by adding s to the singular. There are a small number of nouns which form their plurals differently, mouse, mice; child, children; foot, feet. These must be learned individually from a dictionary or spelling book. There are some nouns which undergo changes in the final syllable when the s is added, torch, torches; staff, staves; fly, flies. These also must be learned individually. There are some nouns which have no singular, such as cattle, clothes, some which have no plural, such as physics, honesty, news, and some which are the same in both singular and plural, such as deer, trout, series. Care must be taken in the use of these nouns, as in some cases their appearance is misleading, e. g., mathematics, physics, and the like are singular nouns having no plural, but owing to their form they are often mistaken for plurals.

Compound nouns, that is to say, nouns formed by the combination of two or three words which jointly express a single idea, generally change the principal word in the forming of the plural, hangers-on, ink rollers, but in a few cases both words change, for example, men-servants. These forms must be learned by observation and practice. It is very important, however, that they be thoroughly learned and correctly used. Do not make such mistakes as brother-in-laws, man-servants.

Perhaps the most important use of number is in the relation between the noun and the verb. The verb as well as the noun has number forms and the number of the noun used as subject should always agree with that of the verb with which it is connected. Such expressions as "pigs is pigs," "how be you?" and the like, are among the most marked evidences of ignorance to be found in common speech. When this paragraph was originally written a group of high school boys were playing football under the writer's window. Scraps of their talk forced themselves upon his attention. Almost invariably such expressions as "you was," "they was," "he don't," "it aint," and the like took the place of the corresponding correct forms of speech.

Collective nouns, that is the nouns which indicate a considerable number of units considered as a whole, such as herd, crowd, congress, present some difficulties because the idea of the individuals in the collection interferes with the idea of the collection itself. The collective nouns call for the singular form of the verb except where the thought applies to the individual parts of the collection rather than to the collection as a whole, for instance, we say,

The crowd looks large.

but we say,

The crowd look happy.

because in one case we are thinking of the crowd and in the other of the persons who compose the crowd. So in speaking of a committee, we may say

The Committee thinks that a certain thing should be done.

or that

The Committee think that a certain thing should be done.

The first phrase would indicate that the committee had considered and acted on the subject and the statement represented a formal decision. The second phrase would indicate the individual opinions of the members of the committee which might be in agreement but had not been expressed in formal action. In doubtful cases it is safer to use the plural.

Entire accuracy in these cases is not altogether easy. As in the case with all the nice points of usage it requires practice and continual self-observation. By these means a sort of language sense is developed which makes the use of the right word instinctive. It is somewhat analogous to that sense which will enable an experienced bank teller to throw out a counterfeit bill instinctively when running over a large pile of currency even though he may be at some pains to prove its badness when challenged to show the reason for its rejection.

The young student should not permit himself to be discouraged by the apparent difficulty of the task of forming the habit of correct speech. It is habit and rapidly becomes easier after the first efforts.

The relation of a noun to a verb, to another noun, or to a preposition is called its case. There are three cases called the nominative, objective, and possessive. When the noun does something it is in the nominative case and is called the subject of the verb.

The man cuts.

When the noun has something done to it it is in the objective case and is called the object of the verb.

The man cuts paper.

When a noun depends on a preposition, it is also in the objective case and is called the object of the preposition.

The paper is cut by machinery.

The preposition on which a noun depends is often omitted when not needed for clearness.

The foreman gave (to) the men a holiday.

He came (on) Sunday.

Near (to) the press.

He was ten minutes late (late by ten minutes).

He is 18 years old (old by or to the extent of 18 years).

The nominative and objective cases of nouns do not differ in form. They are distinguished by their positions in the sentence and their relations to other words.

When one noun owns another the one owning is in the possessive case.

The man's paper is cut.

The possessive case is shown by the form of the noun. It is formed by adding s preceded by an apostrophe to the nominative case, thus,

John's hat.

There is a considerable difference of usage regarding the formation of the possessives of nouns ending in s in the singular. The general rule is to proceed as in other nouns by adding the apostrophe and the other s as James's hat. DeVinne advises following the pronunciation. Where the second s is not pronounced, as often happens to avoid the prolonged hissing sound of another s, he recommends omitting it in print.

Moses' hat, for Moses's hat.

For conscience' sake.

Plural nouns ending in s add the apostrophe only; ending in other letters they add the apostrophe and s like singular nouns, the Jones' house, the children's toys.

The possessive pronouns never take the apostrophe. We say hers, theirs, its. It's is an abbreviation for it is.

Care should be taken in forming the possessives of phrases containing nouns in apposition, or similar compound phrases. We should say "I called at Brown the printer's" or "since William the Conqueror's time."


An adjective is a word used to qualify, limit, or define a noun, or a word or phrase which has the value of a noun. Nouns are ordinarily very general and indefinite in meaning, for example, man conveys only a very general idea. To make that idea definite we need the help of one or more descriptive words such as black, tall, stout, good.

I saw a man.

gives no definite idea of the person seen.

I saw a tall, thin, dark, old man.

presents a very definite picture. It will be noted that these descriptive words have a way of forming combinations among themselves. It must be remembered, however, that all the words thus used describe the noun. Adjectives are sometimes used as substitutes for nouns. This is one of the many verbal short cuts in which the English language abounds.

The good die young

means good people die young.

We should seek the good and beautiful

means we should seek good or beautiful things, or persons, or qualities, or perhaps everything good and beautiful.

When adjectives indicate a quality they have three forms called degrees indicating the extent or amount of the quality possessed by the noun especially as compared with other objects of the same sort, a big man, a bigger man, the biggest man. These degrees are called positive, indicating possession of bigness; comparative, indicating possession of more bigness than some other man; superlative, indicating possession of more bigness than any other man. When we wish to tell the amount of the quality without comparing the possessor with any other object or group of objects we use a modifying word later to be described called an adverb.

I saw a very big man,

indicates that the man possessed much bigness, but makes no comparison with any other man or group of men. Comparison is generally indicated in two ways, first, by adding to the adjectives the terminations er and est as high, higher, highest, or, second, by using the words more and most, as splendid, more splendid, most splendid. The question which of the two methods should be used is not always easy to decide. It depends somewhat on usage and on euphony or agreeableness of sound.

Adjectives of three or more syllables use the long form, that is, the additional word. We should not say beautifuler or beautifulest. Adjectives of two syllables may often be compared either way; for example, it would be equally correct to say nobler and noblest or more noble and most noble. An example of the influence of euphony may be found in the adjective honest. We might say honester without hesitation but we should be less likely to say honestest on account of the awkward combination of syllables involved. Adjectives of one syllable usually take the short form but not invariably. The exceptions, however, are more common in poetry than in prose. When any question rises it is usually safer to use the long form of comparison in the case of two-syllable adjectives and to use the short form in the case of one-syllable adjectives. The proper use of the long form is one of those niceties of diction which come only with careful observation and with training of the ear and of the literary sense.

The word most should never be used, as it often is, in the place of almost. Careless people say "I am most ready" meaning "I am almost, or nearly ready." The phrase "I am most ready," really means "I am in the greatest possible readiness." Such use of most is common in old English but much less so in modern speech.

Two very common adjectives are irregularly compared. They are good, better, best, and bad, worse, worst. In spite of the fact that these adjectives are among the most common in use and their comparison may be supposed to be known by everybody, one often hears the expressions gooder, goodest, more better, bestest, bader, badest, worser, and worsest. Needless to say, these expressions are without excuse except that worser is sometimes found in old English.

Illiterate people sometimes try to make their speech more forceful by combining the two methods of comparison in such expressions as more prettier, most splendidest. Such compounds should never be used.

Some adjectives are not compared. They are easily identified by their meaning. They indicate some quality which is of such a nature that it must be possessed fully or not at all, yearly, double, all. Some adjectives have a precise meaning in which they cannot be compared and a loose or popular one in which they can be; for example, a thing either is or is not round or square. Nevertheless we use these words in such a loose general way that it is not absolutely incorrect to say rounder and roundest or squarer and squarest. Such expressions should be used with great care and avoided as far as possible. None but the very ignorant would say onliest, but one often sees the expressions more and most unique. This is particularly bad English. Unique does not mean rare, unusual; it means one of a kind, absolutely unlike anything else. Clearly this is a quality which cannot be possessed in degrees. An object either does or does not have it.


An article is a little adjective which individualizes the noun, a boy, an apple, the crowd.

A which is used before consonantal sounds and an which is used before vowel sounds are called indefinite articles because they individualize without specializing. The is called the definite article because it both individualizes and specializes.

A may be used before o and u if the sound is really consonantal as in such a one, a use, a utility. An may be used before h if the h is not sounded, for example, an hour but a horror.


A verb is a word which asserts or declares. In other words, it makes a noun or pronoun tell something. John paper tells nothing. John wastes paper tells something. Verbs are the most difficult of all the parts of speech to understand and to use properly. As a rule, an English verb has something more than fifty parts which, with their uses, should be thoroughly learned from a grammar. This is not so difficult a matter as it might appear, except to those whose native speech is not English. Nevertheless you should be on the guard against such blunders as I seen, I seed, for I saw, I runned for I ran, I et for I ate, I throwed for I threw, and the like. In most verbs these parts are regular. In some they are irregular. A list of irregular verbs will be found at the end of this volume.

While the plan of this book does not call for a systematic study of verbs any more than of any other words, it is desirable to call attention to some points as being the occasions of frequent mistakes.

A simple sentence consists of a verb, its subject, and its object. The verb indicates the action, the subject is the noun (name of a person or thing) which does the act, the object is the noun to which the thing is done. Verbs have forms denoting person and number, for example:

Singular Plural

1st I love 1st We love 2nd You love (thou lovest) 2nd You love formal and archaic. 3rd He loves 3rd They love

Singular Plural

1st I was 1st We were 2nd You were (thou wast) 2nd You were 3rd He was 3rd They were

Verbs agree with their subjects in person and number. We all know this but we do not always remember it. Unless you are very careful, you will find yourself using a singular subject with a plural verb or the reverse. Mistakes of this sort are particularly liable to happen in the case of collective nouns, in the use of personal pronouns as subjects, and in cases where the subject and the verb are far separated in the sentence.

Those forms of the verb which tell whether the subject is acting or is acted upon are called voices. When the subject is acting the verb is said to be in the active voice. When the subject is acted upon the verb is said to be in the passive voice. Verbs in the passive voice have no objects because the subject, being acted upon, is itself in the place of an object.

Those forms of the verb which tell whether the time of the action is past, present, or future, are called tenses. They are six, viz.

Present, I print (am printing) the book.

Past or imperfect, I printed the book.

Future, I shall print the book.

Perfect, or present perfect, I have printed the book.

Pluperfect or past perfect, I had printed the book before you wrote.

Future perfect, I will notify you when I shall have printed the book.

When adverbs denoting time are indicated care should be taken to see that the verb is consistent with the adverb. "I printed it yesterday," not "I have printed it yesterday;" "I have not yet printed it," not "I did not print it yet;" "I have printed it already," not "I printed it already."

Trouble is sometimes found in choosing the right forms of the verb to be used in subordinate clauses. The rule is:

Verbs in subordinate sentences and clauses must be governed by the tense of the principal verb.

This rule rests on the exact meaning of the forms and words used and its application can be checked by careful examination of these meanings. "He said he did it." "He said he would do it." "He says he will do it."

Note that when the statement in the subordinate clause is of universal application the present tense is always used whatever the tense of the principal verb. "The lecturer said that warm weather always softens rollers."

Those forms of the verb which tell whether the action is an actual fact, a possibility, a condition, or a command are called moods.

There are three moods, the indicative, subjunctive, and imperative.

The indicative mood indicates that the action is a fact. It is also used in asking questions.

The subjunctive mood is less used in modern than in old English. It is most commonly found in clauses beginning with if, though if is not to be regarded as the sign of the subjunctive in any such sense as to is the sign of the infinitive.

The subjunctive were should be used in purely hypothetical clauses such as "If I were in your place."

The subjunctive be should be used in the hypothesis or supposition of a scientific demonstration,

If the triangle A be placed on the triangle B.

The subjunctive without if is often used in wishes or prayers,

God forgive him.

O, that my brother were here.

The subjunctive is sometimes used to express condition,

Had you not been a coward, you would not have run away.

The imperative mood indicates a command,

Put that on the press.

The subject of the imperative mood is only expressed when it is emphatic,

Go thou and do likewise.

Older grammarians speak of a fourth mood called potential. The present tendency among grammarians is to treat these forms separately. They are verb phrases which express ability, possibility, obligation, or necessity. They are formed by the use of the auxiliary verbs may, can, must, might, could, would, and should, with the infinitive without to.

May is used (a) to show that the subject is permitted to do something, "You may go out," or (b) to indicate possibility or doubtful intention, "I may not go to work tomorrow."

Can is used to show that the subject is able to do something, "I can feed a press." These two forms are often confused, with results which would be ridiculous if they were not too common to attract attention. The confusion perhaps arises from the fact that the ability to do a thing often appears to depend on permission to do it. "May I see a proof?" means "Have I permission, or will you allow me, to see a proof?" and is the proper way to put the question. The common question, "Can I see a proof?" is absurd. Of course you can, if you have normal eyesight.

Must shows necessity or obligation.

You must obey the rules of the office.

Ought which is sometimes confounded with must in phrases of this sort expresses moral obligation as distinguished from necessity.

You ought to obey the rules of the office,

indicates that it is your duty to obey because it is the right thing to do even though no penalty is attached.

You must obey the rules of the office,

indicates that you will be punished if you do not obey.

Those forms of the verb which express the time of the action are called tenses. No particular difficulty attends the use of the tenses except in the case of shall and will and should and would.

Shall and will are used as follows: In simple statements to express mere futurity, use shall in the first person, will in the second and third; to express volition, promise, purpose, determination, or action which the speaker means to control use will in the first person, shall in the second and third.

The following tables should be learned and practiced in a large variety of combinations.

Futurity Volition, etc.

I shall We shall I will We will You will You will You shall You shall He will They will He shall They shall

A good example of the misuse of the words is found in the old story of the foreigner who fell into the water and cried out in terror and despair "I will drown, nobody shall help me."

In asking questions, for the first person always use shall, for the second and third use the auxiliary expected in the answer.


Shall I (I shall) Shall we (We shall) Shall you (I shall) Shall you (We shall) Will he (He will) Will they (They will)

Volition, etc.

—— —— —— —— Will you (I will) Will you (We will) Shall he (He shall) Shall he (He shall)

In all other cases, as in subordinate clauses shall is used in all persons to express mere futurity, will to express volition, etc.

In indirect discourse, when the subject of the principal clause is different from the noun clause, the usage is like that in direct statement, for example,

The teacher says that James will win the medal. (futurity),

but when the subject of the principal clause is the same as that of the noun clause, the usage is like that in subordinate clauses,

The teacher says that he shall soon resign. (futurity).

Exceptions. Will is often used in the second person to express an official command.

You will report to the superintendent at once.

Shall is sometimes used in the second and third persons in a prophetic sense.

Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

The use of should and would is in general the same as that of shall and will in indirect statement.


I should We would You would You should He would They should

In asking questions use should in the first person to express mere futurity and would to express volition, etc; in the second and third persons use the form that is expected in the answer.


Should I (I should) Should we (We should) Should You (I should) Should You (We should) Would he (He would) Would they (They would)

Volition, etc.

Would I (I would) Would we (We would) Would You (You would) Would You (We would) Should he (He should) Should they (They should)

In subordinate clauses should is used in all persons to express futurity, would to express volition, etc.

In indirect discourse the usage is similar to that in direct statement.

The teacher said that John would win the medal.

Exceptions. Should is often used to express moral obligation.

You should be honest under all conditions.

Would is sometimes used to express frequentive action.

He would walk the floor night after night.

Mistakes are often made in the use of compound tenses on account of failure to grasp the meaning of the words used.

I should have liked to have seen you,

is correct grammar but probably not correct statement of fact, as it states a past desire to have done something at a period still further remote, that is to say, "I should have liked (yesterday) to have seen you (day before yesterday)." What is generally meant is either "I should have liked to see you," that is "I (then) wished to see you," or "I should like to have seen you," that is "I (now) wish I had seen you (then)."

Every word has its own value and nearly all our mistakes arise from lack of regard for the exact value of the words to be used.

Where a participial construction is used as the object of a verb, the noun or pronoun in the object should be in the possessive case and not in the objective. You should not say, "I object to him watching me," but "I object to his watching me."

Care should be taken not to give objects to passive verbs. The very common expression "The man was given a chance" is incorrect. It should be "A chance was given to the man."

Care should also be taken to avoid the omission of the prepositions which are needed with certain verbs, for example, "beware the dog," "What happened him" should be "beware of the dog," "What happened to him."

On the other hand superfluous prepositions are sometimes used in such phrases as consider of, accept of and the like.

Such errors are to be avoided by careful study of the meaning of words and careful observation of the best written and spoken speech.


Pronouns are substitutes for nouns. They are labor saving devices. We could say everything which we need to say without them, but at the expense of much repetition of longer words. A child often says "John wants Henry's ball" instead of "I want your ball." Constant remembrance of this simple fact, that a pronoun is only a substitute for a noun, is really about all that is needed to secure correct usage after the pronouns themselves have once become familiar. A construction which appears doubtful can often be decided by substituting nouns for pronouns and vice versa.

A very common error is the use of the plural possessive pronouns with the words any, every, each, somebody, everybody, and nobody, all of which are always singular.

We could accomplish this if every one would do their part.

is wrong. It should be

We could accomplish this if every one would do his part.

Another common mistake is the confusion of the nominative and objective cases in objective clauses where two pronouns or a noun and a pronoun occur.

All this was done for you and I.

is a very common but entirely inexcusable mistake. One would hardly think of saying

"All this was done for I."

I saw John and he leaving the shop.

is almost equally common and quite equally bad. Do not allow yourself to be confused by a double object.

In general great care should be taken to avoid ambiguity in the use of pronouns. It is very easy to multiply and combine pronouns in such a way that while grammatical rules may not be broken the reader may be left hopelessly confused. Such ambiguous sentences should be cleared up, either by a rearrangement of the words or by substitution of nouns for some of the pronouns.


An adverb is a helper to a verb, "I fear greatly," "that press works badly." Adverbs modify or help verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs just as adjectives modify nouns and pronouns. The use of adverbs presents some difficulties, mainly arising from the adverbial use of many other parts of speech and from the close relation between adverbs and adjectives.

It should never be forgotten that while adverbs never modify nouns or pronouns, adjectives never modify anything but nouns or pronouns. Remembrance of this simple fact will settle most questions as to the use of adverbs or adjectives. Careful observation and care in forming correct habits of expression will do the rest.

Do not multiply negatives. They cancel each other like the factors in an arithmetical problem. "He never did wrong" is correct in statement and clear in meaning. "He never did nothing wrong" does not add force, it reverses the meaning. The negatives have cancelled each other and you are saying "He did wrong." "He never did nothing wrong to nobody" leaves us with an odd negative and brings us back to the first statement, very badly expressed.


A preposition is a hook for a noun or pronoun to hang on. It usually precedes the noun or pronoun which hangs, or depends upon it, as indicated by its name which is derived from the Latin pre-before and pono-I place.

John is behind the press.

I shall work until Sunday.

A preposition shows the relation of a noun or pronoun used as its object to some other word or words in the sentence or, as it has been otherwise stated, makes the noun or pronoun to which it is joined equivalent to an adjective or an adverb. The expression "John is behind the press" is equivalent to an adjective describing John. That is, he is "John behind-the-press." Prepositions are governing words and the words governed by or depending on them are always in the objective case.


A conjunction is the coupling link between the parts of a train of thought. It is of no purpose whatever except to connect.

I am cold and hungry and tired and I am going home.

Care should be taken to avoid confusing and and but and and and or.

He sees the right and does the wrong.

should be

He sees the right but does the wrong.

The ideas are contrasted, not associated.

I did not see Thomas and John.

should be

I did not see Thomas or John.

The first phrase means that I did not see them together, it says nothing about seeing them separately.

Eitheror and neithernor are called correlative conjunctions. They should always be paired in this way. Neither should never be paired with or nor either with nor. Each member of the pair should be placed in the same relative position, that is before the same part of speech.

I could neither see him nor his father.

is wrong. It should be

I could see neither him nor his father.

This rule applies to all other correlatives, that is since they are correlatives in form they should be correlatives in position also. It is correct to say

It belongs both to you and to me.


It belongs to both you and me.

but not

It belongs both to you and me.


An interjection is a word or sound expressing emotion only such as a shout, a groan, a hiss, a sob, or the like, such as Oh, alas, hush.

General Notes

The position of words in a sentence is often very important. Misplacement will frequently cause ambiguities and absurdities which punctuation will not remove. What does the phrase "I only saw him" mean? A newspaper advertisement describing a certain dog which was offered for sale says "He is thoroughly house-broken, will eat anything, is very fond of children." As a rule modifiers should be kept close to the words, clauses, or phrases which they modify, but due regard should be given to sense and to ease of expression.

A word or phrase which can be easily supplied from the context may often be omitted. Care must be used in making these omissions or the result will be either ambiguous or slovenly.

Washington is nearer New York than Chicago.

What exactly does this mean? One might get into serious trouble over the interpretation of the phrase "He likes me better than you."

All day and all night are recognized as good expressions sanctioned by long usage. All morning and all afternoon are not yet sanctioned by good usage and give a decided impression of slovenliness.

Another objectionable omission is that of to before place and similar words in such expressions as "Let's go some place" and the like. It should be to some place or, generally better, somewhere.

A decidedly offensive abbreviation is the phrase Rev. Smith. It should be Rev. John Smith or Rev. Mr. Smith. Rev. is not a title, or a noun in apposition, but an adjective. It would be entirely correct to say Pastor Smith or Bishop Smith. The same error sometimes occurs in using the prefix Hon.

A knowledge of the correct use and combination of words is fully as important as a knowledge of their grammatical forms and their relations. This knowledge should be acquired by the use of books on rhetoric and by careful study of words themselves. The materials for such study may be found in the books named in the "Supplementary Reading" or in other books of a similar character.

The task of the writer or speaker is to say what he has to say correctly, clearly, and simply. He must say just what he means. He must say it definitely and distinctly. He must say it, so far as the subject matter will permit, in words that people of ordinary intelligence and ordinary education cannot misunderstand. "The right word in the right place" should be the motto of every man who speaks or writes, and this rule should apply to his everyday talk as well as to more formal utterances.

Three abuses are to be avoided.

Do not use slang as a means of expression. There are occasions when a slang phrase may light up what you are saying or may carry it home to intellects of a certain type. Use it sparingly if at all, as you would use cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce. Do not use it in writing at all. Slang is the counterfeit coin of speech. It is a substitute, and a very poor substitute, for language. It is the refuge of those who neither understand real language nor know how to express themselves in it.

Do not use long, unusual words. Use short and simple words whenever they will serve your turn. It is a mistake to suppose that a fluent use of long words is a mark either of depth of thought or of extent of information. The following bit of nonsense is taken from the news columns of a newspaper of good standing: "The topography about Puebla avails itself easily to a force which can utilize the heights above the city with cannon." What was meant was probably something like this, "The situation of Puebla is such as to give a great advantage to a force which can plant cannon on the high ground overlooking the city."

Do not use inflated or exaggerated words.

A heavy shower is not a cloud burst; a gale is not a blizzard; a fire is not a conflagration; an accident or a defeat is not a disaster; a fatal accident is not a holocaust; a sharp criticism is not an excoriation or flaying, and so on.

Rules for Correct Writing

More than a century ago the great Scotch rhetorician Campbell framed five canons or rules for correct writing. They have never been improved. They should be learned by heart, thoroughly mastered, and constantly practiced by every writer and speaker. They are as follows:

Canon 1.—When, of two words or phrases in equally good use, one is susceptible of two significations and the other of but one, preference should be given to the latter: e. g., admittance is better than admission, as the latter word also means confession; relative is to be preferred to relation, as the latter also means the telling of a story.

Canon 2.—In doubtful cases regard should be given to the analogy of the language; might better should be preferred to had better, and would rather is better than had rather.

Canon 3.—The simpler and briefer form should be preferred, other things being equal, e. g., omit the bracketed words in expressions such as, open (up), meet (together), follow (after), examine (into), trace (out), bridge (over), crave (for), etc.

Canon 4.—Between two forms of expression in equally good use, prefer the one which is more euphonious: e. g., most beautiful is better than beautifullest, and more free is to be preferred to freer.

Canon 5.—In cases not covered by the four preceding canons, prefer that which conforms to the older usage: e. g., begin is better than commence.

The Sentence

The proper construction of sentences is very important to good writing. The following simple rules will be of great assistance in sentence formation. They should be carefully learned and the pupil should be drilled in them.

1. Let each sentence have one, and only one, principal subject of thought. Avoid heterogeneous sentences.

2. The connection between different sentences must be kept up by adverbs used as conjunctions, or by means of some other connecting words at the beginning of the sentence.

3. The connection between two long sentences or paragraphs sometimes requires a short intervening sentence showing the transition of thought.

The Paragraph

The proper construction of paragraphs is also of great importance. The following rules will serve as guides for paragraphing. They should be learned and the pupil should be drilled in their application.

1. A sentence which continues the topic of the sentence which precedes it rather than introduces a new topic should never begin a paragraph.

2. Each paragraph should possess a single central topic to which all the statements in the paragraph should relate. The introduction of a single statement not so related to the central topic violates the unity.

3. A sentence or short passage may be detached from the paragraph to which it properly belongs if the writer wishes particularly to emphasize it.

4. For ease in reading, a passage which exceeds three hundred words in length may be broken into two paragraphs, even though no new topic has been developed.

5. Any digression from the central topic, or any change in the viewpoint in considering the central topic, demands a new paragraph.

6. Coherence in a paragraph requires a natural and logical order of development.

7. Smoothness of diction in a paragraph calls for the intelligent use of proper connective words between closely related sentences. A common fault, however, is the incorrect use of such words as and or but between sentences which are not closely related.

8. In developing the paragraph, emphasis is secured by a careful consideration of the relative values of the ideas expressed, giving to each idea space proportionate to its importance to the whole. This secures the proper climax.

9. The paragraph, like the composition itself, should possess clearness, unity, coherence, and emphasis. It is a group of related sentences developing a central topic. Its length depends upon the length of the composition and upon the number of topics to be discussed.

Rules for the Use and Arrangement of Words

The following rules for the use and arrangement of words will be found helpful in securing clearness and force.

1. Use words in their proper sense.

2. Avoid useless circumlocution and "fine writing."

3. Avoid exaggerations.

4. Be careful in the use of not ... and, any, but, only, not ... or, that.

5. Be careful in the use of ambiguous words, e. g., certain.

6. Be careful in the use of he, it, they, these, etc.

7. Report a speech in the first person where necessary to avoid ambiguity.

8. Use the third person where the exact words of the speaker are not intended to be given.

9. When you use a participle implying when, while, though, or that, show clearly by the context what is implied.

10. When using the relative pronoun, use who or which, if the meaning is and he or and it, for he or for it.

11. Do not use and which for which.

12. Repeat the antecedent before the relative where the non-repetition causes any ambiguity.

13. Use particular for general terms. Avoid abstract nouns.

14. Avoid verbal nouns where verbs can be used.

15. Use particular persons instead of a class.

16. Do not confuse metaphor.

17. Do not mix metaphor with literal statement.

18. Do not use poetic metaphor to illustrate a prosaic subject.

19. Emphatic words must stand in emphatic positions; i. e., for the most part, at the beginning or the end of the sentence.

20. Unemphatic words must, as a rule, be kept from the end.

21. The Subject, if unusually emphatic, should often be transferred from the beginning of the sentence.

22. The object is sometimes placed before the verb for emphasis.

23. Where several words are emphatic make it clear which is the most emphatic. Emphasis can sometimes be given by adding an epithet, or an intensifying word.

24. Words should be as near as possible to the words with which they are grammatically connected.

25. Adverbs should be placed next to the words they are intended to qualify.

26. Only; the strict rule is that only should be placed before the word it affects.

27. When not only precedes but also see that each is followed by the same part of speech.

28. At least, always, and other adverbial adjuncts sometimes produce ambiguity.

29. Nouns should be placed near the nouns that they define.

30. Pronouns should follow the nouns to which they refer without the intervention of any other noun.

31. Clauses that are grammatically connected should be kept as close together as possible. Avoid parentheses.

32. In conditional sentences the antecedent or "if-clauses" must be kept distinct from the consequent clauses.

33. Dependent clauses preceded by that should be kept distinct from those that are independent.

34. Where there are several infinitives those that are dependent on the same word must be kept distinct from those that are not.

35. In a sentence with if, when, though, etc. put the "if-clause" first.

36. Repeat the subject where its omission would cause obscurity or ambiguity.

37. Repeat a preposition after an intervening conjunction especially if a verb and an object also intervene.

38. Repeat conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, and pronominal adjectives.

39. Repeat verbs after the conjunctions than, as, etc.

40. Repeat the subject, or some other emphatic word, or a summary of what has been said, if the sentence is so long that it is difficult to keep the thread of meaning unbroken.

41. Clearness is increased when the beginning of the sentence prepares the way for the middle and the middle for the end, the whole forming a kind of ascent. This ascent is called "climax."

42. When the thought is expected to ascend but descends, feebleness, and sometimes confusion, is the result. The descent is called "bathos."

43. A new construction should not be introduced unexpectedly.

Common Errors in the Use of Words

The following pages contain a short list of the more common errors in the use of words. Such a list might be extended almost indefinitely. It is only attempted to call attention to such mistakes as are, for various reasons, most liable to occur.

A should be repeated for every individual. "A red and black book" means one book, "a red and a black book" means two.

Abbreviate, and abridge; abbreviation is the shortening of a piece of writing no matter how accomplished. An abridgement is a condensation.

Ability, power to do something, should be distinguished from capacity, power to receive something.

Above should not be used as an adjective, e. g., "The statement made in above paragraph." Substitute preceding, foregoing, or some similar adjective.

Accept, not accept of.

Accredit, to give one credentials should be distinguished from credit, to believe what one says.

Administer is often misused. One administers a dose of medicine, the laws, an oath, or the government; one does not administer a blow.

Administer to is often incorrectly used for minister to, e. g., "The red cross nurse administers to the wounded."

Admire should not be used to express delight, as in the phrase "I should admire to do so."

Admit should be distinguished from confess.

Advent should be distinguished from arrival, advent meaning an epoch-making arrival.

Affable means "easy to speak to" and should not be confused with agreeable.

Affect should be distinguished from effect. To affect is to influence; to effect is to cause or bring about.

Aggravate should not be used for annoy or vex or provoke. It means "to make worse."

Ain't is a corruption of am not. It is inelegant though grammatical to say I ain't but absolutely incorrect in other persons and numbers.

Alike should not be accompanied by both as in the phrase "They are both alike in this respect."

All, All right should never be written alright. All and universally should never be used together. All should not be accompanied by of, e. g., "He received all of the votes." Be careful about the use of all in negative statements. Do not say "All present are not printers" when you mean "Not all present are printers." The first statement means there are no printers present, the second means there are some printers present.

Allege is a common error for say, state, and the like. It means "to declare," "to affirm," or "to assert with the idea of positiveness" and is not applicable to ordinary statements not needing emphasis.

Allow means permit, never think or admit.

Allude to is not the same as mention. A person or thing alluded to is not mentioned but indirectly implied.

Alone which means unaccompanied should be distinguished from only which means no other.

Alternative should never be used in speaking of more than two things.

Altogether is not the same as all together.

Among should not be used with one another, e. g., "They divided the spoil among one another." It should be "among themselves."

And should not be placed before a relative pronoun in such a position as to interfere with the construction. It should not be substituted for to in such cases as "Try and take more exercise."

And which should not be used for which.

Another should be followed by than not from, e. g., "Men of another temper from (than) the Greeks."

Answer is that which is given to a question; reply to an assertion.

Anticipate should not be used in the sense of expect. It means "to forestall."

Anxious should not be confused with desirous. It means "feeling anxiety."

Any is liable to ambiguity unless it is used with care. "Any of them" may be either singular or plural. "It is not intended for any machine" may mean "There is no machine for which it is intended," or "It is not intended for every machine, but only for a special type."

Anybody else's, idiomatic and correct.

Anyhow, bad, do not use it.

Apparently is used of what seems to be real but may not be so. It should not be confused with evidently which is used of what both seems to be and is real.

Appear is physical in its meaning and should be distinguished from seem which expresses a mental experience. "The forest appears to be impenetrable," "This does not seem to me to be right."

Apt means "skilful" and should never be used in place of likely or liable. It also means "having a natural tendency."

As should not be used as a causal conjunction, e. g., "Do not expect me as I am too uncertain of my time." The word as stands here as a contraction of inasmuch. Substitute a semicolon, or make two sentences.

As to is redundant in such expressions as "As to how far we can trust him I cannot say."

At is often incorrectly used for in, e. g., "He lives at Chicago." It is also improperly used in such expressions as "Where is he at?"

As that should not be used for that alone. Do not say "So as that such and such a thing may happen."

Audience is not the same as spectators. An audience listens; spectators merely see. A concert has an audience; a moving picture show has spectators.

Aught means "anything" and should not be confused with naught or the symbol 0 which means "nothing."

Avenge means to redress wrongs done to others; revenge wrong done to ourselves. Avenge usually implies just retribution. Revenge may be used of malicious retaliation.

Avocation should not be confused with vocation. A man's vocation is his principal occupation. His avocation is his secondary occupation.

Aware is not the same as conscious. We are aware of things outside of ourselves; we are conscious of sensations or things within ourselves.

Awful and awfully are two very much abused words. They mean "awe inspiring" and should never be used in any other sense.

Badly should not be used for very much. It should not be confused with the adjective bad. "He looks badly" means he makes a bad use of his eyes, say "He looks bad."

Bank on is slang. Say rely on or trust in.

Beg is often incorrectly used in the sense of beg leave, not "I beg to say" but "I beg leave to say."

Beside, meaning "by the side of" should not be confused with besides meaning "in addition to."

Between applies only to two persons or things.

Blame on as a verb should never be used.

Both, when both—and are used be sure they connect the right words, "He can both spell and punctuate" not "He both can spell and punctuate." Do not use such expressions as "They both resemble each other." Be careful to avoid confusion in the use of negative statements. Do not say "Both cannot go" when you mean that one can go.

Bound in the sense of determined is an Americanism and is better avoided. We say "he is bound to do it" meaning "he is determined to do it," but the phrase really means "He is under bonds, or obligation to do it."

Bring should be carefully distinguished from fetch, carry and take. Bring means to transfer toward the speaker. Fetch means to go and bring back. Carry and take mean to transfer from the speaker, e. g., "Bring a book home from the library." "Fetch me a glass of water." "Carry this proof to the proofreader." "Take this book home."

But is sometimes used as a preposition and when so used takes the objective case. "The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but him had fled." But should not be used in connection with that unless intended to express the opposite of what the meaning would be without it, e. g., "I have no doubt but that he will die" is incorrect because his death is expected. "I have no fear but that he will come" is correct, as the meaning intended is "I am sure he will come."

But what is often incorrectly used for but that. "I cannot believe but what he is guilty" probably means "I can but believe that he is guilty." "I cannot but believe" means "I must believe."

Calculate does not mean think or suppose.

Calculated does not mean likely. It means "intended or planned for the purpose."

Can which indicates ability is to be distinguished from may which indicates permission.

Cannot but should be carefully distinguished from can but, e. g., "I can but try" means "All I can do is try." "I cannot but try" means "I cannot help trying."

Can't seem should not be used for seem unable, e. g., "I can't seem to see it."

Childlike should be carefully distinguished from childish. Childish refers particularly to the weakness of the child.

Come should not be confused with Go. Come denotes motion toward the speaker; go motion from the speaker, "If you will come to see me, I will go to see you."

Common should be distinguished from mutual. Common means "shared in common." Mutual means "reciprocal" and can refer to but two persons or things. A common friend is a friend two or more friends have in common. Mutual friendship is the friendship of two persons for each other.

Compare to, liken to, compare with, means "measure by" or "point out similarities and differences."

Condign means "suitable" or "deserved," not necessarily severe.

Condone means "to forgive" or "nullify by word or act," not "make amends for."

Consider in the sense of regard as should not usually be followed by as, e. g., "I consider him a wise man," not "as a wise man."

Contemptible is used of an object of contempt and it should be distinguished from contemptuous which is used of what is directed at such an object, e. g., "He is a contemptible fellow." "I gave him a contemptuous look."

Continual should not be confused with continuous. Continual means "frequently repeated." Continuous means "uninterrupted."

Convene, which means "to come together," should not be confused with convoke which means "to bring or call together." A legislature convenes. It cannot be convened by another, but it can be convoked.

Crime is often used for offenses against the speaker's sense of right. Properly crime is a technical word meaning "offenses against law." A most innocent action may be a crime if it is contrary to a statute. The most sinful, cruel, or dishonest action is no crime unless prohibited by a statute.

Dangerous should not be used for dangerously ill.

Data is plural.

Deadly, "that which inflicts death" should not be confused with deathly, "that which resembles death."

Decided must not be confused with decisive. A decided victory is a clear and unmistakable victory. A decisive victory is one which decides the outcome of a war or of a campaign.

Decimate means to take away one-tenth. It is not properly used in a general way of the infliction of severe losses.

Definite which means "well defined" should not be confused with definitive which means "final."

Demean is related to demeanor and means "behave." It should be carefully distinguished from degrade or lower.

Die. We die of a certain disease, not with or from it.

Differ in the sense of disagree is followed by with. "I differ with you." Differ as indicating unlikeness is followed by from.

Different should be followed by from never by with, than, or to.

Directly should not be used for as soon as.

Discover, "to find something which previously existed" should be distinguished from invent something for the first time.

Disinterested means "having no financial or material interest in a thing." It should be carefully distinguished from uninterested which means "taking no interest in" a thing.

Dispense, "to distribute" should not be confused with dispense with, "to do without."

Disposition is not the same as disposal.

Distinguish which means "to perceive differences" should not be confused with differentiate which means "to make or constitute a difference."

Divide should be carefully distinguished from distribute.

Don't is a contraction of do not. Doesn't is the contraction for does not. I don't, they don't, he doesn't.

Due should not be used for owing to or because of.

Each is distributive and is always singular. Each other which is applicable to two only should not be confused with one another which is applicable to more than two.

Egotist, a man with a high or conceited opinion of himself, should not be confused with egoist which is the name for a believer in a certain philosophical doctrine.

Either is distributive and therefore singular and should never be used of more than two.

Elegant denotes delicacy and refinement and should not be used as a term of general approval.

Else should be followed by than, not by but. "No one else than (not but) he could have done so much."

Emigrant, one who goes out of a country should not be confused with immigrant, one who comes into a country.

Enormity is used of wickedness, cruelty, or horror, not of great size, for which enormousness should be used. We speak of the enormity of an offence but of the enormousness of a crowd.

Enthuse should not be used as a verb.

Equally as well; say equally well, or as well.

Every place used adverbially should be everywhere.

Except should never be used in the sense of unless or but.

Exceptional which means "unusual," "forming an exception" should not be confused with exceptionable which means "open to objection."

Expect which involves a sense of the future should not be confused with suppose and similar words, as in the phrase "I expect you know all about it."

Factor is not to be confounded with cause.

Falsity applies to things, falseness to persons.

At fault means "at a loss of what to do next." In fault means "in the wrong."

Favor should not be used in the sense of resemble.

Female should not be used for woman. The words female, woman, and lady should be used with careful attention to their respective shades of meaning.

Few, which emphasizes the fact that the number is small should be distinguished from a few which emphasizes the fact that there is a number though it be small. "Few shall part where many meet." "A few persons were saved in the ark."

Fewer applies to number; less to quantity.

Firstly should not be used for first although secondly and thirdly may be used to complete the series.

Fix should not be used in the sense of repair, arrange, or settle.

Former and latter should never be used where more than two things are involved.

Frequently should be distinguished from commonly, generally, perpetually, usually. Commonly is the antithesis of rarely, frequently of seldom, generally of occasionally, usually of casually.

Funny should not be used to mean strange or remarkable.

Gentleman Friend and Lady Friend are expressions which should be avoided, say "man or woman friend" or "man or woman of my acquaintance" or even "gentleman or lady of my acquaintance."

Good should not be used in the sense of well. "I feel good."

Got is said to be the most misused word in the language. The verb means to secure by effort and should be used only with this meaning, e. g., "I have got the contract." Have got to indicate mere possession is objectionable. Mere possession is indicated by have alone. Another common mistake is the use of got to express obligation or constraint. "I have got to do it."

Guess should not be used in the sense of think or imagine.

Handy should never be used to express nearness.

Hanged should be used to express the execution of a human being. Hung is the past participle in all other uses.

Hardly. "I can hardly see it," not "I can't hardly see it."

Healthy which means "possessed of health" should be distinguished from healthful and wholesome which mean "health giving."

High should not be confused with tall.

Home is not a synonym for house. A beautiful house is a very different thing from a beautiful home.

Honorable as a title should always be preceded by the.

How should not be used for what, or for that. It means "in what manner."

How that should not be used when either one will do alone. Such a sentence as "We have already noted how that Tillotson defied rubrical order...." is very bad.

If should not be used in the sense of where or that.

Ilk means "the same" not kind or sort.

Ill is an adverb as well as an adjective. Do not say illy.

In should not be used for into when motion is implied. You ride in a car but you get into it.

Inaugurate should not be used for begin.

Individual should not be used for person.

Inside of should not be used as an expression of time.

Invaluable, meaning "of very great value" should not be confused with valueless, meaning "of no value."

Invite should not be used for invitation.

Kind is not plural. Do not say "These" or "those" kind of things. Kind of should never be followed by the indefinite article. "What kind of man is he?" not "What kind of a man is he?" Kind of or sort of should not be used in the sense of rather or somewhat.

Kindly is often misused in such expressions as "You are kindly requested to recommend a compositor." Undoubtedly the idea of kindness is attached to the recommendation not to the request and the sentence should be so framed as to express it.

Last is often misused for latest. "The last number of the paper" is not the one that appeared this morning but the one that finally closes publication.

Latter applies only to the last of two. If a longer series than two is referred to, say the last.

Lay, which is a transitive verb, should not be confused with lie. Lay is a verb which expresses causitive action; lie expresses passivity. "He lays plans." "He lies down." The past tense of lay is laid, that of lie is lay.

Learn should not be used in place of teach.

Lengthy is a very poor substitute for long, which needs no substitute.

Liable should not be used for likely. Liable means an unpleasant probability. Likely means any probability. Liable is also used to express obligation. He is liable for this debt.

Like must never be used in the sense of as. "Do like I do" should be "Do as I do."

Literally implies that a statement to which it is attached is accurately and precisely true. It is frequently misused.

Loan is a noun, not a verb.

Locate should not be used in the sense of settle.

Lot or lots should not be used to indicate a great deal.

Love expresses affection or, in its biblical sense, earnest benevolence. Like expresses taste. Do not say "I should love to go."

Lovely means "worthy of affection" and, like elegant, should never be used as a term of general approbation.

Luxuriant which means "superabundant in growth or production" should not be confounded with luxurious which means "given over to luxury." Vegetation is luxuriant, men are luxurious.

Mad means insane and is not a synonym for angry.

Means may be either singular or plural.

Meet should not be used in the sense of meeting except in the case of a few special expressions such as "a race meet."

Mighty should not be used in the sense of very.

Mind should not be used in the sense of obey.

Minus should not be used in the sense of without or lacking.

Most should not be used instead of almost, as in such expressions as "It rained most every day."

Must should not be used for had to or was obliged. In its proper use it refers to the present or future only.

Necessities should be carefully distinguished from necessaries.

Negligence, which denotes a quality of character should be distinguished from neglect which means "a failure to act."

Neither denotes one of two and should not be used for none or no one. As a correlative conjunction it should be followed by nor never by or.

New beginner. Beginner is enough; all beginners are new.

News is singular in construction.

Never is sometimes used as an emphatic negative but such usage is not good.

Nice should not be used in the sense of pleasant or agreeable.

No how should not be used for anyway.

No place should be written as nowhere.

None should be treated as a singular.

Not, like neither, must be followed by the correlative nor, e. g., "Not for wealth nor for fame did he strive."

Not ... but to express a negative is a double negative and therefore should not be used, e. g., "I have not had but one meal to-day."

Nothing like and nowhere near should not be used for not nearly.

O should be used for the vocative and without punctuation.

Oh should be used for the ejaculation and should be followed by a comma or an exclamation point.

Obligate should not be used for oblige.

Observe should not be used for say.

Observation should not be used for observance.

Of is superfluous in such phrases as smell of, taste of, feel of.

Off should never be used with of; one or the other is superfluous.

Other. After no other use than, not but.

Ought must never be used in connection with had or did. "You hadn't ought or didn't ought to do it" should be "You ought not to have done it."

Out loud should never be used for aloud.

Panacea is something that cures all diseases, not an effective remedy for one disease.

Partake of should not be used in the sense of eat. It means "to share with others."

Party should never be used for person except in legal documents.

Per should be used in connection with other words of Latin form but not with English words. Per diem, per annum, and the like are correct. Per day or per year are incorrect. It should be a day, or a year.

Perpendicular, which merely means at right angles to something else mentioned, should not be used for vertical.

Plenty, a noun should not be confused with the adjective plentiful.

Politics is singular.

Post does not mean inform.

Predicate should not be used in the sense of predict or in the sense of base or found.

Premature means "before the proper time." It should not be used in a general way as equivalent to false.

Pretty should not be used in the modifying sense, nor as a synonym for very in such phrases as "pretty good," "pretty near," and the like.

Preventative, no such word, say preventive.

Promise should not be used in the sense of assure.

Propose, meaning "to offer" should not be confused with purpose meaning "to intend."

Proposition should not be confounded with proposal. A proposition is a statement of a statement or a plan. A proposal is the presentation or statement of an offer.

Providing should not be used for provided.

Quality should never be used as an adjective or with an adjective sense. "Quality clothes" is meaningless: "Clothes of quality" equally so. All clothes have quality and the expression has meaning only when the quality is defined as good, bad, high, low, and so forth.

Quit, "to go away from" is not the same as stop.

Quite means "entirely," "wholly," and should never be used in the modifying sense as if meaning rather or somewhat. "Quite a few" is nonsense.

Raise is a much abused word. It is never a noun. As a verb it should be distinguished from rear and increase, as in such phrases as "He was raised in Texas." "The landlord raised my rent."

Rarely ever should not be used for rarely or hardly ever.

Real should not be used in the sense of very.

Reference should be used with with rather than in. Say with reference to, not in reference to. The same rule applies to the words regard and respect. Do not say "in regards to," say "with regard to."

Remember is not the same as recollect, which means "to remember by an effort."

Rendition should not be used for rendering.

Researcher has no standing as a word.

Reside in the sense of live, and residence in the sense of house or dwelling are affectations and should never be used.

Retire should not be used in the sense of "go to bed."

Right should not be used in the sense of duty. "You had a right to warn me," should be "It was your duty to warn me, or you ought to have warned me." Right should not be used in the sense of very. Such expressions as right now, right off, right away, right here are not now in good use.

Same should not be used as a pronoun. This is a common usage in business correspondence but it is not good English and can be easily avoided without sacrificing either brevity or sense. Same as in the sense of just as, in the same manner should be avoided.

Score should not be used for achieve or accomplish.

Set should not be confused with sit. To set means "to cause to sit."

Sewage, meaning the contents of a sewer, should not be confused with sewerage which means the system.

Show should not be used in the sense of play or performance. Show up should not be used for expose.

Since should not be used for ago.

Size up should not be used for estimate or weigh.

Some should not be used for somewhat as "I feel some better."

Sort of should not be used for rather.

Splendid means shining or brilliant and should not be used as a term of general commendation.

Stand for means "be responsible for." Its recent use as meaning stand, endure, or permit, should be avoided.

Start should not be used for begin, e. g., "He started (began) to speak."

State should not be used for say.

Stop should not be used for stay.

Such should not be used for so. Say "I have never seen so beautiful a book before" not "I have never seen such a beautiful book before."

Sure should not be used as an adverb. Say surely.

Take is superfluous in connection with other verbs, e. g., "Suppose we take and use that type." Take should not be confused with bring. Take stock in should not be used for rely or trust in.

That should not be used in the sense of so. "I did not know it was that big."

Think should not have the word for added, e. g., "It is more important than you think for."

This should not be used as an adverb. "This much is clear" should be "Thus much is clear."

Through should not be used for finished.

To is superfluous and wrong in such expressions as "Where did you go to?"

Too alone should not modify a past participle. "He was too (much) excited to reply."

Transpire does not mean happen. It means to come to light or become known.

Treat should be followed by of rather than on. This volume treats of grammar, not on grammar.

Try should be followed by to rather than and. "I will try to go," not "I will try and go."

Ugly should never be used in the sense of bad tempered or vicious. It means "repulsive to the eye."

Unique does not mean rare, odd, or unusual. It means alone of its kind.

Upward of should not be used in the sense of more than.

Venal should not be confused with venial.

Verbal should not be confused with oral. A verbal message means only a message in words; an oral message is a message by word of mouth.

Very should be used sparingly. It is a word of great emphasis and like all such words defeats its purpose when used too frequently.

Visitor is a human caller. Visitant a supernatural caller.

Want should not be used in the sense of wish, e. g., "I want it" really means "I feel the want of it" or "I lack it." Want, wish, and need should be carefully distinguished.

Way should not be used in the sense of away in such expressions as "Way down East."

Ways should not be used for way, e. g., "It is quite a ways (way) off."

What is often misused for that, e. g., "He has no doubt but what (that) he will succeed."

Whence means "from what place or cause" and should not be preceded by from. This applies equally to hence which means "from this place."

Which should not be used with a clause as its antecedent, e. g., "He replied hotly, which was a mistake" should be "He replied hotly; this was a mistake." Which being a neuter pronoun should not be used to represent a masculine or feminine noun. Use who. Between the two neuter pronouns which and that let euphony decide.

Who should not be misused for whom or whose, e. g., "Who (whom) did you wish to see?" "Washington, than who (whose) no greater name is recorded." Impersonal objects should be referred to by which rather than who.

Without should not be used for unless, e. g., "I will not go without (unless) you go with me."

Witness should not be used for see.

Worst kind or worst kind of way should not be used for very much.

Womanly means "belonging to woman as woman."

Womanish means effeminate.

Tables of Irregular Verbs

Table 1 contains the principal parts of all irregular verbs whose past tense and perfect participle are unlike.

Most errors in the use of irregular verbs occur with those in Table 1. The past tense must not be used with have (has, had). Do not use such expressions as have drove and has went. Equally disagreeable is the use of the perfect participle for the past tense; as, she seen, they done.


Present Tense Past Tense Perf. Part.

arise arose arisen be or am was been bear, bring forth bore born[1], borne bear, carry bore borne beat beat beaten, beat begin began begun bid bade, bid bidden, bid bite bit bitten, bit blow blew blown break broke broken chide chid chidden, chid choose chose chosen cleave, split {cleft, clove {cleft, cleaved, {(clave)[2] {cloven come came come do did done draw drew drawn drink drank drunk, drunken drive drove driven eat ate (eat) eaten (eat) fall fell fallen fly flew flown forbear forbore forborne forget forgot forgotten, forgot forsake forsook forsaken freeze froze frozen give gave given go went gone grow grew grown hide hid hidden, hid know knew known lie, recline lay lain ride rode ridden ring rang, rung rung rise rose risen run ran run see saw seen shake shook shaken shrink shrank, shrunk shrunk, shrunken sing sung, sang sung sink sank, sunk sunk slay slew slain slide slid slidden, slid smite smote smitten speak spoke (spake) spoken spring sprang, spring sprung steal stole stolen stride strode stridden strike struck struck, stricken strive strove striven swear swore (sware) sworn swim swam, swum swum take took taken tear tore torn throw threw thrown tread trod trodden, trod wear wore worn weave wove woven write wrote written


This table contains the principal parts of all irregular verbs whose past tense and perfect participles are alike.

Present Tense Past Tense and Present Tense Past Tense and Perf. Part. Perf. Part.

abide abode mean meant behold beheld meet met beseech besought pay paid bind bound put put bleed bled read read breed bred rend rent bring brought say said build built seek sought burst burst sell sold buy bought send sent cast cast set set catch caught shed shed cling clung shoe shod cost cost shoot shot creep crept shut shut cut cut sit sat deal dealt sleep slept feed fed sling slung feel felt slink slunk fight fought spend spent find found spin spun (span) flee fled spit spit (spat) fling flung split split get got (gotten) spread spread grind ground stand stood have had stick stuck hear heard sting stung hit hit string strung hold held sweep swept hurt hurt swing swung keep kept teach taught lay laid tell told lead led think thought leave left thrust thrust lend lent weep wept let let win won lose lost wring wrung make made


This table includes verbs that are both regular and irregular.


Verbs in which the regular form is preferred.

Present Tense Past Tense Perf. Part.

bend bended, bent bended, bent bereave bereaved, bereft bereaved, bereft blend blended, blent blended, blent bless blessed, blest blessed, blest burn burned, burnt burned, burnt cleave, stick cleaved (clave) cleaved clothe clothed, clad clothed, clad curse cursed, curst cursed, curst dive dived (dove) dived (dove) dream dreamed, dreamt dreamed, dreamt dress dressed, drest dressed, drest gild gilded, gilt gilded, gilt heave heaved, hove heaved, hove hew hewed hewed, hewn lade laded laded, laden lean leaned, leant leaned, leant leap leaped, leapt leaped, leapt learn learned, learnt learned, learnt light lighted, lit lighted, lit mow mowed mowed, mown pen, shut up penned, pent penned, pent plead {pleaded (plead or {pleaded (plead or {pled) {pled) prove proved proved, proven reave reaved, reft reaved, reft rive rived rived, riven saw sawed sawed, sawn seethe seethed (sod) seethed, sodden shape shaped shaped, shapen shave shaved shaved, shaven shear sheared sheared, shorn smell smelled, smelt smelled, smelt sow sowed sowed, sown spell spelled, spelt spelled, spelt spill spilled, spilt spilled, spilt spoil spoiled, spoilt spoiled, spoilt stave staved, stove staved, stove stay stayed, staid stayed, staid swell swelled swelled, swollen wake waked, woke waked, woke wax, grow waxed waxed (waxen) wed wedded wedded, wed whet whetted, whet whetted, whet work worked, wrought worked, wrought


Verbs in which the irregular form is preferred.

Present Tense Past Tense Perf. Part.

awake awoke, awaked awaked, awoke belay belaid, belayed belaid, belayed bet bet, betted bet, betted crow crew, crowed crowed dare durst, dared dared dig dug, digged dug, digged dwell dwelt, dwelled dwelt, dwelled gird girt, girded girt, girded grave graved graven, graved hang hung, hanged[3] hung, hanged kneel knelt, kneeled knelt, kneeled knit knit, knitted knit, knitted quit quit, quitted quit, quitted rap rapt, rapped rapt, rapped rid rid, ridded rid, ridded shine shone (shined) shone (shined) show showed shown, showed shred shred, shredded shred, shredded shrive shrived, shrove shriven, shrived slit slit, slitted slit, slitted speed sped, speeded sped, speeded strew strewed strewn, strewed strow strowed strown, strowed sweat sweat, sweated sweat, sweated thrive throve, thrived thrived, thriven wet wet (wetted) wet (wetted) wind wound (winded) wound (winded)

The verbs of the following list also are irregular; but as they lack one or more of the principal parts, they are called defective verbs.

Defective Verbs

Present Past Present Past

can could ought ..... may might ..... quoth must ..... beware ..... shall should methinks methought will would

All the participles are wanting in defective verbs.

The verb ought, when used to express past duty or obligation, is followed by what is called the perfect infinitive—a use peculiar to itself because ought has no past form.

Example: I ought to have gone yesterday.

Other verbs expressing past time are used in the past tense followed by the root infinitive.

Example: I intended to go yesterday.


Composition and Rhetoric. By Lockwood and Emerson. Ginn & Co., Boston.

The Art of Writing and Speaking the English Language. By Sherwin Cody. The Old Greek Press, Chicago.

The Writer's Desk Book. By William Dana Orcutt. Frederick Stokes Company, New York.

A Manual for Writers. By John Matthews Manly and John Arthur Powell. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Any good Grammar.

Putnam's Word Book. By Louis A. Flemming. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Chicago. (For reference.)


In addition to the questions here given there should be constant and thorough drill in the use of grammatical forms and the choice of words. Frequent short themes should be required. In these themes attention should be given to grammatical construction, choice of words, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, sentence construction, and paragraphing.

1. Why is the subject important?

2. How many families of words are there, and what are they?

3. What is a noun?

4. What are the three things about a noun which indicates its relation to other words?

5. How many numbers are there, and what do they mean?

6. How do ordinary nouns form their plurals?

7. How do compound nouns form their plurals?

8. What is one very important use of number?

9. What can you say of the use of the verb with collective nouns?

10. What is case?

11. How many cases are there, and what does each indicate?

12. What can you say about the relation of a noun to a preposition?

13. Are prepositions ever omitted, and why?

14. How are the nominative and objective cases distinguished?

15. How is the possessive case formed in the plural?

16. Do possessive pronouns take an apostrophe?

17. What is it's?

18. How are compound nouns, appositives, etc., treated in the possessive?

19. What is an adjective?

20. What do degrees indicate, and how many are there?

21. How are adjectives compared?

22. When should the long form of comparison be used and when the short?

23. What danger attends the use of most?

24. Give two irregular adjectives and compare them.

25. Should the two methods of comparison ever be combined?

26. Why are some adjectives never compared?

27. What is an article?

28. How many articles are there?

29. What kinds of articles are there?

30. When should you use a?

31. When should you use an?

32. What is a verb?

33. Of what three parts does a simple sentence consist?

34. Name them and describe each.

35. What is the relation of the verb to the subject with regard to person and number?

36. What is voice?

37. How many voices are there, what is each called, and what does it indicate?

38. What is tense?

39. How many tenses are there, and what are they called?

40. What is the rule for tense in subordinate clauses?

41. What is the reason for the rule, and how can accuracy be determined?

42. What happens when the statement in the subordinate clause is of universal application?

43. What is mood?

44. How many moods are there, and what are they called?

45. How is the indicative mood used?

46. How is the subjunctive mood used?

47. How is the imperative mood used?

48. What is the potential mood?

49. What is the exact meaning of (a) may, (b) can, (c) must, (d) ought?

50. What is tense?

51. How are shall and will used in direct discourse (a) in simple statements, (b) in questions, (c) in other cases?

52. How are shall and will used in indirect discourse?

53. What are the exceptions in the use of shall and will?

54. What is the general use of should and would?

55. How are should and would used in subordinate clauses, in indirect discourse?

56. What exceptions are there in the use of should and would?

57. Why do we make mistakes in the use of compound tenses?

58. What is the case of the object in participial construction?

59. What should be avoided in the use of prepositions?

60. Do passive verbs ever have objects?

61. What is a pronoun?

62. What common error occurs in the use of plural possessive pronouns?

63. What common error occurs in the use of cases in subordinate clauses?

64. What danger is there in the use of pronouns, and how can it be avoided?

65. What is an adverb?

66. What is the important distinction in the use of adverbs and adjectives?

67. What rule is to be observed in the use of negatives?

68. What is a preposition?

69. Where is it placed in the sentence?

70. What is a conjunction?

71. What is said of and and but?

72. How should we pair either, neither, or, and nor?

73. What is the rule about placing correlatives?

74. What is an interjection?

75. Does it make much difference where words are put in a sentence? Why?

76. What is the general rule for placing words?

77. When may words be omitted?

78. What is the danger in such omission?

79. Mention some objectionable abbreviations of this sort.

80. What is the writer's task?

81. What three abuses are to be avoided?

82. What are Campbell's five canons?

83. What are the rules for the formation of sentences?

84. What are the rules for the formation of paragraphs?


AMBIGUITY—The possibility of more than one meaning.

APPOSITION—When the meaning of a noun or pronoun is made clear or emphatic by the use of another noun or pronoun the two are said to be in apposition, e. g., John, the old pressman.

AUXILIARY VERB—A verb used to help to express the meaning of another verb by showing its voice, mood or tense.

CLAUSE—A group of words consisting of a subject and predicate with their modifiers and forming a part of a sentence: a sentence within a sentence.

COLLECTIVE NOUN—A noun indicating a collection of units considered as a whole, e. g., crowd.

COMPOUND WORDS—Words made up of two or more words used together to express one idea.

CONTEXT—The entire writing from which a text or passage is taken.

CORRELATIVE—A term applied to pairs of conjunctions or other words or phrases which imply or involve each other.

DICTION—The choice and use of words.

GRAMMAR—The science that treats of the principles that govern the correct use of language in either spoken or written form; the science of the sentence and its elements.

HETEROGENEOUS SENTENCES—Sentences containing unrelated ideas or dealing with a variety of separate things.

HYPOTHESIS—A supposition, or imaginary state of things assumed as a basis for reasoning.

HYPOTHETICAL CLAUSE—A clause containing a supposition.

METAPHOR—A figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another by speaking of it as if it were that other, or calling it that other.

NOUN CLAUSE—A clause used as a noun.

OBJECT (OF A VERB)—The thing acted on.

PARTICIPIAL CONSTRUCTION—A participle and its modifiers used as the subject or object of a verb.

PHRASE—An expression, consisting usually of but a few words, denoting a single idea, or forming a separate part of a sentence.

PREDICATE (OF A SENTENCE)—That which is said of the subject. See subject.

PRINCIPAL VERB—The verb in the main statement of a sentence.

PRONOMINAL ADJECTIVE—An adjective used as a pronoun.

RHETORIC—The art of perfecting man's power of communicating to others his mental acts or states by means of language: art of discourse.

SUBJECT (OF A SENTENCE)—The thing spoken about in the sentence. See predicate.

SUBJECT (OF A VERB)—The thing acting.

SUBORDINATE CLAUSE—A clause explaining or otherwise modifying the main statement of the sentence.


The following list of publications, comprising the TYPOGRAPHIC TECHNICAL SERIES FOR APPRENTICES, has been prepared under the supervision of the Committee on Education of the United Typothetae of America for use in trade classes, in course of printing instruction, and by individuals.

Each publication has been compiled by a competent author or group of authors, and carefully edited, the purpose being to provide the printers of the United States—employers, journeymen, and apprentices—with a comprehensive series of handy and inexpensive compendiums of reliable, up-to-date information upon the various branches and specialties of the printing craft, all arranged in orderly fashion for progressive study.

The publications of the series are of uniform size, 5 x 8 inches. Their general make-up, in typography, illustrations, etc., has been, as far as practicable, kept in harmony throughout. A brief synopsis of the particular contents and other chief features of each volume will be found under each title in the following list.

Each topic is treated in a concise manner, the aim being to embody in each publication as completely as possible all the rudimentary information and essential facts necessary to an understanding of the subject. Care has been taken to make all statements accurate and clear, with the purpose of bringing essential information within the understanding of beginners in the different fields of study. Wherever practicable, simple and well-defined drawings and illustrations have been used to assist in giving additional clearness to the text.

In order that the pamphlets may be of the greatest possible help for use in trade-school classes and for self-instruction, each title is accompanied by a list of Review Questions covering essential items of the subject matter. A short Glossary of technical terms belonging to the subject or department treated is also added to many of the books.

These are the Official Text-books of the United Typothetae of America.


PART I—Types, Tools, Machines, and Materials

1. Type: a Primer of Information By A. A. Stewart

Relating to the mechanical features of printing types; their sizes, font schemes, etc., with a brief description of their manufacture. 44 pp.; illustrated; 74 review questions; glossary.

2. Compositors' Tools and Materials By A. A. Stewart

A primer of information about composing sticks, galleys, leads, brass rules, cutting and mitering machines, etc. 47 pp.; illustrated; 50 review questions; glossary.

3. Type Cases, Composing Room Furniture By A. A. Stewart

A primer of information about type cases, work stands, cabinets, case racks, galley racks, standing galleys, etc. 43 pp.; illustrated; 33 review questions; glossary.

4. Imposing Tables and Lock-up Appliances By A. A. Stewart

Describing the tools and materials used in locking up forms for the press, including some modern utilities for special purposes. 59 pp.; illustrated; 70 review questions; glossary.

5. Proof Presses By A. A. Stewart

A primer of information about the customary methods and machines for taking printers' proofs. 40 pp.; illustrated; 41 review questions; glossary.

6. Platen Printing Presses By Daniel Baker

A primer of information regarding the history and mechanical construction of platen printing presses, from the original hand press to the modern job press, to which is added a chapter on automatic presses of small size. 51 pp.; illustrated; 49 review questions; glossary.

7. Cylinder Printing Presses By Herbert L. Baker

Being a study of the mechanism and operation of the principal types of cylinder printing machines. 64 pp.; illustrated; 47 review questions; glossary.

8. Mechanical Feeders and Folders By William E. Spurrier

The history and operation of modern feeding and folding machines; with hints on their care and adjustments. Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

9. Power for Machinery in Printing Houses By Carl F. Scott

A treatise on the methods of applying power to printing presses and allied machinery with particular reference to electric drive. 53 pp.; illustrated; 69 review questions; glossary.

10. Paper Cutting Machines By Niel Gray, Jr.

A primer of information about paper and card trimmers, hand-lever cutters, power cutters, and other automatic machines for cutting paper. 70 pp.; illustrated; 115 review questions; glossary.

11. Printers' Rollers By A. A. Stewart

A primer of information about the composition, manufacture, and care of inking rollers. 46 pp.; illustrated; 61 review questions; glossary.

12. Printing Inks By Philip Ruxton

Their composition, properties and manufacture (reprinted by permission from Circular No. 53, United States Bureau of Standards); together with some helpful suggestions about the everyday use of printing inks by Philip Ruxton. 80 pp.; 100 review questions; glossary.

13. How Paper is Made By William Bond Wheelwright

A primer of information about the materials and processes of manufacturing paper for printing and writing. 68 pp.; illustrated; 62 review questions; glossary.

14. Relief Engravings By Joseph P. Donovan

Brief history and non-technical description of modern methods of engraving; woodcut, zinc plate, halftone; kind of copy for reproduction; things to remember when ordering engravings. Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

15. Electrotyping and Stereotyping By Harris B. Hatch and A. A. Stewart

A primer of information about the processes of electrotyping and stereotyping. 94 pp.; illustrated; 129 review questions; glossaries.

PART II—Hand and Machine Composition

16. Typesetting By A. A. Stewart

A handbook for beginners, giving information about justifying, spacing, correcting, and other matters relating to typesetting. Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

17. Printers' Proofs By A. A. Stewart

The methods by which they are made, marked, and corrected, with observations on proofreading. Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

18. First Steps in Job Composition By Camille DeVeze

Suggestions for the apprentice compositor in setting his first jobs, especially about the important little things which go to make good display in typography. 63 pp.; examples; 55 review questions; glossary.

19. General Job Composition

How the job compositor handles business stationery, programs and miscellaneous work. Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

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