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Letters are of two kinds, vowels and consonants.

A Vowel is a letter that forms a perfect sound by itself.

They are a, e, i, o, u, and w and y when not at the beginning of a word or syllable.

A Consonant is a letter that cannot form a full, open sound, unless joined to a vowel.

Here let the teacher illustrate the difference between the sounds of the vowels and the consonants, which can only be done vivâ voce.

There are in the English language about 36 different sounds, to represent which we have only 26 letters, and of these 4 are unnecessary; our alphabet is therefore both deficient and redundant. To make up for these imper

fections we have two resources:—

(1) By allowing one letter to represent several sounds. (2) By giving one sound to two letters, e. g. :

(1) a has four different sounds, as in fate, fat, far, fall.

scheme, den, open.
dine, din.

e has three

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so, sot, prove.

u has three

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tube, tub, pull.

Some of these sounds, too, are not always represented by the same letter, sometimes even by two or three letters, e.g., dirt, hurt; duty, dew, beauty; son, sun; pail, tale; odour, boat; sir, her; vow, plough, out; off, cough, laurel, &c. (2) th, sh, ph, ng, stand for one sound each.

c, j, and k are the redundant letters, and x is really a double letter, being equal to ks.

1,m, n, r are called liquids, because they easily combine with any other sound.

h is called the aspirate.

The remaining ten consonants are called mutes,* and consist of five pairs, called sharp and flat mutes.

* The mutes are sometimes classified according to the organs of speech by which they are pronounced, i. e. into labials, dentals, and gutturals.

The English Alphabet may therefore be thus arranged:

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When two vowels are used to make one sound they are called a diphthong; as, oy in boy.

When three vowels are so used they constitute a triphthong; as, iew in view.

A Syllable is a word, or part of a word, forming one distinct sound.

Words are articulate sounds, or written characters which

represent those sounds, used as signs to convey our ideas. A word of one syllable is called a monosyllable, as, truth. A word of two syllables is called a disyllable, as, un-truth. A word of three syllables is called a trisyllable, as, un-truth-ful. A word of more than three syllables is called a polysyllable, . as, un-truth-ful-ly.


Etymology is that part of grammar which treats of words, their classification, inflection, and derivation.

By Classification is meant the placing of words into different classes or divisions; as, noun, verb, adjective.

Inflection is the change in spelling that words undergo to mark an alteration in their meaning; as, box, boxes; ride, rode, ridden.

Derivation treats of the origin and history of words; thus, from heal come health, unhealthy; from the Latin scrib come scribble, scripture, subscription.


Words are divided into eight classes, which are called Parts of Speech; these are :








The most important as well as the largest classes of words are the Noun and the Verb.


A Noun is the name of anything; as, Tom, York, book, truth.

Nouns are of three kinds, Proper, Common, and Abstract.

A Common noun is a name which is common to all things of the same kind; as, boy, river, metal.

A Proper noun is the name of some particular thing; as, Fred, Paris, Vesuvius.

An Abstract noun is the name of something which we can only conceive in our minds as existing apart from something else; as, beauty, health, flight.

Proper nouns always begin with a capital letter.

When a noun denotes a number of individuals taken together it is called a collective noun; as, mob, flock, committee. Names of actions ending in ing are distinguished as participial nouns; as, sleeping.

Adjectives are sometimes used as nouns; as, the lazy will be punished.

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Proper nouns sometimes become common, and vice-versa; e. g. as strong as a Samson; I am going to the Park (when some particular one is meant).


A verb is a word which expresses being, doing or suffering;* I kick, I am kicked.

as, I am,

Verbs are of two kinds, transitive and intransitive.

A transitive verb expresses action which passes over to an object; as, He kicked me.

An intransitive verb has no object; as, He ran off.

Verbs may be divided in many different ways according to the view we take of them: e. g.

1.-Transitive and


2.-Regular and
3.-Principal and

as to the kind of action.

as to their form.

as to their use.

A regular verb forms its past tense and perfect participle by adding d or ed to the present; as, walk, walked, walked. An irregular verb does not form its past tense and perfect participle by adding d or ed to the present; as, write, wrote, written.

A principal verb is one which can be used by itself; as, He writes, they ran.

* Or, a verb is a word which asserts; or, denotes action or a state of existence.

An auxiliary verb helps other verbs to form their moods and tenses; as, I will go, she can read.

There is still another important class of verbs which differ in their use from any that have been mentioned above; they are called copulative verbs; such as, be, become, seem, grow, &c.

A copulative verb is used to join a subject to a predicate; as, He is foolish, she grows tall.


An Adjective is a word that qualifies, or limits the meaning of, a noun; as, a sour orange, six shillings.

The name adnoun would be better.

Adjectives are of three kinds: (1) those that qualify; (2) those that express quantity; (3) those that distinguish. (1) Adjectives of quality express some property or accident of the thing; as, a lazy boy, a dreadful explosion. (2) Adjectives of quantity, or numeral adjectives, express the number or amount of the thing; as, seven days, any time.

There are three kinds of numeral adjectives, definite, inde-
finite, and distributive.

(a.) Definite numerals express the exact number or quantity
of the thing. They are either (a) Cardinal, as, one, two,
three, &c.; or (B) Ordinal, as, first, second, third, &c.
(b.) Indefinite numerals do not express an exact quantity;
as, some money, any class. The chief are, many, much,
more, any, few, several, some.

No and none may be regarded as the zero of numerals.

(c.) The Distributive numerals are, each, every, either, neither. (3) Adjectives that distinguish, or demonstrative adjectives, point out the thing meant; as, that door; the book I gave you. They are a, the, this, that, and sometimes such, same, yon or yonder.

The demonstrative adjectives a and the are generally called

Adjectives are often formed from proper nouns; they should
then be called proper adjectives; e.g., American Cheese,
Platonic affection.

Other parts of speech are frequently used as adjectives; e.g., a gold ring, the rising sun, the down train.

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