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the same manner we might show that " thy bouse,” was the substitute of Yobn's bouse ; and so of all the others of this class, which on all occasions are the substitute of some definitive, and of nothing else.
On the other hand, we are also led to perceive, that the words mine, thine, and others of the same clafs, become the substitutes, not of the definitive alone, but of the whole noun with its definitive, “ Fohn's bouse." Thus the phrase,
“ My bouse is better than thine," supposing the parties to be James and Fobr, as above, is precisely equivalent to the phrase,
“ James's bouse, is better than yobn’s bouse." in which the word thine, plainly becomes the substitute of the whole noun with its definitive, John's bouse, though my is only the substitute of James's.
Hence we are farther led to observe, that the words of the first class, my, thy, &c. are nothing else than a certain class of definitives derived from pronouns, which may, in a pronomial fahion, become the sub- , stitutes of a particular class of definitives derived from nouns in a certain manner; and therefore may be called, for want of a better name, pronomial definitives. The words mine, thine, and others of this class, however, do more, as they become the substitutes, alike, of the noun and its definitive ; and as it has been the custom on some occasions to call these words pronouns pofsefsive, I can see no harm that would result from allowing them still to retain the
According to this distinction then, our personal pronouns, with these derivatives from them, mighe stand as under. .
A Table of the English PERSONAL PRONOUNS, with their DERIVATIVES, and the VARIATIONS these words
respectively admit of.
N. B. Wherever a word is obliged to perform a double office, it is printed in Roman characters where it
stands in its proper place; and in Italics when placed where it ought not to be.
By glancing over this table, we are enabled to discover some defects in our language, that otherwise are not very apparent, which have not, that I know, been hitherto remarked. Thus, in the pronoun of the third person singular, we observe that the words his and its, are each of them compelled to perform alike the office of definitives and pofsefsives. The word her, is, in like manner, forced to do the double office of accusative and definitive, while the word it, performs alike the office of nominative and accusative. These are great defects which have escaped our notice, merely because custom has rendered this double use of them quite familiar to us. The following example will illustrate this position.
“ His house is better than bers, but bers is finer than #13."
" My bouse is better than yours, but yours is finer than mine." In this example the word bis performs, alike, the office of my and mine, yet the meaning appears complete, though we have already seen that my, if substituted for mine, could not be at all tolerated. Again, in the phrase,
" It struck him and cut his eye brow,"
" It struck HER and cut her eye brow'." We observe that the word ber performs, alike, the office of both the words bim and bis, without appearing in any respect improper. How absurd would it seem if we were to say,
“ It stiuck him and cut him eye brow." The same impropriety might be, in like manner, pointed out with regard to the double office performed by the words it and its. But as this will be sufficiently obvious, I do not dwell upon it. It must be admitted, that we here meet with a very capital defect in a radical part of our language, which requires to be corrected.
One observation here obtrudes itself upon us, and must not be omitted. Many English grammarians have supposed, from the accidental circumstance of the word bis ending with the letter s, and assuming something like a genitive signification, that those words which have been called English genitives have been formed by adding this letter to the noun, and “James's house” has been supposed to mean “ James his bouse;" the word bis, being softened by elisis into 's: and some of our best writers have an occasional re, finement founded upon this principle. It has, how. ever, been justly observed by others, that this could not be the case, seeing our feminine nouns admit of the same inflection, though the word ber, and not bers, is used in that sense which has been called the geni
Thus, we say equally “ James's house,!" “ Ann's house ;” though, were we to try to forin the genitive on the same principle, we would be obliged to say,
“ Ann bers bouse," and not " Ann ber house. This idea therefore is sufficiently refuted from this consideration alone.
From the view we have taken of this subject, we are enabled farther, to observe, that in the whole list of pronomial definitives, my, thy, &c. it happens invariably that this definitive, or genitive, as it has been called, does not at all admit of the final se unless it be in the two words his and its, already taken not tice of, as being obliged to perform, alike, the office of the definitive and the possessive. Whereas the pof
sessive is as universally formed by adding the final s, the words mine and thine only being excepted *. Hence I would infer that the words bis, and its, belong properly to the class of possessives, and have beer compelled, for want of a proper word for the definitive, to do its office also.
From this kind of analysis we are also farther led to observe, that all those words derived from English nouns by the addition of an apostrophised 's, which have been usually called genitives, are always employed to perform the double office of both definitive and possessive, and are, in this respect, exactly in the same predicament with the words bis and its, a. bove taken notice of. To prove this, we shall adopt the following illustration. In the sentence,“ my house is better than
is finer than mine," we find, as has been already remarked, that the word house can only with propriety follow that class of words which we have called above, definitives; but it never can follow any of those belonging to the class of possessives. Hence it must be added to the words my and your, before any meaning can be got ; but it cannot be joined with the word yours, nor mine ; we may therefore render that sentence thus, My bouse is better than yours,
is finer than mine, or My bouse is better than your house but your bouse is finer than
* By the bye, in the provincial language of Edinburgh, these words are formed according to the strictest analogy, and are not pronounced mine and thire, but mines and thines. Of the last however I am somewhat uacertain.