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Higher Lessons in English A work on English grammar and composition   By: (1899-)

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HIGHER LESSONS IN ENGLISH.

A WORK ON ENGLISH GRAMMAR AND COMPOSITION,

IN WHICH THE SCIENCE OF THE LANGUAGE IS MADE TRIBUTARY TO THE ART OF EXPRESSION.

A COURSE OF PRACTICAL LESSONS CAREFULLY GRADED, AND ADAPTED TO EVERY DAY USE IN THE SCHOOL ROOM.

BY ALONZO REED, A.M.,

FORMERLY INSTRUCTOR IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR IN THE POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, BROOKLYN,

AND BRAINERD KELLOGG, LL.D.,

PROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE IN THE POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, BROOKLYN.

Revised Edition, 1896.

PREFACE.

The plan of "Higher Lessons" will perhaps be better understood if we first speak of two classes of text books with which this work is brought into competition.

Method of One Class of Text books. In one class are those that aim chiefly to present a course of technical grammar in the order of Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody. These books give large space to grammatical Etymology, and demand much memorizing of definitions, rules, declensions, and conjugations, and much formal word parsing, work of which a considerable portion is merely the invention of grammarians, and has little value in determining the pupil's use of language or in developing his reasoning faculties. This is a revival of the long endured, unfruitful, old time method.

Method of Another Class of Text books. In another class are those that present a miscellaneous collection of lessons in Composition, Spelling, Pronunciation, Sentence analysis, Technical Grammar, and General Information, without unity or continuity. The pupil who completes these books will have gained something by practice and will have picked up some scraps of knowledge; but his information will be vague and disconnected, and he will have missed that mental training which it is the aim of a good text book to afford. A text book is of value just so far as it presents a clear, logical development of its subject. It must present its science or its art as a natural growth, otherwise there is no apology for its being.

The Study of the Sentence for the Proper Use of Words. It is the plan of this book to trace with easy steps the natural development of the sentence, to consider the leading facts first and then to descend to the details. To begin with the parts of speech is to begin with details and to disregard the higher unities, without which the details are scarcely intelligible. The part of speech to which a word belongs is determined only by its function in the sentence, and inflections simply mark the offices and relations of words. Unless the pupil has been systematically trained to discover the functions and relations of words as elements of an organic whole, his knowledge of the parts of speech is of little value. It is not because he cannot conjugate the verb or decline the pronoun that he falls into such errors as "How many sounds have each of the vowels?" "Five years' interest are due." "She is older than me ." He probably would not say "each have ," "interest are ," " me am." One thoroughly familiar with the structure of the sentence will find little trouble in using correctly the few inflectional forms in English.

The Study of the Sentence for the Laws of Discourse. Through the study of the sentence we not only arrive at an intelligent knowledge of the parts of speech and a correct use of grammatical forms, but we discover the laws of discourse in general. In the sentence the student should find the law of unity, of continuity, of proportion, of order. All good writing consists of good sentences properly joined. Since the sentence is the foundation or unit of discourse, it is all important that the pupil should know the sentence. He should be able to put the principal and the subordinate parts in their proper relation; he should know the exact function of every element, its relation to other elements and its relation to the whole. He should know the sentence as the skillful engineer knows his engine, that, when there is a disorganization of parts, he may at once find the difficulty and the remedy for it... Continue reading book >>




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