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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

There feminine dative and singular


The idea expressed by _he_, _it_, and _she_ is naturally that of demonstrativeness. In the Latin language _is, ea, id_; _ille, illa, illud_; _hic, haec, hoc_, are demonstrative pronouns in sense, as well as in declension.

3. The plural forms _they, them_, in the present English, are the plural forms of the root of _that_, a true demonstrative pronoun; so that even if _he_, _she_, and _it_ could be treated as personal pronouns, _they_ could not.

4. The word _she_ has grown out of the Anglo-Saxon _se['o]_. Now _se['o]_ was in Anglo-Saxon the feminine form of the definite article; the definite article itself being originally a demonstrative pronoun.

s. 228. Compared with the Anglo-Saxon the present English stands as follows:--

_She_.--The Anglo-Saxon form _he['o]_, being lost to the language, is replaced by the feminine article _se['o]_.

s. 229. _Her_.--This is a case, not of the present _she_, but of the Anglo-Saxon _he['o]_: so that _she_ may be said to be defective in the oblique cases, and _her_ to be defective in the nominative.

_Him_.--A dative form, which has replaced the Anglo-Saxon _hine_. When used as a dative, it was neuter as well as masculine.

_His_.--Originally neuter as well as masculine. Now as a neuter, replaced by _its_--"et

quidem ipsa vox _his_, ut et interrogativum _whose_, nihil aliud sunt quam _hee's_, _who's_, ubi s omnino idem praestat quod in aliis possessivis. Similiter autem _his_ pro _hee's_ eodem errore quo nonnunquam _bin_ pro _been_; item _whose_ pro _who's_ eodem errore quo _done_, _gone_, _knowne_, _growne_, &c., pro _doen_, _goen_, _knowen,_ vel _do'n_, _go'n_, _know'n_, _grow'n_; utrobique contra analogiam linguae; sed usu defenditur."--Wallis, c.v.

_It_.--Changed from the Anglo-Saxon _hit_, by the ejection of h. The t is no part of the original word, but a sign of the neuter gender, forming it regularly from _he_. The same neuter sign is preserved in the Latin _id_ and _illud_.

_Its_.--In the course of time the nature of the neuter sign t, in _it_, the form being found in but a few words, became misunderstood. Instead of being looked on as an affix, it passed for part of the original word. Hence was formed from _it_ the anomalous genitive _its_ superseding the Saxon _his_. The same was the case with--

_Hers_.--The r is no part of the original word, but the sign of the dative case. These formations are of value in the history of cases.

s. 230. _Theirs_.--In the same predicament with _hers_ and _its_; either the case of an adjective, or a case formed from a case.

_Than_ or _then_, and _there_.--Although now adverbs, they were once demonstrative pronouns, in a certain case and in a certain gender, viz., _than_ and _then_ masculine accusative and singular, _there_ feminine dative and singular.

s. 231. An exhibition of the Anglo-Saxon declension is the best explanation of the English. Be it observed, that the cases marked in italics are found in the present language.


_Se, se['o]_ ( = _she_).

Of this word we meet two forms only, both of the singular number, and both in the nominative case; viz., masc., _se_; fem. _se['o]_ ( = the). The neuter gender and the other cases of the article were taken from the pronoun _thaet_ ( = that).

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