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terance of speech, which is a fixed point, determining the different periods of time, in our social communications.
The term present-anterior is, therefore, so expressive, that it must certainly be adopted, by those who would express themselves with precision, and conceive accurate ideas of the objects of their studies.
The addition of periodical, to present-anterior, to denote the next tense, which is called by most grammarians preterite, is also founded in reason, and declarative of the nice distinction between the two tenses, which, being synonymous, in some degree, as they imply ideas both of presence and anteriority, learners are apt to confound. It is now my business to explain its signification.
Periodical is derived from period, a portion of time circumscribed and determinate; for instance, when I say-Je portai hier votre lettre à la poste; I carried your letter yesterday to the post-office; the action of carrying is performed within the bounds of yesterday, a space of fixed time, and is present with respect to that day, which I mean to express: therefore, the term, periodical, joined to the two others, fally explaining the meaning of this tense, recopimends its adoption. I must observe, however, that you could not say, Je portai ce matin, &c. I carried this morning, &c. J'ai porté ce matin, must be used; this tense being devoted to the relation of transactions which have happened within such periods as yesterday, the ucek past, the month past, &c.
As I have now maintained the propriety of using the present-anterior, &c. in the place of the imperfect and preterite, I have to prove that the future is well termed the present posterior; for instance, Je porterai demain vos effets à bord du paquebot ; I will carry your goods to-morrow on board the packet. This manner of expression, (Je porterai demain,) is, to all intents and purposes, a present tense, relative to a time posterior to the immediate ulterance of speech, as being the equivalent of Je porte demain, which is certainly a present posterior. Je porterai demain, which fills the place of je porte demain, is therefore justly denominated a present posterior, and not a future. But, as many may not be convinced of the propriety of substituting the new for the old denominations, in order to give genera. satisfaction, we have brought both into use at the same time.*
S. Are the present-anterior, or imperfect, and presentanterior-periodical, or prelerite, always looked upon as presents?
Condillac expresses his opinion of the old terms for the tenses of verbs in the following manner: “ For ny part, I contess, I could never understand what they (the grammarians) meant by imperfect, perfect, pluper fect, &c.-I understand better what they mean by simple and compound. These names denote, at least, the forms which the verb assumes when past: but they do not express any of the accessories which the former awake. It is, however, after these accessories, that the tenses should have been named."--This is what we have endeavoured to do.
M. Yes; when compared with the fixed time expressed in the respective sentences above mentioned; but, deprived of this, they can no longer be considered present ; if compared, then, with the present utterance of speech only, which embraces them as anterior, they become past tenses, and simply remain so: on this account, you may with propriety, as no determinate period is mentioned, use either of the following phrases:
“ Les médecins portaient des perruques
I must observe also, that, by depriving the present-posterior of the determinate period, it becomes a real future.
S. I begin to understand the nervous simplicity of the new system, and already behold the strong light it has thrown on the use of the tenses you mention, by the introduction of the terms anterior, anterior-periodical, &c. which have been so fitly adapted to the subject. May these terms, however, be with equal propriety applied to the past tenses?
M. Equally; and this must finally reconcile you to our system, together with those who may first oppose it, on account of its apparent novelty and singularity. I shall have recourse to examples, to satisfy you in this respect.
When you tell me, for instance, J'avais écrit lorsque vous êtes entré; I had written when you came in: what idea do you
wish to convey to me? Is it not, that your action of writing was completed when my coming took place? This coming-in of mine is anterior to your present utterance of speech to me, and of course past; it is, therefore, denominated, as expressing a double view of the mind, a past-anterior; it is called in many gramınars a compound of the imperfect.
The past-anterior periodical, or compound of the preterite, is much the same with the above, except that it is periodical; that is to say, it expresses the existence of an action anterior to another action, transacted in a period entirely elapsed. It is exemplified in the following sentence: J'eus écrit hier à midi; I had written yesterday at twelve o'clock.
With regard to the past-posterior, or compound of the future, when you say, J'aurai fait mes affaires quand vous viendrez; I shall have finished my business when you come ; your intention is to show, that the action of finishing your business is past, with regard to my coming, which is subsequently to take place; it is, therefore, with propriety, denominated a past-posterior?
S. What is the difference between je porterai (when without the determinate period it becomes a future), and je dois porter, which seems invariably a future, in your conjugation ?
M. The difference is this: je porterai indicates a strong resolution
of performing the action expressed by the verb; je dois porter, signifies a free and duteous intention of performance: the former, in a strict sense, corresponds with the words shall carry, and the latter with the terms will carry. We have called it the future-indefinite.
S. What do you mean by the imperatire, which, I think, you have curtailed; as it is conjugated with more persons in the
grammars I have perused, than are introduced by you?
M. Man, for the purpose of expressing his command, direction, or authority, which he could not do with the help of the indicative alone, through necessity devised a new mood (which is called the imperative), forined from the indicative, by despoiling its present tense of the pronouns. Thus was produced the imperative, a term energetically expressive of its use, and derived from the Latin word impero, I command. You perceive that it has no other
than those I have already mentioned, since no one, in a rigid point of view, can command or give orders to himself. With respect to a third person, it is evident that no verbal intercourse can be held with an absentee.
The persons, which grammarians have so liberally bestowed on this mood, belong to the subjunctive, as the conjunction que, which is inseparable from it, fully evinces.
S. What is the conditional mood?
M. It denotes the performance of an action (either present or future) when circumstances favour the actor or actors; hence, it is called conditional, and differs essentially from the indicative and imperative moods, which entirely reject those circumstances or conditions.
S. What do you mean by the subjunctive?
M. A mood always dependant on the indicative, and distinguished from it in French by the conjunction que, which connects it therewith, and from which the name of subjunclive is derived. EXAMPLE: Je désire que vous portiez promptement ce billet; I wish that you would
carry this note expeditiously. You must observe, that such verbs as express the feelings of the heart, or affections of the soul, are the only ones which, being in the indicative present, make the following verb assume the subjunctive form. The others, when in the indicative present, will not admit of it.
J'apprends avec plaisir que c'est lui
qui a obtenu cet emploi lucratif.
I learn with satisfaction that it is he
who hus obtained this lucrative cm. ployment.
Grammarians often mistake the conditional for the subjunctive. As a proof of their error, the latter is an entire dependant on the indicative, and by no means adequate to those functions, which the former free from the incumbrance of any other mood) can, with propriety, perform.
FINAL REMARKS ON THE CONJUGATION OF FRENCH VERBS.
Scholar. What more have you to say on the conjugation of French verbs?
Master. I have to acquaint you with the remaining tenses that may be formed with the auxiliaries, venir, devoir, and aller (which we have introduced into the French conjugation), and to give you an idea of the tenses denominated comparative, or double compound.
In order to avoid perplexity, and ease your memory, I have hitherto deferred the conjugation of these tenses; many of which, although seldom used in French, ought not to be withheld from the knowledge of the scholar".
S. Please to let me know the tenses formed by venir, with which I am unacquainted.
M. There are six more past tenses just elapsed, which are as follow, viz.
PAST JUST ELAPSED.
Venir de porter, to have just carried.
PAST ANTERIOR, OR IMPERFECT JUST ELAPSED.
Je venais de porter, &c. I had just carried, &c.
PAST POSTERIOR, OR FUTURE JUST ELAPSED.
• 1 have met with many French students, who, after several years of instruction, were unacquainted with the past just elapsed, &c. je viens de, &c. (wbich occurs so often in specch, and is besides an idiom), and always translated it by I come from, &c., which is nonsense in this case.
PAST JUST ELAPSED.
Je viendrais de porter, &c. I should have just carried, &c.
PAST JUST ELAPSED.
Que je vienne de porter, &c. That I may have just carried, &c,
PRESENT ANTERIOR, OR IMPERFECT JUST ELAPSED.
Que je vinsse de porter, &c. That I might have just carried, &c.
You may easily supply the persons not expressed in the above tenses.
S. I should be happy to acquire the same knowledge of the other tenses, formed with devoir and aller.
M. Those tenses are all in the future.
FUTURE TENSES EXPRESSED BY DEVOIR.
Devoir porter, to have to carry.
Je devais porter, &c. I was to carry, &c.
Je devrai porter, &c. I shall have to carry, &c.
Je devrais porter, &c. I should have to carry, &c.