An English Grammar written by William Malone Baskervill and James Witt Sewell
Preface to An English Grammar eBook
Of making many English grammars there is no end; nor should there be till theoretical scholarship and actual practice are more happily wedded.
In this field much valuable work has already been accomplished; but it has been done largely by workers accustomed to take the scholar’s point of view, and their writings are addressed rather to trained minds than to immature learners.
To find an advanced grammar unencumbered with hard words, abstruse thoughts, and difficult principles, is not altogether an easy matter.
These things enhance the difficulty which an ordinary youth experiences in grasping and assimilating the facts of grammar, and create a distaste for the study.
It is therefore the leading object of this book to be both as scholarly and as practical as possible. In it there is an attempt to present grammatical facts as simply, and to lead the student to assimilate them as thoroughly, as possible, and at the same time to do away with confusing difficulties as far as may be.
To attain these ends it is necessary to keep ever in the foreground the real basis of grammar; that is, good literature.
Abundant quotations from standard authors have been given to show the student that he is dealing with the facts of the language, and not with the theories of grammarians.
It is also suggested that in preparing written exercises the student use English classics instead of “making up” sentences.
But it is not intended that the use of literary masterpieces for grammatical purposes should supplant or even interfere with their proper use and real value as works of art.
It will, however, doubtless be found helpful to alternate the regular reading and æsthetic study of literature with a grammatical study, so that, while the mind is being enriched and the artistic sense quickened, there may also be the useful acquisition of arousing a keen observation of all grammatical forms and usages.
Now and then it has been deemed best to omit explanations, and to withhold personal preferences, in order that the student may, by actual contact with the sources of grammatical laws, discover for himself the better way in regarding given data.
It is not the grammarian’s business to “correct:” it is simply to record and to arrange the usages of language, and to point the way to the arbiters of usage in all disputed cases. Free expression within the lines of good usage should have widest range.