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A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—1

Contents

Contents ................................................................................ 1

Part I ...................................................................................... 3

Of Studies ............................................................................. 4

Machines and the Emotions ................................................ 6

On Reverence ..................................................................... 15

Taming Technology ........................................................... 18

Freedom .............................................................................. 34

The Man in Asbestos: An Allegory of the Future ............ 44

From a Liberal Education ................................................ 110

What is Beauty? ............................................................... 115

Shooting an Elephant....................................................... 129

Logic: Love is a Fallacy ................................................... 139

Part II ................................................................................. 155

1—The Sentence .............................................................. 156

II—Recognising Word Classes or Parts of Speech ....... 243


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—2

III—Tenses ........................................................................ 387

IV—Punctuation ................................................................ 413

V—Miscellaneous Expressions in Usage ....................... 514

Index…………………….………………………………….272
Perenial Themes — 3

Part I
Perennial Themes

Good name, in man or woman, dear my God,


Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse, steals trash; ‘t is something nothing;
‘T was mine, ‘t is his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

William Shakespeare—

Othello, Act III, Scene III


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—4

Of Studies
Francis Bacon
(1561-1626)
Born in London and educated at Cambridge, Sir Francis
Bacon spent much of his life practicing law, but to the end
of it he busied himself with philosophical pursuits, and will
be known to posterity chiefly for his deep and clear writings
on these subjects. His constant direction in philosophy is to
break away from assumption and tradition, and to be led
only by sound induction based on knowledge of observed
phenomena. Among the distinguished names in English
literature, none stands higher in his field than that of
Francis Bacon.
Reproduced here is a short essay by him which is a model
of lucid, vivid, balanced and presice prose writing. Students
will see that his essay is replete with short and pithy
sententences and aphorisms. It also informs the reader of
the significance of various facets of “studies”. To Bacon
“Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and
writing an exact man”.

Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their
chief use for delight is in privateness, and retiring; for ornament,
is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition
of business; for expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of
the particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the
plots and marshaling of affairs, come best from those that are
learned.

To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too


much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by
their rules, is the humour of a scholar; they perfect nature and
are perfected by experience⎯for natural abilities are like natural
plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do
give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded
in by experience. Crafty men condemn studies, simple men
Perenial Themes — 5

admire them, and wise men use them, for they teach not their
own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them,
won by observation.

Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for
granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and
consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are
to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and
some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of
them by others; but that would be only in the less important
arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are
like common distilled waters, flashy things.

Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing


an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need
have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a
present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much
cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men
wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy,
deep; moral philosophy, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to
contend.

Discussion
• How do you think studies can make a man perfect?

• “To spend too much time in studies, is sloth”. Comment.

• ‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and


some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are
to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously;
and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and
attention.” Elaborate.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—6

Machines and the Emotions


Bertrand Russell
(1872-1970)
The theme of this article is a familiar critique of the
industrial culture, that is, impoverishment of the emotional
life of man that it supposedly entails. The Pakistani readers
should be familiar with this theme as summed up in an oft-
quoted line of Iqbal: Hay dil kay liyai mot mashino ki
hakoomat. The author attempts to elucidate the impact of
machines on human emotions within the framework of
modern psychological thought, and postulates a link
between the desiccated emotional life of modern man and
the intensification of his passion for violence. This
heightened propensity for violence could be reduced, the
author thinks, if people were provided opportunities for
exciting and hazardous adventures such as mountaineering.
Bertrand Russell is a major intellectual figure of the 20th
century. He has written voluminously on philosophy, logic,
education, economics, politics, and has had great impact on
the thinking of educated classes around the world. On
occasions he was a center of intense controversies because
of his unorthodox and iconoclastic ideas. His work in fields
of philosophy and logic is of lasting importance. The
Principles of Mathematics (1903) and Principia Mathematica
(written in collaboration with A. N. Whitehead) have the
status of classics of mathematical logic. He was awarded
Nobel Prize for Peace.

Will machines destroy emotions, or will emotions destroy


machines. This question was suggested long ago by Samuel
Butler in Erewhon, but it is growing more and more actual as the
empire of machinery is enlarged.

At first sight, it is not obvious why there should be any


opposition between machines and emotions. Every normal boy
loves machines; the bigger and more powerful they are, the more
he loves them. Nations which have a long tradition of artistic
excellence, like the Japanese, are captivated by Western
Perenial Themes — 7

mechanical methods as soon as they come across them, and long


only to imitate us as quickly as possible. Nothing annoys an
educated and travelled Asiatic so much as to hear praise of the
‘wisdom of the East’ or the traditional virtues of Asiatic
civilisation. He feels as a boy would feel who was told to play
with dolls instead of toy automobiles. And like a boy, he would
prefer a real automobile to a toy one, not realising that it may
run over him.

In the West, when machinery was new, there was the same
delight in it, except on the part of a few poets and aesthetes. The
nineteenth century considered itself superior to its predecessors
chiefly because of its mechanical progress. Peacock, in its early
years, makes fun of the ‘steam intellect society’, because he is a
literary man, to whom the Greek and Latin authors represent
civilisation; but he is conscious of being out of touch with the
prevailing tendencies of his time. Rousseau’s disciples with the
return to Nature, the Lake Poets with the medievalism, William
Morris with his News From Nowhere (a country where it is
always June and everybody is engaged in hay making), all
represent a purely sentimental and essentially reactionary
opposition to machinery. Samuel Butler was the first man to
apprehend intellectually the non-sentimental case against
machines, but in him it may have been no more than a jeu
d’esprit⎯certainly it was not a deeply held conviction. Since his
day numbers of people in the most mechanised nations have
been tending to adopt in earnest a view similar to that of the
Erewhonians; this view, that is to say, has been latent or explicit
in the attitude of many rebels against existing industrial
methods.

Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful, and valued


because they confer power; they are hated because they are
hideous, and loathed because they impose slavery. Do not let us
suppose that one of these attitudes is ‘right’ and the other
‘wrong’, any more than it would be right to maintain that men
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—8

have heads but wrong to maintain that they have feet, though we
can easily imagine Lilliputians disputing this question
concerning Gulliver. A machine is like a Djinn in the Arabian
Nights: beautiful and beneficent to its master, but hideous and
terrible to his enemies. But in our day nothing is allowed to
show itself with such naked simplicity. The master of the
machine, it is true, lives at a distance from it, where he cannot
hear its noise or see its unsightly heaps of slag or smell its
noxious fumes; if he ever sees it, the occasion is before it is
installed in use, when he can admire its force or its delicate
precision without being troubled by dust and heat. But when he
is challenged to consider the machine from the point of view of
those who have to live with it and work it, he has a ready
answer. He can point out that owing to its operations, these men
can purchase more goods⎯often vastly more⎯than their great-
grandfathers could. It follows that they must be happier than
their great-grandfathers⎯if we are to accept an assumption
which is made by almost everyone.

The assumption is, that the possession of material commodities


is what makes men happy. It is thought that a man who has two
rooms and two beds and two loaves must be twice as happy as a
man who has one room and one bed and one loaf. In a word, it is
thought that happiness is proportional to income. A few people,
not always quite sincerely, challenge this idea in the name of
religion or morality; but they are glad if they increase their
income by the eloquence of their preaching. It is not from a
moral or religious point of view that I wish to challenge it; it is
from the point of view of psychology and observation of life. If
happiness is proportional to income, the case for machinery is
unanswerable; if not, the whole question remains to be
examined.

Men have physical needs, and they have emotions. While


physical needs are unsatisfied, they take first place; but when
they are satisfied, emotions unconnected with them become
Perenial Themes — 9

important in deciding whether a man is to be happy or unhappy.


In modern industrial communities there are many men, women,
and children whose bare physical needs are not adequately
supplied; as regards them, I do not deny that the first requisite
for happiness is an increase of income. But they are a minority,
and it would not be difficult to give the bare necessaries of life
to all of them. It is not of them that I wish to speak, but of those
who have more than is necessary to support existence⎯not only
those who have much more, but also those who have only a little
more.

Why do we, in fact, almost all of us, desire to increase our


incomes? It may seem, at first sight, as though material goods
were what we desire. But, in fact, we desire these mainly in
order to impress our neighbour. When a man moves into a large
house in a more genteel quarter, he reflects that ‘better’ people
will call on his wife, and some unprosperous cronies of former
days can be dropped. When he sends his son to a good school or
an expensive university, he consoles himself for the heavy fees
by thoughts of the social kudos to be gained. In every big city,
whether of Europe or of America, houses in some districts are
more expensive than equally good houses in other districts,
merely because they are more fashionable. One of the most
powerful of all our passions is the desire to be admired and
respected. As things stand, admiration and respect are given to
the man who seems to be rich. This is the chief reason why
people wish to be rich. The actual goods purchased by their
money play quite a secondary part. Take, for example, a
millionaire who cannot tell one picture from another, but has
acquired a gallery of old masters by the help of experts. The
only pleasure he derives from his pictures is the thought that
others know how much they have cost; he would derive more
direct enjoyment from Christmas cards, but he would not obtain
the same satisfaction for his vanity.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—10

All this might be different, and has been different in many


societies. In aristocratic epochs, men have been admired for their
birth. In some circles in Paris, men are admired for their artistic
or literary excellence, strange as it may seem. In a German
university, a man may actually be admired for his learning. In
India saints are admired; in China, sages. The study of these
differing societies shows the correctness of our analysis, for in
all of them we find a large percentage of men who are
indifferent to money so long as they have enough to keep alive
on, but are keenly desirous of the merits by which, in their
environment, respect is to be won.

The importance of these facts lies in this, that the modern desire
for wealth is not inherent in human nature, and could be
destroyed by different social institutions. If, by law, we all had
exactly the same income, we should have to seek some other
way of being superior to our neighbours, and most of our present
craving for material possessions would cease. Moreover, since
this craving is in the nature of a competition, it only brings
happiness when we out-distance a rival to whom it brings
correlative pain. A general increase of wealth gives no
competitive advantage, and therefore bring no competitive
happiness. There is, of course, some pleasure derived from the
actual enjoyment of goods purchased, but, as we have seen, this
is a very small part of what makes us desire wealth. And in so
far as our desire is competitive, no increase of human happiness
as a whole comes from increase of wealth, whether general or
particular.

If we are to argue that machinery increases happiness, therefore,


the increase of material prosperity which it brings cannot weigh
heavily in its favour, except in so far as it may be used to
prevent absolute destitution. But there is no inherent reason why
it should be so used. Destitution can be prevented without
machinery where the population is stationary; of this France may
serve as an example, since there is very little destitution and
Perenial Themes — 11

much less machinery than in America, England and pre-war


Germany. Conversely, there may be much destitution where
there is much machinery; of this we have examples in the
industrial areas of England a hundred years ago and of Japan at
the present day. The prevention of destitution does not depend
upon machines, but upon quite other factors⎯partly density of
population, and partly political conditions. And apart from
prevention of destitution, the value of increasing wealth is not
very great.

Meanwhile, machines deprive us of two things which are


certainly important ingredients of human happiness, namely
spontaneity and variety. Machines have their own pace, and their
own insistent demands; a man who has expensive plant must
keep it working. The great trouble with the machine, from the
point of view of the emotions, is its regularity. And, of course,
conversely, the great objection to the emotions, from the point of
view of the machine, is their irregularity. As the machine
dominates the thoughts of people who consider themselves
‘serious’, the highest praise they can give to a man is to suggest
that he has the quality of a machine⎯that he is reliable,
punctual, exact, etc. And an ‘irregular’ life has come to be
synonymous with a bad life. Against this point of view
Bergson’s philosophy was a protest⎯not, to my mind, wholly
sound from an intellectual point of view, but inspired by a
wholesome dread of seeing men turned more and more into
machines.

In life, as opposed to thought, the rebellion of our instincts


against enslavement to mechanism has hitherto taken a most
unfortunate direction. The impulse to war has always existed
since men took to living in societies, but it did not, in the past,
have the same intensity or virulence as it has in our day. In the
eighteenth century, England and France had innumerable wars,
and contended for the hegemony of the world; but they liked and
respected each other the whole time. Officer prisoners joined in
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—12

the social life of their captors, and were honoured guests at their
dinner-parties. At the beginning of our war with Holland in
1665, a man came home from Africa with atrocity stories about
the Dutch there; we (the British) persuaded ourselves that his
story was false, punished him, and published the Dutch denial.
In the late war we should have knighted him, and imprisoned
anyone who threw doubt on his veracity. The greater ferocity of
modern war is attributable to machines, which operate in three
different ways. First, they make it possible to have larger armies.
Secondly, they facilitate a cheap press, which flourishes by
appealing to men’s baser passions. Thirdly⎯and this is the point
that concerns us⎯they starve the anarchic, spontaneous side of
human nature, which works underground, producing an obscure
discontent, to which the thought of war appeals as affording
possible relief. It is a mistake to attribute a vast upheaval like the
late war merely to the machinations of politicians. In Russia,
perhaps, such an explanation would have been adequate; that is
one reason why Russia fought half heartedly, and made a
revolution to secure peace. But in England, Germany, and the
United States (in 1917), no Government could have withstood
the popular demand for war. A popular demand of this sort must
have an instinctive basis, and for my part I believe that the
modern increase in warlike instinct is attributable to the
dissatisfaction (mostly unconscious) caused by the regularity,
monotony, and tameness of modern life.

It is obvious that we cannot deal with this situation by abolishing


machinery. Such a measure would be reactionary, and is in any
case impracticable. The only way of avoiding the evils at present
associated with machinery is to provide breaks in the monotony,
and every encouragement to high adventure during the intervals.
Many men would cease to desire war if they had opportunities to
risk their lives in Alpine climbing; one of the ablest and most
vigorous workers for peace that it has been my good fortune to
know habitually spent his summer climbing the most dangerous
peaks in the Alps. If every working man had a month in the year
Perenial Themes — 13

during which, if he chose, he could be taught to work an


aeroplane, or encouraged to hunt for sapphires of the Sahara, or
otherwise enabled to engage in some dangerous and exciting
pursuit involving quick personal initiative, the popular love of
war would become confined to women and invalids. I confess I
know no method of making these classes pacific, but I am
convinced that a scientific psychology would find a method if it
undertook the task in earnest.

Machines have altered our way of life, but not our instincts.
Consequently there is maladjustment. The whole psychology of
the emotions and instincts is as yet in its infancy; a beginning
has been made by psycho-analysis, but only a beginning. What
we may accept from psycho-analysis is the fact that people will,
in action, pursue various ends which they do not consciously
desire, and will have an attendant set of quite irrational beliefs
which enable them to pursue these ends without knowing that
they are doing so. But orthodox psycho-analysis has unduly
simplified our unconscious purposes, which are numerous, and
differ from person to another. It is to be hoped that social and
political phenomena will soon come to be understood from this
point of view, and will thus throw light on average human
nature.

Moral self-control, and external prohibition of harmful acts, are


not adequate methods of dealing with our anarchic instincts. The
reason they are inadequate is that these instincts are capable of
as many disguises as the devil in medieval legend, and some of
these disguises deceive even the elect. The only adequate
method is to discover what are the needs of our instinctive
nature, and then to search for the least harmful way of satisfying
them. Since spontaneity is what is most thwarted by machines,
the only thing that can be provided is opportunity; the use made
of opportunity must be left to the initiative of the individual. No
doubt considerable expense would be involved; but it would not
be comparable to the expense of war. Understanding of human
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—14

nature must be the basis of any real improvements in human life.


Science has done wonders in mastering the laws of the physical
world, but our own nature is much less understood, as yet, than
the nature of stars and electrons. When science learns to
understand human nature, it will be able to bring a happiness
into our lives which machines and the physical sciences have
failed to create.

Discussion
• Is insatiable craving for money a part of human nature?

• How far social institutions can determine human behaviour?

• Russell observes that “apart from prevention of destitution,


the value of increasing wealth is not very great.” Do you
agree?

• Is there any incompatibility between machines and human


emotions?

• How do the machines contribute towards heightening of


modern man’s propensity for violence?

• How exciting and hazardous pastimes reduce modern man’s


craving for violence?

• Explain and comment on Russell’s observation that machines


have altered our way of life, but not our instincts.

• Why external restraints fail to ensure good human


behaviour?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—15

On Reverence
Bertrand Russell
(1872-1970)
In his writings on social and cultural issues, Bertrand
Russell is at his best when he questions beliefs whose truth
is taken for granted and attitudes which are hallowed by
traditions. In “On Reverence” he shows how emotions of
reverence, when invested thoughtlessly, can result in
intellectual paralysis and cultural stagnation. His lucid and
incisive observations on the topic should provide food for
thought to intellectuals who abdicate their role as critics of
their societies because of non-discriminating reverence for
their heroes and cult-figures.

Admiration of great men, both of our own time and of the past,
is a valuable emotion and a stimulus to useful activity. To young
men of vigour and enterprise, the achievements of predecessors
are an encouragement and a proof of what is possible to achieve.

But if this good effect is to result from admiration, it is


necessary that the men who are admired should be regarded as
something that it is possible to equal by means of sufficient
exertion, not as something outside our capacity. It is possible to
use the great men of the past as an excuse for laziness, by
assuming that what they thought was perfect for all time and
need never be re-examined.

This attitude is defended by those who adopt it, who call it


‘reverence’ and condemn all modern initiative as disrespectful.
‘Reverence’ in this sense has been a misfortune to the human
race.

One of the most outstanding examples of the harm done by


excessive reverence is the influence of Aristotle. For a brief
period, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when the West
rediscovered him through contact with the Arabs, his writings
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—16

acted as an intellectual stimulus. But very soon he became the


canon of orthodoxy, and no advance could be made except by
showing the falsehood of what he had said.

Galileo could not induce professors of astronomy to look


through his telescope at Jupiter’s moons, because they knew
from Aristotle that Jupiter has no moons. Throughout Galileo’s
life he was as much criticised for disagreeing with Aristotle as
for his supposed conflict with the Scriptures.

Two centuries later, when Darwin published Origin of Species,


he was met by dogmatic assertion of Aristotle’s doctrine that
each species was separately created. In logic and aesthetics his
influence has been, and still is, exceedingly pernicious.

In the main, however, Aristotle’s influence belongs to the past.


But the attitude of appealing to the authority of great men as
unquestionable has by no means disappeared. Every young man
or young woman whose opinions are not on all points those of
the older generation is met with arguments inspired by this point
of view. ‘Do you think you are wiser than so-and-so?’ says the
indignant parent or teacher. ‘So-and-so’ is almost always a man
who himself disagreed with his parents and teachers, but this
fact is ignored. ‘So-and-so’ lived in other circumstances and
necessarily did not know all sorts of things that are known
nowadays. Even if ‘So-and-so’ was just as wise as conservatives
suppose, that is no reason for supposing that his opinions are to
be accepted as a guide in the circumstances of the present day.

There is no subject upon which the opinions of a man who lived


long ago can be accepted as dogmas absolving us from the
necessity of fresh consideration in the light of our modern
environment. Not infrequently, however, men who have
acquired great authority never were very wise, even in their own
day. One way of being thought wise is to defend current
prejudices in glowing and eloquent language so that rhetoric
Perenial Themes — 17

conceals the lack of reasoning power and the failure of


sympathetic understanding.

Great writers and great orators have done incalculable harm in


this way. If eloquence could be made illegal, the dangers of
popular government would be much less than they are. As,
however, this solution is impossible, the only way out lies in an
educational system which cultivates an inquiring and scientific
outlook. Perhaps, after another two or three centuries, this way
out may be tried.

Discussion
• Why reverential attitude towards great men leads to
intellectual stagnation?

• What should be the proper attitude towards one’s revered


heroes?

• What are negative and positive aspects of reverence for great


men?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—18

Taming Technology
Alvin Toffler
The selection has been taken from Future Shock, a book
which has greatly influenced contemporary thinking about
the impact of technology on all spheres of life. It focuses
particularly on the high acceleration of change induced by
avalanche of technological advancements which disrupts
and disorientates the whole spectrum of social institution,
and strains human adaptability to unmanageable limits. The
author pleads for a conscious regulation of technological
growth to keep the pace of change within limits of human
tolerance.
Alvin Toffler is amongst the best known contemporary
American authors who has won acclaim as a social thinker
and futurologist. Amongst other works, he is author of
Future Shock and The Third Wave⎯books which have had
world-wide readership, and received attention from
planners and policy makers in many countries.

Future shock⎯the disease of change⎯can be prevented. But it


will take drastic social, even political action. No matter how
individuals try to pace their lives, no matter what psychic
crutches we offer them, no matter how we alter education, the
society as a whole will still be caught on a runaway treadmill
until we capture control of the accelerative thrust itself.

The high velocity of change can be traced to many factors.


Population growth, urbanization, the shifting proportions of
young and old⎯all play their part. Yet technological advance is
clearly a critical node in the network of causes; indeed, it may be
the node that activates the entire net. One powerful strategy in
the battle to prevent mass future shock, therefore, involves the
conscious regulation of technological advance.

We cannot and must not turn off the switch of technological


progress. Only romantic fools babble about returning to a “state
of nature.” A state of nature is one in which infants shrivel and
Perenial Themes — 19

die for lack of elementary medical care, in which malnutrition


stultifies the brain.... To turn our back on technology would be
not only stupid but immoral.

Given that a majority of men still figuratively live in the twelfth


century, who are we even to contemplate throwing away the key
to economic advance?... To deliberately turn back the clock
would be to condemn billions to enforced and permanent misery
at precisely the moment in history when their liberation is
becoming possible. We clearly need not less but more
technology.

At the same time, it is undeniably true that we frequently apply


new technology stupidly and selfishly. In our haste to milk
technology for immediate economic advantage, we have turned
our environment into a physical and social tinderbox.

The speed-up of diffusion, the self-reinforcing character of


technological advance, by which each forward step facilitates
not one but many additional further steps, the intimate link-up
between technology and social arrangements⎯all these create a
form of psychological pollution, a seemingly unstoppable
acceleration of the pace of life.

The psychic pollution is matched by the industrial vomit that


fills our skies and seas. Pesticides and herbicides filter into our
foods. Twisted automobile carcasses, aluminum cans, non-
returnable glass bottles and synthetic plastic form immense
kitchen middens in our midst as more and more of our detritus
resists decay. We do not even begin to know what to do with our
radioactive wastes⎯whether to pump them into the earth, shoot
them into outer spaces, or pour them into the oceans....
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—20

Technological Backlash
As the effects of irresponsibly applied technology become more
grimly evident, a political backlash mounts. An offshore drilling
accident that pollutes 800 square miles of the pacific triggers a
shock wave of indignation all over the United States. A multi-
millionaire industrialist in Nevada, Howard Hughes, prepares a
lawsuit to prevent the Atomic Energy Commission from
continuing its underground nuclear tests. In Seattle, the Boeing
Company fights growing public clamor against its plans to build
a supersonic jet transport. In Washington, public sentiment
forces a reassessment of missile policy. At MIT, Wisconsin,
Cornell, and other universities, scientists lay down test tubes and
slide rules during a “research moratorium” called to discuss the
social implications of their work. Students organize
“environmental teachins” and the President lectures the nation
about the ecological menace. Additional evidences of deep
concern over our technological course are turning up in Britain,
France and other nations....

The incipient worldwide movement for the control of


technology, however, must not be permitted to fall into the
hands of irresponsible technophobes, nihilists.... Worse yet,
reckless attempts to halt technology will produce results quite as
destructive as reckless attempts to advance it.

Caught between these twin perils, we desperately need a


movement for responsible technology. We need a broad political
grouping rationally committed to further scientific research and
technological advance⎯but on a selective basis only. Instead of
wasting its energies in denunciations of The machine or in
negativistic criticism of the space program, it should formulate a
set of positive technological goals for the future.

Such a set of goals, if comprehensive and well worked out,


could bring order to a field now in total shambles. By 1980,
Perenial Themes — 21

according to Aurelio Peccei, the Italian economist and


industrialist, combined research and development expenditures
in the United States and Europe will run to $73 billion per year.
This level of expense adds up to three-quarters of a trillion
dollars per decade. With such large sums at stake, one would
think that governments would plan their technological
development carefully, relating it to broad social goals, and
insisting on strict accountability. Nothing could be more
mistaken.

“No one⎯not even the most brilliant scientist alive


today⎯really knows where science is taking us,” says Ralph
Lapp, himself a scientist-turned-writer, ... It is hardly reassuring
to learn that when the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development issued its massive report on science in the
United States, one of its authors, a former premier of Belgium,
confessed: “We came to the conclusion that we were looking for
something ... which was not there: a science policy.” The
committee could have looked even harder, and with still less
success, for anything resembling a conscious technological
policy.... The horrifying truth is that, so far as much technology
is concern, no one is in charge.

Selecting Cultural Styles


So long as an industrializing nation is poor, it tends to welcome
without argument any technical innovation that promises to
improve economic output or material welfare. This is, in fact, a
tacit technological policy, and it can make for extremely rapid
economic growth. It is, however, a brutally unsophisticated
policy, and as a result all kinds of new machines and processes
are spewed into the society without regard for their secondary or
long-range effects.

Once the society begins its take-off for super-industrialism, this


“any thing goes” policy becomes wholly and hazardously
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—22

inadequate. Apart from the increased power and scope of


technology, the options multiply as well. Advanced technology
helps create overchoice with respect to available goods, cultural
products, services, subcults and life styles. At the same time
overchoice comes to characterize technology itself.

Increasingly diverse innovations are arrayed before the society


and the problems of selection grow more and more acute. The
old simple policy, by which choices were made according to
short-run economic advantage, proves dangerous, confusing,
destabilizing.

Today we need far more sophisticated criteria for choosing


among technologies. We need such policy criteria not only to
stave off avoidable disasters, but to help us discover tomorrow’s
opportunities. Faced for the first time with technological
overchoice, the society must now select its machines, processes,
techniques and systems in groups and clusters, instead of one at
a time. It must choose the way an individual chooses his life
style. It must make super-decisions about its future.

Furthermore, just as an individual can exercise conscious choice


among alternative life styles, a society today can consciously
choose among alternative cultural styles. This is a new fact in
history. In the past, culture emerged without premeditation.
Today, for the first time, we can raise the process to awareness.
By the application of conscious technological policy⎯along
with other measures⎯we can contour the culture of tomorrow.

In their book, The year 2000, Herman Kahn and Anthony


Wiener list one hundred technical innovations “very likely in the
last third of the twentieth century.” These range from multiple
applications of the laser to new materials, new power sources,
new airborne and submarine vehicles, three-dimensional
photography, and “human hibernation” for medical purposes.
Similar lists are to be found elsewhere as well. In transportation,
Perenial Themes — 23

in communications, in every conceivable field and some that are


almost inconceivable, we face an inundation of innovation. In
consequence, the complexities of choice are staggering....

Another technological advance that could enlarge the adaptive


range of the individual pertain to human IQ. Widely reported
experiments in the United States, Sweden and elsewhere,
strongly suggest that we may, within the foreseeable future, be
able to augment man’s intelligence and informational handling
abilities. Research in biochemistry and nutrition indicate that
protein, RNA and other manipulable properties are, in some still
obscure way, correlated with memory and learning. A large-
scale effort to crack the intelligence barrier could pay off in
fantastic improvement of man’s adaptability.

It may be that the historic moment is right for such


amplifications of humanness, for a leap to a new super-human
organism. But what are the consequences and alternatives? ...
Should biochemical treatments be used to raise mental
defectives to the level of normals, should they be used to raise
the average, or should we concentrate on trying to breed super-
geniuses?

In quite different fields, similar complex choices abound. Should


we throw our resources behind a crash effort to achieve low-cost
nuclear energy? Or should a comparable effort be mounted to
determine the biochemical basis of aggression? Should we spend
billions of dollars on a supersonic jet transport⎯or should these
funds be deployed in the development of artificial hearts?
Should we tinker with the human gene? Or should we, as some
quite seriously propose, flood the interior of Brazil to create an
inland ocean the size of East and West Germany combined? We
will soon, no doubt, be able to put super-LSD or an anti-
aggression additive or some Huxleyian soma into our breakfast
foods. We will soon be able to settle colonists on the planets and
plant pleasure probes in the skulls of our newborn infants. But
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—24

should we? Who is to decide? By what human criteria should


such decisions be taken?

It is clear that a society which opts for ... nuclear energy,


supersonic transports, macroengineering on a continental scale,
along with LSD and pleasure probes, will develop a culture
dramatically different from the one that chooses, instead, to raise
intelligence, diffuse anti-aggression drugs and provide low-cost
artificial hearts.

Sharp differences would quickly emerge between the society


that presses technological advance selectively, and that which
blindly snatches at the first opportunity that comes along. Even
sharper differences would develop between the society in which
the pace of technological advance is moderated and guided to
prevent future shock, and that in which masses of ordinary
people are incapacitated for rational decision-making. In one,
political democracy and broad-scale participation are feasible; in
the other powerful pressures lead towards political rule by a tiny
techno-managerial elite. Our choice of technologies in short,
will decisively shape the cultural styles of the future.

This is why technological questions can no longer be answered


in technological terms alone. They are political questions.
Indeed, they affect us more deeply than most of the superficial
political issues that occupy us today. This is why we cannot
continue to make technological decisions in the old way. We
cannot permit them to be made haphazardly, independently of
one another. We cannot permit them to be dictated by short-run
economic considerations alone. We cannot permit them to be
made in a policy vacuum. And we cannot casually delegate
responsibility for such decisions to businessmen, scientists,
engineers or administrators who are unaware of the profound
consequences of their own actions.
Perenial Themes — 25

Transistors and Sex


To capture control of technology, and through it gain some
influence over the accelerative thrust in general, we must,
therefore, begin to submit new technology to a set of demanding
tests before we unleash it in our midst. We must ask a whole
series of unaccustomed questions about any innovation before
giving it a clean bill of sale.

First, bitter experience should have taught us by now to look far


more carefully at the potential physical side effects of any new
technology. Whether we are proposing a new form of power, a
new material, or a new industrial chemical, we must attempt to
determine how it will alter the delicate ecological balance upon
which we depend for survival. Moreover, we must anticipate its
indirect effects over great distances in both time and space....

Second, and much more complex, we must question the long-


term impact of a technical innovation on the social, cultural and
psychological environment. The automobile is widely believed
to have changed the shape of our cities, shifted home ownership
and retail trade patterns, altered sexual customs and loosened
family ties. In the Middle East, the rapid spread of transistor
radios is credited with having contributed to the resurgence of
Arab nationalism....

We can no longer afford to let such secondary social and cultural


effects just “happen.” We must attempt to anticipate them in
advance, estimating, to the degree possible, their nature, strength
and timing. Where these effects are likely to be seriously
damaging, we must also be prepared to block the new
technology. It is as simple as that. Technology cannot be
permitted to rampage through the society.

It is quite true that we can never know all the effects of any
action, technological or otherwise. But it is not true that we are
helpless. It is, for example, sometimes possible to test new
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—26

technology in limited areas, among limited groups, studying its


secondary impacts before releasing it for diffusion. We could, if
we were imaginative, devise living experiments, even volunteer
communities, to help guide our technological decisions.... we
may also wish to set aside, even subsidize, special high-novelty
communities in which advanced drugs, power sources, vehicles,
cosmetics, appliances and other innovations are experimentally
used and investigated.

A corporation today will routinely field test a product to make


sure it performs its primary function. The same company will
market test the product to ascertain whether it will sell. But, with
rare exception, no one post-checks the consumer or the
community to determine what the human side effects have been.
Survival in the future may depend on our learning to do so.

Even when life-testing proves unfeasible, it is still possible for


us systematically to anticipate the distant effects of various
technologies. Behavioral scientists are rapidly developing new
tools, from mathematical modeling and simulation to...make
more informed judgments about the consequences of our
actions. We are piecing together the conceptual hardware needed
for the social evaluation of technology; we need but to make use
of it.

Third, an even more difficult and pointed question: Apart from


actual changes in the social structure, how will a proposed new
technology affect the value system of the society? We know
little about value structures and how they change, but there is
reason to believe that they, too, are heavily impacted by
technology. Elsewhere I have proposed that we develop a new
profession of “value impact forecasters”⎯men and women
trained to use the most advanced behavioral science techniques
to appraise the value implications of proposed technology....
Perenial Themes — 27

Fourth and finally, we must pose a question that until now has
almost never been investigated, and which is, nevertheless,
absolutely crucial if we are to prevent widespread future shock.
For each major technological innovation we must ask: What are
its accelerative implications ?

The problems of adaptation already far transcend the difficulties


of coping with this or that invention or technique. Our problem
is no longer the innovation, but the chain of innovations, not the
supersonic transport, or the breeder reactor, or the ground effect
machine, but entire inter-linked sequences of such innovations
and the novelty they send flooding the society.

Does a proposed innovation help us control the rate and


direction of subsequent advance? Or does it tend to accelerate
host of processes over which we have no control? How does it
affect the level of transience, the novelty ratio, and the diversity
of choice? Until we systematically probe these questions, our
attempts to harness technology to social ends⎯and to gain
control of the accelerative thrust in general⎯will prove feeble
and futile.

Here, then, is a pressing intellectual agenda for the social and


physical sciences. We have taught ourselves to create and
combine the most powerful of technologies. We have not taken
pains to learn about their consequences. Today these
consequences threaten to destroy us. We must learn, and learn
fast.

A Technology Ombudsman
The challenge, however, is not solely intellectual; it is political
as well. In addition to designing new research tools⎯new ways
to understand our environment⎯we must design creative new
political institutions for guaranteeing that these questions are in
fact, investigated; and for promoting or discouraging (perhaps
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—28

even banning) certain proposed technologies. We need, in effect,


a machinery for screening machines.... Responsibility for doing
so must be shared by public agencies and the corporations and
laboratories in which technological innovations are hatched.

Any suggestion for control over technology immediately raises


scientific eyebrows. The specter of hamhanded governmental
interference is invoked. Yet controls over technology need not
imply limitations on the freedom to conduct research. What is at
issue is not discovery but diffusion, not invention but
application. Ironically, as sociologist Amital Etzioni points out,
“many liberals who have fully accepted Keynesian economic
controls take a laissez-faire view of technology. Theirs are the
arguments once used to defend laissez-faire economics: that any
attempt to control technology would stifle innovation and
initiative.”

Warnings about overcontrol ought not be lightly ignored. Yet


the consequences of lack of control may be far worse. In point of
fact, science and technology are never free in any absolute
sense. Inventions and the rate at which they are applied are both
influenced by the values and institutions of the society that gives
rise to them. Every society, in effect, does pre-screen technical
innovations before putting them to wide-spread use.

The haphazard way in which this is done today, however, and


the criteria on which selections is based, need to be changed. In
the West, the basic criterion for filtering out certain technical
innovations and applying others remains economic profitability.
In Communist countries, the ultimate tests have to do with
whether the innovation will contribute to overall economic
growth and national power. In the former, decisions are private
and pluralistically decentralized. In the latter, they are public and
tightly centralized.
Perenial Themes — 29

Both systems are now obsolete⎯incapable of dealing with the


complexity of super-industrial society. Both tend to ignore all
but the most immediate and obvious consequences of
technology. Yet, increasingly, it is these non-immediate and
non-obvious impacts that must concern us....

One step in the right direction would be to create a technological


ombudsman⎯a public agency charged with receiving,
investigating, and acting on complaints having to do with the
irresponsible application of technology.

Who should be responsible for correcting the adverse effects of


technology? The rapid diffusion of detergents used in home
washing machines and dishwashers intensified water
purification problems all over the United States. The decisions
to launch detergents on the society were privately taken, but the
side effects have resulted in costs borne by the taxpayer and (in
the form of lower water quality) by the consumer at large.

The costs of air pollution are similarly borne by taxpayer and


community even though, as is often the case, the sources of
pollution are traceable to individual companies, industries or
government installations. Perhaps it is sensible for de-pollution
costs to be borne by the public as a form of social overhead,
rather than by specific industries. There are many ways to
allocate the cost. But whichever way we choose, it is absolutely
vital that the lines of responsibility are made clear. Too often no
agency, group or institution has clear responsibility.

A technology ombudsman could serve as an official sounding


board for complaints. By calling press attention to companies or
government agencies that have applied new technology
irresponsibly or without adequate forethought, such an agency
could exert pressure for more intelligent use of new technology.
Armed with the power to initiate damage suits where necessary,
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—30

it could become a significant deterrent to technological


irresponsibility.

The Environmental Screen


But simply investigating and apportioning responsibility after
the fact is hardly sufficient. We must create an environmental
screen to protect ourselves against dangerous intrusions as well
as a system of public incentives to encourage technology that is
both safe and socially desirable. This means governmental and
private machinery for reviewing major technological advances
before they are launched upon the public.

Corporations might be expected to set up their own


“consequence analysis staffs” to study the potential effects of the
innovations they sponsor. They might, in some cases, be
required not merely to test new technology in pilot areas but to
make a pubic report about its impact before being permitted to
spread the innovation through the society at large. Much
responsibility should be delegated to industry itself. The less
centralized the controls the better. If self-policing works, it is
preferable to external, political control.

Where self-regulation fails, however, as it often does, public


intervention may well be necessary, and we should not evade the
responsibility. In the United States, Congressman Emilio Q.
Daddario, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Science,
Research and Development, has proposed the establishment of a
Technology Assessment Board within the federal government....

The society might also set certain general principles for


technological advance. Where the introduction of an innovation
entails undue risk, for example, it might require that funds be set
aside by the responsible agency for correction of adverse effects
should they materialize. We might also create a “technological
Perenial Themes — 31

insurance pool” to which innovation-diffusing agencies might


pay premiums.

Certain large-scale ecological interventions might be delayed or


prohibited altogether⎯perhaps in line with the principle that if
an incursion on nature is too big and sudden for its effects to be
monitored and possibly corrected, it should not take place. For
example, it has been suggested that the Aswan Dam, far from
helping Egyptian agriculture, might someday lead to salinization
of the land on both banks of the Nile. This could prove
disastrous. But such a process would not occur overnight.
Presumably, therefore, it can be monitored and prevented. By
contrast, the plan to flood the entire interior of Brazil is fraught
with such instant and imponderable ecological effects that it
should not be permitted at all until adequate monitoring can be
done and emergency corrective measures are available.

At the level of social consequences, a new technology might be


submitted for clearance to panels of behavioral
scientists⎯psychologists, sociologists, economists, political
scientists⎯who would determine, to the best of their ability, the
probable strength of its social impact at different points in time.
Where an innovation appears likely to entail seriously disruptive
consequences, or to generate unrestrained accelerative pressures,
these facts need to be weighed in a social cost-benefit
accounting procedure. In the case of some high-impact
innovations, the technological appraisal agency might be
empowered to seek restraining legislation, or to obtain an
injunction forcing delay until full public discussion and study is
completed. In other cases, such innovations might still be
released for diffusion⎯provided ample steps were taken in
advance to offset their negative consequences. In this way, the
society would not need to wait for disaster before dealing with
its technology-induced problems....
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—32

Discussion
• What is meant by “future shock”? How can it be averted?

• How can we prevent technology turning our environment


into a physical and social tinderbox?

• What does the author mean by psychic pollution?

• What should be the goal of “a movement for responsible


technology”?

• What is meant by ‘technological backlash’? What forms can


it take?

• What technological policy is followed at present by most of


the countries?

• What does the author mean by technological over-choice?


What are its implications?

• Technological questions can no longer be answered in


technological terms. Why?

• “Society must now choose its cultural style as an individual


chooses his life style.” Discuss what should be the criterion
for such a choice.

• What is the nature of long-term consequences of


technological innovations?

• What can be done to anticipate the distant effects of


technologies?

• “What needs to be controlled is not discovery but diffusion,


not invention, but application.” Discuss.
Perenial Themes — 33

• What institutions are proposed by the author for regulating


technology?

• Who should bear the costs of de-polluting environment?

• What can be done to create an environmental screen?

• Discuss the role of behavioural scientists in ensuring


responsible technology.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—34

Freedom
George Bernard Shaw
(1895-1940)
Freedom, both as a term and as a trait has often been used
perfunctorily by scholars and the general people alike. It is
all the more important to know its meaning and its spirit
and then esteem it as such.
Reproduced below is the text of a broadcast address by G.
B. Shaw that he gave on 17 June 1935. Here he has
challenged the old order, the present order, and that which
is still to come. The address, one of a series on the subject,
is typically Shavian. It raised the storm of argument and
controversy which invariably followed Shaw’s utterances.
The essay is sure to provide material to the students for
hard thinking.
George Bernard Shaw, the Irish-born writer, is regrarded as
the most significant British dramatist since Shakespeare. In
addition to being a prolific playwright (he wrote 50 stage
plays) and novelist, he was also the most trenchant
pamphleteer since Jonathan Swift and the most readable
music critic and the best theatre critic of his generation. He
was also one of literature's great letter writers.

Now remember, ladies and gentlemen, I have no time to talk the


usual old nonsense about freedom, tonight. Let us come to
business. What is perfectly free person? Evidently a person who
can do what he likes, when he likes and where he likes, or do
nothing at all if he prefers it. Well there is no such person; and
there never can be any such person. Whether we like it or not,
we must all sleep for one-third of our lifetime; wash and dress
and undress; we must spend a couple of hours eating and
drinking; we must spend nearly as much in getting about from
place to place. For half the day we are slaves to necessities
which we cannot shirk, whether we are monarchs with a
thousand servant or humble labourers with no servants but their
Perenial Themes — 35

wives. And the wives must undertake the additional heavy


slavery of child-bearing if the world is still to be peopled.

These natural jobs cannot be shirked. But they involve other jobs
which can. As we must eat we must first provide food; as we
must sleep we must have beds and bedding in houses with
fireplaces and coals; as we must walk through the streets we
must have clothes to cover our nakedness. Now, food and
houses and clothes can be produced by human labour. But when
they are produced they can be stolen. It you like honey you can
let the bees produce it by their labour, and then steel it from
them. If you are too lazy to get about from place to place on
your own legs you can make a slave of a horse. And what you
do to a horse or a bee you can also do to a man or woman or a
child if you can get the upper hand of them by force or fraud or
trickery of any sort, or even by teaching them that it is their
religious duty to sacrifice their freedom to yours.

So beware! If you allow any person, or class of persons, to get


the upper hand of you, they will shift all that part of their slavery
to Nature that can be shifted on to your shoulders; and you will
find yourself working from eight to fourteen hours a day when,
if you had only yourself and your family to provide for, you
could do it quite comforably in half the time or less. The object
of all honest Governments should be to prevent your being
imposed on in this way. But the object of most actual
Governments, I regret to say, is exactly the opposite. They
enforce your slavery and call it freedom. But they also regulate
your slavery, keeping the greed of your masters within certain
bounds. When chattel slavery of the negro sort costs more than
wage slavery, they abolish chattel slavery and make you free to
choose between one employment, or one master, and another;
and this they call a glorious triumph for freedom, though for you
it is merely the key of the street. When you complain, they
promise that in future you shall govern the country for yourself.
They redeem this promise by giving you a vote, and having a
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—36

general election every five years or so. At the election, two of


their rich friends ask for your vote; and you are free to choose
which of them you will vote for to spite the other—a choice
which leaves you no freer than you were before, as it does not
reduce your hours of labour by a single minute. But the
newspapers assure you that your vote has decided the election,
and that this constitutes you a free citizen in a democratic
country. The amazing thing about it is that you are fool enough
to believe them.

Now mark another big difference between the natural slavery of


man to Nature and the unnatural slavery of man to man. Nature
is kind to her slaves. If she forces you to eat and drink, she
makes eating and drinking so pleasant that when we can afford it
we eat and drink too much. We must sleep or go mad: but then
sleep is so pleasant that we have great difficulty in getting up in
the morning. And firesides and families seem so pleasant to the
young that they get married and join building societies to realize
their dreams. Thus, instead of resenting our natural wants as
slavery, we take the greatest pleasure in their satisfaction. We
write sentimental songs in praise of them. A tramp can earn his
supper by singing “Home, Sweet Home.”

The slavery of man to man is the very opposite of this. It is


hateful to the body and to the spirit. Our poets do not praise it:
they proclaim that no man is good enough to be another man’s
master. The latest of the great Jewish prophets, a gentleman
named Marx, spent his life in proving that there is no extremity
of selfish cruelty at which the slavery of man to man will stop if
it be not stopped by law. You can see for yourself that it
produces a state of continual civil war—called the class war—
between the slaves and their masters, organized as trade unions
on one side and employers’ federations on the other. Saint
Thomas More, who has just been canonized, held that we shall
never have a peaceful and stable society until this struggle is
ended by the abolition of slavery altogether and the compulsion
Perenial Themes — 37

of every one to do his share of the world’s work with his own
hands and brains, and not to attempt to put it on any one else.

Naturally the master class, through its Parliaments, schools and


newspapers, makes the most desperate efforts to prevent us from
realizing our slavery. From our earliest years we are taught that
our country is the land of the free, and that our freedom was won
for us for ever by our forefathers when they made King John
sign Magna Charta—when they defeated the Spanish Armada—
when they cut off King Charles’s head—when they made King
William accept the Bill of Rights—when they issued and made
good the American Declaration of Independence—when they
won the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar on the playing fields
of Eton—and when, only the other day, they quite
unintentionally changed the German, Austrian, Russian and
Ottoman empires into republics. When we grumble, we are told
that all our miseries are our own doing because we have the
vote. When we say: “What good is the vote?” we are told that
we have the Factory Acts, and the Wages Board, and free
education, and the New Deal, and the dole; and what more could
any reasonable man ask for? We are reminded that the rich are
taxed a quarter, a third, or even a half and more, of their
incomes; but the poor are never reminded that they have to pay
that much of their wages as rent in addition to having to work
twice as long every day as they would need if they were free.

Whenever famous writers protest against this imposture—say,


Voltaire and Rousseau and Tom Paine in the eighteenth century,
or Cobbett and Shelley, Karl Marx and Lasselle in the
nineteenth, or atheists and libertines, murderers and scoundrels;
and often it is made a criminal offence to buy or sell their books.
If their disciples make a revolution, England immediately makes
war on them and lends money to the other Powers to join her in
forcing the revolutionists to restore the slave order. When this
combination was successful at Waterloo, the victory was
advertised as another triumph for British freedom; and the
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—38

British wage slaves, instead of going into mourning like Lord


Byron, believed it all and cheered enthusiastically. When the
revolution wins, as it did in Russia in 1922, the fighting stops;
but the abuse, the calumnies, the lies, continue until the
revolutionized State grows into a first-rate military Power. Then
our diplomatists, after having for years denounced the
revolutionary leaders as the most abominable villains and
tyrants, have to do a right turn and invite them to dinner.

Now though this prodigious mass of humbug is meant to delude


the enslaved class only, it ends in deluding the master class
much more completely. A gentleman whose mind has been
formed at a preparatory school for the sons of gentlemen,
followed by a public school and university course, is much more
thoroughly taken in by the falsified history and dishonest
political economy and snobbery taught in these places than any
worker can possibly be, because the gentleman’s education
teaches him that he is a very fine fellow, superior to the common
run of men whose duty it is to brush his clothes, carry his
parcels, and earn his income for him; and as he thoroughly
agrees with this view of himself, he honestly believes that the
system which has placed him in such an agreeable situation and
done such justice to his merits is the best of all possible systems
and that he should shed his blood, and yours, to the last drop in
its defence. But the great mass of our rack-rented, underpaid,
treated-as-inferiors, cast-off-on-the-dole workers cannot feel so
sure about it as the gentleman. The facts are too harshly against
it. In hard times, such as we are now passing through, their
disgust and despair sometimes lead them to kick over the traces,
upset every thing, and have to be rescued from mere gangsterism
by some Napoleonic genius who has a fancy for being an
emperor, and who has the courage and brains and energy to
jump at the chance. But the slaves who give three cheers for the
emperor might just as well have made a cross on a British or
American ballot paper as far as their freedom is concerned.
Perenial Themes — 39

So far I have mentioned nothing but plain, natural and historical


facts. I draw no conclusion, for that would lead me into
controversy; and controversy would not be fair when you cannot
answer me back. I am never controversial over the wireless. I do
not even ask you to draw your own conclusions, for you might
draw some very dangerous ones unless you have the right sort of
head for it. Always remember that though nobody likes to be
called a slave, it does not follow that slavery is a bad thing.
Great men, like Aristotle, have held that law and order and
government would be impossible unless the persons, the people
have to obey are beautifully dressed and decorated, robed and
uniformed, speaking with a special accent, travelling in first-
class carriages or the most expensive cars or on the best-
groomed and best-bred horses, and never cleaning their own
boots or doing anything for some common person to do it. And
this means, off course, that they must be made very rich without
any other obligation that to produce an impression of almost
godlike superiority on the minds of common people. In short, it
is contended, you must make men ignorant idolaters before they
will become obedient workers and law-abiding citizens.

To prove this, we are reminded that although nine out of ten


voters are common workers, it is with the greatest difficulty that
a few of them can be persuaded to vote for members of their
own class. When women were enfranchised and given the right
to sit in Parliament, the first use they made of their votes was to
defeat all the women candidates who stood for the freedom of
the workers and had given them years of devoted and
distinguished service. They elected only one woman—a titled
lady of great wealth and exceptionally fascinating personality.

Now this, it is said, is human nature; and you cannot change


human nature. On the other hand, it is maintained that human
nature is the easiest thing in the world to change if you catch it
young enough, and that the idolatry of the slave class and the
arrogance of the master class are themselves entirely artificial
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—40

products of education and of a propaganda that plays upon our


infants long before they have left their cradles. An opposite
mentality could, it is argued, be produced by a contrary
education and propaganda. You can turn the point over in your
mind for yourself; do not let me prejudice you one way or the
other. The practical question at the bottom of it all is how the
income of the whole country can best be distributed from day to
day. If the earth is cultivated agriculturally in vast farms with
motor ploughs and chemical fertilizers, and industrially in huge
electrified factories full of machinery that a girl can handle, the
product may be so great that an equal distribution of it would
provide enough to give the unskilled labourers as much as the
managers and the men of the scientific staff. But do not forget
that when you hear tales of modern machinery enabling one girl
to produce as much as a thousand men could produce in the
reign of good Queen Anne, that this marvellous increase
includes things like needles and steel pens, and matches, which
we can neither eat nor drink nor wear. Very young children will
eat needles and matches eagerly—but the diet is not a nourishing
one. And though we can now cultivate the sky as well as earth,
by drawing nitrogen from it to increase and improve the quality
of our grass—and, consequently, of our cattle and milk and
butter and eggs—Nature may have tricks up her sleeve to check
us if the chemists exploit her too greedily.

And now to sum up. Wipe out from your dreams of freedom the
hope of being able to do as you please all the time. For at least
twelve hours of your day Nature orders you to do certain things,
and will kill you if you don’t do them. This leaves twelve hours
for working; and here again Nature will kill you unless you
either earn your living or get somebody else to earn it for you. If
you live in a civilized country your freedom is restricted by the
laws of the land, enforced by the police, who oblige you to do
this, and not to do that, and to pay rates and taxes. If you do not
obey these laws the courts will imprison you and, if you go too
far, kill you. If the laws are reasonable and are impartially
Perenial Themes — 41

administered you have no reason to complain, because they


increase your freedom by protecting you against assault,
highway robbery, and disorder generally.

But as society is constituted at present, there is another far more


intimate compulsion on you: that of your landlord and that of
your employers. Your landlord may refuse to let you live on his
estate if you go to chapel instead of to church, or if you vote for
anybody but his nominee, or if you practise osteopathy, or if you
open a shop. Your employer may dictate the cut, colour and
condition of your clothes, as well as your hours of work. He can
turn you into the street at any moment to join the melancholy
band of lost spirits called the unemployed. In short, his power
over you is far greater than that of any political dictator could
possibly be. Your only remedy at present is the trade union
weapon of the strike, which is only the old Oriental device of
starving on your enemy’s doorstep until he does you justice.
Now, as the police in this country will not allow you to starve on
your employer’s doorstep, you must starve on your own—if you
have one. The extreme form of the strike—the general strike of
all workers at the same moment —is also the extreme form of
human folly, as, if completely carried out, it would extinguish
the human race in a week. And the workers would be the first to
perish. The general strike is trade unionism gone mad. Sane
trade unionism would never sanction more than one big strike at
a time, with all the other trades working overtime to support it.

Now let us put the case in figures. If you have to work for
twelve hours a day, you have no freedom at all. If you work
eight hours a day you have four hours a day to do what you like
with, subject to the laws of the land and your possession of
money enough to buy an interesting book or pay for a seat at the
pictures, or, on a half holiday, at a football match, or whatever
your fancy may be. But even here Nature will interfere a good
deal; for if your eight hours work has been of a hard physical
kind, and when you get home you want to spend your four hours
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—42

in reading my books to improve your mind, you will find


yourself fast asleep in half a minute, and your mind will remain
in its present benighted condition.

I take it, then, that nine out of ten of us desire more freedom, and
that this is why we listen to wireless talks about it. As long as we
go on as we are—content with a vote and a dole—the only
advice we can give one another is that of Shakespeare’s Iago:
“Put money in thy purse.” But as we get very little money into
our purses on pay day, and all the rest of the week other people
are taking money out of it, Iago’s advice is not very practical.
We must change our politics before we can get what we want;
and meanwhile we must stop gassing about freedom, because
the people of England in the lump don’t know what freedom is
—never having had any. Always call freedom by its old English
name of leisure; and keep clamouring for more leisure and more
money to enjoy it in return for an honest share of work. And let
us stop singing “Rule, Britannia,” until we make it true. Until we
do, let us never vote for a parliamentary candidate who talks
about our freedom and our love of liberty; for whatever political
name he may give himself, he is sure to be at bottom an
anarchist who wants to live on our labour without being taken up
by the police for it as he deserves.

And now suppose we at last win a lot more leisure and a lot
more money than we are accustomed to. What are we going to
do with them? I was taught in my childhood that Satan will find
mischief still for idle hands to do. I have seen men come into a
fortune and lose their happiness, their health, and finally, their
lives by it as certainly as if they had taken daily doses of rat
poison instead of champagne and cigars. It is not at all easy to
know what to do with leisure unless we have been brought up to
it.

I will, therefore, leave you with a conundrum to think over. If


you had your choice, would you work for eight hours a day and
Perenial Themes — 43

retire with a full pension at forty-five, or would you rather work


four hours a day and keep on working until you are seventy?
Now, don’t send the answer to me, please: talk it over with your
wife.

Discussion
• What does the term “freedom” mean to you?

• Has the reading helped you modify your interpretation of the


term. If yes how and in what respect?

• Do you think man can ever be “free” in the real sense of the
term.

Oh freedom what liberties are taken in thy name.

Daniel George
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—44

The Man in Asbestos: An Allegory of


the Future
Stephen Leacock
(1869-1944)
The world of The Man in Asbestos promises to be a utopia
from which all human suffering and toil have been
eliminated, and in which scientific advancements have
conquered all known human problems. However, the reader
soon discovers that this world is, in fact, an anti-utopia in
which life has lost all meaning and charm. The author uses
the vehicle of science fiction very effectively to raise and
answer some fundamental questions about human life.
Stephen Leacock was a political economist, but is better
known as a writer of humorous stories amongst which are
Nonsense Novels and Frenzied Fiction.

To begin with let me admit that I did it on purpose. Perhaps it


was partly from jealousy.

It seemed unfair that other writers should be able at will to drop


into a sleep of four or five hundred years and to plunge head first
into a distant future and be a witness of its marvels.

I wanted to do that too.

I always had been, I still am a passionate student of social


problems. The world of today with its roaring machinery, the
unceasing toil of its working classes, its strife, its poverty, its
war, its cruelty, appals me as I look at it. I love to think of the
time that must come some day when man will have conquered
nature, and the toil-worn human race enter upon an era of peace.

I loved to think of it, and I longed to see it.

So I set about the thing deliberately.


Perenial Themes — 45

What I wanted to do was to fall asleep after the customary


fashion,

for two or three hundred years at least, and wake and find myself
in the

marvel world of the future.

I made my preparations for the sleep.

I bought all the comic papers that I could find, even the
illustrated ones. I carried them up to my room in my hotel: with
them I brought up a pie and dozens of doughnuts. I ate the pie
and the doughnuts, then sat back in the bed and read the comic
papers one after the other. Finally, as I felt the awful lethargy
stealing upon me, I reached out my hand for the London Weekly
Times, and held up the. editorial page before my eye.

It was, in a way, clear, straight suicide, but I did it.

I could feel my senses leaving me. In the room across the hall
there was a man singing. His voice, that had been loud, came
fainter and fainter through the transom. I fell into a sleep, the
deep immeasurable sleep in which the very existence of the
outer world was hushed. Dimly I could feel the days go past,
then the years, and then the long passage of the centuries.

Then, not as it were gradually, but quite suddenly, I woke up, sat
up, and looked about me.

Where was I?

Well might I ask myself.

I found myself lying, or rather sitting up, on a broad couch. I


was in a great room, dim, gloomy, and dilapidated in its general
appearance, and apparently, from its glass cases and the suffered
figures that they contained, some kind of museum.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—46

Beside me sat a man. His face was hairless, but neither old nor
young. He wore clothes that looked like the grey ashes of paper
that had burned and kept its shape. He was looking at me
quietly, but with no particular surprise or interest.

“Quick” I said, eager to begin; “where am I? Who are you?


What year is this; is it the year 3,000, or what is it?”

He drew in his breath with a look of annoyance on his face.

“What a queer, excited way you have of speaking.” he said.

“Tell me,” I said again, is this the year 3000?”

“I think I know what you mean,” he said; “but, really I haven’t


the faintest idea. I should think it must be at least that within, a
hundred years or so; but nobody has kept track of them for so
long, it’s hard to say.”

“Don’t you keep track of them any more?” I gasped.

“We used to,” said the man. “I myself can remember that a
century or two ago there were still a number of people who used
to try to keep track of the year, but it died out along with so
many other faddish-things of that kind. “Why,” he continued,
showing for the first time a sort of animation in his talk, “what
was the use of it? You see, after we eliminated death ⎯“

“Eliminated death!” l cried, sitting upright. “Good God!”

“What was that expression you used?” queried the man.

“Good God!” I repeated.

“Ah,” he said, “never heard it before. But I was saying that after
we had eliminated Death, and Food, and Change, we had
practically got rid of Events and⎯“
Perenial Themes — 47

“Stop!” I said, my brain reeling. “Tell me one thing at a time.”

“Humph!” he ejaculated. “I see, you must have been asleep a


long time. Go on then and ask questions. Only, if you don’t
mind, just as few as possible, and please don’t get interested or
excited.”

Oddly enough the first question that sprang to my lips was⎯

“What are those clothes made of?”

“Asbestos,’ answered the man. “They last hundreds of years. We


have one suit each, and there are billions of them piled up, if
anybody wants a new one”.

“Thank you “ I answered. “Now tell me where I am?”

“You are in a museum. The figures in the cases are specimens


like yourself. But here,” he said, “if you want really to find out
about what is evidently a new epoch to you, get off your
platform and come out on Broadway and sit on a bench.”

I got down.

As we passed through the dim and dust-covered buildings, I


looked curiously at the figures in the cases.

“By Jove!” I said, looking at one figure in blue clothes with a


belt and baton, “that’s a policeman!”

“Really,” said my new acquaintance, “is that what a policeman


was I’ve often wondered. What used they to be used for?”

“Used for?” I repeated in perplexity. “Why, they stood at the


corner of the street,”

“Ah, yes, I see,” he said, “ so as to shoot at the people. You must


excuse my ignorance,” he continued, “as to some of your social
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—48

customs in the past. When I took my education I was operated


upon for social history, but the stuff they used was very
inferior.”

I didn’t in the least understand what the man meant, but had no
time to question him, for at the moment we came out upon the
street, and I stood riveted in astonishment.

Broadway! Was it possible? The change was absolutely


appalling!

In place of the roaring thoroughfare that I had known, this silent,


moss-grown desolation. Great buildings fallen into ruin through
the sheer stress of centuries of wind and weather, the sides of
them coated over with a growth of fungus and moss! The place
was soundless. Not a vehicle moved. There were no wires over-
head⎯no sound of life or movement except, here and there,
there passed slowly to and fro human figures dressed in the same
asbestos clothes as my acquaintance, with the same hairless
faces, and the same look of infinite age upon them.

Good heavens? And was this the era of the Conquest that I had
hoped to see! I had always taken for granted, I do not know why,
that humanity was destined to move forward. This picture of
what seemed desolation on the ruins of our civilization rendered
me almost speechless.

There were little benches placed here and there on the street. We
sat down.

“Improved, isn’t it,” said the man in asbestos, “since the days
when you remember it?”

He seemed to speak quite proudly.

I gasped out a question.


Perenial Themes — 49

“Where are the street cars and the motors?”

“Oh, done away with long ago,” he said; “how awful they must
have been. The noise of them!” and his asbestos clothes rustled
with a shudder.

“But how do you get about?”

“We don’t,” he answered. “Why should we? It’s just the same
being here as being anywhere else.” He looked at me with an
infinity of dreariness in his face.

A thousand question surged into my mind at once. I asked one of


the simplest.

“But how do you get back and forwards to your work?”

“Work!” he said. “There isn’t any work. It’s finished. The last of
it was all done centuries ago.”

I looked at him a moment open-mouthed. Then I turned and


looked again at the grey desolation of the street with the asbestos
figures moving here and there.

I tried to pull my senses together. I realized that if I was to


unravel this new and undreamed-of-future, I must go at it
systematically and step by step.

“I see,” I said after a pause, “that momentous things have


happened since my time. I wish you would let me ask you about
it all systematically, and would explain it to me bit by bit. First,
what do you mean by saying that there is no work?”

“Why” answered my strange acquaintance, “it died out of itself.


Machinery killed it. If I remember rightly, you had a certain
amount of machinery even in your time. You had done very well
with steam, made a good beginning with electricity, though I
think radial energy had hardly as yet been put to use.”
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—50

I nodded assent.

“But you found it did you no good. The better your machines,
the harder you worked. The more things you had the more you
wanted. The pace of life grew swifter and swifter. You cried out,
but it would not stop. You were all caught in the cogs of your
own machine. None of you could see the end.”

“That is quite true,” I said “How do you know it all?”

“Oh,” answered the Man in Asbestos, “that part of my education


was very well operated⎯I see you do not know what I mean.
Never mind, I can tell you that later. Well, then, there came,
probably almost two hundred years after your time the Era of the
Great Conquest of Nature, the final victory of Man and
Machinery.”

“They did conquer it?” I asked quickly, with a thrill of the old
hope in my veins again.

“Conquered it,” he said “beat it out! Fought it to a standstill!


Things came one by one, then faster and faster, in a hundred
years it was all done. In fact, just as soon as mankind turned its
energy to decreasing its needs instead of increasing its desires,
the whole thing was easy. Chemical food came first. Heavens!
the simplicity of it. And in your time thousands of millions of
people tilled and grubbed at the soil from morning till night. I’ve
seen specimens of them⎯farmers, they called them. There’s one
in the museum. After the invention of Chemical Food we piled
up enough in the emporiums in a year to last for centuries.
Agriculture went overboard. Eating and all that goes with it,
domestic labour, housework⎯all ended. Nowadays one takes a
concentrated pill every year or so, that’s all. The whole digestive
apparatus, as you knew it, was a clumsy thing that had been
bloated up like a set of bagpipes through the evolution of its
use!”
Perenial Themes — 51

I could not forbear to interrupt. “Have you and these people,” I


said, “no stomach⎯no apparatus?”

“Of course we have,” he answered, “but we use it to some


purpose. Mine is largely filled with my education⎯but there! I
am anticipating again. Better let me go on as I was. Chemical
Food came first: that cut off almost one-third of the work, and
then came Asbestos Clothes. That was wonderful! In one year
humanity made enough suits to last for ever and ever. That, of
course, could never have been if it hadn’t been connected with
the revolt of women and the fall of Fashion.”

“Have the Fashions gone,” I asked, “that insane, extravagant


idea of ⎯“ I was about to launch into one of my old-time
harangues about the sheer vanity of decorative dress, when my
eye rested on the moving figures in asbestos, and I stopped.

“All gone,” said the Man in Asbestos. “Then next to that we


killed, or practically killed, the changes of climate. I don’t think
that in your day you properly understood how much of your
work was due to the shifts of what you called the weather. It
meant the need of all kinds of special clothes and houses and
shelters, a wilderness of work. How dreadful it must have been
in your day⎯wind and storms, great wet masses⎯what did you
call them?⎯clouds⎯flying through the air, the ocean full of
salt, was it not?⎯tossed and torn by the wind, snow thrown all
over everything, hail, rain⎯how awful!”

“Sometimes,” I said, “it was very beautiful. But how did you
alter it?”

“Killed the weather!” answered the Man in Asbestos. “Simple as


anything⎯turned its forces loose once against the other, altered
the composition of the sea so that the top became all more or
less gelatinous, I really can’t explain it, as it is an operation that
I never took at school, but it made the sky grey, as you see it,
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—52

and the sea gum-coloured, the weather all the same. It cut out
fuel and houses and an infinity of work with them!”

He paused a moment. I began to realize something of the course


of evolution that had happened.

“So,” I said, “the conquest of nature meant that presently there


was no more work to do?”

“Exactly,” he said, “nothing left.”

“Food enough for all?”

“Too much,” he answered.”

“Houses and clothes?”

“All you like,” said the Man in Asbestos, waving his hand.
There they are. Go out and take them. Of course, they’re falling
down⎯slowly, very slowly. But they’ll last for centuries yet,
nobody need bother.”

Then I realised, I think for the first time, just what work had
meant in the old life, and how much of the texture of life itself
had been bound up in the keen effort of it.

Presently my eyes looked upward: dangling at the top of a moss-


grown building I saw what seemed to be the remains of
telephone wires.

“What became of all that.” I said, “ the telegraph and telephone


and all the system of communication ?” “Ah,” said the Man in
Asbestos, “that was what a telephone meant, was it? I knew that
it had been suppressed centuries ago. Just what was it for ?”

“Why,” I said with enthusiasm, “by means of the telephone we


could talk to anybody, call up anybody and talk at any distance,”
Perenial Themes — 53

“And anybody could call you up at any time and talk?” said the
Man in Asbestos, with something like the horror. How awful!
What a dreadful age yours was, to be sure. Not, the telephone
and all the rest of it, all the transportation and
intercommunication was cut out and forbidden. There was no
sense in it. You see,” he added, what you don’t realize is that
people after your day became gradually more and more
reasonable. Take the railroad, what good was that? It brought
into every town a lot of people from every other town. Who
wanted them? Nobody. When work stopped and commerce
ended, and food was needless, and the weather killed, it was
foolish to move about. So it was all terminated. Anyway.” he
said, with a quick look of apprehension and a change in voice,
“it was dangerous !”

“So!” I said, “Dangerous! You still have danger?”

“Why, yes,” he said, “there’s always the danger of getting


broken.”

“What do you mean.” I asked.

“Why,” said the Man in Asbestos. “I suppose it’s what you


would call being dead. Of course, in one sense there’s been no
death for centuries past; we cut that out. Disease and death were
simply a matter of germs. We found them one by one. I think
that even in your day you had found, one or two of the easier,
the bigger ones?”

I nodded.

“Yes, you had found diphtheria and typhoid, and, if I am right,


there were some outstanding, like scarlet fever and smallpox,
that you called ultra-microscopic, and which you were still
hunting for, and others that you didn’t even suspect. Well, we
hunted them down one by one and destroyed them. Strange that
it never occurred to any of you that Old Age was only a germ! It
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—54

turned out to be quite a simple one, but it was so distributed in


its action that you never even thought of it.”

“And you mean to say,” I ejaculated in amazement, looking at


the Man in Asbestos, “that nowadays you live for ever?”

“I wish,” he said, “that you hadn’t that peculiar, excitable way of


talking; you speak as if everything mattered so tremendously.
Yes, “he continued, “we live for ever, unless, of course, we get
broken. That happens sometimes. I mean that we may fall over a
high place or bump on something, and snap ourselves. You see,
we’re just a little brittle still,⎯some remnant, I suppose, of the
Old Age germ⎯and we have to be careful. In fact,” he
continued, I don’t mind saying that accidents, of this sort were
the most distressing feature of our civilization till we took steps
to cut out all accidents. We forbid all street cars, street traffic,
aeroplanes, and so on. The risks of your time,” he said, with a
shiver of his asbestos clothes, “must have been awful.”

“They were,” I answered, with a new kind of pride in my


generation that I had never felt before, “but we thought it part of
the duty of brave people to⎯“

“Yes, yes,” said the Man in Asbestos impatiently, please don’t


get excited. I know what you mean. It was quite irrational.”

We sat silent for a long time. I looked about me at the crumbling


buildings, the monotone, unchanging sky, and the dreary, empty
street. Here, then, was the fruit of the Conquest, here was the
elimination of work, the end of hunger and of cold, the cessation
of the hard struggle, the downfall of change and death⎯nay, the
very millennium of happiness. And yet, somehow, there seemed
something wrong with it all. I pondered, then I put two or three
rapid questions, hardly waiting to reflect upon the answers.

“Is there any war now?”


Perenial Themes — 55

“Done with centuries ago. They took to settling international


disputes with a slot machine. After that all foreign dealings were
given up. Why have them? Everybody thinks foreigners awful.”

“Are there any newspapers now?”

“Newspapers! What on earth would we want them for? If we


should need them at any time there are thousands of old ones
piled up. But what is in them, anyway; only things that happen,
wars and accidents and work and death. When these went
newspapers went too. “Listen,” continued the Man in Asbestos,
“you seem to have been something of social reformer, and yet
you don’t understand the new life at all. You don’t understand
how completely all our burdens have disappeared. Look at it this
way. How used your people to spend all the early part of their
lives.?”

“Why,” I said, “our first fifteen years or so were spent in getting


education.”

“Exactly,” he answered; “now notice how we improved on all


that. Education in our day is done by surgery. Strange that in
your time nobody realized that education was simply a surgical
operation. You hadn’t the sense to see that what you really did
was to slowly remodel, curve and convolute the inside of the
brain by a long and painful mental operation. Everything learned
was reproduced in a physical difference to the brain. You knew
that, but you didn’t see the full consequences. Then came the
invention of surgical education⎯the simple system of opening
the side of the skull and engrafting into it a piece of prepared
brain. At first, of course, they had to use, I suppose, the brains of
dead people, and that was ghastly”—here the Man in Asbestos
shuddered like a leaf⎯“but very soon they found how to make
moulds that did just as well. After that it was a mere nothing; an
operation of a few minutes would suffice to let in poetry or
foreign languages or history or anything else that one cared to
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—56

have. Here, for instance,” he added pushing back the hair at the
side of his head and showing a scar beneath it, “is the mark
where I had my spherical trigonometry let in. That was, I admit,
rather painful, but other things, such as English poetry or
history, can be inserted absolutely without the least suffering.
When I think of your painful, barbarous methods of education
through the ear, I shudder at it. Oddly enough, we have found
lately that for a great many things there is no need to use the
head. We lodge them⎯things like philosophy and metaphysics,
and so on⎯in what used to be, the digestive apparatus. They fill
it admirably.”

“He paused a moment. Then went on:

“Well, then, to continue, what used to occupy your time and


effort after your education?”

“Why,” I said, “one had, of course, to work, and then, to tell the
truth, a great part of one’s time and feeling was devoted toward
the other sex, towards falling in love and finding some woman
to share one’s life.”

“Ah,” said the Man in Asbestos, with real interest. “I’ve heard
about your arrangements with the women, but never quite
understood them. Tell me; you say you selected some woman?”

“Yes.”

“And she became what you called your wife?’

“Yes, of course.”

“And you worked for her?” asked the Man in Asbestos in


astonishment.

“Yes.” “And she did not work?”


Perenial Themes — 57

“No.” I answered, “of course not.”

“And half of what you had was hers?”

“Yes,”

“And she had the right to live in your house and use your things
?”

“Of course,” I answered.

“How dreadful!” said the Man in Asbestos

“I hadn’t realized the horrors of your age till now.”

He sat shivering slightly, with the same timid look in his face as
before.

Then it suddenly struck me that of the figures on the street, all


had looked alike.

“Tell me,” I said, “are there no women now? Are they gone
too?”

“Oh, no,” answered the Man in Asbestos. “they’re here just the
same. Some of those are women. Only you see, everything has
been changed now. It all came as part of their great revolt, their
desire to be like the men. Had that begun in your time!”

“Only a little,” I answered; “they were beginning to ask for


votes and equality.”

“That’s it, said my acquaintance, “I couldn’t think of the word.

Your women, I believe, were something awful, were they not?


Covered with feathers and skins and, dazzling colours made of
dead things all over them? And they laughed did they not, and
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure—58

had foolish teeth, and at any moment they could inveigle you
into one of those contracts! Ugh!”

He shuddered.

“Asbestos,” I said (I knew no other name to call him), as I


turned on him in wrath, “Asbestos, do you think that those jelly-
bag Equalities out on the street, there, with their ash-barrel suits,
can be compared for one moment with our unredeemed,
unreformed, heaven-created, hobble-skirted women of the
twentieth century?”

“Then, suddenly, another thought flashed into my mind⎯

“The children,” I said, “where are the children? Are there any?”

“Children,” he said, “no! I have never heard of there being any


such things for at least a century. Horrible little hobgoblins they
must have been ’ Great big faces, and cried constantly! And
grew, did they not? Like funguses ! I believe they were longer
each year than they had been the last, and⎯“

I rose.

“Asbestos!” I said, “this, then, is your coming civilisation, your


millennium. This dull, dead thing, with the work and the burden
gone out of life and with them all the joy and the sweetness of it.
For the old struggle⎯mere stagnation, and in place of danger
and death, the dull monotony of security and the horror of an
unending decay! Give me back. “I cried, and I flung wide my
arms to the dull air, “the old life of danger and stress, with its
hard toil and its bitter chances, and its heart-breaks. I see its
value! I know its worth! Give me no rest, ‘I cried aloud⎯“Yes,
but give a rest to the rest of the corridor”! cried an angered voice
that broke in upon my exultation. Suddenly my sleep had gone.
Perenial Themes — 59

I was back again in the room of my hotel, with the hum of the
wicked busy old world all about me, and loud in my ears the
voice of the indignant man across the corridor.

“Quit your blatting, you infernal blather-skite,” he was calling.

“Come down to earth” I came.

Discussion
• What are main features of the utopian world delineated in
The Man in Asbestos?

• What is the author’s attitude towards that world? What is


your attitude towards it?

• Is it a credible picture of the world that advancements in


science promise to create?

• Has the story helped you in clarifying your assumptions


regarding the nature of human happiness?

• All utopia are, in fact, a comment on real life. Do you agree


with this view?
From a Liberal Education
A Game of Chess
Thomas Henry Huxley
(1825-1895)
Education does not just mean the training of mind through
formal means, but also implies that learning which nature
has in store for man. Man-imparted education, according to
Huxley, is one which is artificial, and is only meant to “make
good…defects in Nature’s methods; to prepare the child to
receive Nature’s education, neither incapably nor ignorantly,
nor with willful disobedience; and to understand the
symptoms of pleasures.” Thomas Henry Huxley, who
applied “scientific methods of investigation to all the
problems of life”, in the address which he delivered at the
South London Working Men’s College in 1868, has
prompted his audience to enhance their capbability to learn
from nature, failing which they are bound to be “plucked”
and to him “Nature’s pluck means extermination.” To
Huxley, education is the instruction of the intellect in the
laws of Nature, under which name” he includes “not merely
things and their forces, but men and their ways; and the
fashioning of the affections and of the will into an earnest
and loving desire to move in harmony with those laws.”

Suppose it were perfectly certain that the life and fortune of


every one of us would, one day or other, depend upon his
winning or losing a game of chess. Don’t you think that we
should all consider it to be a primary duty to learn at least the
names and the moves of the pieces; to have a notion of a gambit,
and a keen eye for all the means of giving and getting out of
check? Do you not think that we should look with a
disapprobation amounting to scorn, upon the father who allowed
his son, or the state which allowed its members, to grow up
without knowing a pawn from a knight?
Perenial Themes — 111

Yet it is a very plain and elementary truth that the life, the
fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, and, more or less,
of those who are connected with us, do depend upon our
knowing something of the rules of a game infinitely more
difficult and complicated than chess. It is a game which has been
played for untold ages, every man and woman of us being one of
the two players in a game of his or her own. The chessboard is
the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the
rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The
player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his
play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our
cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest
allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well, the highest
stakes are paid, with that sort of overflowing generosity with
which the strong shows delight in strength. And one who plays
ill is checkmated—without haste, but without remorse.

My metaphor will remind some of you of the famous picture in


which Retzsch has depicted Satan playing at chess with man for
his soul. Substitute for the mocking fiend in that picture a calm,
strong angel who is playing for love, as we say, and would
rather lose than win—and I should accept it as an image of
human life.

Well, what I mean by Education is learning the rules of this


mighty game. In other words, education is the instruction of the
intellect in the laws of Nature, under which name I include not
merely things and their forces, but men and their ways; and the
fashioning of the affections and of the will into an earnest and
loving desire to move in harmony with those laws. For me,
education means neither more nor less than this. Anything which
professes to call itself education must be tried by the standard,
and if it fails to stand the test, I will not call it education,
whatever may be the force of authority, or of numbers, upon the
other side.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 112

It is important to remember that, in strictness, there is no such


thing as an uneducated man. Take an extreme case. Suppose that
an adult man, in the full vigour of his faculties, could be
suddenly placed in the world, as Adam is said to have been, and
then left to do as he best might. How long would he be left
uneducated? Not five minutes. Nature would begin to teach him,
through the eye, the ear, the touch, the properties of objects. Pain
and pleasure would be at his elbow telling him to do this and
avoid that: and by slow degrees the man would receive an
education which, if narrow, would be thorough, real, and
adequate to his circumstances, though there would be no extras
and very few accomplishments.

And if to this solitary man entered a second Adam or, better still,
an Eve, a new and greater world, that of social and moral
phenomena, would be revealed. Joys and woes, compared with
which all others might seem but faint shadows, would spring
from the new relations. Happiness and sorrow would take the
place of the coarser monitors, pleasure and pain; but conduct
would still be shaped by the observation of the natural
consequences of action; or, in other words, by the laws of the
nature of man.

To every one of us the world was once as fresh and new as to


Adam. And then, long before we were susceptible of any other
mode of instruction, nature took us in hand, and every minute of
waking life brought its educational influence, shaping our
actions in rough accordance with nature’s laws, so that we might
not be ended untimely by too gross disobedience. Nor should I
speak of this process of education as past for anyone, be he as
old as he may. For every man the world is as fresh as it was at
the first day, and as full of untold novelties for him who has the
eyes to see them. And Nature is still continuing her patient
Perenial Themes — 113

education of us in that great university, the universe, of which


we are all members—Nature having no Test Acts.1

Those who take honours in Nature’s university, who learn the


laws which govern men and things and obey them, are the really
great and successful men in this world. The great mass of
mankind are the “Poll,” who pick up just enough to get through
without much discredit. Those who won’t learn at all are
plucked; and then you can’t come up again. Nature’s pluck
means extermination.

Thus the question of compulsory education is settled so far as


Nature is concerned. Her bill on that question was framed and
passed long ago. But, like all compulsory legislation, that of
Nature is harsh and wasteful in its operation. Ignorance is visited
as sharply as willful disobedience—incapacity meets with the
same punishment as crime. Nature’s discipline is not even a
word and a blow, and the blow first; but the blow without the
word. It is left to you to find out why your ears are boxed.

The object of what we commonly call education—that education


in which man intervenes and which I shall distinguish as
artificial education—is to make good these defects in Nature’s
methods; to prepare the child to receive Nature’s education,
neither incapably nor ignorantly, nor with willful disobedience;
and to understand the preliminary symptoms of her pleasure,
without waiting for the box on the ear. In short, all artificial
education ought to be an anticipation of natural education. And a
liberal education is an artificial education which has not only
prepared a man to escape the great evils of disobedience to
natural laws, but has trained him to appreciate and to seize upon

1
Legislation (repealed in 1854) which excluded from Oxford and Cambridge any
student who would not profess faith in the 39 Articles of the Church of England.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 114

the rewards which Nature scatters with as free a hand as her


penalties.

That man, I think, has had a liberal education who has been so
trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will, and
does with ease and pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it
is capable of; whose intellect is a clear, cold, logic engine, with
all its parts of equal strength, and in smooth working order;
ready, like a steam engine, to be turned to any kind of work, and
spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors of the mind;
whose mind is stored with a knowledge of the great and
fundamental truths of Nature and of the laws of her operations;
one who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose
passions are trained to come to heel by a vigorous will, the
servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love all
beauty, whether of Nature or of art, to hate all vileness, and to
respect others as himself.

Such a one and no other, I conceive, has had a liberal education;


for he is, as completely as a man can be, in harmony with
Nature. He will make the best of her, and she of him. They will
get on together rarely; she as his ever beneficent mother; he as
her mouthpiece, her conscious self, her minister and interpreter.

Discussion
• State briefly, what do you mean by education.

• What does the author mean by artificial education? What


purpose do you think artificial education serves?

• What is the difference between Nature’s education and the


artificial education? How do the two co-relate?
Perenial Themes — 115

What is Beauty?
Will Durant
(1885-1981)
Beauty has been the subject of philosophical examination
and literary citation through ages. Whether it mothers love
or is mothered by love is a question discussed
comprehensively by Will Durant in the essay excerpted
below from his Pleasures of Philosophy. Extensively
benefiting from the wisdom of philosophers both (classical
and modern) on the subject Will Durant provokes the
reader to question the established notions and to form a
mature judgement. The idea behind including this essay in
the course is to develop among students the habit of critical
and informed evaluation of terms and ideas which we take
for granted.
Will Durant, the American historian, whose works on
philosophy and world history have been read by millions,
has brought philosphy from the desk of the literati to the
door step of the laity by making it a pleasure without
effecting its enlightening characteristics. William James
Durant was educated at Saint Peter's College and Columbia
University. His doctoral dissertation, Philosophy and the
Social Problem, was published in 1917. From 1907 to 1911
he taught at Seton Hall College, and in 1917 he taught
philosophy at Columbia University. In his writings, Durant
makes complex subjects easily understood by the average
reader. That he succeeded in this is proved by the success
of The Story of Philosophy (1926), of which millions of
copies were sold in more than a dozen languages.

“I believe,” said Anatole France , “that we shall never know


exactly why a thing is beautiful.” This judgement of a great
artist and a great scholar might counsel us to turn our backs
upon the problem we have set ourselves. If we go forward it
must be with the understanding that in philosophy there are
many “Absolutes,” but no certainties.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 116

It is strange enough that this question has not found a larger


place in philosophy and psychology. Every heart hears the call
of the beautiful, but few minds wonder why. The savage sees
beauty in thick lips and livid scars; the Greek found it in youth,
or in sculptured symmetry and calm; the Roman found it in
order, sublimity, and power; the Renaissance found it in colour;
and the modern soul finds it in music and the dance:
everywhere, and at all times, people have been moved by beauty
of some sort, and have spent many lives in seeking it. But only
philosophers have been anxious to understand its nature and to
discover the secret of its power.

The question belongs to psychology, but the psychologists have


left it to philosophy, as every science leaves to philosophy the
problems it cannot solve. (Hence most important problems
belong to philosophy, and it has small excuse for being dull.)
The physical emphasis of modern science, its passion for
laboratories and experiments, its tendency to seek mathematical
and quantitative formulas for all phenomena, have left it helpless
in dealing with such elusive (if not always intangible) realities as
beauty; not till the biological approach finds further acceptance
in psychology will the esthetic problem fall into its proper place.
Meannwhile philosophy is privileged to rush in where science
fears to tread; and even the dry bones of metaphysics tremble
and thrill a bit as beauty for a while replaces truth, and seeks a
niche in wisdom.

Nevertheless the philosophers have not taken readily to the


alluring subject, and have left it for the most part in a primitive
obscurity. There was something pagan in it, which repelled
religious men, and something irrational in it which left the
sceptical intellectualist unmoved. Baumgarten, the first thinker
to recognize the nature of beauty as a distinct realm of inquiry,
and the first to give it the terrible name of esthetics, apologized
for including so undignified a subject-matter among the
Perenial Themes — 117

mansions of philosophy; doubtless he feared that even under the


repellent label which he had put upon it the problem would
make his readers think of statues and fair women; and he
blushed at the possibility.

Even where beauty was most honoured and most produced—in


ancient Greece—philosophers were helpless to pierce the secret
of its lure. Pythagoras began the game of aesthetics by reducing
music to a mathematical relation, and ascribing a subtle
harmony to the spheres. The pre-Socratic Greeks, being, like
pre-Darwinian scientists, under the domination of physics and
mathematics, sought to define beauty in spatial and quantitative
terms: music was a regularity of sounds, and plastic beauty was
a regularity of proportions.

Plato, who was nothing if not a moralist (anxious to halt the


decadence of his people), went to another extreme, and merged
the beautiful in a sublime identity with the good. Art was to be a
part of ethics; and except for the pedagogical uses of music
(even then, it seems, they coddled with verse man’s memory of
dates and kings), there was to be a minimum of art in the
Master’s paradise. In Aristotle we find the typical Greek answer
to our question; beauty is symmetry, proportion, and an organic
order of parts in a united whole. It is a conception that pleasantly
accords with that “co-operation of the part with the whole”
which has echoed through these chapters; and the temptation to
systematize and formulize is here almost irresistible. But why
symmetry and proportion, order and unity, should delight the
soul—here is a question that lures us beyond our formulas.

Winctelmann and Lessing added little to these answers, and took


their lead too readily from the oppressive Greeks. Beauty
remained an affair of structure and form, or carved and painted
marble, and temples rising serenely on the hills; it was a quality
almost indigenous to the Parthenon and its frieze. That a statue
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 118

imitated some warm and living loveliness, and that the secret of
beauty might better be sought in the original than in the copy,
found little welcome in these stern and academic minds, more
classic than the Greeks.

In Kant and Schopenhauer a new note sounds: beauty becomes


that quality whereby an object pleases us regardless of its use,
stirring in us will-less contemplation, a disinterested happiness.
In this objective and impartial perception, Schopenhauer would
have it, esthetic appreciation and artistic genius lie; the intellect
is for a moment emancipated from desire, and realizes those
eternal forms, or Platonic Ideas, which constitute the outward
aspects of the universal Will. But in Hegel we are back once
more with the Greeks: beauty is again unity in variety, the
conquest of matter by form, the sensuous manifestation of some
metaphysical ideal. No wonder the dullest books in the world are
those which men have written about Beauty.

Love, then, is the mother of beauty, and not its child; it is the
sole origin of that primary beauty which is of persons and not of
things. But how shall we account for myriad objects which seem
beautiful to us and yet have no apparent connection with love?
How shall we explain the endless beauty of the external world?

As so many words in our lexicons have secondary and acquired,


as well as primary and original, meanings, so every instinct has
primary as well as secondary objectives and satisfactions. The
instinct to get food becomes the general instinct of acquisition,
eager for anything of value. The instinct to fight for food or
mates spreads into a general instinct of pugnacity in which
fighting is its own reward. So the aesthetic emotion (part of that
“tender emotion” which accompanies the instinct of love) may
overflow from the person desired to the objects attached to her,
to her attitudes and forms, to her manners of action and speech,
Perenial Themes — 119

and to anything that is hers by possession or resemblance. All


the world comes to partake of the fair one’s splender.

Music has spread afar on all sides from this amorous origin; but
it is still bound to its mother, and no lass can love without it. The
girl who woos with music seldom goes to the piano after a few
years of marriage; why should one seek to charm an animal that
has been captured and tamed? The male who roared and mewed
behind his fiancee loses his musical propensities when
matrimony lays its dire compulsions upon him; and only under
protest does he submit to the social necessity of bearing with
Stravinsky, Schonberg, and Richard Strauss.

But love alone does not explain enough in these derivative fields
of auditory beauty; the pleasure of rhythm enters as an
independent element. Inspiration and expiration, the systole and
diastole of the heart, and even the bilateral symmetry of the
body, dispose us to the rhythmic rise and fall of sounds; and not
love only but all the soul is pleased. We make a rhythm from the
impartial ticking of the clock and the even stamp of marching
feet; we like rocking, dancing, verse, antistrophes, antitheses and
extremes.

Music soothes us with its rhythm and lifts us on its lullaby to


worlds less brutal than the earth. It may relieve pain, improve
digestion, stimulate love, and help to capture escaped lunatics. It
enabled the Jesuits of Paraguay to bring some alleviation, and
yet some increase, to the work of their Indian slaves. It may
enable the soldier to march into the jaws of death with some
rhythmic satisfaction. Haydn did greater service to the
Hapsburgs than any general, and no one knows how much of the
Imperial Russian army’s unquestioning courage came from their
powerful national hymn. Thoreau thought there was nothing so
revolutionary as music, and marveled that our institutions could
withstand it. But that was because Thoreau was a revolutionist;
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 120

music may lull us into passivity as well as arouse and stimulate


us to action. “Where you want to have slaves,” said Tolstoi to
Gorki, “there you should have as much music as possible. Music
dulls the mind.” The old Russian Puritan would have agreed
with Plato, in whose Utopia no man would have followed music
after he had reached sixteen.

Art seems to have its origin in the deliberate imitation, by


animal or man, of the colours which nature develops on bird and
beast in the mating season, and flaunts before the eyes of the
selecting mate. The bird ornaments its nest with bright objects,
as we have seen; and man adorns his body with vivid colours
that fan desire. When clothing came, the colours passed from the
body to the raiment, but with the same purpose of attracting the
eye; and red was kept as the colour that most stirred the blood.
So song and dance, music and poetry and many forms of
sculpture flower out of love. Architecture alone seems to be
independent; but only because the secret of its power lies not in
the beautiful but in the sublime.

Sublimity is related to beauty as male to female; its delight


comes not from the desired loveliness of woman, but from the
admired strength of man. Woman is probably more susceptible
to the sublime than man, and man is more susceptible to
beauty—keener to use it, more passionate in desiring it, more
persistent in creating it. The sublime, as Burke showed is the
powerful and dangerous to one who is secure. Hannibal and
Caesar made no comments (at least for posterity) on the
sublimity of the Alps; to them they were a terror rather than a
scene. Contrast with their male indifference the feminine
sensitivity of Rousseau, who discovered the Alps for the modern
soul. But Rousseau was safe; he did not have to lead armies
across those desolate heights. Perhaps (as Sergi argues) the
Greeks failed to produce landscape painting because nature was
Perenial Themes — 121

still too uncontrolled a danger in their lives to let them stand


aside and see its grandeur.

It is in the appreciation of landscape that beauty wanders farthest


from its source in love. Much of the joy which natural scenery
gives us is due to masculine sublimity; but much of it comes
from a restful beauty akin to the warm repose which every fair
bosom promises. Here is a Corot: green waving field, shade-
giving oaks, and brooks that ramble leisurely beneath
overhanging boughs: where does woman’s beauty lurk in this
natural delight? Cherchez la femme.

Yet even here there are subtle bonds. A child is for the most part
insensitive to the beauty of the earth and sky; only by imitation
and instruction does it thrill to them. But let love lay its warmth
and passion on the soul, and suddenly every natural thing seems
beautiful; the lover pours out upon trees and streams and bright
cool dawns the overflow of his affection and his happiness.
Flowers are fair above everything else that nature gives us; and
yet those flowers too are symbols and means of generation, and
the tokens, among men, of tenderness and devotion. When the
years dull us with repetition, and love’s passion dies away, the
appreciation of nature ebbs; and the very old, like the very
young, are not moved by the charm and fragrance of the woods,
or the gay splendor of the stars, or the undiscourageable fingers
of the rising sea. Across all the glory of earth and sky Eros has
left his trail.

This overflow of love, which spreads from persons to things,


and beautifies the very soil we tread on, reaches at last to the
creative fury of art; having once known beauty, man carries its
picture in his memory, and weaves from many fair things seen
an ideal beauty that binds into one vision the partial perfections
of them all.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 122

Biologically, art arises in the song and dance of mating animals,


and in their efforts to enhance with artifice that efflorescence of
colour and form with which nature marks the season of love.
When the bower-bird build the first bower for his pleased and
fluttering mate art was born. Historically, art arises in the
decorative painting, clothing, or mutilation of the body among
savage tribes. The Australian native, according to Groos, always
carries in his sack a provision of white, red and yellow paint. On
ordinary days he is content with a few spots of colour in his
cheeks; but in time of war he daubs his flesh with bizarre
designs calculated to discourage the enemy; and on festive and
amorous occasions he illuminates his entire body with paint to
catch the eyes of the girls. For both of these games—war and
love—red is the favorite colour; some tribes so value it that they
undertake great expeditions, lasting several weeks, to renew
their supply. The men paint more than the women; and in some
localities unmarried women are sternly forbidden to colour their
necks.

But paint gets washed away; and the savage, like the Greek
(who scorned painting for its quick decay) seeks some more
lasting art. He takes to tattooing, piercing himself at a thousand
points with a needle that deposits the pigment underneath the
skin. Very frequently he resorts to scarification; skin and flesh
are cut, and the scar enlarged by filling the wound with earth for
a while. Along the Torres Straits the men bear such scars on
their shoulders like commanding epaulets. Worst of these
primitive arts is incision. The Botocudo gets his name from the
botoque, or plug, which is inserted into the lower lip and into the
ears in early youth, and repeatedly replaced by a larger plug
until the openings are as much as four inches in diameter.
Civilized ladies, reading of such barbarism, shake their ear-rings
in horror.
Perenial Themes — 123

The first use of clothing, apparently, was artistic rather than


utilitarian. When Darwin, in pity for a freezing Fuegian, gave
him a red cloth to wrap about his body, the native joyfully tore
the bright garment into strips, and distributed these among his
fellows, who bound them round their limbs as ornaments. From
this delightful sacrifice of utility to beauty how small a step
there is to the modern girl who wears furs in summer and bares
her neck fearlessly to the winter wind!

Architicture began with tombs that housed the dead; the most
ancient architectural monuments in the world—the Pyramids—
are tombs. Churches began as shrines to the dead and places for
worshipping them. Gradually the burial-place was taken out into
the neighbouring ground; but still, in Westminster Abbey, the
graves of great ancestors are within the church. From these
beginnings came the proud temples raised by the Greeks to
Pallas Attene and the other gods; and from similar beginnings
came those fairest works ever reared by man, the Gothic
cathedrals, whose alters, like those early tombs, harbor the relics
of the holy dead.

Drama seems to have come from religious ritual and festal


processions. To the days of the sceptical Euripides it remained a
sacred thing at Athens; and modern drama, the most secular of
contemporary arts, began in the Mass and in the pious parades
which pictured for the medieval mind the life and death of
Christ. Sculpture found a new splendor in the adornment of the
cathedrals; and painting reached its zenith under the inspiration
of Christianity.

But even in the service of religion art showed its secret bondage
to love. A pagan element of splendid flesh intruded into the
holiest pictures of the Renaissance. The Madonnas became
plump Venuses, the St. Johns were tender Adonises, and the St.
Sebastians were candid studies in the nude. When the
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 124

Renaissance passed from Rome to Venice the pagan element


triumphed, and sacred yielded to profane love.

As even religious art drinks at the fount of Eros to sustain itself,


so with every other element that enters into the creation of
beauty. Rhythm enters, but at once associates itself with love to
generate the song, the dance, and poetry. Imitation enters, and
helps to beget sculpture and painting; but very soon it is love,
filial or sexual, that determines the object which imitation
makes. Combine rhythm and imitation with the love-motif and
you have nine-tenths of literature; even the divine song of Dante,
though designed as an allegory of human life, becomes in the
end a lyric of love.

It is this subterranean river of erotic energy that feeds the


creative passion of the artist. In some the relationship takes the
form of a rapid development of sex and art at once; and from
this union the romantic type of genius comes. Sappho,
Alexander and Lucretius; Byron, Shelley, Keats and Swinburne;
Hugo, Rousseau and Verlaine; Petrarch, Bruno and Giorgione;
Schiller, Heine and Poe; Schumann, Schubert and Chopin;
Strindberg, Artxybasheff and Tchaikovsky: these are of the type
in which imagination dominates intellect, and in which sex and
art, drawing riotously from the same source, consume the artist
and leave him physically or spiritually dead before his youth is
ended. Because desire is a torment in them, they are sensitive,
emotional, forever suffering, and imaginative beyond restraint;
the extreme, the exotic and the strange lure them everywhere. It
is they who create the poetry, the painting, the music and the
philosophy of love; and every lover cherishes them.

But in other artists the flood of sex is damned, and channeled


almost wholly into creation. Love loses its power, emotion is
controlled, reason flourishes, and intellect dominates everything.
Out of this immense sublimation comes the classic genius:
Perenial Themes — 125

Socrates, Sophocles, Aristotle; Archimedes, Caesar, Galileo;


Giotto, Leonardo, Titian; Bacon, Milton, Newton, Hobbes;
Bach, Kant, Goethe, Hegel; Turgenev, Flaubert, Renan, Anatole
France. These are calm men, who have mastered desire and
lifted their chaos into a dancing star. They work slowly with
resolution and patience, rather than with inspiration: and
passion; they speak and act with measure and restraint; they
develop slowly, create better after thirty than before, achieve a
tardy fame, and live for the most part to a great old age. They do
not excel the romantic type in that fund of superior energy which
is the common dominator and source of all genius; but from that
fund they draw little nearly all for art. Michelangelo, Beethoven
and Napoleon were supreme because in them both types of
genius were fused into an almost superhuman unity.

“A man’s genius,” said Nietzche, “is a vampire”: it burns him up


in its flame. But so does love; and if both consume a man at
once he will speak passionately and brilliantly, but his voice will
soon be stilled. All genius, like all beauty and all art, derives its
power ultimately from that same reservoir of creative energy
which renews the race perpetually, and achieves the immortality
of life.

If our instincts were not deceived by cosmetics or perverted by


finance, our sense of beauty would be biologically right, and
love would be the best eugenics. Beauty would be again, as
nature wished it to be, the flower and herald of health, and the
guarantor of perfect children; it would make once more for the
good of the race and not for its enfeeblement; ethics and
esthetics would coincide, and we should arrive at Plato’s
conclusion, that “the principle of goodness reduces itself to the
law of beauty.”

The master hesitated in this matter and did not know just where
to bend the knee—to stern Athene’s wisdom, or Aphrodite’s
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 126

smiling loveliness. Perhaps he was wise to hesitate; and beauty


as we have it now could hardly be made the prop and basis of a
perfect state. But of what use is wisdom if it does not make us
love the beautiful and create new beauty fairer than nature
gives? Wisdom is a means; beauty, of body and soul, is an end.
Art without science is poverty, but science without art is
barbarism. Even divine philosophy is a means, unless we
broaden its flight to cover all the coordinated significance,
instrumentalities and values of the fullest life. And a philosophy
that is not stirred by loveliness is unworthy of a man.

Everything is gone of Egypt but the colossal grandeur which it


lifted from the sand; everything is gone of Greece but its
wisdom and its art. Living beauty is greatest, but age withers it
and time decays; only the artist can seize the passing form and
stamp it in a mould that resists mortality. Let Gautier speak:
All things pass; strong art alone
Can know eternity;
The marble bust
Outlives the state:
And the austere medallion
Which some toiler finds
Under the earth
Preserves the emperor.
Even the gods must die;
But sovereign poetry
Remains,
Stronger than death.

Discussion
• What was your view of “beauty” before reading the essay?

• Has the essay helped you modify your concept of the term?
If yes, in what respects?
Perenial Themes — 127

• Do you think that beauty is the child of love or vice versa?

• Do you feel that the subject deserves the amount of


deliberation on the part of philosophers and psychologists, it
is given?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 128

Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to


display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain
applause which he cannot keep.

Dr. Johnson

There is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it


is not greatly determined by what lies outside it.

George Eliot
Perenial Themes — 129

Shooting an Elephant
George Orwell
(1903-1950)
Few people have written about the inhumanity of colonial
rule with greater sensitivity, compassion, and insight than
George Orwell. In Shooting an Elephant he focuses on the
dehumanizing impact of tyranny not only on its victim but
also on the tyrant himself. The story is an excellent piece of
self-exploration. In it the author demonstrates the rare
ability of rising above the assumptions, prejudices and
rationalizations of one’s group, and judging one’s own
conduct in terms of universal human values.
George Orwell has a lasting place amongst English novelists
because of Animal Farm (1945) and 1984. He was a leading
figure amongst the British writers who re-interpreted the
imperialist era in humanistic terms, and helped their
compatriots to shed the white man’s-burden complex and
to see the dark side of imperialism.

In Moulmein, in lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of


people⎯the only time in my life that I have been important
enough for this to happen to me. I was subdivisional police
officer of the town, and in an aimless, petty kind of way anti-
European feeling was very bitter. No one had the guts to raise a
riot, but if a European woman went through the bazars alone
somebody would probably spit betel juice over her dress. As a
police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it
seemed safe to do so. When a nimble Burman tripped me up on
the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the
other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter. This
happened more than once. In the end the sneering yellow faces
of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after
me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves. The
young Buddhist priests were the worst of all. There were several
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 130

thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have


anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at
Europeans.

All this was perplexing and upsetting. For at that time I had
already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and
the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better.
Theoretically⎯and secretly, of course, I was all for the Burmese
and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was
doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a
job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters.
The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the
lock-ups, the gray, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the
scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with
bamboos⎯all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of
guilt. But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and
ill-educated and I had to think out my problems in the utter
silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East. I did
not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I
know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that
are going to supplant it. All I knew was that I was stuck between
my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-
spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With
one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an
unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, upon the will
of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest
joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist
priest’s guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of
imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him
off duty.

One day something happened which in a roundabout way was


enlightening. It was a tiny incident in itself; but it gave me a
better glimpse than I had before of the real nature of
imperialism⎯the real motives for which despotic governments
Perenial Themes — 131

act. Early one morning the sub-inspector at a police station at the


other end of the town rang me up on the phone and said that an
elephant was ravaging the bazaar. Would I please come and do
something about it? I did not know what I could do, but I wanted
to see what was happening and I got on to a pony and started
out. I took my rifle, an old 44 Winchester and much too small to
kill an elephant, but I thought the noise might be useful in
terrorem. Various Burmans stopped me on the way and told me
about the elephant’s doings. It was not, of course, a wild
elephant, but a tame one which had gone “must.” It had been
chained up, as tame elephants always are when their attack of
“must” is due, but on the previous night it had broken its chain
and escaped. Its mahout, the only person who could manage it
when it was in that state, had set out in pursuit, but had taken the
wrong direction and was now twelve hours’ journey away, and
in the morning the elephant had suddenly reappeared in the
town. The Burmese population had no weapons and were quite
helpless against it. It had already destroyed somebody’s bamboo
hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the
stock; also it had met the municipal rubbish van and, when the
driver jumped out and took to his heels, had turned the van over
and inflicted violences upon it.

The Burmese sub-inspector and some Indian constables were


waiting for me in the quarter where the elephant had been seen.
It was a very poor quarter, a labyrinth of squalid bamboo huts,
thatched with palm-leaf, winding all over a steep hillside. I
remember that it was a cloudy, stuffy morning at the beginning
of the rains. We began questioning the people as to where the
elephant had gone and, as usual, failed to get any definite
information. That is invariably the case in the East; a story
always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get
to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes. Some of the people
said that the elephant had gone in one direction, some said that
he had gone in another, some professed not even to have heard
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 132

of any elephant. I had almost made up my mind that the whole


story was a pack of lies, when we heard yells a little distance
away. There was a loud, scandalized cry of “Go away, child! Go
away this instant!” and an old woman with a switch in her hand
came round the corner of a hut, violently shooting away a crowd
of naked children. Some more women followed, clicking their
tongues and exclaiming; evidently there was something that the
children ought not to have seen. I rounded the hut and saw a
man’s dead body sprawling in the mud. He was an Indian, a
black Dravidian coolie, almost naked, and he could not have
been dead many minutes. The people said that the elephant had
come suddenly upon him round the corner of the hut, caught him
with its trunk, put its foot on his back and ground him into the
earth. This was the rainy season and the ground was soft, and his
face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long.
He was lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply
twisted to one side. His face was coated with mud, the eyes wide
open, the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of
unendurable agony. (Never tell me, by the way, that the dead
look peaceful. Most of the corpses I have seen looked devilish.)
The friction of the great beast’s foot had stripped the skin from
his back as neatly as one skins a rabbit. As soon as I saw the
dead man I sent an orderly to a friend’s house nearby to borrow
an elephant rifle. I had already sent back the pony, not wanting it
to go mad with fright and throw me if it smelt the elephant.

The orderly came back in a few minutes with a rifle and five
cartridges, and meanwhile some Burmans had arrived and told
us that the elephant was in the paddy fields below, only a few
hundred yards away. As I started forward practically the whole
population of the quarter flocked out of the houses and followed
me. They had seen the rifle and were all shouting excitedly that I
was going to shoot the elephant. They had not shown much
interest in the elephant when he was merely ravaging their
homes, but it was different now that he was going to be shot. It
Perenial Themes — 133

was a bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English crowd;


besides, they wanted the meat. It made me vaguely uneasy. I had
no intention of shooting the elephant. I had merely sent for the
rifle to defend myself if necessary⎯and it is always unnerving
to have a crowd following you. I marched down the hill, looking
and feeling a fool, with the rifle over my shoulder and an ever-
growing army of people jostling at my heels. At the bottom,
when you got away from the huts, there was a metalled road and
beyond that a miry waste of paddy fields a thousand yards
across, not yet ploughed but soggy from the first rains and
dotted with coarse grass. The elephant was standing eight yards
from the road, his left side toward us. He took not the slightest
notice of the crowd’s approach. He was tearing up bunches of
grass, beating them against his knees to clean them, and stuffing
them into his mouth.

I had halted on the road. As soon as I saw the elephant I knew


with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious
matter to shoot a working elephant⎯it is comparable to
destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery⎯and obviously
one ought not to do if it can possibly be avoided. And at that
distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more
dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I think now that his
attack of “must” was already passing off; in which case he
would merely wander harmlessly about until the mahout came
back and caught him. Moreover, I did not in the least want to
shoot him. I decided that I would watch him for a little while to
make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home.

But at that moment I glanced round at the crowd that had


followed me. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at the
least and growing every minute. It blocked the road for a long
distance on either side. I looked at the sea of yellow faces above
the garish clothes⎯faces all happy and excited over this bit of
fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot. They were
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 134

watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a


trick. They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my
hands I was momentarily worth watching. And suddenly I
realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The
people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their
two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was
at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I
first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s
dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun,
standing in front of the unarmed native crowd⎯seemingly the
leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd
puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces
behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man
turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a
sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of
sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his
life in trying to impress the “natives,” and so in every crisis he
has got to do what the “natives” expect of him. He wears a
mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant.
I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle. A
sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to
know his own mind and do definite things. To come all that
way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my
heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing⎯no,
that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my
whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long
struggle not to be laughed at.

But I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating
his bunch of grass against his knees with that preoccupied
grandmotherly air that elephants have. It seemed to me that it
would be murder to shoot him. At that age I was not squeamish
about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never
wanted to (Somehow it always seems worse to kill a large
Perenial Themes — 135

animal.) Besides, there was the beast’s owner to be considered.


Alive, the elephant was worth at least a hundred pounds; dead,
he would only be worth the value of his tusks, five pounds
possibly. But I had got to act quickly; I turned to some
experienced looking Burmans who had been there when we
arrived, and asked them how the elephant had been behaving.
They all said the same thing: he took no notice of you if you left
him alone, but he might charge if you went too close to him.

It was perfectly clear to me what I ought to do. I ought to walk


up to within, say, twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his
behavior. If he charged, I could shoot; if he took no notice of
me, it would be safe to leave him until the mahout came back.
But also I knew that I was going to do no such thing. I was a
poor shot with a rifle and the ground was soft mud into which
one would sink at every step. If the elephant charged and I
missed him, I should have about as much chance as a toad under
a steam-roller. But even then I was not thinking particularly of
my own skin, only of the watchful yellow faces behind. For at
that moment, with the crowd watching me, I was not afraid in
the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone. A
white man mustn’t be frightened in front of “natives”; and so, in
general, he isn’t frightened. The sole thought in my mind was
that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would
see me pursued, caught, trampled on, and reduced to a grinning
corpse like that Indian up the hill. And if that happened it was
quite probable that some of them would laugh. That would never
do. There was only one alternative. I shoved the cartridges into
the magazine and lay down on the road to get a better aim.

The crowd grew very still, and a deep, low, happy sigh, as of
people who see the theater curtain go up at last, breathed from
innumerable throats. They were going to have their bit of fun
after all. The rifle was a beautiful German thing with cross-hair
sights. I did not then know that in shooting an elephant one
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 136

would shoot to cut an imaginary bar running from ear-hole to


ear-hole. I ought, therefore, as the elephant was sideways on, to
have aimed straight at his ear-hole; actually I aimed several
inches in front of this, thinking the brain would be further
forward.

When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the
kick⎯one never does when a shot goes home⎯but I heard the
devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant,
in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet
to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the
elephant. He neither stirred, nor fell, but every line of his body
had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely
old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralyzed
him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a
long time⎯it might have been five seconds, I dare say⎯he
sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous
senility seemed to have settled upon him. One could have
imagined him thousands of years old. I fired again into the same
spot. At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with
desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with
legs sagging and head drooping. I fired a third time. That was
the shot that did for him. You could see the agony of it jolt his
whole body and knock that last remnant of strength from his
legs. But in falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his
hind legs collapsed beneath him he seemed to tower upward like
a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree. He
trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came,
his belly toward me, with a crash that seemed to shake the
ground even where I lay.

I got up. The Burmans were already racing past me across the
mud. It was obvious that the elephant would never rise again,
but he was not dead. He was breathing very rhythmically with
long rattling gasps, his great mound of a side painfully rising
Perenial Themes — 137

and falling. His mouth was wide open⎯I could see far down
into caverns of pale pink throat. I waited a long time for him to
die, but his breathing did not weaken. Finally I fired my two
remaining shots into the spot where I thought his heart must be.
The thick blood welled out of him like red velvet, but still he did
not die. His body did not even jerk when the shots hit him, the
tortured breathing continued without a pause. He was dying,
very slowly and in great agony, but in some world remote from
me where not even a bullet could damage him further. I felt that
I had got to put an end to that dreadful noise. It seemed dreadful
to see the great beast lying there, powerless to move and yet
powerless to die, and not even to be able to finish him. I sent
back for my small rifle and poured shot after shot into his heart
and down his throat. They seemed to make no impression. The
tortured gasps continued as steadily as the ticking of a clock.

In the end I could not stand it any longer and went away. I heard
later that it took him half an hour to die. Burmans were bringing
dahs and baskets even before I left, and I was told they had
stripped his body almost to the bones by the afternoon.

Afterward, of course, there were endless discussions about the


shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was
only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done
the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad
dog, if its owner fails to control it. Among the Europeans
opinion was divided. The older men said I was right, the
younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for
killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any
damn Coringhee coolie. And afterward I was very glad that the
coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave
me sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. I often wondered
whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to
avoid looking a fool.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 138

Discussion
• Why do the experiences as a police officer in Burma upset
and perplex the author?

• What does the author mean by “dirty work of Empire”?

• Why silence was imposed on all Englishmen working in the


colonies as part of the imperial machinery?

• What awakened the author to the hollowness of white man’s


rule in the East?

• Why had the imperial officials to wear a mask while in the


colonies?

• How does the colonial setting dehumanize the colonial


functionaries?

• What impression do you form about the character of the


writer?

• It is said that during the colonial period Englishmen


underwent a metamorphosis while crossing the Suez Canal.
After reading the story can you guess why it was so?
Perenial Themes — 139

Logic: Love is a Fallacy


Max Schulman
This fascinating story with sparkling wit and dramatic
dialogues could be seen as a pedagogical device to explain
some of the logical fallacies we tend to commit in our
thinking and argumentation. A sensitive awareness of these
fallacies should save us from a lot of pointless controversies
and irrational attitudes. It should also be of interest to see
the narrator trying to play the Pygmalion, and ending in a
well-deserved fiasco.

Cool was I and logical. Keen, calculating, perspicacious, acute


and astute⎯I was all of these. My brain was as powerful as a
dynamo, as precise as a chemist’s scales, as penetrating as a
scalpel. And⎯think of it!⎯I was only eighteen.

It is not often that one so young has such a giant intellect. Take,
for example, Petey Burch, my room-mate at the University of
Minnesota. Same age, same background, but dumb as an ox. A
nice enough fellow, you understand, but nothing upstairs.
Emotional type. Unstable. Impressionable. Worst of all, a
faddist. Fads, I submit, are the very negation of reason. To be
swept up in every new craze that comes along, to surrender
yourself to idiocy just because everybody else is doing it⎯this,
to me, is the acme of mindlessness. Not, however, to Petey.

One afternoon I found Petey lying on his bed with an expression


of such distress on his face that I immediately diagnosed
appendicitis. “Don’t move,” I said. “Don’t take a laxative. I’ll
get a doctor.”

“Raccoon,” he mumbled thickly.

“Raccoon?” I said, pausing in my flight.


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 140

“I want a raccoon coat,” he wailed.

I perceived that his trouble was not physical, but mental. “Why
do you want a raccoon coat?”

“I should have known it,” he cried, pounding his temples. “I


should have known they’d come back when the Charleston came
back. Like a fool I spent all my money for textbooks, and now I
can’t get a raccoon coat.”

“Can you mean,” I said incredulously, “that people are actually


wearing raccoon coats again?”

“All the Big Men on Campus are wearing them. Where’ve you
been?”

“In the library,” I said, naming a place not frequented by Big


Men on Campus.

He leaped from the bed and paced the room. “I’ve got to have a
raccoon coat,” he said passionately. “I’ve got to!”

“Petey, why? Look at it rationally. Raccoon coats are unsanitary.


They shed. They smell bad. They weigh too much. They’re
unsightly. They⎯“

“You don’t understand,” he interrupted impatiently. It’s the


thing to do. Don’t you want to be in the swim?”

“No,” I said truthfully.

“Well, I do,” he declared. “I’d give anything for a raccoon coat.


Anything”

My brain, that precision instrument, slipped into high gear.


“Anything?” I asked, looking at him narrowly.
Perenial Themes — 141

“Anything” he affirmed in ringing tones.

I stroked my chin thoughtfully. It so happened that I knew where


to get my hands on a raccoon coat. My father had had one in his
undergraduate days; it lay now in a trunk in the attic back home.
It also happened that Petey had something I wanted. He didn’t
have it exactly but at least he had first rights on it. I refer to his
girl, Polly Espy.

I had long coveted Polly Espy. Let me emphasize that my desire


for this young woman was not emotional in nature. She was, to
be sure, a girl who excited the emotions, but I was not one to let
my heart, rule my head. I wanted Polly for a shrewdly
calculated, entirely cerebral reason.

I was a freshman in law school. In a few years I would be out in


practice. I was well aware of the importance of the right kind of
wife in furthering a lawyer’s career. The successful lawyers, I
had observed, were almost without exception, married to
beautiful, gracious, intelligent women. With one omission, Polly
fitted these specifications perfectly.

Beautiful she was. She was not yet of pin-up proportions, but I
felt sure that time would supply the lack. She already had the
makings.

Gracious she was. By gracious I mean full of graces. She had an


erectness of carriage, an ease of bearing, a poise that clearly
indicated the best of breeding. At table her manners were
exquisite. I had seen her at the Kozy Kampus Korner eating the
speciality of the house⎯a sandwich that contained scraps of pot
roast, gravy, chopped nuts, and a dipper of sauerkraut⎯without
even getting her fingers moist.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 142

Intelligent she was not. In fact, she veered in the opposite


direction. But I believed that under my guidance she would
smarten up. At any rate, it was worth a try. It is, after all, easier
to make a beautiful dumb girl smart than to make an ugly smart
girl beautiful.

“Petey,” I said, “are you in love with Polly Espy?”

“I think she’s a keen kid”, he replied, “but I don’t know if you’d


call it love. Why?”

“Do you.” I asked, “have any kind of formal arrangement with


her? I mean are you going steady or anything like that?”

“No. We see each other quite a bit, but we both have other dates.

Why ?”

“Is there,” I asked, “any other man for whom she has a particular
fondness?”

“Not that I know of. Why?”

I nodded with satisfaction. “In other words, if you were out of


the picture, the field would be open. Is that right?”

“I guess so. What are you getting at?”

“Nothing, nothing,” I said innocently, and took my suitcase out


of the closet.

“Where are you going?” asked Petey.

“Home for the weekend.” I threw a few things into the bag.
Perenial Themes — 143

“Listen,” he said, clutching my arm eagerly, “while you’re


home, you couldn’t get some money from your old man, could
you, and lend it to me so I can buy a raccoon coat?”

“I may do better than that”, I said with a mysterious wink and


closed my long bag and left.

“Look,” I said to Petey when I got back Monday morning. I


threw open the suitcase and revealed the huge, hairy, gamy
object that my father had worn in his Stutz Bearcat in 1925.

“Holy Toledo!” said Petey reverently. He plunged his hands into


the raccoon coat and then his face. “Holy Toledo!” he repeated
fifteen or twenty times.

“Would you like it?” I asked.

“Oh, yes!” he cried, clutching the greasy pelt to him. Then a


canny look came into his eyes. “What do you want for it?”

“Your girl,” I said, mincing no words.

“Polly?” he said in a horrified whisper. “You want Polly?”

“That’s right.”

He flung the coat from him. “Never,” he said stoutly.

I shrugged. “Okay. If you don’t want to be in the swim, I guess


it’s your business.”

I sat down in a chair and pretended to read a book, but out of the
corner of my eye I kept watching Petey. He was a torn man.
First he looked at the coat with the expression of a waif at a
bakery window. Then he turned away and set his jaw resolutely.
Then he looked back at the coat, with even more longing in his
face. Then he turned away but with not so much resolution this
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 144

time. Back and forth his head swiveled, desire waxing,


resolution waning. Finally he didn’t turn away at all; he just
stood and stared with mad lust at the coat.

“It isn’t as though I was in love with Polly,” he said thickly. “Or
going steady or anything like that.”

“That’s right,” I murmured.

“What’s Polly to me, or me to Polly?”

“Not a thing,” said I.

“It’s just been casual kick⎯just a few laughs, that’s all.”

“Try on the coat,” said I.

He complied. The coat bunched high over his ears and dropped
all the way down to his shoe tops. He looked like a mound of
dead raccoons. “Fits fine,” he said happily.

I rose from my chair. “Is it a deal?” I asked, extending my hand.

He swallowed. “It’s a deal,” he said and shook my hand.

I had my first date with Polly the following evening. This was in
the nature of a survey; I wanted to find out just how much work
I had to do to get her mind up to the standard required. I took her
first to dinner. “Gee, that was a delish dinner,” she said as we
left the restaurant. Then I took her to movie. “Gee that was a
marvy movie,” she said as we left the theater. And then I took
her home. “Gee, I had a sensaysh time,” she said as she bade me
good night.

I went back to my room with a heavy heart. I had gravely


underestimated the size of my task. This girl’s lack of
Perenial Themes — 145

information was terrifying. Nor would it be enough merely to


supply her with information. First she had to be taught to think.
This loomed as a project of no small dimensions, and at first I
was tempted to give her back to Petey. But then I got to thinking
about her abundant physical charms and about the way she
entered a room and the way she handled a knife and fork, and I
decided to make an effort.

I went about it, as in all things, systematically. I gave her a


course in logic. It happened that I, as a law student, was taking a
course in logic myself, so I had all the facts at my finger tips.
“Polly,” I said to her when I picked her up on our next date,
“tonight we are going over to the Knoll and talk.”

“Oo, terrif,” she replied. One thing I will say for this girl: you
would go far to find another so agreeable.

We went to the Knoll, the campus trysting place, and we sat


down under an old oak, and she looked at me expectantly.
“What are we going to talk about?” she asked.

“Logic.”

She thought this over for a minute and decided she liked it.
“Magnif,” she said.

“Logic,” I said, clearing my throat, “is the science of thinking.


Before we can think correctly, we must first learn to recognize
the fallacies of logic. These we will take up tonight.”

“Wow-dow!” she cried, clapping her hands delightedly.

I winced, but went bravely on.

“First let us examine the fallacy called Dicto Simplicitor”. By all


means, she urged, batting her lashes eagerly.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 146

“Dicto Simpliciter means an argument based on an unqualified


generalization. For example: Exercise is good. Therefore
everybody should take exercise.”

“I agree,” said Polly earnestly. “I mean exercise is wonderful. I


mean it builds the body and everything.”

“Polly,” I said gently, “the argument is a fallacy. Exercise is


good is an unqualified generalization. For instance, if you have
heart disease, exercise is bad, not good. Many people are
ordered by their doctors not to exercise. You must qualify the
generalization. You must say exercise is usually good, or
exercise is good for most people. Otherwise you have committed
a Dicto Simpliciter. Do you see’?”

“No,” she confessed. “But this is marvy. Do more! Do more!”

“It will be better if you stop tugging at my sleeve,” I told her,


and when she desisted, I continued. “Next we take up a fallacy
called Hasty General-ization. Listen carefully: You can’t speak
French. I can’t speak French. Petey Burch can’t speak French. I
must therefore conclude that nobody at the University of
Minnesota can speak French.”

“Really?” said Polly, amazed. “Nobody”

I hid my exasperation. “Polly, it’s a fallacy. The generalization


is reached too hastily. There are too few instances to support
such a conclusion.”

“Know any more fallacies?” she asked breathlessly. “This is


more fun than dancing even.”

I fought off a wave of despair. I was getting nowhere with this


girl, absolutely nowhere. Still, I am nothing if not persistent. I
Perenial Themes — 147

continued. Next comes Post Hoc. Listen to this: Let’s not take
Bill on our picnic. Every time we take him out with us, it rains,”

“I know somebody just like that,” she exclaimed. “A girl back


home⎯Elua Becker, her name is. It never fails. Every single
time we take her on a picnic⎯“

“Polly,” I said sharply. “it’s a fallacy. Eula Becker doesn’t cause


the rain. She has no connection with the rain. You are guilty of
Post Hoc if you blame Eula Becker.”

“I’ll never do it again,” she promised contritely. “Are you mad


at me?”

I sighed deeply. “No, Polly, I’m not mad.”

“Then tell me some more fallacies.”

“All right. Let’s try Contradictory Premises.”

“Yes, let’s,” she chirped, blinking her eyes happily.

I frowned, but plunged ahead. “Here’s an example of


Contradictory Premises: If God can do anything can He make a
stone so heavy that He won’t be able to lift it?”

“Of course,” she replied promptly.

“But if He can do anything. He can lift the stone.” I pointed out.

“Yeah,” she said thoughtfully. “Well, then I guess He can’t


make the stone.”

“But He can do anything.” I reminded her.

She scratched her pretty, empty head. “I’m all confused,” she
admitted.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 148

“Of course you are. Because when the premises of an argument


contradict each other, there can be no argument. If there is an
irresistible force, there can be no immovable object. If there is
an immovable object, there can be no irresistible force. Get it?”

“Tell me some more of this keen stuff,” she said eagerly.

I consulted my watch. “I think we’d better call it a night. I’ll


take you home now, and you go over all the things you’ve
learned. We’ll have another session tomorrow night.”

I deposited her at the girls’ dormitory, where she assured me that


she had had perfectly teriff evening, and I went glumly home to
my room. Petey lay snoring in his bed, the raccoon coat huddled
like a great hairy beast at his feet. For a moment I considered
waking him and telling him that he could have his girl back. It
seemed clear that my project was doomed to failure. The girl
simply had logic-proof head.

But then I reconsidered. I had wasted one evening; I might as


well waste another. Who knew? May be somewhere in the
extinct crater of her mind, a few embers still smoldered. May be
somehow I could fan them into flame. Admittedly it was not a
prospect fraught with hope, but I decided to give it one more try.

Seated under the oak the next evening I said, “Our first fallacy
tonight is called Ad Misericordiam.”

She quivered with delight.

“Listen closely,” I said. “A man applies for a job. When the boss
asks him what his qualifications are, he replies that he has a wife
and six children at home, the wife is a helpless cripple, the
children have nothing to eat, no clothes to wear, no shoes on
their feet, there are no beds in the house, no coal in the cellar,
and winter is coming.”
Perenial Themes — 149

A tear rolled down each of Polly’s pink cheeks. “Oh, this is


awful, awful,” she sobbed.

“Yes it’s awful,” I agreed, “but it’s no argument. The man never
answered the boss’s question about his qualifications. Instead he
appealed to the boss’s sympathy. He committed the fallacy of
Ad Misericordiam. Do you understand?”

“Have you got a handkerchief?” she blubbered.

I handed her a handkerchief and tried to keep from screaming


while she wiped her eyes. “Next,” I said in a carefully controlled
tone, “we will discuss False Analogy. Here is an example:
Students should be allowed to look at their textbooks during
examinations. After all, surgeon have X-rays to guide them
during an operation, lawyers have briefs to guide them during a
trial, carpenters have blueprints to guide them when they are
building a house. Why, then, shouldn’t students be allowed to
look at their textbook during an examination ?”

“There now,” she said enthusiastically, “is the most marvy idea
I’ve heard in years.”

“Polly, I said testily, “the argument is all wrong. Doctors,


lawyers, and carpenters aren’t taking a test to see how much
they have learned, but students are. The situations are altogether
different, and you can’t make an analogy between them.”

“I still think it’s a good idea,” said Polly.

“Nuts.” I muttered. Doggedly I pressed on. “Next we’ll try


Hypothesis Contrary to Fact.”

“Sounds yummy,” was Polly’s reaction.


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 150

“Listen: If madame Curie had not happened to leave a


photographic plate in a drawer with a chunk of pitchblende, the
world today would not know about radium.”

“True, true,” said Polly, nodding her head. “Did you see the
movie? Oh, it just knocked me out. That Walter Pidgeon is so
dreamy. I mean he fractures me.”

“If you can forget Mr. Pidgeon for a moment,” I said coldly. “I
would like to point out that the statement is a fallacy. May be
Madame Curie would have discovered radium at some later
date. May be somebody else would have discovered it. May be
any number of things would have happened. You can’t start with
a hypothesis that is not true and then draw any supportable
conclusion from it.”

“They ought to put Walter Pidgeon in more pictures,” said Polly.


“I hardly ever see him any more.”

One more chance, I decided. But just one more. There is a limit
to what flesh and blood can bear. “The next fallacy is called
Poisoning the Well.”

“How cute!” she gurgled.

“Two men are having a debate. The first one gets up and says,
‘My opponent is a notorious liar. You can’t believe a word that
he is going to say’ ... Now, Polly, think. Think hard. What’s
wrong?”

I watched her closely as she knit her creamy brow in


concentration. Suddenly a glimmer of intelligence⎯the first I
had seen ... came into her eyes. “It’s not fair,” she said with
indignation. “It’s not a bit fair. What chance has the second man
got if the first man calls him a liar before he even begins
talking?”
Perenial Themes — 151

“Right !” I cried exultantly. “One hundred percent right. lt’s not


fair. The first man has poisoned the well before anybody could
drink from it. He has hamstrung his opponent before he could
even start....

Polly, I’m proud of you.”

“Pshaw,” she murmured, blushing with pleasure.

“You see, my dear, these things aren’t so hard. All you have to
do is concentrate. Think⎯examine⎯evaluate. Come now, let’s
review everything we have learned.”

“Fireaway.” she said with an airy wave of her hand.

Heartened by the knowledge that Polly was not altogether a


cretin, I began a long, patient review of all I had told her. Over
and over and over again I cited instances, pointed out flaws, kept
hammering away without let up. It was like digging a tunnel. At
first everything was work, sweat and darkness. I had no idea
when I would reach the light, or even If I would. But I persisted.
I pounded and clawed and scraped, and finally I was rewarded. I
saw a chink of light. And then the chink got bigger and the sun
came pouring in and all was bright.

Five grueling nights this took but it was worth it. I had made a
logician out of Polly; I had taught her to think. My job was done.
She was worthy of me at last. She was a fit wife for me, a proper
hostess for my many mansions, a suitable mother for my well-
heeled children.

It must not be thought that I was without love for this girl. Quite
the contrary. Just as Pygmalion loved the perfect woman he had
fashioned, so I loved mine. I determined to acquaint her with my
feelings at our very next meeting. The time had come to change
our relationship from academic to romantic.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 152

“Polly,” I said when next we sat beneath our oak, “tonight we


will not discuss fallacies.”

“Aw, gee,” she said, disappointed.

“My dear,” I said, favoring her with a smile, “we have now
spent five evenings together. We have gotten along splendidly. It
is clear that we are well matched.”

“Hasty Generalization,” said Polly brightly.

“I beg your pardon,” said I.

“Hasty Generalization,” she repeated. “How can you say that we


are well matched on the basis of only five dates?”

I chuckled with amusement. The dear child had learned her


lessons well. “My dear,” I said, patting her hand in a tolerant
manner. “Five dates is plenty. After all, you don’t have to eat a
whole cake to know that it’s good.”

“False Analogy,” said Polly promptly. “I’m not a cake. I’m a


girl,”

I chuckled with somewhat less amusement. The dear child had


learned her lessons perhaps too well. I decided to change tactics.
Obviously the best approach was a simple, strong, direct
declaration of love. I paused for a moment while my massive
brain chose the proper words. Then I began:

“Polly, I love you. You are the whole world to me, and the moon
and the stars and the constellations of outer space. Please, my
darling, say that you will go steady with me, for if you will not,
life will be meaningless. I will languish. I will refuse my meals.
I will wander the face of the earth, a shambling, hollow-eyed
hulk.”
Perenial Themes — 153

There, I thought, folding my arms that ought to do it.

“Ad Misericordiam,” said Polly.

I ground my teeth. I was not Pygmalion; I was Frankenstein, and


my monster had me by the throat. Frantically I fought back the
tide of panic surging through me. At all costs I had to keep cool.

“Well, Polly,” I said, forcing a smile, “you certainly have


learned your fallacies.”

“You’re darn right,” she said with a vigorous nod.

“And who taught them to you, Polly?”

“You did.”

“That’s right. So you do owe me something, don’t you my dear?


If I hadn’t come along you never would have learned about
fallacies.”

“Hypothesis Contrary to Fact.” she said instantly.

I dashed perspiration from my brow. “Polly,” I croaked, “you


mustn’t take all these things so literally. I mean this is just
classroom stuff. You know that the things you learn in school
don’t have anything to do with life.”

“Dicto Simpliciter,” she said, wagging her finger at me


playfully.

That did it. I leaped to my feet, bellowing like a bull. “Will you
or will you not go steady with me?”

“I will not,” she replied,


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 154

“Why not?” I demanded. “Because this afternoon I promised


Petey Burch that I would go steady with him.”

I reeled back overcome with the infamy of it. After he promised,


after he made a deal, after he shook my hand! “The rat” I
shrieked, kicking up great chunks of turf. “You can’t go with
him, Polly, He’s a liar. He’s a cheat. He’s a rat.”

“Poisoning the Well,” said Polly, “and stop shouting. I think


shouting must be a fallacy too.”

With an immense effort of will, I modulated my voice. “All


right,” I said. “You’re a logician. Let’s look at this thing
logically. How could you choose Petey Burch over me? Look at
me⎯a brilliant student a tremendous intellectual, a man with an
assured future. Look at Petey⎯a knothead, a jitterbug, a guy
who’ll never know where his next meal is coming from. Can
you give me one logical reason why you should go steady with
Petey Burch?”

“I certainly can,” declared Polly. “He’s got a raccoon coat.”

Discussion
• What impression do you form about the character of the
narrator of the story?

• Explain significance of the title of the story. What makes


Logic Love is a Fallacy a very interesting story?

• What fallacies do you come across most frequently in


discussions with your friends? Give examples.
Perenial Themes — 155

Part II
Structure

“I don’t need none”, shouted the lady of


the house before the young man at the
door had had a chance to say anything.
“How do you know, lady?” he said. “I just
might be selling grammar books."
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 156

1—The Sentence
The sentence is a sequence of words capable of standing alone to
make an assertion, ask a question, or give a command, usually
consisting of a subject and a predicate.

The Subject of a sentence is the person or thing the subject is


about. In some sentences the subject is understood, e.g. Stop!
(The subject ‘you’ is understood). Generally though, the
complete subject includes the noun or noun substitute alone,
without any of its modifiers. It normally occurs before the verb
in sentences: e.g.

The woman in the frilly


pink dress came into the
room.
(the noun ‘woman’ is the
subject)
Where are you going?
(the noun substitute,
pronoun ‘you’, is the
subject)
Perenial Themes — 157

The Predicate of a sentence consists of the verb and its


modifiers and complements. The predicate expresses the action
or condition of the subject. Predicates may be simple or
compound:

The simple predicate is the main verb or verb phrase in the


predicate:

She visited Switzerland


last year. (main verb)
The children were
swimming in the sea. (verb
phrase)
A compound predicate has two or more main verbs:

The clown joked, danced


and sang. (3 main verbs)
He should have bought
more fish.
(verb+complement)
Little girls cry very easily.
(verb+modifier)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 158

Complements: While some verbs are complete in themselves


(Birds fly), other verbs need a noun, noun substitute or adjective
to complete their meaning. The term complement, then, means
something that is needed to complete a grammatical
construction. Complements may be a direct object, an object
complement, a predicative adjective, or a predicative
nominative.

The direct object is the noun which indicates the receiver of the
action:

My brother plays the


organ.
She celebrated her
birthday yesterday.
The object complement follows the direct object and refers to
the same thing, usually after verbs of naming or calling:

The director appointed


Miss Sarah as personnel
officer.
The predicative adjective is an adjective in the predicate
referring to the subject:

Akram was cheerful.


Perenial Themes — 159

My brother is quite fat.


The predicative nominative is a noun or noun subject in the
predicate naming or referring to the subject:

Those women are dentists.


All of my sons have been
scouts.
Types of sentence structure
Sentences can be divided into three kinds according to the way
they are built, i.e. according to the number of clauses included
and whether the clauses are independent (main) clauses or
dependent (subordinate) clauses.

A simple sentence expresses one main idea. Thus it has one


main clause which may have word or phrase modifiers
(adjectives or adverbs or prepositional phrases):

My father was born in


India.
A compound sentence expresses two or more main ideas in two
or more independent (main) clauses:

My father was born in


India but he came to
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 160

Pakistan when he was a


boy.
Main idea (1)
main idea (2)
A complex sentence expresses one main idea and at least one
subordinate idea. Thus it contains one independent clause and
one or more dependent clauses:

My father came here from


India when he was a small
boy.
main idea
subordinate idea
A compound-complex sentence is a combination that includes
at least one dependent clause and at least two independent
clauses:

Although the tickets had


been bought, Tom didn’t
reach on time;
Perenial Themes — 161

(subordinate clause)
(independent clause)
and we missed the train.
(independent clause)
Common Sentence Problems
Students frequently experience some common problems with
sentence construction. Avoiding these problems will give them a
definite advantage as they strive to improve their
communication skills.

Sentence Fragments

A sentence fragment is a part of a sentence used as though it


were a whole sentence. In formal writing it is treated as a serious
grammatical mistake though it is accepted in conversation and in
writing which imitates the patterns of speech, such as dialogue
in a narration. Sentence fragments are not uncommon in
colloquial writing, and are sometimes used in informal
expository writing. However, their use in formal expository
writing is unacceptable. The fact that for literary effects, good
writers occasionally use sentence fragments should not be taken
as a justification for those which result merely from inadequate
command of the language.

Most unwarranted fragments in students’ writings result from


confusion of main and subordinate clauses or of verbs and
verbals.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 162

He entered each miss-


spelled word in a
notebook. Which he kept
for that purpose.
I refused to go to the
concert. Because I had
been up late last night and
needed sleep.
He is always complaining
about his grades. Although
he does nothing to improve
them.
It was difficult to decide
which choice to make. To
return to university or to
accept the job.
Perenial Themes — 163

It was a wonderful week.


Fishing and swimming
every day and going to
movies every night.
The Pakistani team scored
13 runs in the last over.
Thus tying the score.
Fragmentary sentences may be corrected either by changing the
faulty period to comma, thus incorporating the separated phrase
or subordinate clause within the sentence to which it belongs, or
by expanding the fragment into a main clause so that it can stand
as an independent sentence.

Exercise

Logical thinking is a skill


that can be developed.
First by learning what it is
and then by practising it.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 164

I am answering your
advertisement for
experienced draftsmen.
Which appeared in a
recent issue of The News. I
would like to be considered
for one of those positions.
This has been one of those
days we all have once in a
while. When, no matter
how careful we are,
everything seems to go
wrong.
This spring my brother
had to make a very
difficult decision. Whether
to sell his business and
Perenial Themes — 165

move to Karachi. Or to
remain here where all his
friends and relatives are.
Two of the most
unforgettable characters in
my life are my parents.
Unforgettable not only
because of our affectionate
bond but also because of
the striking differences in
their personalities.
It is an important
question, my dear friend.
One which cannot be
answered without much
thought.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 166

Government budgets are


difficult to understand.
Especially when they are
packed with daunting
statistics and couched in
esoteric jargon.
The possible solution to the
problem of juvenile
delinquency could be more
and better recreational
facilities. Facilities that
would fill the spare time of
the teen-ager and keep him
occupied.
National elections and
student elections may be
compared as closely as an
Perenial Themes — 167

object and its photograph.


The only difference being
in size.
He died alone and in
poverty. Deserted by those
who had once sung his
praises and borrowed his
money.
The judge said that the
court was not inclined to
show mercy. This being
the third time the
defendant had been
convicted of the same.
Then the game began to
move faster. Almost
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 168

immediately after Shahid's


move came our first goal.
After I had done some
hard thinking, I realised
that many of my brother's
decisions were in my best
interest. Now we are all
happier than we had been.
Beyond the high buildings,
over the opposite bank of
the river, the sun hung
low. Its glow smothered by
a haze.
Treaties of peace are
seldom observed for long
Perenial Themes — 169

periods. This being the


lesson of history.
Statistics are not yet
available to show the
actual decrease in
accidents. Since this
program is still in the
process of being completed
and traffic has doubled in
the past few months.
A popular person usually
has three good personality
traits. A sense of humour,
consideration for others,
and good grooming.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 170

The whole area is honey-


combed by caves. Many of
which are still unexplored.
What he wants to know is.
Will you accompany him
to the town?
Comma Splice

The use of a comma, instead of a period or semicolon, between


two main clauses not joined by a connective is called a comma
splice or comma fault.

The meeting seemed to last


for hours, nothing was
accomplished.
When in high school a
weekend meant two days
of nothing to do, in college
it means two days in which
Perenial Themes — 171

you have to work to catch


up.
In all the three plans there
is free choice of doctors,
dentists, and hospitals, the
only requirement is that
they must be registered
with the Authority.
The difficulties are great
but not insuperable,
although the answer is not
in sight, it can be obtained
by patient and persistent
work.
In the past college
education was a privilege
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 172

for a few people, today it


has become a necessity for
many.
Fused or Run-on Sentences

When two sentences run together without any separating


punctuation or without an intervening connective, they are said
to be fused.

This is not a book to be


tossed aside lightly it
should be thrown with
great force.
I knocked on the door
when the man came I gave
him my most ingratiating
smile.
Why do you ask what
concern is it of yours?
Perenial Themes — 173

In a situation such as this


one there is no way of
reaching a compromise
unless both sides are
willing to make
concessions the dispute
will become a stalemate.
I will not object on the
other hand don't expect
me to lend you any
support on this issue.
Ways to eliminate the error

The meeting seemed to last


for hours; nothing was
accomplished.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 174

The meeting seemed to last


for hours; and nothing
was accomplished.
The meeting seemed to last
for hours because nothing
was accomplished.
The meeting seemed to last
for hours; furthermore,
nothing was accomplished.
Exceptions

When two main clauses are short and closely related they may
be separated by a comma only.

Laws grind the poor, the


rich rule the laws.
Exercise

The following sentences contain one or more errors: Write


correct versions.
Perenial Themes — 175

My mother stood by
helplessly. While the
plumber peered into the
pipes black mouth and
explained the problem in
words that only plumbers
understand.
Proper names sometimes
become common nouns
that are used to name one
of a class of things, an
example of this kind of
language evolution is the
word maverick.
Non-fiction is the
presentation of factual
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 176

material, fiction is
storytelling.
The brakes of an
automobile generate heat.
Far more heat than most
of us realise, for example,
bringing a car to a full stop
from 70 miles an hour
generates enough heat to
melt a pound of iron.
There was no sound but
the faint hiss and crunch
of the packed snow.
Shifting under our feet as
we walked. It was a
hushed, empty world
through which we moved.
Perenial Themes — 177

The art of putting things


off sometimes takes
strange forms, it seems to
thrive on the feeling that
things will turn out all
right, somehow. Even
when putting them off is
the very thing that will
keep them from turning
out all right.
There is a great amount of
detrimental reading
material on the magazine
shelves, most of this cannot
be defended, even by the
most liberal-minded
person.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 178

It will cost a great deal of


money, there is no
guarantee that the plan
will succeed.
Driven by the brisk March
wind, green and white
waves raced across the
surface of the river, we
caught glimpses of them
through the train window.
There are two wires
sticking out from two
small holes in the centre of
the board, they have to be
crossed to turn on ignition.
Perenial Themes — 179

Thanks to radar, ships and


aeroplanes can "see" in
fog as clearly as in broad
daylight. But this does not
mean that men have solved
the problem of fog, fog-
bound ships fall behind
their schedules, airports
close down during a fog.
I believe that the
expression of a
newspaper's opinions
should be confined to its
editorial page. Where the
reader can judge the
opinions for themselves.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 180

Slanted news is sometimes


worse than no news at all.
In every community, even
the crew of a pirate ship,
there are acts that are
enjoined and acts that are
forbidden. Acts that are
applauded and acts that
are reprobated. A pirate
must show courage in
attack and justice in the
distribution of spoils, if he
fails in these respects, he is
not a "good" pirate.
Many companies are
looking for experts in
Perenial Themes — 181

pollution control, this is a


rapidly expanding field.
Wordiness
Wordiness means using more words than are needed. This is a
very common weakness in students’ writings and is a major
cause of reducing their quality. It must be realised that every
word which is not performing any function in a sentence
impedes communication. No one likes to listen to a speaker who
talks too much and says so little; similarly, no reader has the
patience to cut through a jungle of useless words or
constructions to get at the message of the writer.

However, removing wordiness does not mean adopting the style


of telegrams or classified advertisements. It only means cutting
out words which are contributing nothing to the meaning or
effect of a sentence.

Deadwood is a term used for a particular kind of wordiness:


lazy words and phrases that clutter up a statement without
adding anything to its meaning. Here are a few instances:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 182

Anyone acquainted with


violin construction knows
that the longer the wood is
seasoned, the better the
result will be as far as the
tone of the instrument is
concerned.
Because of the fact that she
had been ill, she missed the
first two weeks of the
classes.
Tests were run for a
period of three weeks.
Perenial Themes — 183

The control is exercised by


means of the steering
wheel.
We are in receipt of your
letter of June 14.
He glanced at the
document in a suspicious
manner.
Anyone interested in the
field of Mughal history
should take this course.
His gossip was of a sordid
and ugly character.
He seldom talks on any
subject of a controversial
nature.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 184

In spite of the fact that he


is lazy, I like him.
Redundant words or expressions are those which are repeated
unnecessarily. Trimming them away improves readability and
lucidity of writing. However, one should discriminate between
repetition which lends force and vitality to a statement, and
repetition which is a mere distraction. Here is an excerpt from a
speech:

There is an old Chinese


proverb saying that each
generation builds a road
for the next. The road has
been built for us, and I
believe it is incumbent
upon us, in our generation,
to build our road for the
next.
Notice how the words road and generation are repeated for
integration and coherence of thought. As a contrast examine the
following sentences:
Perenial Themes — 185

In the modern world of


today time has a meaning
different from what it had
when transportation was
slow.
He painted the wall bright
red, but the resultant
effect was not what he had
anticipated.
The hazy figures in the
background are vague and
indefinite, and they add a
sinister note to the
painting.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 186

Behind the house was an


enclosed court which was
rectangular in shape.
The bench was lying
horizontal to the ground.
He is a distinguished
scholar of eminence in his
field.
The problem of feeding
our ever-increasing
population is one of our
most serious problems.
The advantage of getting a
broader view of life
through travel is only one
of the advantages of
Perenial Themes — 187

spending the summer


vacation travelling
through some foreign
countries.
I have a friend of mine
who works as an agent of
this firm.
The doctors had given him
up as a hopeless case. But
after wearing the amulet
given by pir sahib and
slaughtering four black
lambs to ward off evil
spirits, he was
miraculously restored
back to health.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 188

Deadwood and redundant expressions have to be excised


straight away. But some constructions need to be recast to
achieve economy of words.

Reducing a sentence or a clause to a phrase or


a single word

The snow lay like a


blanket. It covered the
countryside.
The snow which lay like a
blanket covered the
countryside.
The snow covered the
countryside like a blanket.
The snow blanketed the
countryside.
He is a shrewd
businessman and knows
the value of money.
Perenial Themes — 189

A shrewd businessman, he
knows the value of money.
People who work hard
often achieve their goals.
Using active voice

The students were


instructed by the teacher
to complete their
assignment by the due
date.
The teacher instructed the
students to complete their
assignment by the due
date.
The door was opened
stealthily by the burglar.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 190

The burglar opened the


door stealthily.
Exercise

Identify words or phrases of low information content in the


following sentences. In some cases you may have to delete
deadwood, in others to revise a phrase or rewrite the sentence.

Measure the current with


the aid of an ammeter
connected to test points 9
and 14.
In an effort to increase
production, it was found
necessary by the plant
superintendent to hire four
additional assemblers.
The purchase of new
machine would result in a
Perenial Themes — 191

reduction of the operating


expenditure to the tune of
about a million rupees per
month.
We wish to state that if you
have any further queries
regarding this matter,
please feel free to contact
Mr. Khan at any time.
The end result was in the
form of a mixture that
required further analysis.
A stability test did in fact
prove that the damaged
instruments were a
contributing factor in
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 192

reducing measurement
accuracy.
In my opinion, I think the
situation has grown worse.
We are in agreement with
the committee’s decision to
make an effort to
encourage greater student
participation in activities
conducted by the
community.
Reading is in relation to
mind what exercise is with
respect to body.
Perenial Themes — 193

He was elected
unanimously by all the
members.
Parallelism
Parallelism means expression of similar ideas in similar
grammatical structures. A writing which observes parallelism is
easy to read and comprehend and the reader does not lose his
way in long and complex sentences. On the other hand, a writing
which violates parallelism puts off even a very determined
reader.

A consideration of the following sentences would explain this


cardinal principle of writing.

Dentists advise brushing


the teeth after each meal
and to avoid too much
sugar in the diet.
Einstein liked
mathematical research
more than to supervise a
large laboratory.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 194

To chew carefully is as
necessary for good
digestion as eating slowly.
The company guaranteed
increases of salary and
that the working day
would be shortened
The student wanted to
know what the calculus
problems were and the due
date for turning in the
assignments.
This product is sturdy,
light, and costs very little.
She said that you would
need both a down payment
Perenial Themes — 195

and to have a loan


approved.
Gathering sales
information and to present
all the statistics in well-
written reports are a part
of her job.
In my opinion Hamid is
capable, reliable, and
ought to be promoted.
When the professor went
to the university for his
honorary degree, he was
cheered wildly by
admirers, wined and dined
by his old colleagues, and
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 196

gave interviews to the


press.
Exercise

The following sentences observe parallelism. Underline the


elements that are parallel in form.

The ideal conditions for


skiing are sunshine,
powdery snow, and
uncrowded slopes.
This corporation
manufactures copiers,
duplicators, and self-
correcting typewriters.
These typewriters work
easily, speedily, and
noiselessly.
Perenial Themes — 197

If you want to learn a


foreign language well, you
should try to think in the
language and to speak the
language as much as
possible.
You can learn a foreign
language in the classroom,
at home, or in the foreign
country where the
language is spoken.
If the supply of oil drops
and if the demand
increases alternative fuels
will have to be found.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 198

At an international
seminar, participating
countries discussed who
the major producers of oil
were and how much they
would export.
His mind was filled with
artistic projects, schemes
for outwitting his
creditors, and vague ideas
about social reform.
The high technology
nations must in coming
years, direct vast resources
to rehabilitating their
physical environment and
improving what has come
Perenial Themes — 199

to be called “the quality of


life.”
The passengers may now
choose a jet on which the
food, the music, the
magazines, the movies, and
the stewardess’ miniskirt
are all French. He may
choose a “Roman” flight
on which the girls wear
togas. Or he may select the
“Old English” flight on
which the girls are called
“serving wenches” and the
decor is that of an English
pub.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 200

Parallelism in correlative constructions

Parallelism is particularly important when joining parts of


sentences with one of the following co-ordinating conjunctions:

either ... or
neither ... nor
not only ... but
also
It should be ensured that each part of a correlative construction
is followed by an expression of the same grammatical form.

Parallelism violated The


instrument not only
requires mechanical
repair, but also it will have
to be realigned electrically.
Parallelism restored The
instrument requires not
Perenial Themes — 201

only mechanical repair but


also electrical realignment.
Exercise

He has been not only


successful as a store owner
but also as a stock analyst.
Hamid has a reputation
for being both honest and
to be fair.
Either Hamid will fly to
Peshawar or drive there.
The president must not
only represent his own
political party but also the
entire nation.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 202

A physician in a small
town must not only be
proficient in general
medicine but surgery as
well.
Francis Bacon, the great
inductive thinker, neither
had scientific equipment,
nor knowledge of
experimentation.
Parallelism in sub-paragraphs

Three tests were


conducted to isolate the
fault.
Perenial Themes — 203

In the first test a matrix


was imposed upon the face
of the cathode ray tube....
The second test consisted
of voltage measurements
taken.....
A continuity tester was
connected to the unit for
test 3 and.......
To be parallel the sub-paragraphs should start in the same way.
An improved version is indicated below:

In the first test a matrix


was...
In the second test a series
of...
In the third test a
continuity tester was...
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 204

Parallelism in listing of items

In business and technical writing, enumeration of lists of items


occurs quite frequently. These are easy to read and grasp if put
in parallel forms. Examine the following examples:
1. In this particular case following are the important variables:
i. pressure and temperature of the boiler,
ii. what type of fuel is required,
iii. the amount of oxygen,
iv. fuel temperature.
2. This report addresses the following tasks:
i. to redesign the mix for the concrete slabs,
ii. an evaluation of the compressive strength
with the use of the test cylinders for various
designs, and,
iii. determining both the theoretical and actual
material costs per cubic yard.
3. You can avoid a good deal of tedious and unnecessary work by
following these simple rules:
i. use one side of each card only,
ii. include only one major point on a single
card,
iii. get all the information accurately the first
time you consult a source, and
iv. put all direct quotations in quotation marks.

Exercise

The following sentences lack parallelism. Write improved


versions.
Perenial Themes — 205

He continued his work,


without hope, without
pleasure, and having no
assurance that people
would understand the
significance of what he was
trying to do.
For the sake of your
friends, your parents, and
in the interest of your
future, I hope you will
reject the offer.
Studies of men in isolated
Antarctic outposts,
experiments which have
been carried out on
sensory deprivation,
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 206

investigations into on-the-


job performance in
factories, all show a falling
off of mental and physical
abilities in response to
under-stimulation.
Riding on the roller-
coaster and to spin the
wheel of luck were his two
greatest pleasures at the
carnival.
In college you will be both
required to study on your
own and to take extensive
notes.
Perenial Themes — 207

The advertising experts


place great emphasis on
arousing need for a
product, making the
product attractive, and
that the product be fairly
inexpensive.
Many immigrants came
here to seek their fortune
or because they desired
freedom of worship.
The frightened soldier did
not know whether he had
been ordered to stand trial
for disorderly conduct or
because he had disobeyed.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 208

The practice of bonded


labour should not be
legalised because of its
immorality, injustice, and
it violates fundamental
human rights.
Our intellectuals try
explaining most of our
problems in terms of
conspiracies by our
enemies, and thus fail to
focus on our own moral
failures which in most
cases are their real cause.
Modifiers
Adverbs and adjectives (and phrases or clauses acting as adverbs
and adjectives, e.g. prepositional phrases) are modifiers. They
Perenial Themes — 209

limit, describe, or identify the words they modify. Thus they are
used to make ideas more exact and clear.

He threw a stone.
The naughty boy threw a
sharp stone. (Adjectives
modify nouns.)
My brother repaired the
radio.
My brother carefully
repaired the radio. (An
adverb modifies a verb.)
Eight a.m. is a busy time.
Eight a.m. is an unusually
busy time. (An adverb
modifies an adjective.)
The girl plays the guitar.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 210

The girl in the red dress


plays the guitar. (A
prepositional phrase
modifies a noun.)
Problems related to modifiers

A part of a sentence which modifies any other part is called a


modifier.

Nothing grows well in the


shade of a big tree.
Kill not the goose that lays
the golden egg.
The orchestra, consisting
largely of amateur
musicians, played a
selection of old songs.
A careless use of modifiers results in vagueness, ambiguity and
confusion which reduce the readability and effectiveness of a
Perenial Themes — 211

writing. The problematic modifiers can be divided into three


classes: the misplaced, the two-way and the dangling modifiers.

Misplaced Modifier: As a matter of general principle a


modifier should be placed close to what it modifies. Otherwise it
is likely to be mistaken to modify some other element in the
sentence leading thus to confusion and reduced readability.
Modifiers which can be misinterpreted because of their
inappropriate placement in a sentence are termed as misplaced
modifiers.

We listened breathlessly to
the story of Ali Baba and
the Forty Thieves
munching our peanuts and
crackers.
They were delighted to see
a field of daffodils
climbing up the hill.
You can order a dress that
will be delivered to you by
telephone.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 212

Exercise

My uncle wore the


brilliant red scarf around
his neck which he had just
bought in London.
The presiding judge
reprimanded the hesitant
witness, quoting from the
statutes.
The small businessman
finds it difficult to compete
with the large corporations
having limited funds.
Many of our grandparents
came to this country from
Perenial Themes — 213

other lands filled with a


desire for a better life.
The orator thanked his
listeners for applauding
his speech with charm and
tact.
The salesman tried hard to
sell us the new car with
glowing words of praise.
On this July night, the
composer played his
composition for piano and
orchestra, dripping with
perspiration.
One politician is said to
have posted his campaign
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 214

cards to his voters pinned


together with a thousand-
rupee note.
The investigators spotted
the wreckage of the plane
peering through the
binoculars.
There is a bracelet in the
Taxila Museum that is
four thousand years old.
Dangling Modifier: A dangling modifier is one which has
nothing in the main clause to modify and is thus left dangling.
Examine the following sentence:

Impressed by the
newspaper stories, war
seemed inevitable.
Who was impressed? The opening phrase needs something to
modify.
Perenial Themes — 215

The following version gets rid of this difficulty by making we


the subject of the main clause.

Impressed by the
newspaper stories, we felt
that war was inevitable.
The dangling modifiers which occur most frequently in students’
essays begin with a verbal phrase⎯participle, gerund, or
infinitive⎯and are left hanging because the originally intended
subject is not retained in the main clause. A sentence with a
dangling verbal phrase may be revised either by re-wording the
main clause or by expanding the opening phrase into a
subordinate clause.

Dangling Modifier: To qualify for the position, a rigorous


examination must be passed.

Correct Version: To qualify for the position you must pass a


rigorous examination.

Dangling Modifier: After recording the information and filling


the forms, the Dean checked the papers to see if I had followed
the instructions.

Correct Version: When I had recorded the information and


filled in the forms, the Dean checked the papers to see if I had
followed the instructions.

Two-way Modifier: A two-way modifier may refer to more


than one person or thing which makes it difficult to understand
what the writer means.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 216

Drivers who speed often


have accidents.
Galileo declared after
considerable pressure he
would recant his views.
The mayor said when the
city council met he would
discuss the proposed
budget.
The President said in the
press interview his
opponent spoke like a
gentleman.
Perenial Themes — 217

Exercise

While correcting papers,


the message came from the
principal.
Although a Muslim, the
priest received me in the
church most graciously.
Having written the last
poem, the book was now
ready for the printer.
While digging for change,
his car hit the toll booth.
The blaze was put out
before any damage was
done by the local fire
department.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 218

Having run five blocks to


cash my weekly cheque,
the cashier said that the
bank was about to close
for the day.
While running with the
ball, my ankle twisted, and
that was the end of the
session for me.
Ailing and near starvation,
both fame and fortune had
abandoned the once-
celebrated poet.
Fastened to the tree stump,
rage and despair filled the
heart of the captive.
Perenial Themes — 219

Be sure to purchase
enough material to finish
your article before you
start.
Without expecting a reply,
a letter was written to the
Chairman.
While cleaning his eye
glasses, his car skidded
dangerously into the curb.
A firm in Lahore has
developed a bullet-proof
helmet for soldiers made of
plastic.
By getting your purpose
clearly in mind at the
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 220

beginning, the actual


writing will be easier.
The students counted
twelve shooting stars
sitting on the porch last
night.
After making many
discoveries, the scientific
acumen of the chemist was
appreciated.
The best fruit he likes is
peaches.
While running for the bus,
my wallet must have
dropped out of my pocket.
Perenial Themes — 221

He advertised for a
second-hand sewing
machine in his usual high-
flown language.
The leader of the safari
promised in the morning
we would see a herd of
elephants.
Stringy Sentences
In a stringy sentence too many clauses are connected, usually
with and, but, so and because, forming one very long sentence.
Such sentences are monotonous to read and tax the attention of
the reader. There may also be impairment of meaning because
all ideas or statements stringed together appear to have equal
importance.

My room-mate, Hamid
goes to the college and
from the beginning of this
semester until last week,
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 222

he had not studied at all


and the reason was that he
had no exam during that
period. But the day before
yesterday, I was astonished
because I saw him
studying and later on he
told me he had studied all
day long and the reason
was that he was going to
have an exam the next day
and he wanted to get a
good grade in the exam.
Stringy sentences can be corrected by subordinating some ideas,
by dividing them into more than one sentences, or by reducing
co-ordinate clauses to compound predicates.
Perenial Themes — 223

Subordination of ideas

Hamid went to Peshawar


University to study
sociology and he liked it
much and urged his
friends to take it also.
At Peshawar University,
Hamid studied sociology
which he liked so much
that he urged his friends to
take it.
The small cars are less
expensive and they are
more manoeuvrable in
parking and travel more
miles on the gallon.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 224

The small cars, which are


less expensive and more
manoeuvrable in parking,
travel more miles on
gallon.
Division into more than one sentences

Dr. Fleming was studying


a colony of bacteria and he
noticed that a substance in
the dish was impeding the
growth of bacteria and he
continued his
investigations and
discovered penicillin.
While Dr. Fleming was
studying a colony of
Perenial Themes — 225

bacteria, he noticed a
substance impeding its
growth. After further
study he discovered
penicillin.
Reduction of co-ordinate clauses to a
compound predicate

The professor built a hut


near the lake and he
furnished it simply and
settled down for a life of
contemplation and writing.
The professor built a hut
near the lake, furnished it
simply and settled down
for a life of contemplation
and writing.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 226

Exercise

Given below are some stringy sentences. Revise them by one of


these methods: subordination, division into more than one
sentence, and reduction of co-ordinate clauses to a compound
predicate.

A true scientist studies all


available facts, and he
makes a generalisation,
and in time these
generalisations may
become a law.
It is easy to complain of
our petty discomforts and
forget that people all over
the world are so much
worse off and so we should
really be grateful.
Perenial Themes — 227

Many museums offer


special services to the
school children and these
include lectures and
guided tours.
Asmat was a college
teacher and it is believed
that her short story
“Aarzoo” was based on an
experience in her college,
and it is a very moving
story.
Suburban life has made
many men into clock-
watchers and train-
watchers, and this
development has not
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 228

helped either their peace of


mind or their digestion.
For proper comprehension
it is wise to read that
material quickly at first
and then to see the main
points and finally to
prepare its mental outline.
The mayor was an astute
politician, so he refused to
commit himself on the
issue until after the
elections.
The engineer examined the
blue print carefully and
then said that the bridge
Perenial Themes — 229

could never be constructed


that way.
By the year 2010 our
colleges will have twice as
many students as they
have now and this increase
will require a tremendous
building programme.
During the past two
decades hotels have sprung
up along the motorways
and they have encouraged
travel by car so that more
people are seeing the
country.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 230

Separation of Related Elements


In a sentence there should usually be no unnecessary separation
between related elements, such as, subject and verb, verb and
complement, or modifier and its referent. The basis for this
principle is simple: separation of related parts puts extra burdens
on the reader and makes his task difficult. A report or article in
which split constructions abound tires the reader soon and he is
likely to toss it aside unread unless, of course, he has some
strong compulsion to read it through. Split constructions are one
of the major factors which reduce readability of written works.

Many people, feeling that


it represents something
intractable in human
nature, are distrustful of
ambition.
We hold these truths that
all men are created equal
and that they are endowed
by their creator with
certain unalienable rights
to be self-evident.
Perenial Themes — 231

The manager, after


considering what the visit
would cost and how long it
would take, withheld his
approval.
The evidence shows, if you
examine it carefully and
objectively, that the
manger was involved in
the fraud.
Everyone of my
instructors, I am firmly of
the opinion, acts though
his course was the only one
I am taking.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 232

Exercise

Revise the following sentences to eliminate any unnecessary


separation.

His friends, even those


who are his blind
supporters, admit that he
was first in losing temper.
I was until yesterday of
this opinion.
He said while he did not
object to our going to the
theatre that he would like
to stay home.
The travel agent promised
that he would well in time
get the tickets.
Perenial Themes — 233

We have since his


dismissal had no more
trouble.
We should have, if
democratic culture is to be
promoted, comprehensive
educational reforms. This
involves a thorough
revision by eminent
scholars and educationists
of the present curricula in
which democratic values
find no place.
The student organisations,
as they are responsible for
creating intolerance,
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 234

should be banned from


educational campuses.
The students unions
should continue to exist
and their elections held
regularly. But the student
organisations which have
degenerated into gangs of
criminals must not be
allowed to participate in
them or to manipulate
them.
Faulty Comparisons
Faulty comparisons are a common feature of students’ writings.
One can easily get rid of this problem by exercising a little care.
The most common faults are pointed out below.

Incomplete comparisons: Statements involving comparisons


should be written out in full particularly if any misunderstanding
is likely to arise through shortening one of the terms:
Perenial Themes — 235

Ambiguous: I owe him less


than you.
Clearer: I owe him less
than I owe you.
or
I owe him less than you do.
Ambiguous: He admires
Iqbal more than other
modern poets.
Clearer: He admires Iqbal
more than he does other
modern poets
or
He admires Iqbal more
than other modern poets
do.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 236

There is another category of incomplete comparisons in which


one term of the comparison is omitted. Advertisers frequently
state that a certain product is better or more durable without
telling us with what the product is being compared. “Finer
quality at greater savings” is a popular slogan.

Such incomplete comparisons are acceptable only in advertising.


There can, however, be contexts in which it may not be
necessary to state a complete comparison because it is obvious.

Habib Bank serves you


better.
She will be much happier
in Lahore.
He has better
understanding of the
national political scene.
He is a much stronger
man.
One has to exercise one’s judgement to determine whether the
sentences given above are acceptable or need correction.
Perenial Themes — 237

Comparing comparable things. Only things of the same


category can be compared: people with people, buildings with
buildings, apples with apples, and so on.

The economies of some Far


Eastern countries are
stronger than many
European countries
(economies and countries
are not comparable).
Some people consider the
cultural policies of the
present government as
poor as the previous
government.
Comparing a thing with a group of which it is a part: Include
the word other or else when comparing a thing with the group of
which it is a part. Examine the following sentences and point out
the logical defect in them. How would you remove it?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 238

After training hard for a


year, Ahmad was a faster
100-meter runner than any
boy in his class.
The economy of Malaysia
is growing faster than that
of any Asian country.
Exercise

Our library is better for


research than the State
College.
Trains in Pakistan are
more reliable than India.
Most highways in the US
are wider than Europe.
Perenial Themes — 239

The ideas of educated


people are different from
the uneducated people.
Swimming in the sea is
harder than a lake.
The clock in the gym is
faster than the office.
The automobiles of today
are more powerful than
ten years ago.
Summary of Sentence-Level Problems
Given below are rules which cover some of the sentence-level
faults found in students’ writings. Read them carefully and see if
you have any comments to make.

Avoid run-on sentences


they are hard to read.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 240

Use the semicolon


properly, always use it
where it is appropriate;
and never where it isn’t.
Verbs has to agree with
their subjects.
Competent writers who
always avoid sentence
fragments.
Avoid commas, that are
not necessary.
If you reread your speech,
you will find on rereading
that a great deal of
repetition can be avoided.
Perenial Themes — 241

Don’t use contractions in


formal writing.
Writing carefully,
dangling participles must
be avoided.
Place pronouns as close as
possible, especially in
sentences which tend to be
long and complex, to their
antecedents.
A writer must not shift
one’s point of view unless
it is justified by the logic of
your subject.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 242

Apostrophe has it’s proper


uses; do not use it when it
is not needed.
Put similar ideas in
grammatical forms which
are similar.
Passive voice should be
used sparingly.
Closely related elements of
a sentence, unless it is
absolutely unavoidable,
should not be separated.
II—Recognising Word Classes or
Parts of Speech
In English it is usual to classify words into word classes, but at
the same time it is important to remember that it is the function
of a word in a sentence which determines what part of speech a
word is. For example, a word may belong to any word class
without changing its form:

He will fast during the


month of Ramadan. (verb)
After one he broke his fast.
(noun)
She types fast. (adverb)
Naseem is a fast worker.
(adjective)
We can distinguish between major and minor word classes:

Major Word Classes: These are Nouns, Main Verbs,


Adjectives and Adverbs:

Minor Word Classes: These are Pronouns, Auxiliary Verbs,


Determiners, Articles, Prepositions, Conjunctions, and
Interjections.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 244

Major Word Classes

Noun

A noun can be easily identified because it is usually modified by


a, an, or the.

A- Classification

Nouns may be broadly classified as follows:

B- Functions of Nouns
Function Examples Position

1. as subject of verb Ali loves Before the verb


mangoes.
After the verb

2. as object of verb Ali loves Leila. After the verb

direct object Ali sent Leila


flowers.
indirect object (after
verbs like buy,
bring, give, take,
owe, sell, write,
pay)

3. as object of She took them After a


preposition from Ali. preposition

(in a prepositional
phrase)
Perenial Themes — 245

4. as complement Leila is the After the verb


secretary.
subjective
complement (after
verbs like be, seem,
appear, become)

objective
complement (after
verbs like appoint,
consider, name, They elected
nominate, choose) Leila secretary.

5. as noun adjunct Ali waited at the Before a noun


bus-stop.
After a noun

6. as appositive Ali, chairman of After a noun


the committee,
gave a speech.

7. in direct address Ali, come here. Usually at the


beginning of a
sentence

C- Nouns and Number:

In English, nouns can have either singular (one) or plural (more


than one) number. Singular nouns comprise:
1. Those denoting ‘one’: a shoe, this flower, that magazine.
2. Mass (uncountable) nouns: the tea, our democracy, that
advertisement.
3. Proper nouns: Jonathan, Germany.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 246

Usually plural count nouns (denoting ‘more than one’) are the
only nouns which occur in the plural: two flowers, those shoes,
these chopsticks.
Generally the plural is formed by adding—s or—es to the
singular, but there are two exceptions:
(i) Some nouns ending in—s are actually singular and not
plural e.g. measles, subject names, linguistics,
statistics, billiards, and news etc.
(ii) Some nouns only ever occur in the plural e.g. cattle,
deer, trout, people, scissors, arms, and stairs etc.

D- Rules of forming plural nouns


Rule 1: Nouns are regularly Day days, roof roofs, shoe
made plural by the addition shoes
of—s:

Rule 2: Other nouns are made


plural by adding—es:

Nouns ending in sibilant (‘s’) Bus buses, box boxes, church


sounds spelled with s, ch, sh churches, dish dishes,
and x:
curry curries, baby babies, key
Nouns ending in y preceded by keys, monkey monkeys
a consonant: y is changed to i (s
only is added if y is preceded by
a vowel):

One-syllable nouns ending in a


single f or fe: f is changed to v: Leaf leaves, thief thieves, knife
Exception: chiefs, knives
handkerchiefs, roofs, safes,
beliefs.
Singular
Perenial Themes — 247

Nouns ending in o: Buffalo buffaloes, mango


mangoes
-es only:
Bamboo bamboos, radio
-s only: radios, piano pianos

Rule 3: Other nouns have other


types of plural:
Children, oxen
—en ending
Tooth teeth, foot feet, man
men, woman women, mouse
mice, goose geese
internal vowel change

Rule 4: The plural of


compounds: Boyfriends, breakdowns,

In most compounds the Grown-ups, check-ups,


ending—s is added to the last assistant directors, stepfathers,
part: doorbells

Both hangers-on,
Brothers-in-law,
foreign/regular
plurals
With a few compounds, the Passers-by, commanders-in-
pluralization occurs to the first
part: Chief

Englishmen, policemen

Sometimes internal vowel


changes occur:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 248

A few compounds have both the menservants, women doctors


first and the last part in the
plural:

Rule 5: Foreign plurals:

There are two ways of


pluralising foreign words that
have become part of the English Stimulus
language: stimuli/stimiluses

by the addition of the regular—s Virus


plural /viruses

by the addition of a foreign Cactus


plural (usually in technical cacti/cactuses
writing)
Nucleus
Some foreign words take both nuclei/nucleuses
the regular and the foreign
plural. Radius
radii/radiuses

Larva larvae/

Curriculum
curricula/

Index
indices/indexes

Crisis crises/

Neutron
Perenial Themes — 249

/neutrons

Bureau bureaux/

Plateau
plateaux/plateaus

Nouns and Gender

Every noun in English belongs to one of four genders:


masculine, feminine, neuter, and common:

The masculine gender is used when the noun refers to males


(persons and animals):

man, bull, master poet (and is used with third person pronouns
he, him, his etc.)

The feminine gender is used when the noun refers to females


(persons or animals):

Woman, cow, mistress, poetess (and is used with she, her, etc)

The neuter gender refers to nouns that are neither masculine nor
feminine; that is, they are inanimate:

Book, water, table, happiness, democracy, biology (and is used


with it, its, etc.)

The common gender refers to nouns that are of either sex,


masculine or feminine:

Baby, person, parent, bird


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 250

Note these exceptions:

He and she can be used for animals whom we consider as having


human qualities, especially family pets:

Has Blackie had her milk


yet?
Conversely, babies and very young children are often referred to
as it:

The baby is crying for its


milk.
She is occasionally used for inanimate objects when we consider
them to have animate qualities, for example, ships and cars, and
sometimes countries:

What a beautiful yacht!


What have you named
her?
Malaysia is celebrating her
national day next month.
The feminine gender is shown in three ways in nouns:
Perenial Themes — 251

by the suffix—ess, e.g.


mistress, hostess
by a word in front of
another word, e.g. billy-
goat, nanny goat
by a totally different word,
e.g. nephew, niece.
Main verbs

Verbs are a class of words that serve to indicate the occurrence


or performance of an action, the existence of a state etc.

Kinds of Verbs

There are two types of verbs in English: Main Verbs and


Auxiliary Verbs. Main verbs are either regular (play, like, press)
or irregular (drink, buy), though irregular verbs are not
completely irregular.

Regular Verbs: The great majority of English verbs are regular;


that is, they have four forms:

The base (the uninflected


or unchanged form) play
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 252

The—s form
plays
The—ing form
playing
The—ed form
played
Irregular Verbs: The irregular main verbs in the English
language are small in number but important in function. They
resemble regular verbs in having regular—s and—ing forms, but
they differ from regular verbs in that sometimes the base form
changes in the past form and/or past participle form.

There are three types of irregular verbs:

Verbs in which all three


parts (the base, the past,
the past participle) are
identical: let—let—let.
Perenial Themes — 253

Verbs in which two of the


three parts are identical:
build—built—built.
Verbs in which all three
parts are different:
speak—spoke—spoken.
Verb Patterns

There are six basic verb patterns in English and a larger number
of sub-patterns. These are listed below, together with examples:

a. Linking Verbs:
In this pattern, the verb is a linking verb. Such verbs usually
describe a state or condition:

Appear (satisfied) stay


(young) grow (old)
Feel (ill) smell (sweet)
fall (sick)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 254

Look (pretty) sound


(angry) run (wild)
Seem (happy) taste
(sour) turn (bitter)
Linking verbs form the following patterns:

Verb + Noun or Verb +(to She is a very attractive


be) woman.

Noun: The complement is a He became a Professor of


noun phrase or nominal Physics.
clause.
He seems (to be) a very
bright child.

Verb +Adjective or Verb + Your hair looks nice.


(to be) Adjective: The
complement it an adjective. He sounded furious over
the phone.

Mother is at home.
Verb + Necessary
Adverbial: The verb is She leaned out of the
followed by an adverbial. window.

The meeting lasted two


hours.
Perenial Themes — 255

The flowers cost one


dollar.

b. Verbs with One Object


(Transitive Verbs)
Verb +Noun: The object is He poisoned the cat.
a noun phrase.
Everybody sang the
national anthem.

She tidied the house.

Verb + Bare Infinitive: The May I help with the


verb is used with a bare dishes?
infinitive (i.e. without to)

Verb +to- infinitive: The


object is a to- infinitive. She agreed to write to her
aunt.

They decided to go for a


Verb + -ing form: The verb swim.
is followed by an—ing
form.
He denied causing the
accident.
Such verbs include:
She disliked going to
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 256

Avoid consider finish music lessons.

Admit deny
postpone

Dislike risk enjoy

Verb + that- clause: The


verb has a that- clause
(where that can be omitted). I admit (that) he is a good
lecturer.
Verbs:
You forget (that) I am your
Accept claim father.
understand

Admit doubt
discover

Feel forget
recommend

Demand insist require


I wonder if/whether she
Verb + wh- word: The verb will come.
has a clause introduced by a
wh- word: how, why, He still doesn’t know how
where, who, whether, if. to tie his shoelaces.

Verb:

Decide forget discuss

Guess doubt wonder


Perenial Themes — 257

(c) Verbs with


Object +
Verb(+….): Shall I help you carry that
These transitive verbs have box?
an object which is followed
by another verb. We felt the house shake.

Verb + Object + Bare You made me spill my tea.


Infinitive:

The verb and object are


followed by an infinitive She asked the maid to
without to. wash the floor.

They advised us to stay in


our seats.

Verb + Object + to-


infinitive:

Verbs:

Ask advise cause

Get allow forget They saw the thief running


away.
Require teach tell
Can you smell something
Urge order intend burning?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 258

She could feel her heart


beating.
Verb + Object + -ing form:

We found the house


deserted.

I want the work finished


by noon.

He couldn’t make himself


Verb + Object + -ed form: heard.

She gave the door a hard


kick.

She owed him a thousand


(d) Verbs with dollars.

two Objects: May I ask you a favour?


Verb + Noun + Noun: Verb
+ indirect object + direct
object. She gave her mother the
gloves.

She gave the gloves to her


Verbs: mother.

‘to’ verbs:
She cooked her father a
Perenial Themes — 259

bring give hand meal.

offer owe She cooked a meal for her


promise father.

read send show

take teach write

‘for’ verbs:

cook find get I convinced him that I was


innocent.
learn make save
We must remind him that
Note: The above pattern he’s on duty tonight.
may be replaced by a direct
object + to/for + noun The workers told the
phrase. employers that they
wanted more money.
Verb + Object + a that-
clause (where that is often She told me why she had
omitted): come.

Verbs: Tell me what your name


is.
Assure convince
persuade This shows how wrong
you were.
Remind inform tell
I can’t decide what to do
next.

Verb + Object + a wh- I’ll enquire how to get


clause (or how- clause): there.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 260

I showed her where to sit.

Verb + Object + wh- word He ordered himself a


+ to- infinitive: bottle of wine.

She made her mother a


new dress.

Can you spare me a few


minutes of your time?

He found her (to be) a very


hardworking colleague.

They appointed him (to


be) the tennis coach.

(e) Verbs with


Object
and Objec
Complement
Verb + Noun + Noun
Phrase (where the
complement is a noun He left the apartment
phrase): filthy.
Perenial Themes — 261

He painted his car black.

OR

Verb + Noun + (to be)


Noun:

‘to be’ may appear before


the noun phrase
complement.

Verbs:

Appoint imagine
found They imagined him (to be)
crazy.
Consider suppose
think Many students thought the
exam (to be ) unfair.

Verb + Noun + Adjective


(where the complement is
an adjective):

Verbs:

Paint serve leave Please put the milk in the


Make keep wash refrigerator.

They kept their daughter


indoors.
OR
The detective followed the
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 262

Verb + Noun + (to be) suspect for two hours.

Adjective: ‘to be’ may She cried.


appear before the adjective The dress fits.
complement.

Verbs:
The heater blew up.
Feel think know
The fugitive gave up.
Imagine believe
suppose Zubair smokes.
(understood object =
cigarettes)

They went jogging.


Verb + Object + Necessary She came visiting.
Adverbial: The verb has an
adverbial following the
object.

(f) Verb
without Objec
or Complemen
(Intransitive
Verbs):
Perenial Themes — 263

Verb + to- infinitive: Verbs


with no object or
complement.

Note (i) It may be a


phrasal verb without an
object.

(ii) The missing object is


understood.

Verb + -ing Form:

Transitive and intransitive verbs:


A sentence typically contains a noun or a pronoun as its subject
and a verb (or verb phrase) as its simple predicate. However, the
mere presence of both a noun and a simple predicate does not
necessarily make a meaningful sentence. For example:

The manager wrote.


That word group is not a meaningful thought. It lacks the
information about what the manager wrote and therefore needs
an object of the transitive verb wrote—a word that tells us what
the manager wrote. For example:

The manager wrote the


letter.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 264

Letter is the direct object of the verb wrote because letter tells us
what the manager wrote.

To determine the object of a verb, ask yourself whom? or what?


after the verb. For example: The manager wrote…what? The
letter. Henry likes…whom? Nancy. Nancy is the object of
Henry’s liking.

Many verbs, of course, do not require objects. For example:

John wept.
The manager travels.
The verbs wept and travels do not have objects. A verb that
requires an object for meaning is called a transitive verb
because the action transfers to the object. A verb that does not
require an object for meaning is called an intransitive verb
because the action is complete in itself and the action in the verb
does not transfer from the subject through the verb and to the
object of the action. For example:

Transitive

Jack sent the report today.


Akram drives his car twice
a week.
Perenial Themes — 265

Ali attended the class


yesterday.
Intransitive:

Jack sleeps on a waterbed.


Akram drives on the left
side of the road.
Ali attends on Tuesday
only.
This discussion about transitive and intransitive verbs can help
us use correctly the principal parts of six troublesome verbs: lie,
lay, sit, set, rise, and raise. The key to understanding and using
these verbs properly is in knowing the difference between
transitive and intransitive verbs.

The principal parts of lie, lay, sit,set,rise and raise are as


follows:
Present Past Past participle
lie lay lain

lay laid laid

sit sat sat

set set set


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 266

rise rose risen

raise raised raised

Lie and lay have different meanings. To lie means to recline and
is intransitive, and to lay means to place and is transitive. For
example:

I lie on the couch.


I lay on the couch
yesterday.
I had lain on the couch two
days until you arrived.

I lay the book on the desk


each morning.
I laid the book on the desk
yesterday.
I had laid the book on the
desk, as you directed.
Perenial Themes — 267

Because lie is intransitive, it never requires an object to


complete its meaning. Because lay is transitive, it always
requires an object to complete its meaning.

To sit means to be seated and is intransitive, and to set means to


place and is transitive. Sit never requires an object because it is
intransitive. Set always requires an object because it is
transitive-- it requires a word that tells us what was set. For
example:

The boys normally sit on


the north end.
The boys sat on the south
end yesterday.
The boys had sat on either
the north end or south end
until they got 50-yard
seats.

He sets the manual on my


credenza.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 268

He set the manual on my


credenza yesterday.
He had already set the
manual on my credenza
before you told him not to
do so.
To rise means to get up and is intransitive, and to raise means to
lift and is transitive. Rise, as an intransitive verb, never requires
an object to complete its meaning. Raise, a transitive, always
requires an object to complete its meaning-- to tell the reader
what was raised. For example:

I rise by 7 a.m. most


mornings.
I rose at 6 a.m. yesterday.
I had risen before 7 a.m.
every morning until my
alarm clock broke.
Perenial Themes — 269

I raise the windows myself.


Salman raised the
windows today.
We had raised the
windows every morning
until we were told to keep
them closed.
Subject-Verb Agreement

The basic principle governing subject-verb agreement is simple:


singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take
plural verbs. Generally students have no difficulty in following
this principle. However, there are a few situations which leave
even experienced writers somewhat uncertain. The following
rules cover most of such situations.

1. When two or more singular subjects are connected by and, a


plural form of the verb is required.

A fool and his money are


soon parted.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 270

He and his brother are


identical twins.
Exceptions

(i) When each of the singular subjects is considered individually,


the singular form of the verbs is used. This usage is most
frequent after each or every.

Here, every man and


woman seeks self-
fulfilment by serving the
community.
(ii) When the two singular subjects refer to the same person.

My brother and boss has


something to say about this
matter.
(iii) Mathematical computations may take a singular or a plural
verb.

Five and five is ten.


Five and five are ten.
Perenial Themes — 271

2. When two or more singular subjects are connected by or, nor,


or but, a singular form of the verb is required.

Ahmad or Iqbal is to
represent the country.
Neither Ahmad nor Iqbal
has a clean record.
Not Ahmad but Iqbal was
involved in the forgery
case.
3. When one of the two subjects connected by or, nor, or but, is
singular and the other is plural, the verb agrees in number with
the nearer one.

Neither Iqbal nor his


lawyers were present in
the court when the
judgement was announced.
Not only the students but
also their teacher was
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 272

feeling drowsy in the


afternoon class.
4. When two subjects connected by or or nor differ in person,
the verb agrees with the nearer.

Neither Ahmad nor I am


to blame.
Ahmad or you are to clear
up this muddle.
5. A singular subject followed immediately by as well as, in
addition to, including, no less than, with, together with or a
similar construction requires a singular verb.

The husband as well as the


wife needs advice.
This invention, as well as
its commercial
applications, was the result
of this research effort.
Perenial Themes — 273

The coach together with


his assistants was credited
with the outstanding
performance of the team.
This convention sometimes seems illogical. There is a tendency,
therefore, to avoid the construction altogether and use alternative
ones.

Both the husband and the


wife need advice.
The coach and his
assistants were credited
with the outstanding
performance of the team.
6. A singular subject followed by a plural modifier requires a
singular subject.

The attitude of these men


is definitely hostile.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 274

A list of the names of all


survivors is available.
7. Such indefinite pronouns as anybody, anyone, each other,
everybody, neither, nobody, no one, and some body generally
require a singular verb.

Anybody who does that is


just reckless.
Somebody has been
raiding my refrigerator.
Nobody in the office
accepts responsibility for
this.
8. The pronouns any and none take either singular or plural
verbs.

None is expected to come


during the vacation.
None are expected to come
during the vacation.
Perenial Themes — 275

9. When the subject is a relative pronoun, the verb agrees with


the antecedent of that pronoun. (The one-of-those-who cases)

He is one of those men who


never care for the feelings
of others.
This is one of those
problems which defy any
solutions.
One of the girls who sing
in the drama is being
married.
10. When a sentence is introduced by the expletive there or the
adverb here, the verb agrees with the following subject, not with
the introductory word.

Here is your money.


Here are the receipts for
your deposits.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 276

There are no second


chances.
11. When a sentence is introduced by the expletive it, the verb is
always singular, regardless of the number of the subject.

It is we whom they want.


12. A verb agrees with its subject and not with its complement.

Our chief trouble was the


honey bees that swarmed
around us on the trip.
The black flies that
swarmed about us on our
trip were our chief trouble.
What annoys me about
them is their unending
complaints.
13. When the word order is inverted, care must be taken to make
the verb agree with its subject and not with some other word.
Perenial Themes — 277

Throughout the story


appear thinly disguised
references of author’s past
association with the
anarchist groups.
Accompanying the senator
were his secretary and
other numbers of his staff.
14. A collective noun takes a singular verb when the class it
names is considered as a unit, a plural verb when the members
of the class are considered individually.

The jury has completed its


deliberations.
The jury are divided in
their opinions.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 278

The committee has already


held its first meeting of the
year.
The committee are arguing
amongst themselves.
Sentences like the last one
often sound unnatural, and
it is better to substitute a
clearly plural subject (the
committee members, the
jury members)
15. Plural numbers take a singular verb when they are used in a
phrase to indicate a sum or a unit.

A million dollars is a great


deal of money.
Ten years is too long to
wait.
Perenial Themes — 279

16. Certain names which are plural in form but singular in


meaning generally take a singular verb.

Economics has been called


the dismal science.
No news is good news.
Semantics is the study of
meanings.
Exercise

Identify the subject of each of the following sentences and select


the verb form that agrees with it.

He is one of those people


who (is, are) always
making trouble.
All (is, are) well.
There (is, are) two
mistakes in your work.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 280

The father no less than the


children (is, are) to blame.
The gangster, with all his
henchmen, (were, was)
arrested.
There (is, are) an apple
and an orange for each
child.
Here (is, are) a piece of
cake and a glass of milk.
Two hundred pounds
(were, was) his best weight.
(Is, are) there two pictures
like that?
Perenial Themes — 281

The engine in addition to


the body (was, were) in
bad shape.
Exercise

Rewrite the following sentences to remove any subject-verb


disagreement, or to improve any awkward construction caused
by following established conventions too closely. Some
sentences may be satisfactory as they are:

Neither of the applicants


are fully qualified.
The cost of food, clothing,
and household goods have
risen so steeply during the
last couple of years.
He is one of those men who
is seen at all functions and
parties in the town.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 282

There is, I believe, two or


three things we must check
while employing a
domestic servant.
Not only his grades but
even his behaviour were
much below the required
standards.
The extent of his injuries
are yet to be determined.
The Gymkhana Club led
the league at the beginning
of the season and are now
at the third place.
Either Ahmad or I am
going to represent the
Perenial Themes — 283

Institute in the Punjab


University debates.
One of the students who
scores A grades in all the
courses will be awarded a
scholarship.
The works of such a poet
contains something for
each one of us.
There has never been any
reports which were made
public.
This is one of those
questions that has more
than one correct answers.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 284

Neither the students nor


their teacher find the
timetable very convenient.
Somebody, perhaps
Ahmad or Hamid, have
reported the accident to
the police.
All of the wheat produced
in the world belong to one
of the fourteen species.
The hockey team buy their
own uniform.
Upon the students rest the
responsibility of keeping
their hostels clean.
Perenial Themes — 285

Physical fitness, as well as


psychological health, are
taken into account while
recruiting cadets for the
air force.
Adverbs

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, an


adverb and even a whole clause or sentence.

They walked quickly.


(modifies the verb
“walked”)
He was very tired.
(modifies the adjective
“tired”)
She spoke fairly slowly.
(modifies the adverb
“slowly”)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 286

Thus he was punished.


(modifies the sentence “he
was punished”)
Adverbs usually express time, place, manner, frequency or
degree.

They arrived soon. (Time)


He stood there alone.
(Place)
Everyone worked
diligently. (Manner)
We often eat out.
(Frequency)
She almost slipped on the
pavement. (Degree)
Besides the kinds of adverbs above, there are also relative and
interrogative adverbs.
Perenial Themes — 287

Relative adverbs

This is the time when


cherry blossoms come out.
Show me the spot where
the accident happened.
We don’t know the reason
why he left.
Interrogative adverbs

When are you leaving?


Where do you live?
Why do you look so sad?
Exercise

Fill in each blank with a suitable adverb of the type indicated in


the brackets.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 288

All the speakers presented


their points…………..
(Manner)
He seemed…………..able
to sit up. (Degree)
You need to sign your
name………. (Place)
The plans will be
finalised………….(Time)
It is ………… that we find
such faithful friends.
(Frequency)
Her reaction was a
………… unexpected one.
(Degree)
Perenial Themes — 289

The police searched the


place…………. for clues.
(Manner)
We have …………not
discovered the answer.
(Time)
He has ………….given us
any trouble.
(Frequency)
Most people……….. speak
English. (Place)
Adverb particles are words which have the same form as
prepositions but function as adverbs. Unlike prepositions they do
not introduce a phrase ending with a noun or pronoun. Adverb
particles follow verbs and express place or direction of
movement.

1a. They talked on


(adverb particle)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 290

1b. He went on a trip.


(preposition)
2a. His father suddenly
walked in. (adverb
particle)
2b. I have no faith in him.
(preposition)
Some adverbs end in ly, but they must not be confused with
adjectives which end in ly too, such as lovely, likely and
brotherly. Some adverbs have two forms, one without and the
other with ly. The words in pairs like cheap/cheaply,
deep/deeply, loud/loudly and quick/quickly may be used
interchangeably. However, those in pairs like close/closely,
hard/hardly, high/highly and late/lately do not have the same
meanings. Close, hard, high and late can be used either ad
adjectives or as adverbs, and when used as adverbs they are
different from the adverbs closely, hardly, highly and lately.
Generally the form with ly is used more idiomatically.

1a. He sat close to the


stage.
Perenial Themes — 291

1b. Watch closely what he


does.
2a. The students try hard.
2b. She could hardly see
anything in the dark.
Exercise

Say whether the word in bold print in each sentence is used as an


adjective or an adverb.

She held fast to her


decision despite attempts
to make her change her
mind.
They found it a tight
squeeze having so many
people in one small room.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 292

She is always quick with


her answers.
The report was submitted
too late for the preliminary
hearing.
She considers it lowly to
serve at tables.
His thesis fell short of
expectations.
The discussion went on
well into the night.
The alarm was so loud that
she woke up with a start.
Everyone in the room was
hard at work when I
entered.
Perenial Themes — 293

Shortly after, he left his


hometown for good.
Her lively personality
gained her many friends.
The proposals have to
come in early if they are to
be discussed at the
meeting.
It is necessary to delve
deep into the matter in
order to find out the truth.
This substance would be
deadly if taken in large
doses.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 294

The lecturers will leave on


a study tour in early
March.
Adjectives

An adjective is a word that modifies, or changes, the meaning of


a noun or pronoun. It may point out, describe or limit the
meaning of the noun or pronoun.
Characteristics of Adjectives
The majority of adjectives can be both (i) attributive or
descriptive (He’s an intelligent child), and (ii) predicative (All
her children are intelligent).

Most of them can also be modified by intensifiers, e.g. fairly,


rather, quite, very.

Most can also take comparative and superlative forms when


used for degrees of comparison.
Kinds of Adjectives and their Functions
Attributive (or Descriptive) Adjectives

As the name suggests, attributive adjectives attribute some


quality to a person or thing. As such, they are placed after the
determiners but before the noun which is head of a phrase.

Attributive adjectives include those that are generally


descriptive, i.e. assign qualities (beautiful, intelligent, clear) or
physical states of size, shape, age, colour, temperature, as well
as proper adjectives referring to nationalities, geographical
Perenial Themes — 295

places, religions, holidays, dates, names titles, etc., e.g. Italian


food, Parisian styles, Christian beliefs.

Although most adjectives can be either attributive or predicative,


some can only be used in the attributive position; i.e. before a
noun adjunct or a noun, e.g. a former tenant, the late prime
minister, an occasional drink, a hard worker, a big liar, a
Buddhist monk.

Some attributive adjectives are derived from nouns, e.g. a law


school, a flower garden, the weather forecast, criminal law, an
atomic scientist, pay-day, airmail.

Predicative Adjectives

Such adjectives act as complements of verbs:

as subject complements after linking verbs like be, seem,

look, feel
You look happy this
morning.
Patent leather is smooth
and shiny.
as object complements after verbs like believe, find, consider

They considered him the


best architect.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 296

We found the park


delightful.
as a complement to a subject which is a finite clause or non-
finite clause

Whether the mail will


come is unclear.
Riding a skateboard isn’t
as easy as you may
imagine.
as object complements to clauses

Most parents consider


their children good-
looking.
Some groups of adjectives can only be used in the predicative
position, e.g. health adjectives—She felt ill; He felt faint.

Post-modifying Adjectives
Perenial Themes — 297

Adjectives, in particular predicative adjectives, are sometimes


post- modifiers (i.e. they follow the word they modify):

As a reduced relative clause


Was there anything (which
was) interesting on the
news?
The people (who were)
involved were punished.
As post-modifiers in compounds
Court martial, postmaster general

Participle Adjectives
A large number of adjectives have the same form as—ing or—
ed participles:

His ideas on religion are


astonishing.
She seemed satisfied with
my explanation.
Such adjectives can also be attributive: his astonishing ideas.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 298

Compound Adjectives
Look at the forms occurring in the examples below:

A two-drawer file cabinet


hand-held computers
The hyphen is necessary to connect the adjective parts into one
unit of description. Note the use of singular forms in the
transformations:

She gave me five dollars.


She gave me a five-dollar
bill.
Her son is six years old.
She has a six-year-old son.
The boxing champion hits
hard and often wins.
The hard-hitting boxing
champion often wins.
Perenial Themes — 299

And with physical description, note the form derived from a


noun + -ed:

He plays tennis with his


left hand.
He is a left-handed tennis
player.
Here are some common compound adjectives using the—ed
form:

Broad-shouldered,
narrow-shouldered
Bow-legged
Dark-haired, fair-haired
Empty-headed
Level-headed
Flat-chested
Mean-spirited
Add to this list as you find more.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 300

Exercise

Rewrite the following sentences by making a compound


adjective out of each underlined phrase:

He made a request at the


last minute.
She has a daughter with
blue eyes and fair hair.
There will be a delay of
twenty minutes.
She wrote a report of ten
pages.
They want to hire a
secretary who works hard.
They bought a house that
is sixty years old.
Perenial Themes — 301

She has a cat with three


legs.
He provided a meal that
was cooked well.
They bought a car at a
high price.
We needed a rope that was
ten feet long to get the cat
out of the tree.
Adjectives as Heads
Some adjectives can function as heads of noun phrases:

i) adjectives denoting a class or group of people (plural)

The rich can afford to eat


meat every day.
The unemployed suffer
most in times of inflation.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 302

Note that a definite article precedes such adjectives.

ii) adjectives denoting an abstract quality

Many people study the


supernatural in folklore.
Adjective Patterns
There are three main types of adjective patterns:
A. Adjective + prepositional phrase
The meaning of an adjective is often completed by the use of a
prepositional phrase: afraid of, angry with, pleased about, etc.
Usually the preposition is fixed by an idiom but there may be a
choice of preposition.

You must be more


accurate in your work.
Doctors say that milk is
good for you.
You are interested in yoga,
aren’t you?
B. Adjectives + that- clause
A that clause is used as a complement following:
Perenial Themes — 303

personal subjects:

Are you sure that he’s


honest?
She’s surprised that you’re
going abroad.
Note: Other adjectives and participles that take that- clauses:
sure, glad, certain, confident, proud, sad alarmed, annoyed,
pleased, shocked.

Introductory ‘It’ as the subject:

It’s sad that he is so ill.


It’s fortunate that he only
took her radio.
C. Adjective + to- infinitive:
The adjectives used in this pattern are followed by a to-
infinitive. Some can be recomposed.

The house was difficult to


find. It was difficult to find
the house.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 304

It’s easy to please father.


Father is easy to please.
She was careful not to step
in the puddle.
It’s good to eat fresh
peaches again.
Position of adjectives in a series:
Adjectives in a series tend to occur in a certain order, though
there may be many exceptions. As a rule, avoid long strings of
adjectives. Two or, at the most, three adjectives modifying one
noun phrase seem to be the limit in English.

The accompanying box shows an acceptable scheme of adjective


order. You will find exceptions, but you can use this framework
for guidance in your own writing. You can choose to use a
comma between two adjectives only if the adjectives belong to
the same category. If you want to use a comma, test to see if you
could use the word and between adjectives. If you can, a comma
would be acceptable.

The short, yellow bristles


of grass (two adjectives of
physical description)
Perenial Themes — 305

A delicious, expensive
French meal (no comma
between expensive and
French)
When three adjectives of the same category are used in a series
with and, use comma between the items in the series:

a messy, dirty, and


depressing room
But never use a comma between the last adjective and the noun
it modifies.

ORDER OF ADJECTIVES

Dete Obser Physical Description Origi Mater Qualifie Hea


rmin vatio n ial r d
er n
Nou
n

Siz Shap Ag Colo


e e e ur

four lovel Ol Tree


y d s

her short Blac silk Business suit


k
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 306

some Delici
ous
Chine food
Inexp se
ensiv
e

our big Ol Engli oak Dining table


d sh

that Comf litt Mexi Rocking chair


ortabl le can
e

Seve litt roun Ivory bead


ral le d s

Minor Word Classes

Pronouns

Pronouns are words that are used in place of a noun or noun


phrase; that is, they can function as the subject or object of a
clause. Different kinds of pronouns are:

Personal pronouns: They replace nouns which refer directly to


persons and are of two kinds, those functioning as subjects and
those functioning as objects in sentences. The personal pronouns
which function as subjects are I, you, he, she, it, we, and they
while those which function as objects are me, you, him, her, it,
us, and them.

Possessive pronouns: They are used to express possession.


Mine, yours, his, hers, ours, and theirs are possessive pronouns.
(Its is not used as a possessive pronoun, only as possessive
adjective.)
Perenial Themes — 307

Emphatic and reflexive pronouns: These have the same form


but not the same function. They are myself, yourself, himself,
herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. An
emphatic pronoun emphasises the noun which is the subject of
the sentence and which it refers to. It may come immediately
after the subject or at the end of the clause or sentence. A
reflexive pronoun functions as the direct object of a sentence
and refers to the same person as the subject.

1- Tom himself will plan


the whole program.
(emphatic pronoun)
2- Tom will plan the whole
programme himself.
(emphatic pronoun)
3- Maria reminded herself
to make that important
telephone call. (reflexive
pronoun)
Demonstrative pronouns: These point to the nouns they
replace. Demonstrative pronouns are this, that, these, and those.

Relative pronouns: A relative pronoun introduces a subordinate


adjective clause and relates it to a noun or pronoun in the main
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 308

clause. Who, whom, whose, that and which are relative


pronouns.

1- I have briefed the


student who is to lead the
discussion.
2- Please list the names of
the candidates whom you
have interviewed.
3- Any person whose
membership has lapsed
will have to reapply to
become a member.
4- The arrangements that
have been made for the
visitors’ accommodation
are adequate.
Perenial Themes — 309

5- This plant, which is a


species of cactus, thrives in
dry conditions.
Interrogative pronouns: These pronouns are used to ask
questions and they are who, whom, whose, what, and which.

Who initiated the scheme?


Whom can we consult
about the matter?
Whose is this bright idea?
What has been done for the
unprivileged in society?
Which is the shortest route
to the campus?
Indefinite pronouns: They are used to refer to people or things
in a very general way. Among the common indefinite pronouns
are someone, somebody, something, anyone, anybody, anything,
everything, nobody, nothing, none, each, some, both, all,
several, few, many, much, more, little, less, other, others, one,
two, three, and so on.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 310

Someone must have


tampered with the lock.
Anybody who will not work
to earn a living deserves to
go hungry.
Everything that needs to be
done has been done.
None among those
involved wishes to make a
complaint.
Several of us have applied
for the scholarship.
Much needs to be done to
improve conditions.
Others will be affected if
you make a mistake.
Perenial Themes — 311

Among many students,


three have scored
distinctions.
Reciprocal pronouns: They refer to two or more nouns in a
reciprocal relationship. The two reciprocal pronouns are each
other and one another.

All the staff members


compete with one another
for the annual awards.
These two friends do not
trust each other.
Pronoun Reference
A common cause of ambiguity in writing is lack of clarity about
the relationship between pronouns and their antecedents. One
should take special care to avoid ambiguous, weak, or general
reference.

The manager told Mr.


Tahseen that he was
increasing his workload.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 312

(Whose- the manager’s or


Mr. Tahseen’s workload?)
Mr. Tahseen was given an
increased workload by the
manager.
The manager increased
Mr. Tahseen’s workload.
The customers did not sign
the cheques, so we are
sending them back.
(Which--the cheques or the
customers.)
We are returning the
unsigned cheques to the
customers.
Perenial Themes — 313

Ambiguous reference occurs when a pronoun refers to two


antecedents so that the reader does not know at once which
antecedent is meant.

Hamid smiled at Iqbal


when he was awarded the
silver cup.
When the children
brought the dusty rugs out
to the garden, the teacher
beat them.
No one should make such a
statement about our
President unless he tries to
destabilise the elected
government.
General reference occurs when a pronoun refers to an
antecedent expressed in terms too general to be clear.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 314

More than twenty percent


of those who enter college
fail to graduate, which is a
shame.
Weak reference occurs when the antecedent has not been
expressed; it exists only in the mind of the writer.

Although the professor


lectured for over an hour,
it was an interesting
experience. (The
antecedent of it- lecture- is
implied but not stated.)
Although the professor
talked for over an hour,
the lecture was an
interesting experience.
Perenial Themes — 315

He was a very
superstitious person, and
one of these was that
walking under a ladder
would bring bad luck.
Father is very much
interested in psychiatry,
but doesn’t believe that
they know all the answers.
Exercise

Rewrite the following sentences after correcting faulty pronoun


references.

They worked very hard,


but it made them neither
rich nor comfortable.
After the barbers had cut
the children’s hair, some
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 316

of them looked as if they


had been scalped.
I expect to receive D in
history and, at best,
another D in accountancy,
which means that I will be
on probation next
semester.
When the aeroplane struck
the hangar, it burst into
flames.
If this hat does not fit your
head, it should be made
smaller.
Perenial Themes — 317

The loyal forces fought the


guerrillas until they were
almost entirely destroyed.
Since the concert was
scheduled for the same
night as the debate, it had
to be postponed.
To make the gate fit the
opening of the fence, it had
to be made smaller.
When Hamid brought
Majid to the conference we
asked for his credentials.
Some of the eye-witnesses
described the man as
short, others said he was
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 318

tall, and yet others said he


was about average. It
confused the police
investigators.
Mother bought us a new
rug and new curtains, and
we hired a man to paint
the wall and ceiling. That,
certainly, improved the
appearance of the room.
The bigger car will be
expensive to operate. Not
only will its repairs cost
more but its gasoline
consumption will be
greater. You should take
this into account.
Perenial Themes — 319

To have a decent job, a


nice home and family,
good friends, and enough
money to buy a few
luxuries. Such is my
ambition.
He does not have a good
word to say for anybody.
His parents are old-
fashioned, his friends are
selfish, his colleagues are
conceited, and his boss is
arrogant. This makes me
discount anything he tells
me about a person.
After the storm, the trail to
the top of the mountain
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 320

was washed out in some


spots and was littered in
many places with fallen
branches. It made the
ascent nerve-wrecking.
They were having their
dinner outdoors by
candlelight, but a strong
wind blew them out.
Although he is fond of
poetry, he has never
himself written one.
The famous author has an
enormous library, and he
makes them available to
his friends.
Perenial Themes — 321

Because modern artists


have an idiom of their
own, it leads to much
misunderstanding.
Exercise

Review the pronoun-antecedent relationship in the following


passage, and propose improvements where necessary.

For most of the students


examinations are a cause
of great tension. This
assumes quite serious
proportions in the
semester system which has
frequent tests after short
intervals of time. Because
of this those who are of
nervous disposition tend to
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 322

develop psychological
problems. In others, it may
create aversion for
learning. Because of this,
merit of examinations as
an educational tool has
been an issue of debate
amongst educationists.
Those who have positive
views about them think
that they prepare them for
the rigours of practical life
in which one has to face
examination-like situations
recurrently. Others think
that examinations divert
their attention away from
Perenial Themes — 323

real learning and force


them to focus on strategies
for tackling examinations.
These two, they emphasise,
could be very different or
even antithetical activities.
Auxiliary verbs

Auxiliary verbs are commonly called ‘helping verbs’ because


they are always followed by a main verb in the verb phrase. By
themselves they cannot form a verb phrase. There are two types
of auxiliaries: Primary Auxiliary Verbs and Modal Auxiliary
Verbs. The two types are illustrated below:

Primary Modal
do can, may, shall,
will,
have could, might,
should,
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 324

be would, used to,


must,
ought to, need, dare
The Primary Auxiliaries (do, have, be)

Do
‘Do’ performs many functions:

(i) as a main verb with the meaning of ‘perform’:

I do my homework every
night.
She does her washing in
the evenings.
(ii) as a substitute verb for the whole of a clause:

I can speak French as well


as he does. (=as he speaks
French)
A: Who wants to come
with me to town?
Perenial Themes — 325

B: I do (n’t).
(iii) as a dummy operator in the do- construction. When a verb
phrase contains no auxiliary verbs, it contains no word that can
act as an operator for the purpose of forming yes-no questions
and negative sentences with not:

I like mangoes.
He needs a haircut.
For such verbs, a dummy operator has to be introduced for
forming questions and negatives.

Do you like mangoes?


I don’t like mangoes.
The auxiliary do has the full range of tense forms like other
main verbs, including (a) the present participle doing, and (b)
the past participle done:

What have you been doing


all weekend?
I have done all the
exercises in my science
book.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 326

Have
‘Have’ has the following functions:

(i) as a main verb meaning ‘posses’:

I have a new antique


watch.
I have coffee and toast for
breakfast.
(ii) The do-construction is used for interrogative and negative
sentences with have as main verb:

Do you have much


jewellery?
Does he have sugar in his
coffee?
Did you have a good time
last night?
(iii) The auxiliary have is used to form the perfect aspect; i.e. a
form of have is followed by a verb in the past participle form:
Perenial Themes — 327

The present perfect (I have


baked several cakes for my
friends.)
The present perfect
progressive (She has been
baking cakes all morning.)
The past perfect (I had
baked three cakes by
midday.)
The past perfect
progressive (She had been
baking cakes all day and
felt tired.)
(iv) In the construction of have + to- infinitive, only the finite
(present and past) forms of have can be used:

She has to look after her


baby sister.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 328

They have to sit for their


written test on Monday.
I had to repeat my
question.
Note that in such construction, have/has/had to- carries the same
meaning of necessity as must.

Be
The Auxiliary be has eight different forms: be, am, is, are, was,
were, being, been.

Be is used as an auxiliary even when it functions as a main verb:

I am a boy/ She is a girl.


It normally has no do- constructions unlike have, although the
main verb be may have the do- construction in (a) imperative
sentences, and (b) negative imperatives:

Do be quiet!
Don’t be silly.
In the construction of be + to- infinitive, only the finite (present
and past) forms of be can be used:
Perenial Themes — 329

The motor rally is to start


tomorrow.
Not (The motor rally will
be/ is being to start
tomorrow.)
The main function of the auxiliary be is in the construction of:

(a) The progressive aspect (be + -ing present participle)

He is opening the
exhibition now.
(b) The passive (be + -ed past participle)

Many students were


injured in the clash.
The Modal Auxiliaries
Modal auxiliaries help to add a variety of special meanings
(such as ability, permission, possibility, etc.) to the meaning of
the main part of the verb.

They do not have—s forms,—ed participles, or—ing forms.

Can, may, shall and will have special past forms, but the rest of
the modal auxiliaries do not.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 330

Non- Un-contracted Contracted negatives


negative negatives
(all
persons)
Can Cannot, can not Can’t
Could Could not Couldn’t

May May not Mayn’t


Might Might not Mightn’t

Shall Shall not Shan’t


Should Should not Shouldn’t

Will, ’ll Will not ( ‘ll not) Won’t


Would, ’d Would not ( ‘d not) Wouldn’t

Must Must not Mustn’t

Ought to Ought not to Oughtn’t to

Used to Used not to Didn’t use(d) to


Usedn’t to
Need Need not Needn’t
Dare Dare not Daren’t

Note

1- Mayn’t is rarely used, and is mostly used in British English.


Perenial Themes — 331

2- Shan’t is rare in American English.

3- Ought usually has the to-infinitive in questions and negative


sentences, but occasionally the bare infinitive is used.

To- infinitive: You


oughtn’t to drink so much.
Bare infinitive: You
oughtn’t drink so much.
4- Used to always takes the to-infinitive and occurs only in the
past tense. It may take the do-construction with used to:

She didn’t use (d) to smoke


so much.
Did she use (d) to work for
your father?
Dare and Need can be constructed in two ways:

i) as model auxiliaries ( with bare infinitive and without the


inflicted forms dares / needs ;dared/ needed); or

ii) as main verbs (with to- infinitive, -s inflections and past


forms).
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 332

Dare and need as auxiliaries are mainly used with negative and
interrogative sentences, whereas as main verbs they can be used
in all forms:

Need As a model As a main verb.


auxiliaries
Positive She needs to wash her
hair.
Negative She needn’t wash She doesn’t need to wash
her hair. her hair.
Interrogativ Need she wash her Does she need to wash her
e hair? hair?
Negative Needn’t she wash Doesn’t she need to wash
interrogativ her hairs? her hair?
e

As with the auxiliary verb do, other auxiliaries can act as


substitute for a whole or part of a sentence following the
auxiliary:

She can mend a puncture


as well as he can (=mend a
puncture).
A: He is working hard on
his model boat.
Perenial Themes — 333

B: yes he is (=working
hard on his model boat).
You can write in this
workbook but you mustn’t
(=write) in that text.
Special meanings of Modal
Auxiliaries
Can (past could)
Physical ability:

Can you reach the top


shelf?
I can lift that box by
myself.
Learned ability:

She can type.


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 334

He could read when he


was three years old.
Have the power to:

This factory can produce


dozens of cars a day.
Requesting permission (informal):

Can I borrow your car?


I wonder if I could speak
to you for a while.
Possibility: (in theory):

The roads can be


improved.
(tentative possibility):

He could have left his car


keys in his office.
Can=’sometimes’:
Perenial Themes — 335

Electrical storms can be


dangerous.
Could=suggestions:

You could peel those


potatoes for me.
Could=permission in the past:

When I was at university, I


could get cheap air fares.
Can’t=prohibition or negation of Permission:

You can’t go swimming


today.
May (past might)
Requesting permission (formal/ polite):

May I see you tonight?


Might I borrow your car?
Possibility:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 336

The Monsoon rains may


damage the wheat harvest.
The missing child might
have been kidnapped.
Suggestion (polite):

Might I suggest that we


continue our discussion
another day?
You might check the
errors in this paper.
May not=can’t/ prohibition:

You may not stay out until


midnight.
Shall (past should)
Probability/expectation:
Perenial Themes — 337

The train should be here


any moment.
They should be home by
now.
Improbability (negative form)

There shouldn’t be any


trouble.
Obligation: insistence(restricted to formal documents and
regulations)

Nine people shall be


elected to the committee.
—which may not be fulfilled:

You should hand in your


essays next Friday.
Suggestions:

Shall we go and see the


films.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 338

Advisability:

She should eat less if she


wants to loose weight.
You should stay in bed if
you are unwell.
Prohibition (negative advice):

You shouldn’t be so rude.


I shouldn’t have left the
door unlocked.
Will (past would)
Willingness:

The maid will help you


with your bags.
Who will lend me five
dollars until tomorrow?
Prediction:
Perenial Themes — 339

Faisal will have arrived in


New York by now.

Predictability:

A dog will attack a child if


it is teased.
Request:

Will you take my court to


the cleaners?
Would you carry this
upstairs for me?
Invitations:

Would you like to come


with me to town?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 340

How would you like to


come to Penang with my
family?
Will you be free to come to
dinner tomorrow night?
Offers:

Would you like another


glass of milk?
Refusal (negative forms):

She won’t follow my


advice.
They wouldn’t come over
for supper.
Promise:

I promise I won’t (will not)


ask for more money.
Perenial Themes — 341

I will give you the book as


soon as I’ve read it.
Must (=have to)
Certainty (about an event):

There must be some


mistake.
I must leave right away.
Inference (about an event in the--or present):

There must be a fire near


by.
There must have been a
thousand people at the
wedding.
Obligation/compulsion:

You must be back by three


o’clock.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 342

He must return the money


immediately.
Mustn’t =prohibition (negation of permission):

You mustn’t smoke in


here.
Advice not to do something

You mustn’t keep your


mother waiting.
Ought to (=should)
Probability:

My friend ought to be here


soon.
Obligation (which may not be fulfilled):

I ought to go to the library


tonight (but I probably
won’t).
Perenial Themes — 343

You ought to do your


homework every day.
Prohibition (=negative advice):

You oughtn’t spend so


much time on the golf
course.
Advice:

You ought to clean the air


conditioner at least once a
year.
Everyone ought to go to
the dentist every six
months.
Used to
Past habit or custom:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 344

He used to play tennis very


often but now he’s too
busy.
We used to eat meat every
day when it was cheaper.
Need
Need= must (in questions and negatives) i.e. obligation and
necessity

Need he have a reason for


marrying her?
Does he need to attend the
orientation programme?
Lack of necessity/compulsion:

He need not worry about


his grades.
Perenial Themes — 345

They needn’t go to the


lecture hall yet.
Dare
Threat/warning:

Don’t you dare slam the


door in my face!
Don’t you dare talk about
my brother like that!
Dare=have the courage:

No soldier dare disobey his


commanding officer.
I wouldn’t dare enter his
room without permission.
Determiners

Determiners precede nouns and modify them by determining or


defining them. Determiners include articles, possessive
adjectives, genitives, demonstrative adjectives, interrogative
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 346

adjectives, quantifiers, numerals and ordinals. The articles are


the indefinite articles a, an and the definite article the.

The possessive adjectives are my, your, his, her, its, our and
their.

Genitives are possessives formed of nouns. Examples are


Robert’s, James’s, the boy’s, the girls’.

The demonstrative adjectives are this, that, these and those.

The interrogative adjectives are whose, what, which, whatever


and whichever.

Quantifiers include every, each, one, either, neither, all, half, no,
some, any, both, several, more, most, enough, many, much, few,
little, a few, a little, fewer, less, fewest and least.

The ordinal numerals are one, two, three and so on. They are
also quantifiers.

The ordinals are first, second, third and so on.

General ordinals include next, last, other, another and further.

Articles

The indefinite article is used with singular countable nouns in a


general or indefinite context, a with a noun starting with a
consonant sound, and an with one starting with a vowel sound.
If an adjective comes between the article and the noun, the
article used is according to the initial sound of the adjective.
Perenial Themes — 347

a bicycle a union a
clever answer
an animal an hour
an interesting story
The indefinite article can also be used with proper nouns as
illustrated below:

A Mr. Brown from the


audience offered a
suggestion.
An Einstein appears only
once.
The definite article is used in a more specific reference with all
kinds of nouns, countable and uncountable, singular and plural,
except most proper nouns. Proper nouns usually carry the
definite article only if they include a word which is generally a
common noun. This is often the case with places, for example,
countries, seas, rivers and mountains.

the United Kingdom


(compare “England”)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 348

the United States


(Compare “North
America”)
the Indian Subcontinent
(Compare “India”)
the Black Sea
the Atlantic (meaning “the
Atlantic Ocean”)
the Himalayas (meaning
“the Himalayan
Mountain”)
The definite article is used with a noun which is:

unique or is the only one of


its kind in the context,
Perenial Themes — 349

the second or later


reference to a particular
noun,
qualified by a phrase or
clause.
He is the leader.
A student won the prize.
The student was very
pleased with himself.
The progress of this
student is excellent.
No article is used for an indefinite reference to a plural noun or
an uncountable noun. The determiner all or some may
sometimes be used instead, according to the meaning intended.

1a. Boys like soccer.


1b. All boys like soccer.
2a. Salt must be added.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 350

2b. Some salt must be


added to the soup.
No article is used in expressions involving the special function
of a noun, such as bed, school, hospital, prison.

1a. I always go to bed early.


1b. The man lay dying
on the bed.
2a. The children go to
school in the afternoon.
2b. There is a celebration
held at the school.
No article is used in referring to ordinary meals, but an article
has to be used for a meal which is a special function or
gathering.

1a. It’s time for lunch.


Perenial Themes — 351

1b. Everyone was invited to


the lunch for the new
representative.
2a. Please stay for tea.
2b. A tea was held in his
honour.
No article is used in expressions referring to means of transport
or the time of the day.

1a. We always go to work


by bus.
1b. The bus was very
crowded.
2a. He stays up late at
night.
2b. The baby woke up late
in the night.
No article is necessary in certain common phrases.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 352

1a. He was suspicious of


friend and foe.
1b. I met a friend
yesterday.
2a. They strolled arm in
arm in the park.
2b. The victim lost an arm
in the accident.
3a. The sorting is done by
machine.
3b. A machine is used to
sort out the articles.
No article is necessary in expressions involving one’s special
responsibility or job in a particular or known context.

1a. The society made him


chairman.
Perenial Themes — 353

1b. He was the chairman of


a large firm.
2a. He was elected leader.
2b. The leader of the group
was away.
Prepositions
Functions of prepositions
The function of prepositions is to connect a noun structure to
some other word in a sentence. This noun structure may be:

1. a noun The salesman


showed the pots and pans
to his wife.
2. a pronoun: The
salesman showed the pots
and pans to her.
3. a gerund phrase: The
salesman did not mind
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 354

showing the pots and pans


to her.
4. a noun phrase: The
salesman showed the pots
and pans to whoever might
want to buy them.
Prepositions also have special functions as:

part of a verb (verb-preposition combinations):

look over (=review);


get up (=wake up)
an adverb (mostly adverbs of place and direction):

They sit down.


(down=adverb)
They went down the steps.
(down=preposition)
Forms of prepositions
Prepositions may consist of one, two or three parts:
Perenial Themes — 355

Examples of single part prepositions:

about before for on


to
above below from
over under
after beside in past
until
along between into
since up
around by of till
with
at down off
through
without
Examples of two part prepositions:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 356

according to because of
out of
along with due to
owing to
as for except for
up to
away from
Examples of three part prepositions:

by means of in
relation to
in comparison with on
top of
in front of
Positions of prepositions:
Generally a preposition comes before its noun object:
Perenial Themes — 357

He gave the book to the


teacher.
However, it may appear in final position in:

1. a question Which
school does he go to?
2. an adjective clause
There is the school that
he goes to.
3. A noun clause I don’t
know which school he goes
to.
Meanings of Prepositions
Concepts of Time, Place, Direction and Distance, etc. can be
expressed by prepositions. Such prepositions normally have an
adverbial position in a sentence.
Preposition of Time

These can express:

one point in time:


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 358

at—with noon, night,


midnight; with the time of
day.
Periods of time:
on—with days.
in—with periods longer or
shorter than a day; i.e.
with parts of the day, with
months, with years, with
seasons.
Extended time (duration):
since, for, by, from…..to,
from……until, during,
(with)in, while.
Perenial Themes — 359

Examples

They are getting married


on Saturday at 4 o’clock in
the evening.
The reception will be on
Sunday at 3 o’clock in the
afternoon.
He has been away from
home since 16 March.
World War II lasted from
1939 to/until 1945.
He has not felt well for a
long time, ever since his
accident.
She has been away from
school for two weeks.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 360

I’ll ring you again within


the month.
Note

At can be used for indefinite periods such as: at night, at lunch-


time; or for short holiday periods: at the weekend, at Easter.

Prepositions are almost always omitted before phrases beginning


with last, next, this, that, today, yesterday, tomorrow:

Did you attend the lecture


yesterday?
I saw that film last week.
I’ll bring the photos next
time I come to your house.
My parents are going
overseas this year.
Prepositions of Place

These can express:

i) the point itself:

in, inside—for something contained:


Perenial Themes — 361

There is plenty of food in


the refrigerator.
You will find some stamps
in the second drawer of my
desk.
My father owns a cottage
in the country.
Please play inside. It’s too
hot outside.
on, on(to)—the surface:

A coconut tree fell on to


the roof of his house.
There’s a ‘Beware of Dogs’
sign on the gate.
at—a general vicinity:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 362

I’ll meet you at the


Majestic Hotel.
We are still living at 64
Primrose Avenue.
Please sit at the table when
you eat!
I stayed at my cousin’s
house last night.
Turn left at the next
intersection.
ii) Away from the point:

away (from)—general places or vicinities:

I came (away) from the


library.
I stayed away from the
haunted house.
Perenial Themes — 363

He drove away from the


scene of the accident.
off—at a distance from the point:

The car ran off the road


when it knocked the
signpost.
The Channel Islands are
off the coast of France.
The marble rolled off the
table.
across, through, over, along—moving from one place to
another:

He kicked the ball through


the window.
He walked across the park
to his office.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 364

The boy jumped over the


fence to get away from the
angry bull.
They went along the
railway line looking for the
missing child.
out of—moving from a bounded area:

The gunmen were


persuaded to come out of
the old house.
They chased the dogs out
of the school compound.
iii) Towards the point:

to, into, towards—movement towards a particular place:

I went to South America


last year.
Perenial Themes — 365

He went to the airport to


get his mother.
The car went slowly into
the tunnel.
The people crowded into
the streets to watch the
National Day celebrations.
The ambulance sped
towards the entrance of the
hospital.
iv) Towards and then away from the point:

behind, through, across, round, by, past—movement towards a


place and then away from it:

He walked across the


bridge on his way to the
shops.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 366

The car skidded round the


corner.
They drove past the new
Town Hall.
The students ran by the
judges as they crossed the
finishing line.
v) Vertical and horizontal movement from the point:

up, down, along, across, over—movement in relation to a


direction:

The old man walked slowly


across the street.
The dog followed his
master across the road.
Two schoolboys walked
along Manchester Street.
Perenial Themes — 367

She crossed over the road


to post a letter.
The ball rolled over the
grass.
The elderly couple climbed
slowly up the steps.
The boy skated down the
road on his new
skateboard.
vi) Higher than the point:

over—generally higher than the point:

There is a thick fog over


the entire city.
The planes fly over the city
to get to the airport.
over—directly above:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 368

The doctor leaned over the


patient.
He had a deep cut over his
eye.
A lamp hung over the
dining-table.
above—directly higher than the point; on a higher level:

We flew above the clouds.


There was a dark cloud
above the bank.
on top of—close to the point; sometimes touching:

The tourists put their bags


on top of the bus.
You’ll find a bottle of ink
on top of my desk.
vii) Lower than the point:
Perenial Themes — 369

under—directly below:

The boy hid the money


under a rock in the garden.
There is a small stream
under that bridge.
underneath—close under; sometimes touching:

She wore a pretty dress


underneath her thick coat.
beneath, below—directly under; at a lower level:

The police found the body


beneath a pile of wood.
viii) Neighbouring the point:

by, beside, next to—at the


side of ; near:
He sat by the river reading
a book.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 370

She was standing by the


window looking at the
rain.
They live in a small village
beside the sea.
John likes to sit beside his
father in the car.
He sits at the desk next to
the door.
I don’t like wool next to my
skin.
between—relating the positions of one object to more than two
objects:

In the photograph Maria


was standing between her
father and mother.
among, amid—in the middle of (several objects):
Perenial Themes — 371

She found her gold chain


amid the ruins of the burnt
house.
I live among the
mountains.
opposite—facing:

She sits opposite her friend


in the school library.
around—surrounding; all round:

She put a frame around


the painting.
We sat around the table
and discussed the film.
in front of—at the beginning (in relation to the point):

He was standing in front of


a long queue.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 372

A three-wheeled car was in


front of my car.
near—close to the point; not far from the point:

I like to have my bed near


(to) the window.
Conjunction
The work of a conjunction is to join words, phrases, clauses, or
sentences. But while doing so, it can also express certain idea or
notions such as time, contrast, reason, etc.

Types of Conjunctions

There are two main kinds of conjunctions—co-ordinate and sub-


ordinate:

Co-ordinate Conjunctions join together words, phrases and


clauses of equal rank. There are two types of co-ordinate
conjunction:

Simple Co-ordinate Conjunctions: and, or, but, nor:

I looked for the dictionary


on the shelf and in the
cupboard. (phrases)
Perenial Themes — 373

The thunder rolled and the


lightening flashed.
(clauses)
Correlative Co-ordinate Conjunctions (i.e. those that go in
pairs):

either … or, neither … nor, both … and, not only … but also:

Neither wheat nor


groundnuts grow well in
this soil. (phrases)
He’s not only a talented
pianist but also a good
painter.
(clauses)
Subordinate Conjunctions join clauses of unequal rank, i.e.
they join sub-clauses to main clauses:

Main clause sub-


clause
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 374

I can buy a car when I


have saved a thousand
dollars more.
Subordinate conjunctions are of three kinds:

Simple Subordinate Conjunctions:

After, (al)though, as, because, before, if, how(ever), like, once,


since, that, till, unless, until, when(ever), where(ever), whereas,
whereby, whereupon, while, whilst.

Compound Subordinate Conjunctions:

except that, for all that, in


that, so that, in order that,
in order + to infinitive,
such that.
But (that), now (that),
providing (that), provided
(that), supposing (that),
considering (that), given
(that), granting (that),
Perenial Themes — 375

granted (that), admitting


(that), assuming (that),
presuming (that), seeing
(that), immediately (that).
As for as, as long as, as
soon as, in-so-far as,
according to, so as (+ to
infinitive).
As if, as though, in case.
Sooner than, rather than.
• Correlative Subordinate Conjunctions: (i.e. those that go in
pairs):
if... then, (al)though … yet/nevertheless, more/less/-er … that, as
… as, so … as, so … (that), such … as, such … (that), no sooner
… than, whether … or, the … the.

Note: Some subordinating conjunctions are also prepositions: as,


like, since, until, till, after, before, but.

Function of Conjunctions

Co-ordination of words
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 376

(of the same word class):

Nouns The violin or the


cello is a suitable
instrument for her.
Adjectives The house is
beautiful but old-fashioned
Conjunctions If and
when the electricity is
installed, we can move to
the house.
Adverbs He works slowly
but skilfully.
Co-ordination of Clauses

(or parts of clauses)

Maria plays the guitar and


she also sings in three
languages. Arshad is a
Perenial Themes — 377

bright student but he


makes little effort.
You may study French or
you may take Dutch.
Co-ordination of Parts of Clauses:

(Note: This occurs where repeated items may be omitted.)

Subjects:
I bought some apples,
mangoes, and I bought
some limes.
Rashid and his sister are
frequent visitors to
London.
Verb Phrases:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 378

She writes, or used to write,


to her pen-friend every
month.
Complements:
He is tall but skinny.
Adverbials:
I can mend the hole in
your dress by hand or by
sewing machine.
The special meanings of Conjunctions

The following examples will show that conjunctions are also


used to express certain ideas in English:

To express contrast (but, yet,


nevertheless, still, however)
Adeel is intelligent but
lazy.
Perenial Themes — 379

We opened the factory a


year ago; still we are not
showing a profit.
Mr Hamid is a strict
headmaster; nevertheless
the pupils like him.
To express choice (or lack of choice) (or, either … or, neither …
nor, else)

We shall spend our


vocations either in France
or in Spain.
We had to pay a high price
or (else) he would have
sold it to someone else.
Either you will obey the
rules or you will be sent
home.
To express deduction or conclusion (for, therefore, so)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 380

The road was blocked by a


landslide, therefore we had
to take the old road.
She expected to receive
free medical treatment for
she was a poor widow.
The business is improving
so we can give larger
bonuses this year.
To express time (when, while, as, before, after, till, until, since,
whenever)

My mother has got thinner


since I last saw her.
I’ll pass on your message
whenever I see him.
Mrs Ahmad wept after she
received the bad news.
Perenial Themes — 381

To denote place (where, wherever)

She found her purse where


she had left it in the bus.
Wherever the cat goes, her
kittens follow.
To express manner or comparison (as, as … as, so … as. as if, as
though, than)

He is nearly as tall as his


father.
To express condition (if, unless)

Unless the rain stops, the


football match will be
postponed.
If I win the welfare lottery,
I’ll go for a trip around the
world.
To express reason (as, because, since)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 382

The man was sent to


prison because he had
committed a crime.
Since the test is on Friday,
you should be reading
your books.
To express purposes (so that, that, in order that)

We took a taxi to the


stadium so that we
wouldn’t be late for the
game.
A note was sent to all the
classrooms in order that
every boy
would know to wear a tie
on Mondays.
To express result (so …that, such … that)
Perenial Themes — 383

Mr Munir is so busy with


his work that he has no
time for his family.
There was such a crowd at
the theatre that the police
had to be called.
Omission of conjunctions

When several items are linked together, the conjunction is


usually omitted (or left out) before all items except the last one.

Please bring me a tomato


sandwich, an egg sandwich
and a bottle of coke.
This year she is studying
History, Geography,
French and Spanish.
Often the conjunctions are omitted before the adverbs then, so
and yet:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 384

My income is low (and) yet


I still manage to live on it.
Her mother is seriously ill
(and) so she has to visit the
hospital every day.
The car hit the kerb (and)
then bounced across the
road divider.
Interjections
When we wish to express our feelings we some time use an
interjection—a word of exclamation whose only function is to
express emotion or feeling.

Interjections can express such emotions as:

surprise Oh, What a


lovely present!
satisfaction: Ah, that’s
much neater essay!
Perenial Themes — 385

great satisfaction: Aha


those are the books I’ve
been
looking for.
great surprise: Wow, did you see that goal?

pain: Ouch, you’re


treading on my foot!
Ow, I’ve hurt
myself.
excitement/delight: Yipee,
grandfather is coming to
visit us!
disgust: Ugh, what
a filthy kitchen.
pleasure, pain: Ooh,
the water’s lovely and cool.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 386

Ooh, my back
aches terribly.
III—Tenses
As their main function, verbs describe an action or a state of
being on the part of the subject. However, verbs also tell “when”
an action took place or when the state of being existed— and
this property of the verb is the tense of a verb. In English, we
use three simple tenses (Present, Past, and Future) to express an
action that is simply occurring. And we use three compound
tenses—called perfect—to express an action that we consider to
be completed. Each of the six tenses has a companion form
called the progressive form, which tells us that the action named
by the verb is a continued or progressive action. The progressive
consists of the present participle (the—ing form of the verb) plus
the proper form of the verb to be.

Here in this chapter we shall concentrate on those forms of


tenses that students mostly find confusing.

Simple past/present perfect

We use the simple past tense (was, wanted, taught etc) about a
past event when we know the time it happened or when the time
is important.

We use the present perfect (have + past participle) about a past


event when what happened is more important than when it
happened, or when we do not know the time it happened. The
effect of the event on the present is also important.

Write the verbs in these sentences in the simple past(when the


time is stated) or in the present perfect(if the time is not stated):
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 388

I (meet) him. I have met


him.
I (meet) him on Tuesday. I
met him on Tuesday.
Exercise

I (see) your advertisement


in the Star of 12th
November.
I (teach) English in Spain.
I (obtain) an EFL diploma
in 1975.
When I left school, I
(train) to be a secretary.
I never (work) with
computers.
Perenial Themes — 389

I (use) a telephone
switchboard before.
I (go) to university when I
was eighteen.
I (see) from your CV that
you (study) engineering.
Present perfect progressive

The present perfect progressive tense (have been verb-ing)


describes something which started in the past and which is still
happening. Make sentences in the present perfect progressive
from these prompts:

a-working there
How long have you been
working there?
b-five years
I have been working there
for five years.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 390

Exercise

a- working in your present


job b- three years
a- studying computer
science b- six months
a- teaching English
b- eighteen months
a- waiting
b- twenty minutes
a- thinking about the job
b-all day
Past perfect tense

We use the past perfect tense (had + past participle) to refer to


something which happened before something else in the past.
Perenial Themes — 391

I failed my examination
and then I retrained as an
accountant.
After I had failed my
examination, I retrained as
an accountant.
Exercise

Rewrite these sentences using the past perfect:

I taught in London and


then I was a teacher in
Spain.
I left St John’s College and
then I went to Brown’s
College.
I trained for three years
and then I left the country.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 392

I studied in Paris and then


I left the country.
I did a secretarial course
and then I worked for
Greenalls.
I talked to the employment
officer and then I decided
to start my own business.
My business failed and
then I started to work for
Mitchell Electronics.
My children grew up and
then I went back to work.
After verb-ing
Instead of using the past perfect tense, we sometimes use the
construction after verb-ing.
Rewrite the sentences in the above Exercise, like this:
Perenial Themes — 393

I failed my examination
and then I retrained as an
accountant.
After failing my
examination, I retrained as
an accountant.
The past perfect continuous tense

The past perfect continuous tense expresses duration of a single


event or happening up to the past time. In other words it occurs
with two signals: one indicates the length of the activity in
progress, and the other indicates a specific point in time in the
past:

They had been trying to


reach us by phone all day.
They had been planning
for a long time to move to
the city.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 394

She had been studying for


several hours before she
realised she was hungry.
Will

The ‘will + infinitive future’ (negative-will + not = won’t) is


sometimes used when you make an immediate decision about
the future and sometimes used when you predict (give your
opinion about) the future.

Exercise

Identify as to which kind of ‘will’ future the following sentences


are:

I will go and look in the


files.
We will need two
bathrooms.
I won’t be a moment.
Do you think Jonathan will
be all right?
Perenial Themes — 395

Of course he will be all


right.
I will send you details of
my suitable flats.
You answer the door and I
answer the phone.
How will I spend all the
extra money?
I will find out the details
tomorrow.
The Future: present progressive/going to

The ‘going to + infinitive future’ expresses a plan or intention,


the present progressive (with a future time expression)is used
when there is a definite arrangement.

I am going to visit my
mother. (My intention; my
mother may be surprised)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 396

I am visiting my mother
tonight. (We have a
definitive arrangement;
she is probably prepared a
special meal.)
Exercise

Write the verbs in these sentences in the present progressive or


with going to.

Junaid (to stay) with his


grandmother.
He (to leave) school next
year.
He (to see) the careers
adviser this week.
She (to be) a ballet dancer.
Perenial Themes — 397

He (to move in) on


Saturday.
She (to start) work next
week.
What are you (to do) when
you leave school?
I (to meet) the personnel
officer at 11 am.
Special Problems in Use of Tenses
Students often make mistakes or feel uncertain in some uses of
tenses. Some of these uses are clarified here.

Conversion of direct to indirect discourse: In converting


direct to indirect discourse the tenses of the original quotation
are whenever possible pushed one stage further into the past. An
original present tense form becomes past and original past form
becomes past perfect. Since there is no tense more past than past
perfect an original verb in that tense does not change.

He said, “I want to visit


Japan.”
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 398

He said he wanted to visit


Japan.
He said, “I wanted to visit
Japan.”
He said he had wanted to
visit Japan.
He said, “I had wanted to
visit Japan before the
imposition of the visa
restrictions.”
He said he had wanted to
visit Japan before the
imposition of the visa
restrictions.
Discrimination between the use of past and present prefect
tenses: Examine the following sentences:
Perenial Themes — 399

Ahmad was an
orthopaedic surgeon for
ten years.
Ahmad has been an
orthopaedic surgeon for
ten years.
Do these two sentences mean exactly the same thing?

I have finished reading the


book yesterday.
I finished reading the book
yesterday.
I have finished reading the
book.
Exercise

I (went or have gone) to


the concert yesterday.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 400

I (didn’t get or haven’t


got) my parcel yet.
I (know or have known)
him for more than twenty
years.
I (already did or have
already done) it.
I (am working or have
been working) here a
month.
He (is or has been) in this
country for two years.
I (made or have made)
that point when I
expressed my
Perenial Themes — 401

disagreement with the


proposal.
I (have or have had) an
account in the bank for the
past twenty years.
Past or past perfect: The past perfect is used to indicate that, of
the two past actions, one took place before the other.

Exercise

In the sentences that follow, use the past or past perfect tense for
the verbs in parentheses.

I (join) the Institute after


he (graduate).
When he (move) to
Rawalpindi, I (know) him
for five years.
I (wait) there an hour,
when he (come).
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 402

The commandant of the


academy (explain) in an
interview the
circumstances in which the
tragic incident (take)
place.
The committee members
(conclude) that the statues
recovered from the tourist
(be) authentic.
By the time the police
(arrive), the disturbance
(be) settled.
The teacher (leave) the
classroom when this
incident (take) place.
Perenial Themes — 403

I (feel) deeply hurt because


he (betray) my trust.
Ahmad (play) the game for
forty-five minutes when he
(replace) by a substitute.
I never (fail) before the
last term.
Consistent use of tenses: One should be consistent in the use of
tenses.

Examine the following passage and note the inconsistent use of


tenses:

I sit down at my desk with


intention of studying for
the next four hours. Before
many minutes past I heard
a great deal of noise down
on the floor bellow me; a
water fight is in progress. I
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 404

forgot about studying for


half an hour, for it is quite
impossible to concentrate
on mathematics in the
midst of all this
commotion. After things
quieted down I began
studying again but had
hardly started when a
magazine salesman comes
into my room.
Exercise

The following sentences contain errors in the use of tenses.


Remove them.

If Ahmad would have sent


his application earlier, he
would have been accepted.
Perenial Themes — 405

The building was


evacuated before the fire
company had arrived.
This report deals with
conditions that have been
corrected a long time ago.
His boss always indicated
that he has the utmost
confidence in him.
The principal is pleased to
see that the hockey team
had done so well.
The Active-Passive Issue
English verbs have two voices, active and passive, which show
whether the subject performs or experiences the action indicated
by the verb. In writing, choosing between the voices is a matter
of style, not correctness. However, in most circumstances the
passive voice is less forceful than the active. The general
principal, therefore, is to use active voice unless the situation
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 406

justifies the use of the passive. Some guiding principles are


given below.

Use the passive voice sparingly. Avoid weak and awkward


passive constructions.

Our transportation
problems were solved
when his car was loaned to
us by my father.
My father solved our
transportation problems
by loaning us his car.
This weekend cooking was
done by my room-mate
and shopping was done by
me.
This weekend my room-
mate did cooking and I did
shopping.
Perenial Themes — 407

Do not use the passive voice when it results in an awkward shift


in sentence structure.

The older people sat and


talked, the younger ones
danced and sang songs,
and games were played by
the children.
Use the passive voice when the subject is obvious or unknown
or is not to be disclosed.

The president was elected


by a huge majority.
The jewels were stolen last
might.
An error has been found in
the statement of accounts
supplied by the bank.
Use the passive voice when right distribution of emphasis
requires it. Examine the following two sentences, each one in
two different versions. Which versions would you prefer?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 408

Although love for the


Muslim Ummah glows in
every line of Allama
Iqbal’s “Shikwa”,
numerous ulema
denounced him as a heretic
because of it.
Although love for the
Muslim Ummah glows in
every line of Allama
Iqbal’s “Shikwa”, he was
denounced as a heretic by
numerous ulema because
of it.
The NWFP Government
granted charter to the GIK
Institute in 1993.
Perenial Themes — 409

The GIK Institute was


granted charter by the
NWFP Government in
1993.
Exercise

Would you like any change of voice in the following sentences?

In letters to his father,


requests for money were
frequently made by him.
The building which is sixty
years old has been
condemned.
He was not prepared for
the test; consequently, only
half of the questions were
answered.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 410

The Lahore-to-Islamabad
motorway will be
completed by the end of
this year.
A distinction is made by
the political scientists
between political and
economic rights.
The city needs money to
provide adequate civic
amenities to its
inhabitants, and it will
probably be raised by
imposing new taxes.
Perenial Themes — 411

The judge said that the


verdict would be given by
him later.
According to the press
reports, the idea of special
courts has been
disapproved by the
judiciary.
After the carpenters had
finished, work was begun
by the bricklayers.
It is required that the
applicants should be over
twenty-one years in age.
IV—Punctuation
Ability to use punctuation marks correctly, that is, according to
the accepted conventions is an indispensable part of writing
skills. A large number of students exhibit palpable deficiencies
in this respect. To help them brush up and increase their know-
how about punctuation, a quick review of the main punctuation
marks is provided in this section. It needs to be realised that a
writer with inadequate command of punctuation rules denies
himself immense resources of English language for effective and
elegant expression.

Exercise

A consideration of the following pairs of sentences should help


you to appreciate the big difference a small comma can make in
the meaning of a sentence.

Which indicates (of the two sentences) that there were only two
people in the car?

The two passengers who


were seriously hurt were
taken to a nearby hospital.
The two passengers, who
were seriously hurt, were
taken to a nearby hospital.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 414

2. In which has the speaker pried into the private lives of his
friends?

Everyone I know has a


secret ambition.
Everyone, I know, has a
secret ambition.
3. Which sentence has cannibalistic overtones?

We are going to eat,


Ahmad, before we proceed
further.
We are going to eat
Ahmad before we proceed
further.
4. Which is a matter of identification?

He is the one, I believe.


He is the one I believe.
5. Which is the dedication of self-confessed polygamist?
Perenial Themes — 415

I dedicate this book to my


wife, Mary, for constantly
reminding me of the
uselessness of a scholarly
career.
I dedicate this book to my
wife Mary for constantly
reminding me of the
uselessness of a scholarly
career.
6. In which case is the Prime Minister probably feeling more
alone?

The Prime Minister, who


was recently ousted by the
masses and his wife,
arrived in London
yesterday.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 416

The Prime Minister, who


was recently ousted by the
masses, and his wife
arrived in London
yesterday.
7. In which case has the speaker managed to change his friends’
attitude towards him?

Now, my friends listen to


me.
Now my friends listen to
me.
8. Which is the neurotic personality?

She too eagerly awaits the


spring.
She, too, eagerly awaits the
spring.
9. Which sentence shows extraordinary powers of persuasion?
Perenial Themes — 417

I left him convinced he was


a fool.
I left him, convinced he
was a fool.
10. Which makes certainty seem an objective hard to attain?

It’s sometimes a little


difficult to be sure.
It’s sometimes a little
difficult, to be sure.
11. Which is more flattering to Mrs. Khan?

Mrs. Khan is a pretty


generous woman.
Mrs. Khan is a pretty,
generous woman.
12. Which expresses sincere regret?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 418

I’m sorry you cannot come


with us.
I’m sorry, you can’t come
with us.
13. Which convict has a hollow leg?

The escaping convict


dropped a bullet in his leg.
The escaping convict
dropped, a bullet in his leg.
14. Which is a libel on the fair sex?

Thirteen girls knew the


secret, all told.
Thirteen girls knew the
secret; all told.
15. Which is denial that politics had anything to do with
Ahmad’s appointment?
Perenial Themes — 419

Ahmad didn’t get the


appointment, because he is
Congressite.
Ahmad didn’t get the
appointment because he is
Congressite.
Use of Comma
The comma is used to make the internal structure of the sentence
clear. It does so in three general ways: (1) by separating
elements which might otherwise be confused, (2) by setting off
interrupting constructions, and, (3) by marking words out of
normal order.

Separation of elements which


might otherwise seem to run
together
1. To prevent a confused, ambiguous, or awkward reading.

Hamid our milkman has


been hurt.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 420

Hamid, our milkman has


been hurt.
Hamid, our milkman, has
been hurt.

I do not care for money


isn’t everything.
A hundred yard below the
bridge was flooded.
When we had finished
eating the cigarettes were
passed around.
To separate two main clauses joined by a co-ordinating
conjunction (and, or, nor, but).

The real purpose of this convention is to prevent possible


misinterpretation on first reading.
Perenial Themes — 421

He sprained his ankle and


his temper was ruined.
He sold his car and his
wife was angry.
Comma is not used, when the subject of the first clause is
understood as the subject of the second:

I discussed the question


with the family and then
made my decision.
3. To separate elements in a series

He promised them only


blood, sweat, toil, and
tears.
It is said of Akbar that he
was first in war, first in
peace, and first in the
hearts of his people.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 422

We were tired, hungry,


and disconsolate.
Some books are to be
tasted, others to be
swallowed, and some few
to be chewed and digested.
4. To separate two or more adjectives that modify the same
noun.

He is a young, energetic,
and enterprising person.
5. To separate contrasted elements in this, not that, construction.

He is sick, not drunk.


We were disgusted, not
angry.
This problem needs
handling with sympathy,
not harshness.
Perenial Themes — 423

6. To separate direct quotations from such constructions as He


said, She replied, etc.

7. In the following miscellaneous constructions:

In figures - 22,745;
1,000,000; 150,743, 290.
In names followed by
titles⎯A. B. Zahid, M.D.
At the end of the salutation
in informal letter⎯Dear
Hamid,
After introductory yes or
no⎯yes, I’ll do it.
8. To separate elements in dates, addresses, and place names.

The meeting of the senate


was held on Tuesday,
August 15, 1997.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 424

Exercise

In the following sentences insert commas where they are needed


for ease of reading or are conventionally required. Some of the
sentences may be satisfactory as they are.

Below the town glittered


with a million lights.
The students sat tensely
while the question papers
were being distributed and
then began to write
feverishly.
I cannot stay longer for my
brother will be expecting
me to meet him at the
station.
The room was a clutter of
discarded clothing,
Perenial Themes — 425

scattered books and


newspapers overflowing
ashtrays and dirty dishes.
He praised the food and
the waitress seemed
pleased.
After all his plans were too
ambitious.
Throughout the game was
hopelessly one-sided.
He broke his wrist and his
right ankle was
discoloured and swollen.
The correct sum is 4550
not 6550.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 426

He traded his car and his


wife was angry.
II. Use of commas to set off an
interrupting construction
Any construction which comes between subject and verb, verb
and complement, or between any two elements not normally
separated, may be called an interrupting construction. A
distinction, however, has to be made between constructions
which actually interrupt and those which come between related
elements without interrupting them.

The man, you say, has


gone.
The man you want has
gone.
1. To set off an appositive.

An appositive is an identifying word or phrase (a noun or


pronoun and its modifiers) which is considered grammatically
equivalent to the noun or pronoun it identifies.

Hamid, the champion, has


retired.
Perenial Themes — 427

His father, the president of


the company, will be
responsible.
They want us, you and me,
to go.
I went to see Dr. S. Hamid,
the English professor.
2. To set off nouns of address.

A noun of address is a proper or common noun used to name the


listener when we are speaking to him directly. Such nouns may
occupy the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, so that
strictly speaking they are not always interrupters.

I think, madam, that you


had better leave.
Sir, you are like a pin, but
without either its head or
its point.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 428

I wish I were going with


you, Hamid.
3. To set off conjunctive adverbs and other transitional markers.

We thought, moreover,
that we could get away
with it.
You must try, first of all,
to consider it objectively.
4. To set off a non-restrictive modifier.

A modifier is said to be restrictive when it specifies a particular


member or members of a group. When a modifier does not limit
a class to a particular group or individual but modifies the whole
class, it is said to be non-restrictive.

All the students who were


absent will be required to
do an additional
assignment.
Perenial Themes — 429

College students, who


represent a superior
intellectual group, must be
asked to accept the
responsibility of
leadership.
Soldiers who have flat feet
had better stay out of the
infantry.
Soldiers, who are selected
by physical fitness tests,
should show a lower
sickness rate than that of
the total population.
Restrictive modifiers are so much a part of the whole subject
that they cannot be omitted without changing the basic meaning
of a sentence. Non-restrictive modifiers, on the other hand, can
be omitted without significant change in basic meaning.
Compare the following revisions of the examples quoted above.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 430

All students... will be


required to do an
additional assignment.
College students... must be
asked to accept the
responsibility of
leadership.
Soldiers... had better stay
out of the infantry.
Soldiers... should show a
lower sickness rate than
that of the total
population.
Restrictive modifiers are not set off by commas, because they
are felt to be essential part of the element they modify. Non-
restrictive modifiers are felt to be similar to the interrupting
constructions and are therefore enclosed by commas.
Perenial Themes — 431

Exercise

Distinguish between restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers in


the following sentences. Set off the non-restrictive modifiers by
commas.

Girls who hate cooking are


poor matrimonial risks.
Boys who are physically
frail should not be
subjected to strenuous
athletic programmes.
The man driving the car is
Hamid.
Hamid driving a bus was
charged with obstructing
the traffic.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 432

Salesmen who don’t argue


with customers make more
money.
Salesmen most of whom
are young men lead an
unsettled life.
The pilot realising his
plight radioed for
instructions.
The pilot who radioed for
instructions is no more in
contact with the tower.
His father satisfied with
the decision wisely kept
quiet.
Perenial Themes — 433

His father resentful of his


extravagance asked for
monthly rendition of
accounts.
They questioned the man
who reported the robbery.
The man who reported the
robbery is not traceable.
The man at the back of the
room was told to leave.
The man evidently hurt
seriously was taken to the
hospital.
The fighters who were
quite obviously stalling
were disqualified.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 434

Exercise

In the following sentences provide commas to set off


appositives, nouns of address, conjunctive adverbs, and non-
restrictive modifiers. Some sentences may require no additional
punctuation.

Mr. Sheikh the new maths


instructor was born in
Swabi.
The man wearing the
jinnah cap is his uncle.
The tall man who
happened to be wearing a
jinnah cap said he had
never seen an elephant in
his life.
Do you think Hamid that
we could have a game of
Perenial Themes — 435

chess after finishing this


work.
Is this your umbrella Mr.
Sheikh?
The suit that he bought
two years ago fits him
better than the one he
bought last winter.
The doctor looking grave
came towards us.
I thought however that
things would be different
this time.
The woman evidently on
the edge of tears could
hardly finish her story.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 436

Sir may I interrupt you for


a while?
My father who is an
electronic engineer helps
me with my assignments.
The dog which had been
evidently trained sat
beside the table and
begged for food.
First turn on the gas and
oil; second set the choke;
third pull the rope.
I had a talk with the man
who witnessed the
accident.
Perenial Themes — 437

I had a talk with his father


who is not so crotchety as
you led me to believe.
This disease is killing off
most of the old elms;
consequently the people in
our neighbourhood are
planting maples.
No I mean Mr. Hamid who
lives on the Masson Road.
I hear that Hamid the
leader of the expedition
was badly hurt in the
blizzard.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 438

A scientist called Hamid


was chiefly responsible for
this project.
Mr. Hamid our next door
neighbour has a son who
was second in the All
Pakistan Declamation
Contest. There is some talk
that he has been selected to
represent Pakistan in the
contest to be held in
London. That however
may be a rumour only.
III. Use of commas to mark an
inversion
1. To emphasise an inverted element.
Perenial Themes — 439

Myself, I will vote in


favour of it.
Except for physics, my
courses are quite easy.
But if the inversion is so common as to seem normal, the comma
is usually omitted.

Yesterday I had a bad time


of it.
In the following sentences
the verbs are underlined.
2. To separate a long introductory phrase or an adverbial clause
preceding the main clause.

When a sentence opens with a long phrase or adverbial clause, it


is conventional to use a comma between this element and the
main clause.

Pulling over to the curb at


the first opportunity, I
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 440

waited for the fire engine


to pass.
Being ignorant of the facts
of the situation, I could say
nothing.
If I go, you will be sorry.
When you say that, smile.
This convention is not universal, for writers sometimes feel that
a particular introductory construction is so closely related in
meaning to the main clause that the separating comma is
undesirable. The general principle is to use the comma if it
makes the sentence clearer and reader’s job easier.

Exercise

In the following sentences insert commas to set off inversions


and introductory constructions where desirable.

Dissatisfied with our


performance the director
announced extra sessions
of practice.
Perenial Themes — 441

In a last desperate effort to


score the team went into a
spread formation.
If you want it take it.
On learning that his wife
had never formally
renounced her share of the
property and could still
block its sale we told the
real estate agent that we
were no longer interested.
As far as I know that is the
answer.
Just the other day I saw
his mother.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 442

Whoever he is he should
be helped.
If he objects tell him to
talk with me.
Knowing that he had a
tendency to make a ten-
minute speech in five
minutes Hamid timed his
delivery with a stop-watch.
Angry my roommate
threw the tickets in the
fire-place.
Misuse of the commas
Too many commas are far more annoying than too few. The
following rules should be carefully observed.

a. Do not use a comma instead of a period between independent


sentences.
Perenial Themes — 443

He spoke very quietly, as I


listened, I had the
impression that he was
speaking to himself.
There was nothing more to
be said, when they took
that attitude, further
negotiation was
impossible.
b. Do not use a comma between closely related elements except
to mark an interrupting construction. The comma should reveal
the structure of a sentence, not disguise it. Closely related
elements (subject-verb or verb-object) are unnecessarily
separated if a single comma is placed between them.

My car, is at the service


station.
He said, he would try.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 444

The student who lost this


money, may need it.
Excessive use of commas

One should be as frugal in the use of commas as possible. The


modern tendency is to keep punctuation to a minimum. Hence it
is usual to avoid commas which serve no recognisable purpose.
It should not be assumed that a comma must be used in a
particular sentence because convention recommends it. There
are times when slavishly following the rules will chop a
sentence into pieces.

However, it is not, in my
opinion, desirable.
Yesterday a little, old lady,
in a dilapidated, old
Honda, picked me up, and
brought me home.
The following jingle offers sound advice about use of a comma:

When in doubt, leave it


out.
Perenial Themes — 445

Exercise

Prof. Khan’s office the one


at the end of the lecture
theatres contains most if
not all the books you need.
Mr. Khan the principal of
our school is a strict
disciplinarian.
It is the pressure of getting
work done on time not the
work itself that gets on my
nerves.
Protected from wind rain
and cold an underground
house will have low fuel
bills. The owner will not
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 446

have to pay for exterior


painting which is
necessary every few years
on a surface house. If the
country ever decides that
people should move
underground. I’ll be the
first to go.
In my walk through the
streets of my home town I
was depressed to find
apartment houses and
supermarkets in places
where there used to be
playgrounds and fruit
gardens.
Perenial Themes — 447

Semantics which is
concerned with the
meanings of words and
their effects on human
behaviour is a proper
study for university
students.
Infinite patience an
enquiring mind and a
sense of humour are assets
in any profession.
The dull dreary morning
sky looked ominous to the
members of the expedition.
A majority of the
graduating class fifty five
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 448

percent in fact aspires for


jobs in foreign companies.
Musicians don’t retire they
stop when there is no more
music in them.
England is a paradise for
women and hell for horses
Italy a paradise for horses
hell for women.
A hiker who is lost in the
woods should remember
these rules carry a
compass know how to use
it and don’t panic.
This two storey structure
was built in the 1950s.
Perenial Themes — 449

Mr. Burkbaaz the well


known actor was
murdered in august 1993.
Hyphens function in two
ways to form compounds
and to divide words at the
end of the line.
Exercise

Will it be correct to use commas at the places marked with


brackets? Give reasons for your choice.

Sometime students who


have attended preparatory
schools [ ] have trouble
adjusting to large public
universities.
It is often noticed [ ] that
a person’s physical
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 450

characteristics influence
his personality.
Primitive agricultural tools
[ ] and bits of clay pottery
were found buried in the
river bed.
He wanted more time for
study [ ] and
contemplation.
Student who do not do well
in engineering studies [ ]
may have talent and
aptitude for some other
field.
The sharp command of the
coach to the payers in the
Perenial Themes — 451

back field [ ] was


drowned out by the
cheering crowed.
Summary of the uses of the commas

Use comas to separate items in a series.

Use commas to separate two or more adjectives that modify the


same noun.

Use a comma before and, but, or nor, for, yet when they join
independent clauses.

Use commas to set off nonessential clauses and nonessential


participial phrases.

Use a comma after certain introductory elements:

After words such as well,


yes, no, why etc., when they
begin a sentence.
After an introductory
participial phrase.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 452

After a succession of
introductory prepositional
phrases.
After an introductory
adverb clause.
Use commas to set off expressions that interrupt the sentence:

Appositives.
Words in direct address.
Parenthetical expressions.
Use a comma in certain conventional situations:

To separate items in dates


and addresses.
After the salutation of a
friendly letter and the
closing of any letter.
Perenial Themes — 453

Do not use unnecessary


commas.
Use of Semicolons and Colons

Both semicolon and colon are quite commonly used marks of


punctuation. Their functions are different, and they cannot be
used interchangeably. The semicolon is a mark of separation; the
colon a mark of anticipation directing the reader’s attention to
what follows.

Use Semicolons to separate closely related independent clauses


not connected by a conjunction.

Out of quarrel with others


we make rhetoric; out of
quarrel with ourselves we
make poetry.
His mother won’t let him;
she is afraid he might get
hurt.
A statesman is a politician
who places himself at the
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 454

service of the nation; a


politician is a statesman
who places the nation at
his service.
In these sentences a period could be used instead of the
semicolon. But the clauses, even though grammatically
independent, are felt to be so closely related that a period makes
too sharp a separation.

A semicolon provides a more emphatic separation than the


comma; it affords an easier transition between statements than
the period; it is, therefore, the most appropriate punctuation to
balance two contrasted ideas parallel in form.

But however immature


they are, these characters
are not dull and insipid; on
the contrary, they are
lively and hauntingly real.
Take care of the adults;
the children can take care
of themselves.
Perenial Themes — 455

It was not the hours or the


wages that discouraged
me; it was the constant
monotony of the work.
Use a semicolon before a transitional connective (conjunctive
adverb) between two main clauses.

It won’t work; therefore


there is no sense in buying
it.
His argument has some
merit; however, he goes
too far.
His eyes went bad;
consequently he had to
resign his position as a
proof-reader.
Use a semicolon to separate elements in a series when they
contain internal punctuation.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 456

Among those who attended


the meeting were Dr. A.
Hamid, the Chairman of
Electrical Engineering
Department; Mr. A. G.
Kazi, the Registrar of the
University; and Dr. Hadi,
the Director of Research
and Extension Services.
Misuse of Semicolon

Do not use a semicolon as the equivalent of a colon.

My record shows that the


following students have
not handed in the
assignment; Mr. X, Mr. Y,
and Mr. Z.
Do not use a semicolon as the equivalent of a comma.
Perenial Themes — 457

A comma is an internal punctuation and is used only within a


sentence; a semicolon is a stronger mark and is used between
grammatically independent statements. A semicolon may be
substituted for a comma between main clauses joined by a
conjunction when more emphatic punctuation is desired; but a
semicolon cannot be substituted for a comma between a main
clause and a subordinate construction.

Although I seldom have


trouble with grammar or
spelling; I never seem to
use the right punctuation.
Avoid indiscriminate substitution of semicolons for periods.

The semicolon and the period have different functions and


should not be used interchangeably. The normal punctuation
between independent statements is the period but if a writer
wishes to relate their contents more closely than a period would
permit, he may use a semicolon.

The nomad of the past


moved through blizzards
and parching heat, always
pursued by hunger, but he
carried with him his
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 458

buffalo-hide tent, his


family and the rest of his
tribe; he carried his social
setting with him and, as
often as not, the physical
structure that he called his
home in contrast the new
nomads of today leave
behind their physical
structure and, but for the
family, their entire setting.
The Colon
Use colon to mean “note what follows.”

Before a list of items, especially after expressions like as follows


and the following.

The application for the


membership of the Hockey
Perenial Themes — 459

Club asked the following


questions:
(i) how well do you play
hockey?
(ii) were you member of
the college or school team?
and
(iii) have you ever played
in any major tournament?
There will be special
discount on the following
items during the next two
months: refrigerators,
deep freezers, air-
conditioners, micro ovens,
etc.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 460

Before a long, formal statement or quotation.

The President concluded


his revolutionary speech
with these ringing words:
“Is life so dear as to be
purchased at price of
chains and slavery? I know
not what course others
may take; but, as for me,
give me liberty, O, God, or
give me death!”
Here are the four main
uses of the comma:
(i) to prevent misreading;
(ii) to separate items in a
series;
Perenial Themes — 461

(iii) to set off expressions


which interrupt the
sentence; and
(iv) to set off introductory
phrases and clauses.
Between independent clauses when the second clause explains
or restates the idea of the first.

(i) The prisoner refused to


make a request for parole:
he felt safe and
comfortable in the prison.
(ii) The reasons for the
success of the play are
obvious: it has an engaging
plot, witty dialogues, and a
powerful theme.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 462

(iii) The human brain is a


wonderful organ: it starts
to work as soon as you are
born and doesn’t stop until
you get up to deliver a
public speech.
(iv) Communism is like
prohibition: it’s a good
idea but it won’t work.
(v) Politicians are the same
everywhere: they promise
to build bridges even
where there are no rivers.
Use colon in certain conventional situations

(i) Between hours and


minutes
Perenial Themes — 463

3:30 A.M.
(ii) Between chapters and
verses in referring to
passages from the holy
books
Genesis 4:2
(iii) Between volumes and
numbers or between
volume and page number
of a periodical
Forum 22:4
Engineer 22:110-115
(iv) After salutation of a
business letter
Dear Sir: Dear Madam:
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 464

Gentlemen: Dear Mr.


Ahmad:
Exercise

Punctuate the following sentences. Some of them call for


semicolons or colons and some need other punctuation marks.

Mr. Khan is a graduate of


three celebrated Pakistani
educational institutions
Cadet College Hassan
Abdal Government
College Lahore and
Lahore University of
Business Management.
The other members of the
delegation are Dr. M A
Qureshi Dr. Fazal Khalid
and Dr M. Mujahid.
Perenial Themes — 465

Every new study reaches


the same grim conclusion
the world is on a treadmill
when it comes to feeding
the growing populations of
developing countries.
The evidence is
incontrovertible therefore
I urge you to act.
Think of all that has
happened in the last five
decades spaceships and
penicillin computers and
dish washers air
conditioners and atomic
power five day workweeks
and internets.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 466

The humanities are the


study of man his languages
his literature his
philosophy and his culture.
Perenial Themes — 467

The building inspectors


found no major violations
nevertheless they insisted
on the installation of
brighter electric lights in
the hallways.
Let me not pretend to
learning I do not have
though I studied literature
and philosophy in college
most of it to my shame has
gone with the wind.
The sceptics admit
something must have been
seen the question to be
answered is what it was.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 468

Television is in the middle


of a new controversy over
the old problem how good
are its programmes and
who should make them
better.
In most espionage projects
there are three elements
the individual who has
access to secret material
the contact man who
persuades him to steal it
and the agent who
transmits it to where it is
wanted.
We are enclosing the
information requested
Perenial Themes — 469

however our backlog of


mail address is so greater
that we cannot promise
delivery of goods before
December 1997.
The revival of the old
marriage rituals has some
positive aspects it seems to
fulfil the need of the
urbanites to recapture
feelings of community life
which they miss in the big
cities.
Their aim and ideals seem
admirable their methods
however are questionable.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 470

Knowledge without
commitment is wasteful
commitment without
knowledge is dangerous.
Hyphenation
Hyphens are used for two purposes: to divide a word at the end
of line, and to join two words as a compound.

1. Use a hyphen to divide a word at the end of a line.

a. Divide a word between pronounceable parts only. One-


syllable words should never be divided.

play-ed played
b. Do not divide a word so that a single letter stands alone. If
possible do not divide a word so that only two letters are carried
over to the next line.

i-solate iso-late
democra-cy
democ-racy
c. A word having double consonants should be divided between
the consonants.
Perenial Themes — 471

control-ling bil-
lion
d. Words having prefixes and suffixes should be divided
between the prefix and the root of the word or between the roots
of word and the suffix.

e. Hyphenate compound words between the elements of the


compound

arm-chair black-
birds sail-boat
2. Use a hyphen between elements of a compound. Some
compounds (blackboard, steamship) are written solid; others
(dirt cheep. wedding ring) are nearly always written as separate
words; still others (father-in-law, ready-made, up-to-date) are
usually hyphenated. There is an increasing tendency to write
compounds as solid, especially in an informal style, but in
general a hyphen is preferred in the following types.

a. Hyphenate a compound modifier preceding a noun.

A self-made man
An off-the-cuff
judgement
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 472

A round-by-round report
A tear-jerking story
b. Hyphenate a compound consisting of a prefix and a proper
name.

Anti-Hitler Pro-
Russian
c. Hyphenate compounds of ex and a noun

ex-wife ex-
president
d. Hyphenate most compounds beginning with self

self-satisfied self-
conceit
But selfless and selfsame are written solid.

Dash
The dash should not be used as a general utility mark to
substitute for a comma, a period, semicolon, or colon. It is a
specialised punctuation mark which serves the following
purposes:

a. To stress a word or a phrase at the end of a sentence


Perenial Themes — 473

In the whole world there is


only one person he really
admires⎯himself.
And now it is my pleasure
to present a man we all
know and admire and to
whom we are all deeply
indebted⎯Prof. A.B.
Khan.
He uses statistics as a
drunken man uses lamp-
posts⎯for support rather
than illumination.
An after-dinner speech
should be like a lady’s
dress⎯long enough to
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 474

cover the subject and short


enough to be interesting.
b. To sum up or complete an involved sentence.

To live as free men in a


free country; to enjoy the
right to think and speak as
we like; to feel that the
state is the servant of its
people; to be a partner in
the conduct of the affairs
of the nation⎯all this is
what democracy means to
us.
c. To mark an interrupted or unfinished quotation

“I’d like to” he said, but


I’m⎯“
d. When used in pairs, to set off a pronounced interruption.
Perenial Themes — 475

There will never again


be⎯you may be sure of
this⎯so glorious an
opportunity.
This answer⎯if we can
call it an answer⎯is
completely meaningless.
e. To mark a sharp turn in thought

He is a humble man⎯with
a lot to be humble about.
He praised Hamid’s
intelligence, his high sense
of responsibility, his
efficiency, his
hardwork⎯and then
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 476

promoted his junior


colleague.
I know two kinds of
audience only⎯one
coughing and one not
coughing.
f. To enclose parenthetical element (to give greater emphasis to
elements that could also be set off with commas).

Still we do condemn⎯we
must condemn⎯the
cruelties of slavery,
fanaticism and witch-
burning.
Capitalisation
Capitalise the first word of each sentence and of each line of
regular poetry.

Capitalise the first word of a direct quotation.


Perenial Themes — 477

Capitalise proper nouns.


Capitalise adjectives
formed from proper
nouns.
American Pakistani
Capitalise nouns or pronouns referring to deity.

God Lord He
His
Capitalise names of offices only when they are used as titles.

Prime Minister Liaqat Ali


Liaqat Ali was the first
prime minister of
Pakistan.
Capitalise north, south, east and west and their derivatives only
when they refer to geographical areas.

They live in the East.


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 478

The east side of the field is


wet.
The North.
The northern side of the
town.
Capitalise titles of books, magazines, plays and the headings of
chapters or sections of work.

A common noun or adjective is not capitalised unless it is part of


a proper noun.

Punjab University
A university in Punjab
Capitalise all important words in the names of organisations,
business firms, buildings etc.

House of Representatives
Department of Interior
Perenial Themes — 479

GIK Institute of
Engineering Sciences &
Technology, Topi
Do not capitalise the names of school subjects except for proper
nouns and adjectives.

Russian Greek
Sanskrit
mathematics
bookkeeping
Mathematics I
Bookkeeping II
Capitalise the parts of a compound word as if each part stood
alone.

French-speaking students
God-given rights
anti-American feeling
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 480

Afro-Asian Solidarity
Indo-European
languages
Anglo-American block
Capitalise the first word of a sentence after a colon if the writer
wants to give it emphasis. Do not capitalise it if the sentence is
closely related to the preceding clause.

Indeed, if Galileo had not


been a highly
knowledgeable amateur
theologian he would not
have gotten himself into
serious trouble: the
professionals resented his
intrusion.
Quite a few teachers in the
department of science
Perenial Themes — 481

would tell their students:


We scientists deliver the
laws of nature to the
philosophers who have to
interpret them.
Exercise

Remove unnecessary capitalisation in the following sentences:

He is a four-star General
in the Pakistan Army.
The Rector advised the
new entrants how to make
the best use of their stay at
the campus.
My father wants me to be
a University Professor but
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 482

I personally like to join a


multi-national.
Go East for about 2 miles
and turn North.
His father is an Air Vice
Marshall in the PAF.
Modern Universities
developed from the
European Monastery
schools of the Middle Ages.
The University of
Engineering and
Technology has fourteen
Faculties, each one being
under the supervision of a
separate Dean.
Perenial Themes — 483

We have to take two


courses in Applied
Psychology.
Exercise

In the following passages identify the words that should be


capitalised.

The league of nations, an


international association of
countries created after
world war I, has been
compared with the united
nations. The league was
formed in january, 1920,
in geneva, under the
leadership of the late
president of the united
states woodrow wilson.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 484

The charter of the united


nations was developed
from proposals agreed
upon at a conference held
at dumbarton oaks, an
estate in wahsington, d.c.
Dr. Khan chairman
department of science has
notified that students who
wish to qualify for
advanced-standing courses
in chemistry or physics
must maintain eighty-five
percent score in earth
science I or biology I.
She asked, “what makes
the things hold together”.
Perenial Themes — 485

The greeks called their


chief god zeus; the romans
called him jupitor.
Ayub Khan secured
confirmation as the
president through
manipulated votes of an
electoral college.
Underlining (Italics)
Use underlining (italics) for titles of books, periodicals
newspapers, works of art, ships, etc.

(i) The Pakistan Times


(ii) Herald
Note: The use of quotation marks for titles is generally limited to
short compositions such as stories or parts of books such as
chapters or articles.

Use underlining (italics) for words and letters referred to as such


and for foreign words.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 486

Conventions about numbers


Do not begin a sentence with a numeral.

212 candidates took the


test for award of the
scholarships.
Two hundred and twelve
candidates took the test for
award of the scholarships.
Hyphenate all compound (two-word) numbers from twenty-one
to ninety-nine. Do not hyphenate a fraction unless it is used as
an adjective.

This event took place


thirty-two years back.
He won by a two-thirds
majority.
Two thirds of the students
deserves first-class marks.
Perenial Themes — 487

Spell out numbers of one or two words. Write numbers of more


than two words as numerals.

12,776 1857
ten cents seventy-nine
Exceptions: In statistical and technical writing, all numbers are
generally written as numerals.

Write out numbers like third, forty-first etc. rather than writing
them as numerals with letter endings (3rd, 41st, etc.)

The nation is celebrating


the fiftieth year of its
independence.
Exception: Street numbers are generally written as numerals
with letter endings.

The office is located at


56th street, F-6/1.
Quotation Marks
Use quotation marks to enclose a direct quotation⎯a person’s
exact words.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 488

English historian George


Macaulay was noted for
his garrulity as much as
for his wisdom. An
acquaintance once
remarked, “He is certainly
more agreeable since his
return from India. Now he
has flashes of silence that
makes his conversation
perfectly delightful.”
A direct quotation should begin with a capital letter.

The professor said,


“Women represent the
triumph of matter over
mind, just as men
Perenial Themes — 489

represent the triumph of


mind over matter.”
When a quoted sentence is divided into two parts by an
interrupting expression such as she said or I asked, the second
part begins with a small letter.

“In less than five minutes,”


Ahmad assured, “the
messenger will be here for
the package.”
“John cannot see a belt,”
remarked Thatcher,
“without being tempted to
hit below it.”
If the second part of a broken quotation is a new sentence, it
begins with a capital letter.

“Come back soon,” he


said. “We are expecting
some guests.”
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 490

If the quotation is only a fragment of a sentence it does not begin


with a capital letter.

Having little substance or


coherence, his speech
appeared to be
“spontaneous overflow of
powerful feelings.”
The American universities,
observed a Chinese
student, are “athletic
associations in which
certain opportunities for
study are provided for the
feeble-bodied”
When a quoted passage consists of more than one paragraph,
place quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph and at
the end of the entire passage. Do not place quotation marks at
the end of any paragraph but the last.

Single quotation marks are used to enclose a quotation within a


quotation.
Perenial Themes — 491

“What do you suppose


Ahmad meant when he
said ‘you bore me’?”
Hamid said plaintively.
Use quotation marks to
enclose titles of chapters’
articles, other parts of
books or magazines, short
poems, short stories, and
songs.
In his poem “Shikwa”
Iqbal pours out his
anguish over the pathetic
conditions of the Muslims.
His article “Sources of
Renewable Energy” was
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 492

published in June, and it


greatly influenced the
thinking of the national
planners and policy
makers.
Quotation marks to set off words. Words used in some special
way within a sentence are often set apart by quotation marks or
by italics.

A word used as word. A word used as a word or as an example


rather than for its meaning is italicised or enclosed in quotation
marks.

People often confuse the


meanings of “affect” and
“effect”
Some writers use its in
place of it’s and vice versa.
Apologetic use of slang and colloquial expressions: In serious
writing, a colloquial expression is sometimes put in quotation
marks to show that the writer knows it is not considered
appropriate in formal usage.
Perenial Themes — 493

The speeches in the


conference indicated that
many nations consider us
little more than “fall
guys.”
Words used Derisively: Sometimes a writer may use quotation
marks around a term to show that it is being used derisively or
sarcastically.

This remarkable piece of


“art” consists of a large
canvas covered with mud.
He is so “genteel” that he
avoids any reference to
human body.
When used with quotation marks, the other marks of punctuation
are placed according to the following rules:

Commas and periods are always placed inside the closing


quotation marks.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 494

“I pay the school master,”


said the philosopher, “but
it is the schoolboys who
educate my son.”
semicolons and colons are always placed outside the closing
quotation marks.

Universities are “the


cathedrals of the modern
age”; they shouldn’t have
to justify their existence by
utilitarian criteria.
Question marks and exclamation points are placed inside the
closing quotation marks if they belong with the quotation;
otherwise they are placed outside.

“Is the intellect always


fooled by the heart?”
asked the student.
Perenial Themes — 495

Did he say, “we are


going”?
Did he ask, “Are we
going?”

Ellipsis /.../
An ellipsis is used to perform the following functions.

To indicate any omission in quoted material:

The use of three spaced periods, called an ellipsis (plural,


ellipses) indicates that one or more words have been omitted
from quoted material. If an ellipsis comes at the end of a
sentence, the sentence period is retained.

Nothing and no one can


destroy the Chinese
people.... They yield... but
they never break.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 496

I would die for my


country... but I would not
let my country die for me.
To indicate that an entire paragraph or an entire line or more of
poetry has been omitted. A full line of ellipsis is used

..............................................
..............................................
.................
To indicate interruptions in thought or hesitation in speech.

The fact that an opinion


has been widely held... is
no evidence whatever that
it is not utterly absurd.
He fainted again, and
when he came to, he
uttered his last sentence,
Perenial Themes — 497

“Tell... mother I... died...


for my country.”
Apostrophe
An apostrophe (‘) is used to mark contractions, the plural form
of some expressions, and the possessive case of nouns.

Apostrophe in contractions
When a contraction is appropriate in writing, an apostrophe is
used to indicate the omission of one or more letters.

can’t I’ll It’s


don’t I’m
O’clock
An apostrophe is used with dates from which the first figures are
omitted.

The ‘93 class


highlights of ‘97
The apostrophe, it may be noticed, always falls at the exact place
at which a letter or letters have been omitted.

Apostrophe in possessive forms


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 498

To form the possessive case of a singular noun, an apostrophe


and an s are added.

Hamid’s book for


heaven’s sake
the boss’s office
N. B. when a word of more than one syllable ends in an s sound,
the singular possessive may be formed by adding the apostrophe
alone.

the witness’ testimony


for conscience’ sake
To form possessive case of plural noun ending in s, only an
apostrophe is added.

the scholars’ lodge the


soldiers’ marching songs
A few plural nouns that do not end in s form the possessive by
adding an apostrophe and an s just as singular nouns do.

In hyphenated words and names of organisations only the last


word is possessive in form.
Perenial Themes — 499

father-in-law’s business
Zafar Law Associates’
office
The words minute, hour, day, week, month, year, etc., when used
as possessive adjectives require an apostrophe.

this year’s crop a


week’s delay
Apostrophe in plurals of letters
and figures
There are two S’s two l’s
in this word.
That happened back in
1940’s.
The answer should have
two 8’s in it.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 500

The last exercise had more


+’s than-’s.
Exercise

Punctuate the following passages

Aristotle the great greek


philosopher was tutor to
the future king alexander
the great. One day they
were doing a lesson in
mathematics which
required many
calculations. alexander
always impatient suddenly
threw aside his work and
exclaimed why must I go
through these little steps
why cant I get the answer
Perenial Themes — 501

immediately I m the future


king. There is no royal
road to knowledge
answered his tutor
A well known bore was
seated opposite Prof.
Cyprian at a dinner party.
During a lull in the
conversation he leaned
toward the professor and
said you know Prof.
cyprian I passed your
house this morning. Thank
you said Prof. Cyprian
quietly. Thank you very
much.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 502

Clare Luce former


American ambassador to
Italy tells about a big
reception in Rome when
the handshaking line
suddenlystopped leaving a
flustered american girl
standing in front of the
ambassador. Oh Mrs.
Luce she said its so
wonderful to be over here
in Rome seeing all these
old romantic ruins and you
too.
Dorothy Parker asked by
an annoying guest at a
party if she had ever had
Perenial Themes — 503

her ears pierced


murmured no but I have
often had them bored.
A man of mediocre
intellect who had become a
prominent politician in
Ceylon once amazed
parliament with a brilliant
speech. As he sat down
amid thunderous applause
a single voice in the
opposition cried out
Author author.
It is not easy to be natural
before an audience. actors
know that. When you were
a child say four years old
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 504

you probably could have


mounted a platform and
talked naturally to an
audience. But when you
are twenty-four or forty-
four what happens when
you mount a platform and
start to speak. Do you
retain that unconscious
naturalness that you
possessed at four? You
may but it is almost
certain that you will
become stiff and stilted
and mechanical and draw
back into your shell like a
snapping turtle. The
Perenial Themes — 505

problem of training adults


in public speaking is not
one of superimposing
additional characteristics
it is largely one of
removing impediments of
getting people to speak
with naturalness.
An employment office was
checking on an applicants
list of references. How long
did this man work for you
a former employer was
asked. About four hours
was the quick reply. Why
he told us he had been
there a long time said the
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 506

caller. Oh yes answered


the ex-employer he was
here for two years.
Exercise

Punctuate the following passage:

Failure is probably the


most fatiguing experience
a person ever has. There is
nothing more enervating
than not succeeding being
blocked not moving ahead.
It is a vicious circle.
Failure breeds fatigue and
the fatigue makes it harder
to get to work which
compounds the failure.
Perenial Themes — 507

We experience this
tiredness in two main ways
as start up fatigue and
performance fatigue. In
the former case we keep
putting off a task that we
are under some
compulsion to discharge.
Either because it is too
tedious or too difficult we
shirk it. And the longer we
postpone it the more tired
we feel.
Such start up fatigue is
very real even if not
actually physical not
something in our muscles
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 508

and bones. The remedy is


obvious, though perhaps
not easy to apply an
exertion of will power. The
moment I find myself
turning away from a job
or putting it under a pile of
other things I have to do I
clear my desk of
everything else and attack
the objectionable item
first. To prevent start up
fatigue always tackle the
most difficult job first.
Years ago when editing
Great Books of the Western
World I undertook to write
Perenial Themes — 509

102 essays one on each of


the great ideas discussed
by the authors of those
books. The writing took
me 2½ years working at it
among my other tasks
seven days a week. I would
never have finished if I
had allowed myself to
write first about the ideas I
found easiest to expound.
Applying my own rule I
determined to write the
essays in strict
alphabetical order from
angel to world never letting
myself skip a tough idea.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 510

And I always started the


days work with the
difficult task of essay
writing. Experience
proved once again that the
rule works.
Performance fatigue is
more difficult to handle.
Here we are not reluctant
to get started but we
cannot seem to do the job
right. Its difficulties
appear insurmountable
and however hard we
work we fail again and
again. That mounting
experience of failure
Perenial Themes — 511

carries with it an ever


increasing burden of
mental fatigue. In such a
situation I work as hard as
I can then let the
unconscious take over.
Stress Pattern of Words
All English words with more than one syllable have a stress
pattern. In dictionaries strongly stressed syllable of a word is
marked with a heavy accent mark (´) and a weaker stress, if any,
with a lighter accent (´). Here are a couple of entries from the
Chambers English Dictionary:

Immediately after the main entry in bold face there is phonetic


respelling of the words which indicate where the main accent
falls. This information provided by all good dictionaries is
indispensable to know the correct pronunciation of words.

Given below is a list of commonly used⎯and commonly


mispronounced⎯words. Consult your dictionary to find out the
syllable which carries the main accent in each case.
argue alternate alternative initial
minister peculiar indicate exodus
molecular photography tribute
exponent
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 512

monogamy Africa trigonometry


enthusiasm
immovable operate agent diagonal
opinion algebra popular
topography
orchestra preface immortal
periodicity
omelette indefinite premeditate
extempore
origin canvass prestige dissect
oxygen principal infantry elephant
ozone cathedral triangle
calculate
parabola precipitate incomparable
perpendicular
transfer thermodynamics sociology
arithmetic
transformable thermometer hydrogen
minimum
extrapolate cemetery eighteen
duplicate
cement peripheral centenary parallel
interim geography examinable variable
magnitude purpose volunteer
metallurgist
majesty lyceum purview
equivalent
Radar impossible general
plasticity
Notice mobile patience
metallography
Perenial Themes — 513

Window iron dynamic


electricity
peninsula hippopotamus insignificant
illustrate
October January generate
temperature
penalty passenger interest
components
incinerate diagram generate
extraordinary
legitimate deformation occur
informative
separable conceptual fitness
interesting
parameter beginning although
satellites
particle machine cassette
cucumber
energy vector however pattern
impermeable vocabulary career
homogeneity
scientific unanimity library
V—Miscellaneous Expressions in
Usage
First or open conditions
First conditional sentences with if refer to a possible or a probable happening in the
future. Its structure comprises if + present and will + infinitive.

If you apply for a job with


an important company like
Int. Air, you will have to
make a good impression.
If we play tennis, I will
win.
Note
Should can be a present or a future form.

The future form of must is will have to.

Exercise

Write the verbs in these first conditional sentences in the right


tenses.
Perenial Themes — 515

We (to let) you know if you


(to be) on the short-list.
If you (to be) short-listed,
you (to have) another
interview.
If you (to join) us, you (to
spend) a fortnight in
London.
You (to work) as part of a
team if you (to get) the job.
Second conditions

In these type of sentences we use special tenses with if when we


are talking about unreal situation—things that will probably not
happen, situations that are untrue or imaginary, past events that
did not happen, and similar events. In these cases we use would
and past tense to ‘distance’ our language from reality.

If I knew her name, I


would tell you.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 516

He would be perfectly
happy if he had a car.
What would you do if you
lost your job?
This structure can be used to make a suggestion sound less
definite (for example if you want to be more polite).

If I were etc

We often use were instead of was after if. This is common in


both formal and informal styles. In a formal style it is much
more common than was, and many people consider it more
correct, especially in American English. The grammatical name
for this use of were is ‘subjunctive’.

If I were rich, I would


spend all my time
travelling.
If my nose were a little
shorter, I would be quite
pretty.
Note that were is not normally used instead of would be in polite
requests.
Perenial Themes — 517

We should be grateful if
you would be so kind as to
let us have your cheque as
soon as possible. (not …if
you were so kind.)
Polite requests

I would be grateful if you could is used in business letters to


make polite requests.

Exercise

Rewrite these requests, using this form:

Please give me further


information about the
post.
I would be grateful if you
could give me further
information about the
post.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 518

Please send me an
application form.
I want you to tell me how
much the salary is.
Please send me details of
the job you advertised.
I want you to give me a
description of the post.
Please return my
curriculum vitae.
Please tell me what
qualifications you require.
Wishful thinking

Sometimes we say something in the same second condition


structure, which will never really be true. For example:
Perenial Themes — 519

If I had a camera, I would


change the whole history
of photography.
If I were the prime
minister, I would eliminate
poverty from the country.
If…was/were to

This is another way of talking about unreal or imaginary future


events.

If the boss was/were to


come in now, we’d be in
real trouble.
What would you do if I
was /were to lose my job.
It can be used to make a suggestion less direct, and so more
polite.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 520

If you were to move your


chair a bit, we could all sit
down.
This structure is not used with state verbs:

If I knew her name I


would tell you. (not were to
know)
Future in if—clauses

We normally use a present tense with if (and most other


conjunctions) to refer to future.

I’ll phone you if you have


time.
But we use if…will when we are talking about later results rather
than conditions.

I’ll give you Rs. 100 if you


stop smoking. (Stopping
smoking is a condition of
Perenial Themes — 521

getting the money- it must


happen first.)
I’ll give you Rs. 100 if it’ll
help you to go on a
holiday.(The help is a
result- it follows the gift of
money.)
If…should; if…happen to

We can suggest that something is unlikely, or not particularly


probable, by using should (not would) in the if- clause.

If you should run into


Junaid, tell him he owes
me a letter.
If you happen to has a similar meaning.

If you happen to pass a


supermarket, perhaps you
could get some eggs.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 522

Should and happen to can be used together.

If you should happen to


finish early, give me a ring.
Would is not normally used in the main clause in these
structures.

If he should be late, we’ll


have to start without
him.(not would)
Impossible past or third conditions

We use the third conditional about past events where the


condition cannot be fulfilled because the action in the if clause
did not happen. Notice how the third conditional is formed:

Would (not) + have + past participle; if + had (not) + past


participle

They wanted to see you


again because you did well
at your first interview.
They wouldn’t have
wanted to see you again if
Perenial Themes — 523

you hadn’t done well at


your first interview.
Exercise

Express these sentences in the third conditional:

I didn’t go to university
because I didn’t have the
opportunity.
I moved because I didn’t
have a good job.
Because my father died I
left school at sixteen.
I missed the train because
there was a traffic jam.
She didn’t get the job
because she wasn’t
qualified.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 524

Because you weren’t on


Scale III, you didn’t have
four weeks’ holiday.
If only

We can use if only to say that we would like things to be


different. It means the same as I wish but is more emphatic. The
clause with if only often stands alone, without a main clause. We
use the same tenses after if only as after I wish.
Past, to talk about the present

If only I knew more


people.
If only I was/were better
looking.
Would + infinitive to refer to the future

If only it would stop


raining, we could go out.
If only somebody would
smile.
Perenial Themes — 525

Past perfect (had + past participle) to refer to the past

If only she hadn’t told the


police, everything would
have been all right.
Unless

Unless has a similar meaning to if not, in the sense of ‘except if’.

Come tomorrow unless I


phone. (=…if I don’t
phone/except if I phone.)
I’ll take the job unless the
pay is too low. (if the pay
isn’t too low.)
I’ll be back tomorrow
unless there is a plane
strike.
When unless cannot be used

Unless (except if) can be used instead of if not when we refer to


exceptional circumstances which would change a situation (see
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 526

above examples). We do not use unless to refer to something


negative that would be the main cause of the situation that we
are talking about.

My wife will be very upset


if I don’t go back
tomorrow. (not unless I go
back)
If the speaker doesn’t get back, this will be the main cause of
his wife’s unhappiness- if not doesn’t mean except if.

I’ll be surprised if he
doesn’t have an accident
soon. (not unless)
She’d look nicer if she
didn’t wear so much
make-up. (not unless)
Special use of ‘get’
Get + past participle
Get can be used with a past participle. This structure often has a
reflexive meaning, to talk about things that we ‘do to ourselves’.
Perenial Themes — 527

Common expressions are get washed, get dressed, get lost, get
drowned, get engaged/married/divorced.

You have five minutes to


get dressed.
She is getting married in
June.
Get + past participle is also used to make passive structures, in
the same way as be + past participle.

My watch got broken


while I was playing.
He got caught by the police
while driving very fast.
This structure is less often used to talk about longer, more
deliberate, planned actions.

Our house was built in


1872. (not got built)
Parliament was opened on
Thursday. (not got opened)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 528

Get + object + past participle


This structure can be used to mean “finish doing something’.
The past participle has a passive meaning.

It will take me another


hour to get the washing
done.
After you have got the
children dressed, can you
make the beds?
Another meaning is ‘ arrange for something to be done by
somebody else’.

I must get my hair cut.


You ought to get your
watch repaired.
We can also use the same structure to talk about things that
happen to us. In this case, get means ‘experience’.

We got our roof blown off


in the storm last week.
Perenial Themes — 529

I got my car stolen twice


last year.
Get…ing;get + infinitive
Get…ing is sometimes used informally to mean ‘start…ing’,
especially in the expressions get moving, get going.
We’d better get moving—it’s late.

Question tags

In conversation we frequently add tags to a statement to make a


question. Rewrite these questions using question tags.

Are you enjoying it?


You’re enjoying it, aren’t
you?
I hope they haven’t made a
mistake?
They haven’t made a
mistake, have they?
Exercise

Is that what you wanted?


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 530

Do I need a new cheque


book?
Will you send me a
monthly statement?
I hope that doesn’t stop
you spending it?
Do you want to come with
him?
I hope they haven’t got the
amount wrong?
Would like
The expression Would you like (to do) can be used to offer something or to ask
someone’s preference. Write sentences from these notes using Would you like….

What/drink What
would you like to drink?
Perenial Themes — 531

Something to drink Would


you like something to
drink?
Where/work Coffee or
tea
Something to eat Travel
by train or plane
What time/come
How/travel
When/leave Work in a
factory
Rather or prefer to

These sentences offer you a choice or ask about preferences.


Reply using I’d rather (do) or I’d prefer to (to do)

Would you like to work in


a factory? (rather/office)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 532

I’d rather work in an


office.
Would you like to work in
a factory? (prefer/office)
I’d prefer to work in an
office.

Would you like to go to the


cinema? (rather/theatre)
Would you like to travel
abroad? (prefer/stay at
home)
Would you like to go to
university? (rather/get job)
Perenial Themes — 533

Would you like to be a


secretary?
(rather/manager)
Would you like to go
shopping on Wednesday?
(prefer/wait until
Thursday)
Affect and effect

Affect is a verb. It means ‘cause a change in’ or ‘influence’.

The cold weather affected


everybody’s health.
Effect is usually a noun meaning ‘result’ or ‘change’. The
expression to have an effect on is similar to affect.

The war seriously affected


petrol prices.
The war had a serious
effect on petrol prices.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 534

In a formal style, effect can also be used as a verb, meaning


‘carry out’, ‘cause to happen’.

We did not effect much


improvement in sales last
year.
Afraid
afraid and fear
In an informal style, be afraid is more common than fear.

Don’t be afraid. (Not don’t


fear.)
Are you afraid of the
dark?
She is afraid that I might
find her.
I’m afraid = I’m sorry
I am afraid (that) often means ‘I am sorry to tell you (that). It is
used to introduce apologetic refusals and bad news.

I’m afraid (that) I can’t


help you.
Perenial Themes — 535

I’m afraid that there’s


been an accident.
‘Can you lend me a
pound?’ ‘I’m afraid not.’
‘It’s going to rain.’ ‘Yes,
I’m afraid so.’
Not used before a noun
Afraid is one of the adjectives that are not usually used before a
noun in ‘attributive position.’

John’s afraid.
John is a frightened man.
(not an afraid man.)
We often use very much instead of very before afraid, especially
when I’m afraid means ‘I’m sorry to tell you.’

I’m very much afraid he’s


out.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 536

Also, as well, and too


1. Position
Also, as well and too have similar meanings, but they do not go
in the same position in clauses. Also usually goes with the verb,
in mid-position; as well and too usually go at the end of a clause.
As well is less common in American English.

She not only sings; she also


plays the piano.
She not only sings; she
plays the piano as well.
She not only sings; she
plays the piano too.
2- Reference
These words can refer to different parts of a clause, depending
on the meaning. Consider the sentence ‘we have meetings on
Sundays as well. This can mean three different things:

(Other people have


meetings on Sundays, and)
we have meetings on
Sundays as well.
Perenial Themes — 537

(We do other things on


Sundays, and) we have
meetings on Sundays as
well.
(We have meetings on
other days, and) we have
meetings on Sundays as
well.
When we speak, we show the exact meaning by stressing the
word or expression that also/as well/too refer to.

Imperatives and short answers

As well and too are used in imperatives and short answers, but
not usually also.

Give me some bread as


well, please. (More natural
than Also give me…)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 538

‘She’s nice.’ ‘Her sister is


as well.’(More natural
than also)
‘I’ve got a headache.’ ‘I’ve
too.’(More natural than ‘I
also have.’)
In very informal speech, we often use me too as a short answer.

‘I’m going home.’ ‘Me


too.’
More formal equivalents are So am I or I am too, but not I also.
Also referring to whole clause
Also can be used at the beginning of a clause to refer to the
whole clause.

It’s a nice house, but it’s


very small. Also, it needs a
lot of repairs.
Too in a formal style
In a formal or literary style, too can be placed directly after the
subject.
Perenial Themes — 539

I, too, have experienced


despair.
As, because, since and for

All four of these words can be used to refer to the reason for
something. They are not used in the same way.
as and since:
as and since are used when the reason is already known to the
listener/reader, or when it is not the most important part of the
sentence. As- and since-clauses often come at the beginning of
sentences.

As it’s raining again, we’ll


have to stay at home.
Since he had not paid his
bill, his electricity was cut
off.
As- and since-clauses are relatively formal; in an informal style,
the same ideas are often expressed with so.

It’s raining again, so we’ll


have to stay at home.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 540

Because
Because puts more emphasis on the reason, and most often
introduces new information which is not known to the
listener/reader.
Because I was ill for six months, I lost my job.

When the reason is the most important part of the sentence, the
because-clause usually comes at the end. It can also stand alone.
Since and as cannot be used like this.

Why am I leaving? I’m


leaving because I’m fed
up!
(Not…. I’m leaving
as/since I’m fed up!)
‘Why are you laughing?’
‘Because you look so
funny.’
A because-clause can be used at the end of a sentence to say
how one knows something.
Perenial Themes — 541

You didn’t tell me the


truth, because I found the
money in your room.
(=…. I know because I
found…)
for
For introduces new information, but suggests that the reason is
given as an afterthought. A for-clause could almost be in
brackets. For-clauses never come at the beginning of sentences,
and cannot stand alone. For, used in this sense, is most common
in a formal written style.

I decided to stop and have


lunch— for I was feeling
hungry.
as if and as though
meaning
as if and as though mean the same. We use them to say what a
situation seems like.

It looks as if/though it’s


going to rain.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 542

I felt as if/though I was


dying.
She was acting as if/though
she was in charge.
tenses
We can use a past tense with a present meaning after as
if/though. This shows that a comparison is ‘unreal’. Compare:

She looks as if she’s rich.


(Perhaps she is rich.)
He talks as if he was rich.
(But he is not)
You look as though you
know each other.
Why is she looking at me
as though she knew me?
I’ve never seen her before
in my life.
Perenial Themes — 543

However, we do not use a past perfect for a past unreal


comparison.

He talked as if he was rich,


but he wasn’t.
(NOT….as if he had been
rich….)
In a formal style, were can be used instead of was in an ‘unreal’
comparison.

This is normal in American English.

He talks as if he were rich.


informal use of like
In an informal style, like is often used instead of as if/though,
especially in American English. This is not considered correct in
a formal style.

It seems like it’s going to


rain.
He sat there smiling like it
was his birthday.
Had better
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 544

Meaning
We use had better to give strong advice, or to tell people what to
do (including ourselves).

You’d better turn that


music down before your
Dad gets angry.
It’s seven o’clock. I’d
better put the meat in the
oven.
Had better may suggest a threat. It is not used in polite requests.
Compare:

Could you help me, if


you’ve got time? (request)
You’d better help me. If
you don’t, there’ll be
trouble. (order/threat)
Had better refers to the immediate future. It is more urgent than
should or ought. Compare:
Perenial Themes — 545

‘I really ought to go and


see Fred one of these days.’
‘Well, you’d better do it
soon—he’s leaving for
South Africa at the end of
the month.’
Note that had better does not usually suggest that the action
recommended would be better than another one that is being
considered—there is no idea of comparison. The structure means
‘It would be good to …..’, not ‘It would be better to….’.
forms
Had better refers to the immediate future, but the form is always
past (have better is impossible). After had better we use the
infinitive without to.

It’s late—you had better


hurry up.
(NOT….You have
better…)
(NOT….You had better
hurrying/to hurry…)
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 546

In British English, better can come before had for emphasis.

‘I promise I’ll pay you


back.’ ‘You better had.
We normally make the
negative with had better
not + infinitive.
You’d better not wake me
up when you come in.
(You hadn’t better wake
me… is possible but very
unusual.)
A negative interrogative form Hadn’t…. better….? Is possible.

Hadn’t we better tell him


the truth?
Normal un-emphatic short answer forms are as follows:
Perenial Themes — 547

‘Shall I put my clothes


away?’ ‘You’d better!’
‘He says he won’t tell
anybody.’ ‘He’d better
not.’
Had is sometimes dropped in very informal speech.

You better go now.


I better try again later.
Happen

Happen can be used with a following infinitive to suggest that


something happens unexpectedly or by chance.

If you happen to see Joan,


ask her to phone me.
One day I happened to get
talking to a woman on a
train, and she turned out
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 548

to be a cousin of my
mother’s.
In sentences with if, the idea of by chance can be emphasised by
using should before happen.

Let me know if you should


happen to need any help.
Lest

Lest has a similar meaning to in case or so that…not. It is very


rare in modern British English, and is found mostly in older
literature and in ceremonial language. It is a little more common
in formal American English.

They kept watch all night


lest robbers should come.
We must take care lest evil
thoughts enter our hearts.
Lest can be followed by a subjunctive verb in a formal style to
emphasise the importance of the action/idea.

The government must take


immediate action, lest the
Perenial Themes — 549

problem of child poverty


grow worse.
For fear that is used in a similar way, and is also unusual in
modern English.

He hid in the woods for


fear that the soldiers
would find him.
Although and though

Although + clause + clause


Clause + (al) though +
clause
Clause + though
1. Conjunctions
Both these words can be used as conjunctions, with the same
meaning. In informal speech, though is more common.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 550

(Al)though the government


refuses to admit it, its
economic policy is in ruins.
(Al)though I don’t agree
with him, I think he is
honest.
I’d quite like to go out,
(al)though it is a bit late.
We use even though to emphasise a contrast. (Even although is
not possible.)

Even though I didn’t


understand a word, I kept
smiling.
2. Though used as an adverb
We can use though as an adverb, to mean ‘however’.

‘Nice day.’ ‘Yes. Bit cold


though.’
Perenial Themes — 551

The strongest argument,


though, is economic and
political.
Much and many

1. The difference
Much is used with singular nouns; many is used with plurals.

I haven’t got much time.


How much of the roof
needs repairing?
You can have as much of
the milk as you like.
I don’t know many of your
friends.
She didn’t stay for as
many days as she had
intended.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 552

2. Much/many + noun
We can use much and many before noun phrases as determiners.
We do not generally use of when there is no other determiner
(e.g. article or possessive).

She didn’t eat much


breakfast. (not much of….)
There aren’t many large
glasses left. (not many
of….)
However, much of can be used without a following determiner in
a few cases, for instance, personal and geographical names.

I have seen too much of


Howard recently.
Not much of Denmark is
hilly.
3. Much/many of + determiner +
noun
Perenial Themes — 553

Before determiners (e.g. a, the, my, this) and pronouns, we use


much of and many of.

You can’t see much of a


country in a week.
How much of the house do
you want to paint this
year.
I won’t pass the exam: I
have missed too many of
my lessons.
You didn’t eat much of it.
How many of you are
there?
4. Much/many without a noun
We can drop a noun after much or many, if the meaning is clear.

You haven’t eaten much.


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 554

‘Did you find any


mushrooms?’ ‘Not many.’
Note that much and many are only used like this when a noun
has been dropped. They are not used as the complements of
nouns: other structures are used.

There was not much


(food).
That’s too much (food).
(But not the food wasn’t
much.)
Because you couldn’t say the food wasn’t much food.

Many is not usually used alone to mean ‘many people’.

Many people think it’s


time for a change. (Not
Many think.…)
5. Much as adverb
We can use much as an adverb.
Perenial Themes — 555

I don’t travel much these


days.
Much can come before some verbs expressing enjoyment,
preference and similar ideas, especially in a formal style.

I much appreciate your


help.
We much prefer the
country to the town.
Janet much enjoyed her
stay with your family.
Small and little

Small simply refers to size. It is the opposite of big or large.

Could I have a small


notebook, please?
You are too small to be a
policeman.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 556

Usually, the adjective little not only refers to size, but also
expresses some emotion.

Poor little thing- come


here and let me look after
you.
What’s that nasty little boy
doing in our garden? Tell
the little beast to go out.
They’ve bought a pretty
little house in the country.
In a few fixed expressions, little is used in the same way as
small or short.

Little finger the little


hand of a clock
A little while a little way
Until

1. Until and till


Perenial Themes — 557

These two words can be used as prepositions and conjunctions.


They mean exactly the same. Till is informal in British English
(in American English, till is the preferred informal spelling).

OK, then, I won’t expect


you until/till midnight.
I’ll wait until/till I hear
from you.
The new timetable will
remain in operation until
June 30.
2. Until/till and to
To can sometimes be used as preposition of time with the same
meaning as until/till. This happens after from…

I usually work from nine


to five. (OR from nine
until/till five.)
We can also use to when counting the time until a future event.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 558

It’s another three weeks to


the holidays.
(OR…until/till the
holidays.)
In other cases, to is not generally used.

I waited for her until six


o’clock, but she didn’t
come. (Not I waited for her
to six o’clock.)
3. Place and quantity: until/till not
used
Until and till is used only to talk about time. To talk about
distance, we use to, as far as or up to; up to is also used to talk
about quantity.

We walked as far as/up to


the edge of the forest. (Not
till the edge…)
Perenial Themes — 559

The minibus can hold up


to thirteen people. (Not
until thirteen…)
You can earn up to Rs. 500
a week in this job.
It is sometimes possible to use until/till before a place name in
the sense of ‘until we get to…’

You drive until the park


and then I’ll take over.
4. Tenses with until
Present tenses are used to refer to the future after until.

I’ll wait until she gets here.


(Not until she will get here.)
Present and past perfect tenses can emphasise the idea of
completion.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 560

You are not going home


until you have finished
that report.
I waited until the rain had
stopped.
5. Structure with not until
In a literary style it is possible to begin a sentence with not
until…, using inverted word order in the main clause.

Not until that evening was


she able to recover her
self-control.
Not until I left home did I
begin to understand how
strange my family was.
Perenial Themes — 561

Worth

1. Worth a few pounds


Worth can be followed by a noun phrase which describes the
value of something.

That piano must be worth


a few pounds.
I don’t think their pizzas
are worth the money.
‘Shall I talk to Rob?’ ‘It’s
not worth the trouble.’
In questions about the value of something, either what or how
much can be used.

What/how much is that


painting worth?
2. five pounds’ worth of
A possessive structure can be used before worth in measurement
expressions.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 562

Could I have a few


pounds’ worth of petrol,
please?
3. It’s worth talking to him
When we talk about the value of an activity, we can use an—ing
form with worth. The—ing clause cannot be the subject, but we
often use a structure with preparatory it. (This structure is more
common in British than in American English.)

It’s worth talking to


Junaid. (Not…Talking to
Junaid is worth.)
Is it worth visiting
Leicester?
It can be used to refer to an action mentioned earlier.

‘Shall we take the car?’


‘No, it’s not worth it.’
Perenial Themes — 563

4. He’s worth talking to


Ideas like the ones in No. 3 above can also be expressed by a
structure in which the object of the—ing form (Junaid, the car,
Leicester) is made the subject of the sentence.

Junaid’s worth talking to.


The car isn’t worth
repairing. (Not…The car
isn’t worth repairing
it/worth to be repaired.)
Is Leicester worth visiting?
She is not worth getting
angry with.
5. Worthwhile
In structures with—ing forms, worthwhile (or worth while) is
sometimes used instead of worth, particularly to express the idea
‘worth spending time.’

Is it worthwhile visiting
Leicester?
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 564

Infinitives are also possible after worthwhile.

We thought it might be
worthwhile to compare
this year’s accounts with
last year’s.
Note also the structure
worth somebody’s while.
Would you like to do some
gardening for me? I’ll
make it worth your while.
(=…I’ll pay you enough.)
6. Well worth
Worth can be modified by well.

Leicester’s well worth


visiting. (Not…very
worth…)
Perenial Themes — 565

Least and fewest

1. The least as determiner:


superlative of little
The least is used before uncountable nouns as a determiner
referring to quantity; it is the superlative of little (=not much),
and the opposite of most.

In a ‘slow bicycle race’, the


winner is the person who
travels the least distance in
one minute without falling
off or turning round.
Note also the expression the least of (=smallest of), used before
plural abstract nouns.

‘What will your mother


think?’ ‘That’s the least of
my worries.’
Any…at all

The least can have a similar meaning to ‘any…at all’. This


happens mostly before singular abstract nouns in ‘non-assertive’
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 566

contexts: for instance in questions, negative clauses and if-


clauses.

Do you think there’s the


least chance of Labour
winning the elections?
‘What’s the time?’ ‘I
haven’t got the least idea.’
She is not the least bit
afraid of horses.
3. The fewest as determiner:
superlative of few
The fewest is used before plural nouns as the superlative of few.

The translation with the


fewest mistakes isn’t
always the best.
Least is often used instead of fewest before plural nouns (…the
least mistakes), especially in an informal style. Some people feel
this is incorrect.
Perenial Themes — 567

4. (the) least with adjectives: the


opposite of (the) most or (the)
…est
(The) least is used before adjectives in the same way as (the)
most or (the)…est, but with the opposite meaning.

The least expensive


holidays are often the most
interesting.
Don’t give the job to
Keith: he’s the least
experienced.
I’m least happy when I
have to work at weekends.
5. Least as adverb
Least can be used as an adverb (the opposite of most).

She always arrives when


you least expect it.
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 568

I don’t much like


housework, and I like
cooking least of all.

6. At least
At least means ‘not less than (but perhaps more than).’

‘How old do you think he


is?’ ‘At least thirty.’
He has been ill at least
eight times this year.
We can also use at least as a discourse marker to suggest that
one thing is certain or all right, even if everything else is
unsatisfactory.

We lost everything in fire.


But at least nobody was
hurt.
7. Not in the least
Perenial Themes — 569

We can use not in the least in a formal style to mean ‘not at all’,
especially when talking about personal feelings and reactions.

I was not in the least upset


by her bad temper.
She did not mind working
late in the least.
American and British English
These two varieties of English are very similar. There are a few
differences of grammar and spelling, and rather more differences
of vocabulary and idiom. Modern British English is heavily
influenced by American English, so some of the contrasts are
disappearing. Pronunciation is sometimes very different, but
most American and British speakers can understand each other
without great difficulty.

Grammar

Here are examples of the most important differences. Note that


in many cases two different forms are possible in one Varity of
English, while only one of the forms is possible or normal in the
other variety.

American English British English


He just went home. He is just gone home.

Or He’s just gone home.


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 570

Do you have a problem? Have you got a problem?

Or have you got a problem?

I’ve never really gotten to know her. I’ve never really got to
know her.

I (can) see a car coming. I can see a car coming.

Will you buy it? ‘I may’. I may (do).

(on the phone) Hello, is this Susan? Hello, is that Susan?

It looks like it is going to rain. It looks as if/like it’s going to


rain.

He looked at me real strange. He looked at me really


strangely.

(Very informal)

or He looked at me really strangely.

(formal)

He probably has arrived by now. He has probably arrived by


now.

Or He has probably arrived.

Besides get and fit some other irregular verbs have different
forms in British and American English.

Vocabulary
There are very many differences. Some times the same word has
different meanings (GB mad=crazy; US mad= angry). And very
Perenial Themes — 571

often, different words are used for the same idea (GB lorry = U
S truck). Here are a few examples, with very brief information
about the words and their meanings.
American English British English
airplane aeroplane

anyplace, anywhere anywhere

apartment flat/ apartment

area code dialling code (phone)

attorney lawyer barrister, solicitor

busy engaged (phone)

cab/taxi taxi

call collect reverse the charges (phone)

can tin

candy sweets

check/bill bill (in a restaurant)

coin-purse purse

cookie , cracker biscuit

corn, sweet corn, maize

crib cot

crazy mad

cuffs turn-ups (on trousers)


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 572

diaper nappy

doctor’s office doctor’s surgery

dumb, stupid stupid

elevator lift

eraser rubber ,eraser

fall , autumn autumn

faucet, tap tap (indoors)

flashlight torch

flat(tire) flat tyre, puncture

french fries chips

trash, garbage rubbish

garbage can, trashcan dustbin, rubbish bin

gas(oline) petrol

gear shift gear lever (on a car)

highway, freeway main road, motorway

hood bonnet (on a car)

intersection crossroads

mad angry

mail post
Perenial Themes — 573

mean nasty

movie, film film

one-way (ticket) single (ticket)

pants, trousers trousers

pavement road surface

pitcher jug

pocketbook, purse, handbag handbag

(potato) chips crisps

railroad railway

raise rise (in salary)

rest room public toilet

round trip return (journey/ticket)

schedule, timetable timetable

sidewalk pavement

sneakers trainers (=sports shoes)

spigot, faucet tap (out doors)

stand in line queue

stingy mean (opposite of ‘generous’)

store, shop shop


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 574

subway underground

truck van, lorry

trunk boot (of a car)

two weeks fortnight, two weeks

vacation holiday(s)

windshield windscreen (on a car)

zee zed (the name of the letter ‘z’

zipper zip

Expressions with prepositions and particles


American English British English
Different from/than Different from/to

Check something (out) Check something

Do something over/again Do something again

Live on X street Live in X street

On a team In a team

Monday through/to Friday Monday to Friday

Spelling
A number of words end in—or in American English and—our in
British English (e.g. color/colour). Some words end in—er in
American English and—re in British English (e.g.
center/centre). Many verbs which end in—ize in American
Perenial Themes — 575

English (e.g. realize) can be spelt in British English with—ize


or—ise. Some of the commonest words with different forms are:

American English British


English
Aluminum Aluminium

Analyze Analyse

Catalog(ue) Catalogue

Center Centre

Check Cheque (issued by a bank)

Color Colour

Defense Defence

Honor Honour

Jewelry Jewellery

Labor Labour

Pajamas Pyjamas

Practice, practise Practise (verb)

Program Programme

Realize Realise/realize

Theater Theatre
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 576

Tire Tyre (on a wheel)

Trave(l)ler Traveller

Whiskey (scotch) whisky; (Irish) whiskey

Pronunciation
There are, of course, many different regional accents in both
Britain and America. The most important general differences
between American and British speech are as follows:

Certain vowels are nasal (pronounced through the nose and


mouth at the same time) in some varieties of American English.)

British English has one more vowel than American English.


This is the rounded short 0 (/α/) used in words like cot, dog, got,
gone, off, stop, lost. In American English these words are
pronounced either with /‫כ‬:/, like the first vowel in father, or with
/‫כ‬:/, like the vowel in caught. (This vowel is also pronounced
rather differently in British and American English.)

Some words written with a + consonant (e.g. fast, after) have


different pronunciations: with /a:/in standard southern British
English, and with /æ/ in American and some other varieties of
English.

The vowel in home, go, open is pronounced /∂υ/ in standard


southern British English, and /oυ/ in American English. The two
vowels sound very different.

In standard southern British English, r is only pronounced before


a vowel sound. In most kinds of American English, r is
pronounced in all positions where it is written in a word, and it
changes the quality of a vowel that comes before it. So words
Perenial Themes — 577

like car, turn, offer sound very different in British and American
speech.

In many varieties of American English, t and d both have a very


light voiced pronunciation /d/ between vowels—so writer and
rider, for example, can sound the same. In British English they
are quite different: /’rait∂(r)/ and /’raid∂(r)/.

Some words which are pronounced with /u:/ in most varieties of


American English have /ju:/ in British English. These are words
in which th, d, t or n (and sometimes s or l) are followed by u or
ew/

Enthusiastic US/in´θu:zi´æstik/ GB / in´θju:zi´æstik//

Duty US/’du:ti/ GB /’dju:ti/

Tune US/tu:n/ GB /tju:n/

New US /nu:/ GB /nju:/

Illuminate US /I’lu:mineit/ GB /I’lju: mineit/

Words ending in unstressed—ile (e.g. fertile, reptile, missile,


senile) are pronounced with /ail/ in British English; some are
pronounced with /l/ in American English.

Fertile US /’f3:rtl/ (rhyming with turtle)

GB /’f3:tail/ (rhyming with her tile)

Some long words ending in—ary, -ery, or—ory are pronounced


differently, with one more syllable in American English.

Secretary US /'sekr∂teri/ GB /'sekr∂tri/

Borough and thorough are pronounced differently.


A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 578

US /'bΛroυ, 'θΛroυ/ GB /'bΛr∂, 'θΛr∂/

Words borrowed from French are often stressed differently,


especially if their pronunciation ends with a vowel sound. The
final vowel is usually stressed in American English but not in
British English.

Paté US /pæ'teI/ GB /'pæteI/

Ballet US /bæ'leI/ GB /'bæ


Perenial Themes — 579

A. N. Whitehead, 6 203, 207, 215, 239, George Orwell, 79


active voice, 120, 231 246, 247, 251, 254, Germany, 11, 12, 23
Active-Passive Issue, 255, 264, 283, 284, Giorgione, 74
231 290, 291, 292, 293, Giotto, 75
Adjectives, 128, 143, 297, 302, 303 Goethe, 75
175, 176, 177, 179, Cobbett, 37 Gorki, 70
180, 181, 216 Colon, 254 Greece, 67, 76
Adverbs, 128, 143, Comma Splice, 113 Greek, 7, 66, 67, 72
171, 216 Common Sentence Groos, 72
Africa, 12 Problems, 110 Hegel, 68, 75
Alexander, 74 complement, 108, Heine, 74
Alvin Toffler, 18 136, 144, 151, 152, Herman Kahn, 22
American Declaration 167, 176, 180, 241 Hobbes, 75
of Independence, compound Holland, 12
37 predicate, 107, Hugo, 74
Anatole France, 65 135 Hyphenation, 259
Animal Farm, 79 Conjunction, 214 Interjections, 143,
Anthony Wiener, 22 Cornell, 20 220
Archimedes, 75 Dangling Modifier, Iqbal, 6
Aristotle, 15, 16, 39, 130, 131 Kant, 68, 75
67, 75 Dante, 74 Karl Marx, 37
Articles, 143, 202 Darwin, 16, 73 Keats, 74
Artxybasheff, 74 Deadwood, 117, 119, King Charles, 37
Athens, 73 See wordiness King John, 37
Aurelio Peccei, 21 Determiners, 143, Lake Poets, 7
Bach, 75 202 Lasselle, 37
Bacon, 4, 75 Egypt, 76 Leonardo, 75
Beethoven, 75 Emilio Q. Daddario, Lessing, 67
Bertrand Russell, 6, 30 Lucretius, 74
15 England, 11, 37, 42, Magna Charta, 37
Brazil, 23, 31 63 Max Schulman, 89
Bruno, 74 Erewhon, 6 Michelangelo, 75
Burma, 79, 88 Faulty Comparisons, Middle East, 25
Byron, 38, 74 138 Milton, 75
Caesar, 70, 75 Flaubert, 75 Misplaced Modifier,
Cambridge, 4, 63 France, 10, 11, 20, 129
Capitalisation, 262 65, 75 MIT, 20
China, 10 Frenzied Fiction, 44 Modifiers, 128, 129
Chopin, 74 Future Shock, 18 Moulmein, 79
clause, 109, 110, 111, Galileo, 16, 75 Napoleon, 75
120, 130, 131, 151, Gautier, 76 Newton, 75
152, 171, 176, 177, George Bernard Nietzche, 75
180, 182, 183, 190, Shaw, 34 Nonsense Novels, 44
A Textbook of English Prose and Structure— 580

noun, 107, 108, 128, Pythagoras, 67 Stephen Leacock, 44


143, 145, 148, 149, Queen Anne, 40 Strindberg, 74
151, 152, 160, 167, Ralph Lapp, 21 Stringy Sentences,
173, 175, 178, 179, Renaissance, 66, 73 133
181, 182, 183, 202, Renan, 75 subject, 107, 108,
203, 204, 205, 206, Retzsch, 61 118, 130, 131, 136,
207, 239, 241, 251, Rome, 74 141, 144, 145, 160,
260, 263, 272, 289, Rousseau, 7, 37, 70, 161, 163, 165, 166,
290, 298, 299, 303 74 167, 168, 169, 176,
object, 108, 112, 114, Run-on Sentences, 180, 182, 183, 223,
137, 144, 152, 160, 114 231, 232, 239, 241,
161, 162, 163, 176, Russia, 12, 38 242, 248, 261, 291,
182, 183, 207, 213, Saint Peter's College, 303, 304
248, 286, 304 65 Subject-Verb
Origin of Species, 16 Samuel Butler, 6, 7 Agreement, 163
Oxford, 63 Sappho, 74 Suez Canal, 88
Parallelism, 121, 124, Schiller, 74 Swinburne, 74
125 Schopenhauer, 68 Tchaikovsky, 74
Paris, 10 Schubert, 74 Tenses, 223, 228, 302
participle, 130, 151, Schumann, 74 Test Acts, 63
161, 191, 193, 223, Semicolon, 253 The Story of
225, 283, 284, 285, sentence, 107, 109, Philosophy, 65
286 110, 111, 117, 120, The Third Wave, 18
Peacock, 7 128, 129, 130, 131, Thomas Henry
Petrarch, 74 133, 135, 136, 140, Huxley, 60
Philosophy and the 141, 143, 145, 160, Titian, 75
Social Problem, 65 167, 171, 173, 183, Tolstoi, 70
Plato, 67, 70, 75 195, 205, 207, 232, Tom Paine, 37
Pleasures of 235, 237, 238, 241, Trafalgar, 37
Philosophy, 65 242, 246, 247, 248, Turgenev, 75
Poe, 74 251, 254, 255, 260, Two-way Modifier,
Predicate, 107 261, 262, 264, 266, 131
Prepositions, 143, 267, 268, 269, 270, United States, 12, 20,
205, 206, 207, 209 271, 290, 292, 293, 21, 23, 29, 30
Principia 302, 304 Utopia, 70
Mathematica, 6 Sentence-Level Venice, 74
Principles of Problems, 140 verb, 107, 108, 128,
Mathematics, 6 Shakespeare, 3, 34, 136, 143, 144, 151,
Pronoun Reference, 42 152, 160, 161, 163,
185 Shelley, 37, 74 164, 165, 166, 167,
Pronouns. See , See , simple predicate, 168, 169, 171, 189,
See 107, 160 190, 191, 192, 193,
Pronunciation, 307, Socrates, 75 195, 206, 223, 224,
314 Sophocles, 75 226, 228, 231, 241,
Punctuation, 235 Spanish Armada, 37
Perenial Themes — 581

248, 289, 290, 297, Voltaire, 37 Winctelmann, 67


313 Waterloo, 37 Wisconsin, 20
Verb Patterns, 151 Westminster Abbey, Word Classes, 143,
verbals, 110 73 182
Verlaine, 74 Will Durant, 65 Wordiness, 117
Vocabulary, 309 William Morris, 7