Since the first edition of this grammar was published in 1886, the Ontario High School course of study has been altered, and philological research has modified the views of English scholars on a number of subjects. The present work is intended to meet the existing conditions. It contains also the results of the criticisms and suggestions which the author has received from teachers who have used the old book.
Like the first edition, this one has been constructed in accordance with the view that, while English grammar is a science with important practical applications, it is, when properly studied, an intellectual discipline of the highest order. Like the first edition, also, this one is on an historical basis. Only on this basis can the structure of the language be intelligently explained. "Old English," as Prof. Skeat truly says, "is the right key to the understanding of Modern English, and those who will not use the key, will never open the book with all their fumbling." But, although many of the earlier forms and constructions are given, it is not intended that they should be memorized. Those which exhibit the main facts in the development of the language deserve especial consideration; the others have been introduced merely to illustrate statements which might otherwise be imperfectly understood. In accordance with the best pedagogical opinion, definitions have been omitted in this edition also. The so-called definitions in Section II. are summaries of the discussions rather than definitions of the once favored but mind-benumbing type.
It would be impracticable to note in a preface all the changes which have been found necessary to bring the book into line with modern scholarship and the present requirements of secondary education. One or two may, however, be pointed out.