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VERBS, INFLECTIONS OF:-- Apparent cases of the inflection in -s

Apparent cases of the inflection in "s."

Often, however, a verb preceded by a plural noun (the apparent nominative) has for its real nominative, not the noun, but the noun clause.

“The combatants being kin
Half stints their strife before they do begin.

i.e. "The fact that the combatants are kin."

“Wherein his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself.

i.e. "The beating of his brains on this."

“And our ills told us
Is as our earing.

i.e. "The telling us of our faults is like ploughing us."

“And great affections wrestling in thy bosom
Doth make an earthquake of nobility.

“To know our enemies' minds we 'ld rip their hearts:
(To rip) Their papers is more lawful.

So in

“Blest be those,
How mean soe'er, that have their honest wills,
Which seasons comfort,

"which" has for its antecedent "having one's honest will."

Conversely, a plural is implied, and hence the verb is in the plural, in

“Men's flesh preserv'd so whole do seldom win.

i.e. "when men are too careful about their safety they seldom win."

“Smile heaven (the gods, or the stars) upon this fair conjunction,
That long have frowned upon their enmity.

It may be conjectured that this licence, as well as the licence of using the -s inflection where the verb precedes, or where the noun clause may be considered the nominative, would in all probability not have been tolerated but for the fact that -s was still recognized as a provincial plural inflection.

The following is simply a case of transposition:

“Now, sir, the sound that tells what hour it is
Are clamorous groans.

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