previous next


VERBS, INFLECTIONS OF:-- -s final misprinted

S final misprinted. Though the rhyme and metre establish the fact that Shakespeare used the plural verbal inflection in s, yet it ought to be stated that -s final in the Folio is often a misprint. Being indicated by a mere line at the end of a word in MS., it was often confused with the comma, full stop, dash or hyphen.

“Comes (,) shall we in?

“At that that I have kil'd my lord, a Flys.

“Good man, these joyful tears show thy true hearts.

Conversely, in one or two places the dash or hyphen has usurped the place of the s.

“Unkle, what newe--?

“With gobbets of thy Mother-blecding heart.

Sometimes (even without the possibility of mistake for a comma) the -s is inserted:

“Sir Protheus, your Fathers call's for you.

“Sawcie Lictors
Will catch at us like Strumpets, and scald Rimers
Ballads us out of tune.

Yet in many passages the -s is probably correct, though we should now omit it, especially at the end of nouns. As we still use "riches," "gains," almost as singular nouns, so Shakespeare seems to have used "lands," "wars," "stones," "sorrows," "flatteries," "purposes," "virtues," "glories," "fortunes," "things," "attempts," "graces," "treasons," "succours," "behaviours," "duties," "funerals," "proceedings," &c. as collective nouns.

In other cases there seems at least a method in the error. The -s is added to plural adjectives and to adjectives or nouns dependent upon nouns inflected in "s," as

“The letters patents.

It is common in E. E. for plural adjectives of Romance origin to take the plural inflection. But see 430. The Globe reads "patents" in Rich. II. ii. 3. 130.

The following are selected, without verification, from Walker:

“Kings Richards throne.

“Smooth and welcomes newes.

“Lords Staffords death.” Ib. v. 3.

“The Thicks-lips.

A word already plural sometimes receives an additional plural inflection:

“Your teethes.

“Others faults.

“Men look'd . . . each at others.

“Boths.

“On others grounds.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: