The following resources have been used as reference for language use. The work is in progress.

Practical English Usage (Practical English Usage, Third Edition)


A Practical English Grammar


A Practical English Grammar: Exercises 1 (Bk. 1)


A Practical English Grammar: Exercises 2 (Bk. 2)


English Grammar in Use: A Self-study Reference and Practice Book for Intermediate Students of English – with Answers


B.D. Graver, Advanced English Practice: With Key




The Economist



Antoni Prejbisz, Gramatyka Języka Angielskiego


Marian Auerbach, Marian Golias, Gramatyka grecka


Lidia Winniczuk, Lingua Latina : Łacina Bez Pomocy Orbiliusza


Łukasz Koncewicz, Słownik łaciński


The absolutely basics about the USA

The governing body of the American democracy is the Congress. It comprises the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is located in the Capitol Hill, showed in the picture above.


Many researchers derive democracy from ancient Greece. How could we compare ancient Greece and modern America? Ancient Greeks actually developed a proto-democracy: they happened to have kings and queens, depended heavily on military leaders and bequeathed elitism. America is a democracy. There have been no kings or queens of the USA. The head of the state is the President. The President resides in the White House.



Both the Congress and the White House are in Washington D.C. that is, the city named Washington in the District of Columbia. Washington D.C. is the capital of the USA.


District Columbia is on the American East Coast.


The state of Washington is on the West Coast.


We can get maps of the USA at the National Atlas website,
We usually tell the name of our location along with the name of the state, if we give our address in America.


Washington state got its name after George Washington, the first American president. The state is the only American state named after a president.



There are many places named Washington in America. George Washington remains a very prominent figure. He fought for American freedom in the Revolutionary War against England. He was President in years 1789-1797, after the War.


The American Revolutionary War had its written formulation
in the Declaration of Independence.

Link to post on the Declaration


The Revolutionary victory brought another historic formulation,
the American Constitution.



American government was built “from scratch” by the Founding Fathers. Some, as Thomas Jefferson, described their perspectives on the State. Elective monarchy patterns as of Poland, for example, did not win ground. Poland was a chronically fallen country. The monarch was a lifetime position, and commoners hardly had civil rights. Hereditary monarchy forms as of England obviously did not offer any better security for the freedom of the people.


James Madison wrote,


The constitutional reallocation of powers created a new form of government, unprecedented under the sun. Every previous national authority either had been centralized or else had been a confederation of sovereign states. The new American system was neither one nor the other; it was a mixture of both.[38]


The “new form of government” is democracy,
only by far more advanced than Greek prototypes.

Compare the History US site,

Video: America gets a constitution


Language form

Without a piece of thought about language form, we could not learn any language. Let us think what language form is. Different languages have different ways to name objects of thought. For example, we can say a dog in English. In German, we can say ein Hund. In French, we can say un chien. In Greek, we could say σκυλος. In Russian, we could say собака.




All these words have different forms, but they refer to or indicate the same object that we name a dog in English.We may use word forms in more than one sense. In the picture above, we can see Jemma’s dog. We would not have Buddie for a hot dog (!)

Hot dog


A cat in English can be eine Katze in German. It can be un chat in French. A cat can be γάτα or γάτος in Greek. It can be кот in Russian.




A chat can be a conversation, in English. A gat can be a channel or passage. Kot can be a Yeniseian language. Language forms happen to differ. Language forms also happen to be very similar. We always need to know the language and the context, to see what the language form denotes: a picture of a cat is not a cat.


Language form is always a word form. In language psychology, we have “body language” for a figure of speech. There is no language without syntax. Our bodies could not work for syntax (!)


We can use virtual words, to work on language form. Invented or virtual words are closest to non-existent words. They have word shapes, but they have no meaning. They can help exercise syntax. Children invent words spontaneously, to practice language.


Try the virtual words and color code.

Link to the color code and virtual words

The American bald eagle

The name Haliaeetus leucocephalus, derives from Greek hali “sea”, aiētos “eagle”, leuco “white”, cephalos “head”. Literally, the name is the white-haded sea eagle.


The name “bald eagle” correlates with figurative classic Latin reference for the word leucos, as in literary descriptions of “barren, wintry lands”. Bald eagles do not migrate for winter, and US Alaska has the biggest population of them in the world.


We can view images of the white-haded sea eagle over Wikimedia Commons, and read about it in Wikipedia.


The bald eagle is a national symbol of the United States of America. The Continental Congress included the bird in the Great Seal, in 1782.


Not everyone was happy with the choice. Benjamin Franklin wrote in one of his letters,


For my own part. I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly … besides, he is a rank coward: The little king bird not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district.


Bald eagles have been termed “opportunistic feeders”, indeed (Wikipedia). The term means they adapt to habitats. Preying on fish is actually easy to the birds, and well, we hardly could expect whaling, by any bird at all.

If we are curious about American landscapes and habitats, we can go the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website


As regards courage, we should not expect bald eagles to fight in extents or areas they do not recognize for own or important. However, it might be very dangerous to try approaching a nest, when the parents are around.


Bald eagle nestlings


All bald eagles and golden eagles are under the Protection Act. Federal laws forbid damaging, disturbing, possession, or trading of the American eagle. Bald eagles hatch reliant on temperatures. They may hatch in spring or fall, dependent on the geographical area.


The American bald eagle symbolizes good language skills, in our grammar course. If we are curious about the species, we can get more American bald eagle information at


We also can support the species financially, with the American Eagle Foundation,



Colors can help read and learn

We can use a color code, to make reading and learning easier. We use colors when the words are of focus. Let us begin with verbs. We color auxiliary verbs green and head verbs mauve.


Some verb forms can work as head verbs as well as auxiliaries. Our head verbs can head verb phrases. They tell the activity or faculty. Auxiliaries always require another verb. They help tell the language pattern, for example Simple, Progressive, or Perfect (see Subchapter 3.1.)




We could say,

I am a learner;
I am learning.


We also could say,
I have a grammar book;
I have learned grammar.


To avoid confusion, we can use invented words. Virtual words can be fun. Kids use them regularly, following own natural intuitions to make language patterns easier to work out. We can use the trick when we are older, too.



In our exercises, we usually begin with virtual word practice, and only then we work on real words: we focus on meaning better, when language structure is not a problem.


We can try a virtual form “bimo” for an invented verb. We use “bimo” with the forms and in the places for head verbs. This can help us focus on syntax.
I am bimoing.
I have bimoed.


We can have two invented verbs, bimo and thimo, as well as two invented nouns, phimo and reemo. Our virtual verbs are gillyflower. Our invented nouns can be carrot. The colors are much less likely to occur in print, even color print, and invented words are just to help exercise. They are not to replace language.

I have a phimo.


Virtual words can help learn speech sounds.



The words have the sounds [f], [b], [th], and [r] in the same position. The sounds may be difficult to learners, just as telling [I] from [I:], for example in “thimo” and “reemo”.



Kids might say things as “phimo bimoes reemo” not only for fun, but also for real language exercise. Virtual words allow practice at the level of form solely. This means we work as in school, only with shortcuts.


In our language journey, pronouns and nouns are ink blue. Highlights and mapping extents are blue. We avoid color red, for the prevalent and adverse associations with prescriptive opinion on error.


1.2. Mind practice

Exercise 4. Let us try some travel in our minds. We can use exercises 1 – 3. Let us take our short mind journey in stages. We all have own inner language, the language of our thought.


A. First, let us think how long we could stay without thinking. We may happen to hear or even say that someone is not thinking. This is yet only a saying, something nobody can mean literally. In reality, nobody can “stop” his or her mind, even for a minute.


B. Let us fix our visual focus on a single thing — a teacup, a pencil, the apple in the image above? Let us try to think about our object only and not anything else. We can use a wristwatch to see how long we cope.


C. Let us close our eyes and try not to think absolutely anything. The watch will tell us if we really can do this.


D. Let us think in what language we think and how we think. Do we think in entire words? Could our thoughts be only pictures?


E. Let us go back to exercise 1. We can say out our answers to exercise 1. Whether multilingual or monolingual, we think in English words. We visualize spellings, that is, we imagine we write the words. We do the same for exercise 2. If we have done the exercises already, we do not look up the answers.


F. We read exercises 1 and 2 again, and try to “see” and “say” our answers in our thoughts strictly. Then, we write the answers on a spare piece of paper. We do exercise 3 as well. We do not even whisper (!)


In the beginning, we might feel it is really an effort to “discipline” ourselves and consciously direct own thinking. It is essential that we try. “Saying” or “writing” in our thoughts before spoken or written activity can make our language habits much stronger.


We humans naturally have inner language. For example, silent reading is faster than reading out. This is inner language to facilitate the process. It is not entire words or even speech sounds. It has only trace aspects of written or spoken language.


Inner language is the highly advanced way for our human brains to correlate language knowledge and skills. We do not know a language really, if it does not belong with our inner ability. Importantly, we can exercise to augment our inner intellectual powers.


Feel welcome to further grammar journey.
Chapter 2, the verb form WILL.

Link -- Chapter 2. The verb form WILL
Link -- Read this in a Slavic language, Polish

The US Great Seal

The United States federal authorities have used the Great Seal to authenticate documents since 1782. Please mind that the Seal pertains with the authorities. We can use images of it for explanatory purposes only, which is the objective here.


The obverse of the Seal is the national coat of arms of the United States. The Seal shows the bald eagle holding 13 arrows in its left talon and an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives in its right talon.


The arrows symbolize the American preparedness for war. The olive branch indicates want of peace. The eagle turns its head to the olive branch, expressing the American propensity for peace.


Number 13 as well as the motto, E pluribus unum, “Out of Many, One”, refer to the 13 states to have formed the original Union.


The reverse of the Great Seal shows an unfinished pyramid with an eye, and two Latin inscriptions. The pyramid has 13 layers and the date MDCCLXXVI (1776) in Roman notation.


Great Seal reverse


Year 1776 is the date of the Declaration of Independence. The two Latin phrases are ANNUIT COEPTIS and NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM.


The eye has been a symbol for mindfulness and forethought, worldwide. To some, a pyramid could denote might and endurance, we yet may associate pyramids with totalitarian ancient Egyptians. The author of the design wrote the pyramid was to signify might and endurance. The Founders did not intend the State for wielding absolute power, and the pyramid in the Seal is purposed to remain unfinished:


“No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April 1775, but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE, can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul,”


Thomas Paine, Common Sense (feel welcome to my public domain translation into Polish).



Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, designed the Seal and formed the mottos. He never provided a translation of the Latin phrases. An expert at Latin, he wrote he meant for the phrases to “signify the New American Æra” which commenced in 1776. The word “to signify” has close synonyms in words as “to connote”, “to be of association”.


Interestingly enough, the Seal could make a rhyme the citizens generally might identify with, and also a child might remember.

Out of many, one
E pluribus unum
With favor to the endeavor,
Annuit coeptis
A new people come.
Novus ordo seclorum


Thomas Paine did associate the word order with people. We can read about monarchy:


“And he who can so calmly hear, and digest such doctrine, hath forfeited his claim to rationality–an apostate from the order of manhood; and ought to be considered–as one, who hath, not only given up the proper dignity of a man, but sunk himself beneath the rank of animals, and contemptibly crawls through the world like a worm.”


Criticizing supporters of reconciliation, he wrote:


“But do such men seriously consider, how difficult the task is, and how dangerous it may prove, should the Continent divide thereon. Do they take within their view, all the various orders of men whose situation and circumstances, as well as their own, are to be considered therein.”


Also interestingly, both Thomas Paine and Charles Thomson use the spelling character æ.


We can compare Latin uses by Cicero, in his Philippics. Linguistically, such a manner of learning can be called a study from the usus.


“Accuse the senate; accuse the equestrian body, which at that time was united with the senate; accuse every order or society, and all the citizens; (…) at all events you would never have continued in this order, or rather in this city; (…) when I have been pronounced by this order to be the savior of my country; (…) when you, one single young man, forbade the whole order to pass decrees concerning the safety of the republic …”

In every context, trying to picture the word ordo/order, we would think about people.


Would the motto author include also young citizens into his perspective? We can recur to Thomas Paine:
“To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and an imposition on posterity.”


“As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully.”


For the form seclorum, we can compare the Latin secludere as to stand apart, and seclusus as separate. The form seclorum would be the plural genitive of seclum, which we can comprehend as “people who are separate”. With the Latin ordo as a group, arrangement, or class, we can have the Novus Ordo Seclorum for “A new people come”, that is, a new formation by people to have separated from others, to stand apart, as a nation, for example. Literal, word-for-word translation happens to be clumsy, also for ancient Latin (new form/order of/by the separate/separated?) However, we have the form “How come?” in English that renders the verb-adjective interplay.


“WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation”, says the Declaration of Independence.


Feel welcome to my posts on reading the Seal.


Obviously, the Seal would not be just a seal of assent. The supported endeavor would be democracy.


It is reasonable to think the Seal does not invoke supernatural powers, and it does not have masonic reference, as implied by conspiracy theories. The text is a formation by Charles Thomson, and the imagery corresponds with symbols as known through civilization and experience.


The Seal of the United States President derives directly from the obverse of the Great Seal. One-dollar bills have showed the Great Seal since 1935.




The use of arrow symbols in this grammar course does not correspond with the arrows of the Seal. It is to regard human orientative strategies and has no reference to weapons.


The American flag

USA national flag has thirteen stripes of red alternating with white. In the Flag, the red is at the top and the bottom. In insignia, the white is on the left and right. The union is a blue rectangle with 50 white, five-pointed stars, one for each American state. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original states of the early Union.


The Flag has changed since the early times. The Betsy Ross and the 13 Star are historic American flags. Alternative names for the American flag may be the Stars and Stripes, the Old Glory, and the Red, White, and Blue. The Star Spangled Banner also is the name of the American national anthem, too.


The 13 Star



Betsy Ross


There is a code of conduct concerning the Flag. The Federal Flag Code is not descriptive of all situations and does not impose penalties for misconduct. Violating the guidelines may offend, however.


The guidelines state to display the Flag from sunrise to sunset, when in the open. 24-hour display should involve proper illumination of the Flag from dusk to dawn. We should not modify the Flag, regardless of the form of presentation. Whether in fabric, print, or another material, the Flag should have the stars and the stripes as in the design presented on the top of this page.


Please refer to the Flag Code for details on flag positioning. For example, we place the Stars on the Flag’s right, when we display it horizontally or vertically. With other flags, the US flag should be on its own right side or in center front. On the same halyard, the American flag takes the superior position, except when with flags of other countries.

Granting a superior or privileged position to any flag of any country in a time of peace violates international regulations.


The United States Code explains on Flag dignity. The Flag should not be showed with disrespect. It should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, state flags, and organization or institution flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor. We should use an all-weather flag, when the weather is inclement.


We should not embroider the Flag on articles as cushions or handkerchiefs, print or otherwise impress it on paper napkins or boxes or anything designed for temporary use and discard. The code advises not to use the Flag for apparel. However, we might “get away” with flag pattern hats, tops, and scarves, especially on American holidays.


The flag should not be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything. The flag should not touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise. The flag should not be carried flat or horizontally. It should be aloft and free.


The Code encourages wearing Flag patches or pins on the left side of uniforms of military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations. The left side is that recognized for the side of the heart.


There have been disputes in America over freedom of speech and Flag burning. Could burning the Flag, as it happens in times of protests and unrest, be a form of speech?


In the psycholinguistic perspective, flag burning is a non-linguistic behavior. American legislation allows individual lawsuit in some cases of willful and malicious destruction.



The Flag Code makes one exception. When the Flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, and this can be by burning. Naturally, we have to be careful with fire.


Saluting the Flag


Title four of the United States Code counsels on the behavior proper to salute the Flag.


During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the Flag or when the Flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the Flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the Flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the Flag passes.


On occasions to salute the Flag, it could be best to agree on behavior with the American party to be present.


If Flag regulations seem complicated, let us think people have risked own lives, fighting for own freedom and the Flag. The American anthem tells this. Freedom and human rights are indispensable for intellectual and economic progress (see the context of the Gettysburg Address).

Respect for the American flag means respect for own gray matter, especially if we learn American English.

__Smiley serious PNG

Fort McHenry


Flying the Flag


American legislation mandates flying the Flag day and night in a few locations, to pay tribute in historic American sites. The national tradition holds the Flag half-staff until noon, on the Memorial Day.


Fort McHenry National Monument, Baltimore, Maryland;

Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland;

The United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, Virginia;

Lexington, Massachusetts;

The White House;

The Washington Monument;

United States Customs ports of entry;

Valley Forge State Park, Pennsylvania.


Many locations fly the Flag 24 hours without specific legal resolves.
One of such places is the United States Capitol.



Mount Rushmore has had its Avenue of Flags since 1976, the United States bicentennial. Visitors can view the Memorial 24 hours, year round.


Mount Rushmore (2)


The Memorial is located in the Pennington County, near Keystone, South Dakota. The four faces from left to right are those of the presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Sculptors Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln carried out the project. The construction ended in 1941.


Worldwide, flying the Flag every day and according to the Code, does not violate regulations. Please mind that displaying the Flag in parental advisory contexts may be considered non-complimentary. Removal of the Flag from an improper display might be advisable.


There are a few special days on which to fly the Flag.
We put the month before the day, to read the date in American English.


New Year’s Day, January 1

Inauguration Day, January 20

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12

Washington’s Birthday (the President’s day), third Monday in February

Easter Sunday, (variable)

Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May

Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May

Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May

Flag Day, June 14

Independence Day, July 4

Labor Day, first Monday in September

Constitution Day, September 17

Columbus Day, second Monday in October

Navy Day, October 27

Veterans Day, November 11

Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November

Christmas Day, December 25

State birthdays (days of admission) and holidays: each state individually.

The Star Spangled Banner, the American anthem

Fort McHenry, Baltimore; Wikimedia Commons


The “Star Spangled Banner” was formally adopted for the American anthem in 1931, with a law signed by president Herbert Hoover. The lyrics come from the Defence of Fort McHenry, a poem by Francis Scott Key. He witnessed the British siege of Fort McHenry in the war of 1812.


American English has changed since the time the Anthem was written. Today, the language has the word “defense” for the former “defence”.




O! Say, can you see
by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hail’d
by the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose bright stars and broad stripes,
through the clouds of the fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d
were so gallantly streaming?


And the rockets’ red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there.
O! Say does that star-spangled
banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free
and the home of the brave?


On that shore, dimly seen
through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host
in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze,
o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows,
half conceals, half discloses?


Now it catches the gleam
of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected,
now shines in the stream.
‘Tis the star-spangled banner ― O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


And where is that host who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation.
Then conquer we must ― when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto ― In God is our trust.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


The story of the Anthem music


Some resources would tell that the tune of the Anthem is “an old British drinking song”. There is nothing to support the attribution. Singing the Anthem accurately might belong with illusions, if to think about inebriation. The tune musical harmony can be difficult to vocalize, with impediment.


The composer, John Stafford Smith, was son of Martin Smith, an organist of Gloucester Cathedral. John was born in 1750 and composed his tune in mid 1760s. He did not write, however probably, for occasions to involve alcohol.


The conjecture may have come with John Stafford Smith’s joining the Anacreontic society, which yet happened years after he composed the tune. First publication of the music also came after years, by The Vocal Magazine in 1778, in London.


The story of the Anthem text


“The annexed song was composed under the following circumstances—A gentleman had left Baltimore, in a flag of truce for the purpose of getting released from the British fleet, a friend of his who had been captured at Marlborough.—He went as far as the mouth of Patuxent, and was not permitted to return lest the intended attack on Baltimore should be disclosed.


He was therefore brought up the Bay to the mouth of Patapsco, where the flag vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate, and he was compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which the Admiral had boasted that he would carry in a few hours, and that the city must fall. He watched the flag at the Fort through the whole day with an anxiety that can be better felt than described, until the night prevented him from seeing it. In the night he watched the Bomb Shells, and at early dawn his eye was again greeted by the proudly waving flag of his country.” (The 1812 broadside text, see at the Library of Congress).


Some people may remember the Anthem as saying “through the midst of the deep”. The reference might be to the Bible, for example Luke 4:30. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way. The passage, as in the American Standard Bible, tells about release of captives and remaining unhurt from opponents. The oldest American Bible is the Eliot Bible, published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1663.


Munroe & French published the Anthem in the Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser. Below, we can see a facsimile of a print from September 20, 1814



The facsimile here comes from the Ritual of the Star-Spangled Banner, a book of the Star Spangled Banner Association in Baltimore, Maryland.


The autographed manuscript of the Anthem from October 21, 1840, says, “through the mists of the deep”. There are a few autograph copies of the Anthem. The Samuel Sands print from “The American Farmer” on September 21, 1814, also has the phrase “the mists”.




The autograph manuscript from October 21, 1840, signed by Francis Scott Key. The manuscript is available online from the Library of Congress.



The Constitution

Members of the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Constitution became effective in year 1789.


Law is made also of language, and all natural langauges change. It has been many years, since the Constitution was written. Today, most people interpret “chusing” as “choosing”, “controul” as “control”, and speakers of American English would think “honor” and “behavior”, rather than “honour” and “behaviour”. Feel welcome to read the Constitution in modern American English.

The text in modern American English compares the parchment and the print, bringing the content to the language standard as it is today. All modern uses are based on the Constitution itself: the language change to have brought American English as we know it now was taking place already the time the document was being written. Feel welcome to the NOTES.


The Constitution was first written up on parchment, signed, and then printed and distributed for people’s approval. Feel welcome to Constitution historic documents: the parchment can be viewed at the National Archives.


John Carter’s print was used in the ratification process.

Feel also welcome to read about the making of the Constitution: inspiration with Thomas Paine’s work, and the idea for a country to have a constitution.




WE, the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.



Sect. 1. ALL legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.


Sect. 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.


No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.


Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.


When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.


The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment.


Sect. 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.


Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided, as equally as may be, into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen, by resignation or otherwise, during the recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.


No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.


The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.


The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.


The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.


Judgment, in cases of impeachment, shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States; but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law.


Sect. 4. The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.


The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.


Sect. 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own Members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent Members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as each House may provide.


Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.


Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the Members of either House, on any question, shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.


Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.


Sect. 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.


No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a Member of either House, during his continuance in office.


Sect. 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments, as on other bills.


Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approves, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.


Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment), shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.


Sect. 8. The Congress shall have power:


To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;


To borrow money on the credit of the United States;


To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;


To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies, throughout the United States;


To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;


To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;


To establish post offices and post roads;


To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;


To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;


To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;


To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;


To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;


To provide and maintain a navy;


To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;


To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions;


To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by the Congress;


To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of the Congress, become the seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings; — And,


To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.


Sect. 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.


The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.


No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.


No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.


No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State. No preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to ports of one State over those of another; nor shall vessels bound to, or from one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another.


No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.


No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States; and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.


Sect. 10. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.


No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress. No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.



Sect. 1. The Executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected as follows:


Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress; but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.


The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President.


The Congress may determine the time of choosing the Electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes, which day shall be the same throughout the United States.


No person, except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.


In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President; and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.


The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.


Before he enters on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:


“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”.


Sect. 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the Executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices; and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.


He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. But the Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper, in the President alone, in courts of law, or in the heads of departments.


The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.


Sect. 3. He shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.


Sect. 4. The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.



Sect. 1. The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. Judges, both of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.


Sect. 2. The Judicial Power shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made under their authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more States; between a State and citizens of another State; between citizens of different States; between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants of different States; and between a State, or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens, or subjects.


In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls, and those in which a State shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.


The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.


Sect. 3. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on the confession in open Court.


The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.



Sect. 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.


Sect. 2. Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.


A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the Executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.


No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.


Sect. 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by a junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.


The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed, as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State.


Sect. 4. The United States shall guarantee, to every State in this Union, a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.



The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution; or, on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing amendments; which, in either case, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses, in the ninth section of the first article; and that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.



All debts contracted, and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.


This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.


The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and Members of the several State Legislatures, and all Executive and Judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, under the United States.



The ratification of the Conventions of Nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.



There has been some change in American English, regarding the definite and indefinite articles. We may relate to Greek notions for a category and a type, to discuss. We can regard the definite article as akin to the Greek τώς, meaning “in this wise” (see Perseus).


Our category might embrace a type:
We, the people of the United States…
The type, the people of the United States, would belong with a wider notion, that of people generally.


A type can help specify:
the Electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.


Classic grammar guidance still happens to regard the articles structurally. When we want to expand our phrases with the particle of, classic grammars might favor the definite article, unless we are clearly unspecific:
those bound to service for a term of years…


In the framework, the Constitution would have a clause as
No preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to the ports of one State over those of another;


Modern American English is becoming more and more generative, also in grammatical guidance. A phrase as the ports of a State might imply we select from ports of a State. A phrasing as, the ports of Washington State are exempt from the new rate, might give the impression there are some other ports in the State which are not exempt, hence
No preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to ports of one State over those of another: the most general reference here is the territory of the USA, and it does not imply a category as ports in general/ on Earth/ worldwide. Comparatively, we can think about generally people, with We, the people of the United States.


Categories can help perceive without redundancy; for example, humans can make an own category: we do not need to refer to other objects of thought or species, as in the context here. Part three of the Travel in Grammar may bring more. Feel welcome to the Bibliography.


Considering our way with grammatical articles, let us mind that the classic, phrasal idea — to use the definite article the in phrases with the possessive of — will fail in matters as everyday and usual as choosing between forms a son/ daughter of, and the son/ daughter of.


A son of a smith may mean one of a few sons, as well as the only son, but with a family tradition for metalworking, e.g. I hear you’re looking for someone good to take care of the horseshoes. Meet John, a true son of a smith.


The son of a smith may mean the only son, as well as one of many sons, but the one to continue the tradition, e.g. All Tom’s boys have gone different walks, only Mark is the true son of a smith.


In the times the Constitution was written, grammars, still mostly coming from Britain, insisted on the animate versus the inanimate to regard the possessive, as in the phrase of one State.


Let us now think why we use capital letters at all. We can say we do this for proper nouns, but then we might face long disputes on what proper nouns are, or where a noun is proper, and where it is a common noun, inclusive even of geography, sometimes.


We can reckon on closed and open sets, and connect our thinking about the articles and big or small letters. Our sets do not have to be about quantity, and mostly they would not be concerned with numbers. Here, let us try a closed set where the function (role) or quality is determined with regard to the form of government (the politeia):
the Electors (closed set) in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors (open set) of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.


For an open set, we can think about State inhabitants. Americans have been described as a “nation on the move”: people happen to change whereabouts among the States; read an article by the US Census Bureau. Durational residence and other requirements for voting happen to be discussed in front of the Supreme Court (US Supreme Court online). Further, also citizens are not necessarily a defined political function.


A closed set does not have to mean one without prospect for change, and it may praise a big letter when the reference is human, as we can interpret the Constitution style. We can find the tendency in the parchment Executive Authority; Carter print has the Executive authority or the Executive: a phrase for a governmental function by a person or a body of people may come with a big letter.


Generative grammar has the advantage that it can explain language uses where classic guidance tells merely to memorize. On the other hand, we need to put our thinking into our skill. Let us be flexible and consistent. As we would not “listen to”, or “read” empty rooms for the House of Representatives, the Senate, or the Supreme Court, we comprehend easy, why Carter print capitalizes Representation. What follows, our modern American English can advocate cognitive capitals for the phrase Executive Authority entire, as a body of people.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.


When the focus is on the function at work, and not a person or a body of people, we stay with a small letter:
The Congress shall have power to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.


Let us now compare Article III, Sections 1 and 2.
The Judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish;
The Judicial Power shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution…


Article IV Section 2 will welcome a cognitive approach, in the light:
A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the Executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.
Prosecution of treason, felonies, and crimes relies on government procedures, and no body of people can decide to “skip a felon”.


Why at all, to capitalize the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary? The Constitution style clearly allows reference to the Greek politeia, along with the tripartite form of governmental power as by Montesquieu. If we were to use big letters for any function a country needs, we would have Admiralty, Navy, Army, and many more big letters. Therefore, we can compare print for officers, and spell judges, as the role would not be decided by politics.


Naturally, this does not mean we never could spell the words officer or judge with capital letters. Our spelling will always depend on our semantic sets. Please mind, I provide the source HTML for my free posters: having own resolve, a person may change the source file before printing (browser window 80% zoom for proper scale; Ctrl and minus key twice).


Please note that some classicist guidance might have implied respect, for a reason to use capital letters. Such advice cannot hold for many people, and with many spellings, as Adolf Hitler, Nazis, and the like.


To be generative, we can use syntactic tests, to consider semantic sets and grammatical articles. We need an article, if we’d use one with a that-clause:
The Constitution says that
a majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business;
citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.


Another syntactic test may use the quantifier all:
Judges, both of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior…
The sense is all judges, without exception or selection, as the phrase all the judges might imply.


Predictions on procedures would encourage the definite article:
The Congress shall have power to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.


If we choose to be cognitive, we can explain phrases as during the session of Congress, or in Congress assembled as referring to events that occur together. It is when we speak about generally the Congress existing and acting that we use the definite article, yet we mind the article may imply other governmental powers, within our semantic category. Let us compare:
during the recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may…
The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting…


We can tell the category here is governmental powers generally, and we recognize sets, as the Legislative, the Executive (the President), and the Judiciary. We may compare the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
If we used the article and said, the Congress, we might hint at other sets within US governmental powers, and that would not be justified: the amendment does not suggest any potential by a governmental power to make such regulations. Let us please mind we think here about government as discussed in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, not as a cabinet.


Finally, classic grammars may interpret the verb “shall” for a “false imperative” or a word to express actually a resolve. The Oxford Learners Dictionary says it is a Modal that shows we “are determined”, or we want “to give an order or instruction”. We absolutely cannot believe that for American English; the Constitution says,
The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed.


Let us think how the story began. In British English, the word form “shall” actually belonged with monarchy, for quite a proportion of time. Early Anglo-Saxon poetry would tell about “a king who shall win a queen”. To use the verb with the first person singular, that is, to say I shall, one had to be a royal or in the service. Otherwise, they were the “mad Bedlam”. British commoners and other people, if they used the verb form “shall”, it was mostly with the third person, he, she, or it. For own resolves, the verb form “will” prevailed.


With American liberty and freedom, human ability to say I will grew stronger; the verb form “will” became fit for the third person, he, she, or it, to tell about high probability as well. The verb form “shall” became suppositive. In the Constitution, it belongs with contexts where we can think “if” or “when the circumstance is”, too.


In other words, “shall” became used to prefigure on matters. This kind of thinking involves a default premise. To interpret “crimes shall have been committed”, we assume the premise: if crimes become committed. The Constitutional clause — also common sense — is not a recommendation to commit a felony or crime.


The subjunctive along the verb form “shall” has become purely a matter of style, in modern American English. The verb form anyway renders a supposition, and there is no king or queen figure psychologically to bind the third person — which quite probably originated the classic canon, forwarded in school guidance without the premise — hence,
Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approves, he shall sign it: the President’s signature is necessary as well as sufficient, to pass a law.
The Constitution itself offers the use: When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; part four of the Travel in Grammar may have more.



John Carter printed the Constitution in 1787, following a resolve by the General Assembly for Rhode Island and Providence, from October 1787:
It is voted and resolved, that the report of the Convention, lately held at Philadelphia, proposing a new Constitution for the United States of America, be printed as soon as may be; that the following number of copies be sent to the several town clerks in the State, to be distributed among the inhabitants, that the freemen may have an opportunity of forming their sentiments of the said proposed Constitution.


His print can be viewed at the US Library of Congress.


His manner to divide words might have been purposed to help discussion and quoting: except people’s names (they have letter characters equally spaced and fit as the column allows), the right brim of each column can help find matters for the general public to assent. For example, at the word per-fect, the term union would deserve attention. My public domain portfolio of posters has replicas of his print.

Poster replicas of the United States Constitution print by John Carter, exclusive of characters ſ and ∫ (s); font Adobe Caslon Pro 14pt, character spacing +0.7pt on average, kerning 14pt and above, indentation 8pt LEX (Latin for law, see Perseus); line height 1; poster size 1687×2795 pixels; content width-to-height ratio approx. 65%, as in the original layout.


I used his layout to present the Constitution in Modern American English. Feel welcome to the entire portfolio. It has source HTML files, to allow editing before print: I do not claim my presentation has to be perfect, especially to everyone.

John Carter’s print spells “secrecy” as “ſecreſy”; “secresy” was a variant for “secrecy” at the time. “Controul” was a variant for “control”. The print spelling “ensure” compares with “encrease”; the parchment spells “insure”: a document is more likely to insure than to ensure, in the sense of the word today, and this is my resolve for the content in modern American English. However, the Latin word sensus never has been used for a census, spelled with a “c” in the parchment, handwritten Constitution; I do not render the print error in my poster. (Let us mind the print was done “soon as might be”).


Carter print also has spellings as “defence”, “behaviour”, or “honour”, nowadays associated with British English. The change in American spellings was taking place already at the time of his print. We can compare The Declaration of Independence: it says “honor”. John Carter most probably did not want a dispute over spellings to distract people from the Constitutional matter at hand.



Declaring American independence was legal. It would have been without the Declaration that the War of Independence might be termed a rebellion.


Declaration: WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.


Thomas Paine: Were a manifesto to be published, and despatched to foreign courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured, and the peaceable methods we have ineffectually used for redress; declaring, at the same time, that not being able, any longer, to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the British court, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off all connections with her; at the same time, assuring all such courts of our peacable disposition towards them, and of our desire of entering into trade with them: Such a memorial would produce more good effects to this Continent, than if a ship were freighted with petitions to Britain.


Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance.


But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is, the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. (…) As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of Scripture.


I offer the following extracts from that wise observer on governments, Dragonetti. “The science” says he “of the politician consists in fixing the true point of happiness and freedom. Those men would deserve the gratitude of ages, who should discover a mode of government that contained the greatest sum of individual happiness, with the least national expense.”


Declaration: …whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


Thomas Paine: In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.


Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever FORM thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.


But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independance, i. e. a Continental form of government, can keep the peace of the Continent and preserve it inviolate from civil wars.


The colonies have manifested such a spirit of good order and obedience to Continental government, as is sufficient to make every reasonable person easy and happy on that head.




Thomas Paine: A government of our own is our natural right: And when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance.


Let the assemblies be annual, with a President only. The representation more equal. Their business wholly domestic, and subject to the authority of a Continental Congress.


Let each colony be divided into six, eight, or ten, convenient districts, each district to send a proper number of delegates to Congress, so that each colony send at least thirty. The whole number in Congress will be least 390.


And in order that nothing may pass into a law but what is satisfactorily just, not less than three fifths of the Congress to be called a majority (The argument overall being on the need for a large representation, TPelka).


But as there is a peculiar delicacy, from whom, or in what manner, this business must first arise, and as it seems most agreeable and consistent that it should come from some intermediate body between the governed and the governors, that is, between the Congress and the people, let a CONTINENTAL CONFERENCE be held, in the following manner, and for the following purpose.


A committee of twenty-six members of Congress, viz. two for each colony. Two members for each House of Assembly, or Provincial Convention; and five representatives of the people at large, to be chosen in the capital city or town of each province, for, and in behalf of the whole province, by as many qualified voters as shall think proper to attend from all parts of the province for that purpose; or, if more convenient, the representatives may be chosen in two or three of the most populous parts thereof. In this conference, thus assembled, will be united, the two grand principles of business, KNOWLEDGE and POWER. The members of Congress, Assemblies, or Conventions, by having had experience in national concerns, will be able and useful counsellors, and the whole, being impowered by the people, will have a truly legal authority.


The conferring members being met, let their business be to frame a CONTINENTAL CHARTER, or Charter of the United Colonies; (answering to what is called the Magna Charta of England) fixing the number and manner of choosing members of Congress, members of Assembly, with their date of sitting, and drawing the line of business and jurisdiction between them: (Always remembering, that our strength is Continental, not provincial:) Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as is necessary for a charter to contain. Immediately after which, the said Conference to dissolve, and the bodies which shall be chosen comformable to the said charter, to be the legislators and governors of this Continent for the time being: Whose peace and happiness, may God preserve, Amen.




George Washington: It is obviously impracticable, in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained.


Thomas Paine: For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. (The use here is to denote: in other cases, too; TPelka)


The object, contended for, ought always to bear some just proportion to the expense.


George Washington: In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which are involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence.


It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. The Continent hath, at this time, the largest body of armed and disciplined men of any power under Heaven; and is just arrived at that pitch of strength, in which, no single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when united, can accomplish the matter.

Thomas Paine, Common Sense.

Feel also welcome to my public domain translation into Polish.



The word constitution comes from the Latin constituo. In ancient times, “constitutions” were edicts issued by mostly despotic rulers. The ancients happened to incise those notices in stone, as there was no print. When a ruler or authority wanted to change an ordnance, he or she ordered another stone carved. Nowadays, only some researchers would use the word “constitution” for an ancient decree such as the Roman Twelve Tables, speculated to have had rules for ancient plebeians to memorize (we are more dignified than mere memorization, in our Travel in Grammar).



Initially, the USA had the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. They were adopted in 1777, yet became ratified by all thirteen states in 1781. The charter failed to help manage the economy and federal matters of the young Union emerged in the Treaty of Paris (1783). The Treaty ended the Revolutionary War, affirming American freedom from England. The French were American allies in the War.


The Articles were unable to provide for Union finances; the document did not bring the Union enough authority, either.


The Constitutional Convention ― also known as the Philadelphia Convention, or the Federal Convention ― began in 1787. The Constitution came into power in 1789. Rhode Island ratified the Constitution in 1790, as the last of the initial 13 States.


The American Constitution is the longest-lived constitution in the world. It allows amendments. See the Bill of Rights.


Signing the Constitution, a painting by Howard Chandler Christy.