Bl-D §134.


Lesson 35: The Subject


540. The consideration of the formal signals pointing to the subject (§§533-538) did not yield systematic information concerning the variety of words and word clusters that actually appear as subject, nor did it indicate anything of the boundaries and structure of such word clusters. The boundaries and structure of subject clusters are crucial for seizing the subject and predicate of sentences as wholes — rather than as conglomerations of words. Knowledge of the variety of subject clusters defines the range of expectation so that the reader is more readily able to "recognize" subjects when he meets them in the text. The types of words and word clusters that appear as subject are outlined in §§542-548. The boundaries and structures of some common word clusters are considered in §§549-551.

541. A word group appearing as a grammatical unit in a sentence consists of a head term plus a modifier or modifiers. In the word group ἡ μαρτυρία σου (Jn 8:13), μαρτυρία is the head term; ἡ and σου are modifiers. ἡ is here the definite article determining μαρτυρία as some particular testimony, and σου is a possessive genitive of the personal pronoun indicating that the particular testimony in question was given by you: the testimony of you (English: your testimony). The syntactical relationships which bind these words together are relatively simple. Such relationships can, upon occasion, become very complicated.

The relationships that obtain between a head term and its modifiers is called modification structure (Roberts, 1958: 185). Modification structure is the syntax that governs the formation of intelligible word clusters.

↓       Note: In this grammar, nominal word groups initiated by a preposition will be treated as if they were single head-and-modifier units, although the prepositional phrase is a non-headed group of a particular order (Gleason: 153). There seems to be no compelling reason to note each time that the preposition and its "object" constitute separate units. And many prepositional phrases do function as other nominal word clusters do in the sentence. In any case, the nominal word clusters occurring as the objects of prepositions are subject to the same analysis as clusters not initiated by a preposition.

541.1 In classifying the words and word groups that appear as subject, use will be made of "parts of speech" or word classes (§§010-014). The same applies to the descriptions of modification structure.

541.2 The notational scheme (§§511-516) will be employed and expanded for reasons of efficiency.

541.3 The classification of words and word groups and the analysis of modification structure with respect to the subject can subsequently be carried over to words and word clusters appearing as other grammatical elements in the sentence (§§681ff.).

542. "Subjectless" sentences. In context-bound Greek the subject is expressed as often as not solely by the personal ending attached to the verb. "Subjectless" with reference to Greek means that the subject of the sentence is not expressed by a discrete word. All Greek sentences containing a finite verb at least have a subject in the form of a personal ending (bound morpheme). It is quite possible occasionally to find full Greek sentences consisting of verb only (examples in §504), although "subjectless" sentences more commonly contain elements in the predicate other than the verb.

Arabic 1 stands for the subject expressed solely by the personal ending attached to the verb. Since a subject in this form is bound to the verb as a suffix, it should be hyphenated with the symbol representing the verb: 2-1 (cf. §513.3).

                  5                         2-1  
(1)      ἐν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ὑμῶν / ἀποθανεῖσθε Jn 8:21
  You will die in your sin  
                                    5                   2-1  
(2)      (ἀλλ’) ἔξω / ἐπ’ ἐρήμοις τόποις / ἤν Mk 1:45
  (but) he was out in the wilderness places  

543. Single words as subject. The subject is often expressed by single, discrete words. Divided into subgroups on a morphological basis ("parts of speech"), such words include:

1b      pronouns
1d      pronominal adjectives
1n      nouns
1a      adjectives
1g      participles
1i      infinitives

543.1 A pronoun as subject.

       1b               2                       4  
(3)      ὑμεῖς / ποιεῖτε / τὰ ἔργα τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν Jn 8:41
  You do the works of your father  

543.2 A pronominal adjective as subject.

       1d         4           2  
(4)      ἐκεῖνος / με / ἀπέτειλεν Jn 8:42
  That one sent me  

543.3 A noun as subject.

     4             1n                  2  
(5)      τοῦτο / Ἀβραὰμ / οὐκ ἐποιησεν Jn 8:40
  This Abraham did not do  

543.4 An adjective as subject.

  2 4 la  
(6)     (καὶ) ἔρχεται / πρὸς αὐτὸν / λεπρός Mk 1:40
  (And) a leper aame to him  
  N. A bare adjective as subject is rare.  

543.5 A participle as subject.

       6                      2                    1g  
(7)      ἐκ σου [γὰρ] ἐξελεύσεται / ἡγούμενος Mt 2:6
  (For) out of you shall oome a leader  
  Note: A bare participle as subject is extremely rare.

543.6 An infinitive as subject.

    2          1i  
(8)      δεῖ / γενέσθαι Mk 13:7
  It is necessary [for these things] to take place
  Note: Literally: to take place is necessary (these things is understood from the context). Infinitive subjects of the type To err is human appear to be rare in Greek.

5430. Among single word subjects, the pronominal adjective (1d) is the most frequent, with pronouns (1b) running a close second. The solitary noun as subject (1n) is restricted mostly to instances of proper names. Other single word subjects are not common.

545. Word clusters as subject. Word clusters also commonly appear in the structure of subject. The most common of these is the word cluster with a noun as the head term. Other types of word clusters, while of much lower frequency, also appear as subject. Divided into subgroups in accordance with §543, such word cluster subjects include:

1b+      a word cluster with a pronoun as head term
ld+       a word cluster with a pronominal adjective as head term
ln+      a word cluster with a noun as head term
la+      a word cluster with an adjective as head term
lg+      a word cluster with a participle as head term
li+      a word cluster with an infinitive as head term

545.1 A word cluster headed by a pronoun as subject.

           lb+                          6                       2  
(9)  πάντες ἡμεῖς / ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ / παρέσμεν Acts 10:33
  We are all here present in the sight of God  

545.2 A word cluster headed by a pronominal adjective as subject.

    ld+                                            2  
(10)      τινὲς [δὲ] τῶν Φαρισαίων / εἶπαν / . . . Lk 6:2
  Some of the Pharisees said .

545.3 A word cluster headed by a noun as subject.

                 ln+                   2               4  
(11)      καὶ / ἡ ἀλήθεια / ἐλευθερώσει / ὑμᾶς Jn 8:32
  And the truth shall make iiou free  

545.4 A word cluster headed by an adjective as subject.

        3                la+  
(12)      μακάριοι / οἱ πτωχοί Lk 6:20
  Blessed are the poor  

545.5 A word cluster headed by a participle as subject.

               lg+                          2                   5  
(13)      ὁ ἀκολουθῶν ἐμοὶ / οὐ μὴ περιπατήσῃ / ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ Jn 8:12
  The one following me shall not walk in darkness

545.6 A word cluster headed by an infinitive as subject.

  2                         1i+  
(14)      ἔξεστιν / τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν Mk 12:12
  To do good on the sabbath is lawful  

546. An included sentence as subject. In addition to the words and word clusters Ib-li, an included sentence (a sentence with its own subject and predicate) may also appear in the structure of subject. Let s stand for any included sentence; an included sentence as subject would then be marked Is.

                       5                                     2pass  
(15)      καὶ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ [δὲ] τῷ ὑμετέρῳ / γέγραπται / Jn 8:17
  ὅτι δύο ἀνθρώπων ἡ μαρτυρία ἀληθής ἐστιν  
  And in your own law it is written that the testimony of two men is true  

547. Compound and expanded subjects. There are also compound subjects (subjects consisting of two or more of the above words and/or word clusters) and expanded subjects (a word or word group expanded by an appositional phrase, an adjectival clause, etc.). For example,

            2              Id                  ln+  
(16)      ἐπίστευσεν / αὐτὸς (καὶ) ἡ οἰκία αὐτοῦ ὅλη Jn 4:53
  He and his whole house believed  

contains a compound subject consisting of Id + ln+. On the other hand, in the sentence

        In               ln+                       2  
(17)      Ἀβραὰμ // ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν / ἠγαλλιάσατο ... Jn 8:56
  Abraham, your father, rejoiced . . .  

the subject is expanded: the ln+ cluster stands in apposition to and elaborates upon In (// is placed between appositional elements).

5470. Other subject clusters. Virtually any word or word cluster — other than those already indicated — can be "substantivized" (i.e. used as a head term) by means of the article and used as subject.

5470.1 Articular (i.e. with article) adverbs as subject.

                  1                 2                6  
(18)      ἡ [γὰρ] αὔριον / μεριμνήσει / αὐτῆς Mt 6:34
  For the morrow will be anxious for itself

5470.2 A word as word, or a group of words as such, can be subject.

         1        3               1         3
(19)      τὸ Ναὶ / ναὶ (καὶ) / τὸ Οὔ / οὔ; 2 Cor 1:17
  Is not my "Yes" yes and my "No" no?
                        1           2                4  
(20)      τὸ [δὲ] Ἔτι ἅπαξ / δηλοῖ / τὴν τῶν σαλευομένων μετάθεσιν . . . Heb 12:27
  The (phrase) "Yet once more" indicates the removal of what is shaken . . .

These and other marginal subject clusters appear rarely and in special contexts.

548. Summary. All the words and word clusters (including the personal ending attached to the verb) that appear as subject in the Greek sentence have been catalogued in §§542-547. While the categories listed are virtually exhaustive, the variety and structure of the word clusters remain to be explored. The descriptive rubrics listed above, and the mode of notation, may be consolidated for easy reference.

  Words and Word Clusters Appearing as Subject
1              Subject signaled by personal ending attached to the verb
1b            Pronoun as subject
1b+          Word cluster with pronoun as head term as subject
  ἐγὼ ημεῖς
  σὺ ὑμεῖς
1d             Pronominal adjective as subject
1d+           Word cluster with pronominal adjective as head term as subject
  ἐκεῖνος, ἐκείνη, ἐκεῖνο
  οὗτος, αὕτη, τοῦτο
  τίς, τί
  τις, τι
  ὁ, ἡ, τό
  ὅς, ἥ, ὅ
  ὅστις, ἥτις, ὅ τι
  αὐτός, αὐτή, αὐτό
  ἄλλος, ἄλλη, ἄλλο
  ἕτερος, ἕτερα, ἕτερον
  ἕκαστος, ἑκάστη, ἕκαστον
  πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν
  πολύς, πολλή, πολύ
  εἷς, μία, ἕν
  οὐδείς, οὐδεμία, οὐδέν
  μηδείς, μηδεμία, μηδέν
  Note: The list of pronominal adjectives is not exhaustive
1n             Noun as subject
1n+           Word cluster with noun as head term as subject
1a             Adjective as subject
1a+            Word cluster with adjective as head term as subject
1g             Participle as subject
1g+           Word cluster with participle as head term as subject
1i                Infinitive as subject
1i+              Word cluster with infinitive as head term as subject
1s               Included sentence as subject
Ix + Ix            (x = any of the above items) as compound subject
Ix // Ix            as expanded subject

Note: The designations for these words and word clusters will be employed in the descriptions of words and word clusters appearing elsewhere in the sentence as well.

549. Word clusters with a noun as head term. Among the word clusters appearing as subject, sketched in §545, the most common is that headed by a noun (ln+). What may be expected in such clusters with nominal head, and how are they structured?

549.1 The simplest ln+ cluster, as might be expected, is the sequence, article/noun:

(1)      ὁ Ἰησοῦς Jesus Jn 8:12
(2)      οἱ Φαρισαῖοι the Pharisees Jn 8:13

The article as signaler of grammatical structure was considered briefly in §§125-129; the function of the article was indicated in §120. The syntax of the article is considered in greater detail below, §§710-7160.

549.2 Word clusters are of course built up in a systematic way — otherwise they would not be intelligible. If a nominal head is modified by an article, the most frequent way of expanding the cluster is by the addition of a defining or modifying genitive. This genitive may take the form of a personal pronoun:

(3)      ἡ μαρτία σου your testimony Jn 8:13

or another word cluster in the genitive:

(4)      ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ the love of God 1 Jn 2:5

The words in these clusters normally appear in immediate sequence (only particles like μέν, δέ, γάρ may intervene) and in the order indicated. The article always precedes the head it modifies, §126. The modifying genitives, however, may appear in other positions. The genitive (cluster) may precede:

(5)      αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα his works Jn 3:21
(6)      τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις the birth of Jesus Christ Mt 1:18

Or it may be sandwiched between:

(7)      ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ (γὰρ) υἱός the son of God 2 Cor 1:19

549.3 A nominal head may be modified by a pronominal adjective other than the article:

(8)      ἄνθρωπός τις a certain man Lk 14:16
(9)      ἄλλα πλοῖα other boats Mk 4:36

Some pronominal adjectives, however, never modify a nominal head unless an article is present:

(10)      οἱ δοῦλοι ἐκεῖνοι those servants Mt 22:10
(11)      οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι these stones Mt 4:3

A variety of combinations is possible with pronominal adjectives, with and without article, in attributive and predicate positions. The pronominal adjectives thus require to be separated into subgroups on the basis of the structures into which they may enter (s. below, §§0710ff.).

549.4 A nominal head may be modified by an adjective:

(12)      σεισμὸς μέγας a great storm Mt 8:24

This modification structure is usually made more evident by the use of the article (cf. §127). The adjective may appear in first attributive position, i.e. between article and noun:

(13)      οἱ ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταί the true worshippers Jn 4:23

Or, in second attributive, i.e. after the nominal head with article preceding:

(14)      ὁ λόγος ὁ ἐμός my word Jn 8:37
(15)      εἰρήνην τὴν ἐμήν my peace Jn 14:27

In the New Testament a common phrase of this type is:

(16)      τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον the holy spirit Acts 10:44

549.5 A noun may be modified by a word cluster initiated by a preposition:

(17)      οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ the priests in the temple Mt 12:5

Once again, this modification structure may be made clearer by the use of the article:

(18)      ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς your father in heaven Mk 11:25

550. Concord and types of modification structure. Modifiers that are articles, pronominal adjectives, and adjectives agree with the nominal head they modify in gender, number and case (§549.1, 3, 4). Triple concord thus makes it easily possible, as a rule, to seize these subject clusters as wholes. A modifying genitive word or cluster represents a different type of modification structure, of course, and the possible differences in gender, number, and case make the relationships less perspicuous (§549.2). The case of the head term in a word cluster that is the object of a preposition is determined by the preposition; the gender and number of the head term is inherent in the term itself (§549.5). There are thus two types of ln+ clusters: one containing a single head term; the other containing a modifying subcluster with its own head term. The difference has to do with the "part of speech" employed as modifier.

550.1 Genitive modifiers are nouns or pronouns, which constitute a separate cluster at another level.

(4)      ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ    

is a word cluster as a whole, appearing as the subject of the sentence. Analyzed as a word cluster, it is made up of two subclusters:

(4)      ἡ ἀγάπη / τοῦ θεοῦ

Similarly, (3) can be subdivided:

(3)      ἡ μαρτυρία / σου    

550.2 Modifiers consisting of a cluster initiated by a preposition also have their own head terms, e.g. in

(17)      οἱ ἱερεῖς / ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ    

ἱερῷ is the nominal head of a subcluster, which, in turn, is the object of a preposition.

(18) may be cut into three subclusters:

(18)      ὁ πατὴρ / ὑμῶν / (ὁ) ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς

The second (ὁ) is a structure signaling word and as such does not belong to the third subcluster but to the larger cluster as a whole.

550.3 Clusters involving pronominal adjectives and adjectives as modifiers, on the other hand, cannot be cut into subclusters where they are in concord with their nominal head (all the examples in §549.1, 3, 4).

551. The types of modification structures outlined in §§549-550 are represented in the following clusters with the same nominal head.

(19)      ὁ πατήρ Jn 8:28
(20)      ὁ πατὴρ / ὑμῶν Jn 8:39
(21)      ὁ πατὴρ / ὑμῶν / (ὁ) οὐράνιος Mt 6:14
(22)      ὁ πατὴρ / ὑμῶν / (ὁ) ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς Mk 11:25

In every instance πατήρ is modified by the article. (20)-(22) have a second modifier in the form of a genitive (of the personal pronoun). The third modifier in (21) is an adjective, the third modifier in (22) a cluster initiated by a preposition. The second article in both instances is a structure signaling item. (21) and (22), incidentally, are virtually synonymous in meaning.