Lesson 47: Nominal Word Clusters/Simple



680. Basic syntax: level two. The syntax presented in Lessons 32-46 has had to do for the most part with the sentence and hence with the gross features of the Greek language. The discussion of sentence types, subjects, adverbials, verb chains, constituent elements, and function words has been aimed at the structure of the sentence as a whole. Grammar at the grossest level is grammar of the sentence.

A second level of grammar still at the gross or elementary level is concerned with the structure of elements within and smaller than the sentence. The sentence is now to be held under a magnifying glass, so to speak, and its parts, and the parts of those parts, examined in greater detail.

Whether one is examining the sentence as a whole or the constituent elements of the sentence, at the gross or elementary level the student is preoccupied with the highly repetitive features of the language—the "regular" features. Advanced grammar tends to be interested in the "irregular" or aberrant features of the language. Advanced grammars are therefore of little help to those who do not already know the language well. Since this is an elementary (and intermediate) grammar, in this phase, as in the earlier phase, only the highly repetitive aspects of the language will be considered.

681. Word clusters appearing as the subject of a sentence were enumerated in §§545-5470 (Summary, §548). Some subject clusters with a noun as head term were described in §§549-551. It was observed (§541.3) that word clusters appearing as subject may also serve other grammatical functions in the sentence, without their internal structure being affected. The internal structure of word clusters may thus be described systematically since their structure is uniform throughout the sentence.

A few word clusters initiated by prepositions and others headed by nouns were given in §§558-559. These clusters functioned as adverbials. Whether appearing as subject or as adverbial, the word clusters so far encountered belong to that part of the grammatical system which governs the organization of word clusters of smaller scope than the sentence.

682. Nominal word clusters. A word group appearing as a grammatical unit in a sentence consists of a head term plus a modifier or modifiers (cf. §541). A nominal word cluster is a word group that has a word from the nominal system as head term: a noun, a pronoun, a pronominal adjective, or an adjective. (For participles in nominal word clusters, see §§770-779.) The grammatical relationships that obtain between a head term and its modifiers is called modification structure (§541). The purpose of this lesson is to describe the modification structure of nominal word clusters, and to illustrate the fact that the same modification structure governs nominal word clusters regardless of grammatical function.

683. Glossary. In describing the modification structure of nominal word clusters a number of conventional grammatical terms will be useful.

683.1 The designations head term and modifier have already been introduced (§§541, 682). In the word cluster

(i) cold water

water is the head term and cold the modifier. To this cluster may be added an article:

(ii) the cold water

In English (in Greek, too, but with differences), some words can substitute for the and others for coId. The former are called determiners and the latter adjectives. For example, we may say

(iii) some cold water
(iv) much cold water

but not

(v) xmany cold water

Similarly, we may say

(vi) the hot water
(vii) the green water

but not

(viii) xthe some water

Paradigms of this type are used to sort out word classes and to determine what modifiers can be used with what heads and in what order.

683.2 The modifiers the and cold in (ii) are said to be attributive because they ascribe some quality to the water or in some other way specify the head term.

683.3 Determiners and adjectives are not the only modifiers or attributives in use in English. A prepositional phrase may be employed, for example, to specify what water is meant:

(ix) the water in the river

Again, an included sentence (relative clause) may be employed as a modifier or attributive:

(x) the water that flowed down from the mountains

In Greek also a variety of attributives or modifiers are in common use.

683.4 Any word or word group that is modified is called a head (term, cluster), and any word or word group that qualifies, describes, limits, or identifies is called an attributive or modifier.

683.5 A word cluster appearing as a grammatical unit in a sentence may be simple or it may be complex. The group (i) the cold water is said to be simple because it consists of a single head and two ordered modifiers. However, the cluster (ix) the water in the river is said to be complex because it consists of two subclusters, the water and in the river. The second subcluster has its own head, river, which in turn is qualified by the article, the. The division between subclusters in a complex cluster is called a cut. A complex cluster may consist of two or more subclusters, but one or more subclusters may consist of single words. The term cluster is used, imprecisely, of subclusters consisting of a single word since the whole remains a cluster.

683.6 A noun that is determined by the article (the water, the river) is said to be articular. If the noun is not determined by an article, it is said to be anarthrous.

683.7 The adjective cold in (ii) the cold water is said to be in attributive position; the same holds for cold in (i), (iii), etc. But in the sentence

(xi) the water is cold

cold is said to be in predicate position, i.e. it forms the predicate of the sentence.

683.8 Word clusters from which the head term is omitted are said to be 'headless'. In the sentence

(xii) He turned off the hot water and then the cold

the hot water is a full subcluster, while the cold is a headless subcluster with the head, water, understood from the context.

683.9 The designations cluster (group), subcluster, head (term), headless, modifier, attributive, simple, complex, cut, articular, and anarthrous will be used in describing the modification structure of nominal clusters in Greek as they are illustrated and defined above. However, the designations attributive position and predicate position require further elaboration when applied to Greek.

684.1 When the article is present, three attributive positions are possible in Greek:

(1) τοὺς ἀναγκαίους φίλους Acts 10:24
the close friends
(2) ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ παλαιά 1 Jn 2:7
the ancient commandment
(3) εἰρήνην τὴν ἐμήν Jn 14:27
my peace

These positions are called first, second, and third attributive positions, respectively. In each case the article appears immediately before the adjective, thus signaling that the adjective in question modifies the noun.

684.2 The position of attributives other than adjectives may be designated similarly. For example, a prepositional phrase may occur in first attributive position:

(4) πρὸς τοὺς πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀποστόλους Gal 1:17
to those who were apostles before me

literally, "to the before me apostles."

In second attributive position:

(5) τοὺς προφήτας τοὺς πρὸ ὑμῶν Mt 5:12
the prophets before you

In third attributive position:

(6) Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέθ Acts 10:38
Jesus of Nazareth

literally, "Jesus, the from Nazareth."

684.3 When the article is present, modifiers in other positions are said to be in predicate position. This is a loose way of speaking since such attributives do not always form the predicate of S-II. For example, the demonstrative pronouns ἐκεῖνος, οὗτος always take predicate position:

(7) oἱ δοῦλοι ἐκεῖνοι Mt 22:10
those servants
(8) ταῦτα τὰ ῥήματα Jn 8:20
these words

Prepositional clusters commonly take predicate position:

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

684.4 An adjective in predicate position customarily forms the predicate of the sentence, even where an equative verb is not present:

(10) ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβής Lk 2:25
This man [was] just and righteous

684.5 When an article is not present, attributives may come before or after the head, with no difference in modification structure:

(11) πιστὸς ἀρχιερεύς Heb 2:17
a faithful high priest
(12) ζωὴν αἰώνιον Jn 3:15
life eternal

6840. The parsing code used to describe subject word clusters (§548) was expanded and refined in §5550. The same basic notations are employed here.

6840.1 The designations for single words in the nominal system were:

b = pronoun
d = pronominal adjective (determiner)
n = noun
a = adjective

Word clusters headed by each of these parts of speech were indicated by attaching a plus sign (+) to the basic designation.

6840.2 Because of its pervasive and special function in the structure of nominal word clusters, the article is singled out from other determiners and given the code t (suggested by the oblique case forms; used regardless of gender, number, or case). Consequently,

t = any form of the article

6840.3 Although qualifying as word clusters, word groups consisting of preposition and single nominal are omitted from consideration as such. Complex nominal word clusters initiated by a preposition are, of course, included.

685. Types of modification structure in nominal word clusters. Generally speaking, there are two types or categories of modification structure in nominal word groups (excluding groups involving the infinitive or participle):

685.1 That type of structure in which all the nominal words in the group agree in gender, number, and case, e.g.

(1) ἡ ἀλήθεια Jn 8:32
the truth

Such a cluster is said to be simple (§683.5).

685.2 That type of structure incorporating two or more subclusters, in which some relationship(s) is (are) usually indicated by differences in case (also gender and number), e.g.

(2) τινὲς / τῶν Φαρισαίων Lk 6:2
Some of the Pharisees

In (2) τινὲς is nominative, τῶν Φαρισαίων gen. plur. In this instance, the genitive is partitive: it specifies the whole of which that indicated by the head term is a part.

These two types of modification structure may of course be combined. In (2), for example, τῶν Φαρυσαίων is a word cluster of the first type within a larger word cluster of the second type.


(All Terms in Agreement)

686. It will be helpful to describe the patterns characteristic of nominal word clusters with all terms in agreement before turning to an analysis of the syntactical functions of various types of modifiers. For the purposes of description, the notational scheme will serve more efficiently than words.

687. Nominal clusters with a noun as head term are, not surprisingly, by far the most common. The patterns that obtain in such n-clusters are few in number and relatively simple.

687.1 Among n-clusters with all terms in agreement, the bread-and-butter cluster consists of article and noun: t-n. Such clusters appear in virtually every grammatical function in the sentence.

(3) ὁ πατήρ Jn 8:28
the father (subject)
(4) ἡ ἀγγελία 1 Jn 1:5
the promise (predicate nominative)
(5) τὸν λόγον Mk 1:45
the report (direct object)
(6) τῷ ἱερεῖ Mk 1:44
to the priest (indirect object)
(7) τοῖς σάββασιν Mt 12:1
on the sabbath (adverbial)

This type of word group appears frequently in clusters initiated by prepositions:

(8) ἐπὶ τὸ δῶμα Acts 10:9
up to the housetop (adverbial)
(9) εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα Jn 8:35
forever (adverbial)

687.2 Much less common is the n-cluster consisting of t-n plus a d-word, most often one of the demonstratives, οὗτος (this) or ἐκεῖνος (that). Cf. §684.3.

(10) ταῦτα τὰ ῥήματα Jn 8:20
these words
(11) ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις Mk 1:9
in those days

(10) and (11) may be described as (p-) d-t-n. However, the word order is not invariable: d may follow t-n.

(12) ὁ λόγος οὗτος Lk 4:36
this word

687.3 Some d-words (but ordinarily not the demonstratives οὗτος and ἐκεῖνος) may modify an anarthrous noun (i.e. one without t):

(13) ἡμέρας τινάς Acts 10:48
some days
(14) εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον Gal 1:6
to a different gospel

Notice that the order may be either n-d or d-n.

687.4 An adjective (a) may of course modify a noun. It may appear in a cluster, t-a-n, e.g.

(15) τοὺς ἀναγκαίους φίλους Acts 10:24
the close friends

687.5 Syntactically synonymous with the structure t-a-n is the structure t-n-t-a:

(16) ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ παλαιά 1 Jn 2:7
the ancient commandment

687.6 An adjective may modify an anarthrous noun (a noun without article). In that case, too, it may come either before or after the noun:

(17) πιστὸς ἀρχιερεύς Heb 2:17
a faithful high priest
(18) ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ Jn 1:33
with the holy spirit

687.7 Where the article is present, the pattern with adjectives is customarily t-a-n (§687.4) or t-n-t-a (§687.5). However, the adjective μόνος, only, alone, appears in the pattern a-t-n or t-n-a (cf. the d-words in §687.2):

(19) τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις Mt 12:4
for the priests alone

687.8 A d-word may appear in combination with an adjective (a):

(20) ἄλλον ἄγγελον ἰσχυρόν Rev 10:1
another mighty angel

6870. The patterns described in §687.1-8, while not exhaustive, represent the basic patterns of n-clusters with all terms in agreement. The patterns may be conveniently summarized here:

d-t-n (t-n-d)
d-n (n-d)
n-a (a-n)

688. Nominal clusters with an adjective or a pronominal adjective as head term, in which all forms are in agreement, are much less common.

688.1 Clusters consisting of article and adjective head (t-a) correspond to the n-cluster, t-n (§687.1). It is customary to say that the adjective is "substantivized" in such cases. One may prefer to think that a noun is to be "understood," though it is not always easily possible to specify the noun.

(21) οἱ πτωχοί Lk 6:20
the poor (people)
(22) ἐν ταῖς ἐρήμοις Lk 5:16
in the wilderness (places)

688.2 A second type of a-cluster consists of a d-word plus an adjective (d-a), once again corresponding to the n-cluster, d-n (§687.3).

(23) πᾶν πονηρόν Mt 5:11
every evil (thing)
(24) τις βασιλικός Jn 4:46
a certain royal (person)

689. The same patterns appear in d-clusters (pronominal adjective as head term).

689.1 Article plus pronominal adjective (t-d):

(25) τὰ πάντα Col 3:8
all things
(26) τὸν ἕτερον Lk 16:13
the other (one)

689.2 Pronominal adjective and pronominal adjective (d-d):

(27) τινα ἄλλον 1 Cor 1:16
any other (person)
(28) οὐδεὶς ἄλλος Jn 15:24
no one else

6890. To the n-clusters listed in §6870 should be added a+:


and d+:


690. Simple nominal· clusters with a pronoun as head term are few in number. Such clusters consist, for the most part, of a personal pronoun modified by a determiner.

690.1 With intensifying αὐτός (§721):

(1) ἐγὼ αὐτός Acts 10:26
I myseIf
(2) ὑμεῖς αὐτοί Mk 6:31
You yourselves
(3) ἐξ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν 1 Cor 5:13
from among yourselves

690.2 With πάντες (§743) :

(4) πάντες ἡμεῖς Acts 10:33
we all
(5) πάντες [γὰρ] ὑμεῖς Gal 3:28
you all
(6) αὐτοὺς πάντας Mt 12:15
them all

690.3 With ὅλος:

-> <-
(7) ἐν ἁμαρτίας / σὺ / ἐγεννήθης / ὅλος Jn 9:34
You were born wholly in sin

Note: ὅλος, though separated from σύ, clearly modifies it. This modification structure cannot be represented smoothly in English; ὅλος is most conveniently translated in this context as an adverb.

690.4 With μόνος (cf. §687.7):

(8) ὑμεῖς μόνοι Phil 4:15
You only
(9) αὐτῷ μόνῳ Mt 4:10
him only

690.5 With ἕκαστος (§§750ff.), in a structure in which ἕκαστος stands in apposition to a plural personal pronoun:

(10) ἡμεῖς ἀκούομεν ἕκαστος Acts 2:8
We hear, each one
(11) δώσω ὑμῖν ἑκάστῳ Rev 2:23
I will give to you, to each one