Re: English grammar help

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Dec 14 1995 - 22:59:55 EST

At 6:01 PM 12/14/95, Ellen Adams wrote:

>Oops!! I was so excited to find an infinitive that appeared to be a
>linking verb that I assumed that it was followed by a nominative, and
>glancing very perfunctarily at my Friberg, misread the "N" to mean
>nominative rather than noun. (It was really early in the morning, you
>understand. And if one stands impetuously upon one's watch, one can end
>up with egg on one's face and glass in one's feet.)
>I do still wonder if einai might appear in the Greek text, and how a
>subsequent noun would be rendered. My Strongs isn't that Exhaustive,
>and not having the NT on computer, I can't do a search for that
>particular form....
>As to Liz's objection that the subject of an infinitive is always
>accusative, may I say first that English-speaking persons generally
>decline to object, rather than to accuse. (Very civilized, don't you
>Anyhow, an example of a subject of an infinitive would be as follows:
>Jesus claimed to be Messiah; the Pharisees thought "him" to be insane.

I just want to clarify one other little point here, with regard to which I
really don't think there's a difference between classical Attic and Koine:

it is NOT the case that the subject of an infinitive is always an
accusative, although more often than not it will turn out to be an

If the infinitive is referring back to the subject of the main sentence,
then its subject will be nominative:

Socrates says, somewhere early in the _Apology_ of Plato:

        DIKAIOS OUN EINAI MOI DOKW, "I think then that I am within my
rights ..."

And similarly he says EGW DE AUTOS EU OIDA OUDEN EIDWS, "But I know very
well that I myself know nothing." Here it is the participle that is in the
nominative, but the principle is precisely the same. Whereas LATIN while
require a reflexive pronoun in the accusative even when the speaker is
talking of himself, Greek will use the nominative in such a situation:

        NESCIVI ME HAEC FECISSE, "I didn't know I had done that."
        OUK EIDH TAUTA PEPRAXQAI, "I didn't know I had done that"

for what it's worth. not much.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:34 EDT