Re: pronoun/antecedent agreement

From: Philip L. Graber (
Date: Thu Jun 06 1996 - 11:21:16 EDT

On Thu, 6 Jun 1996 wrote:

> > ...the subject of a finite
> > verb is in the nominative case WHEN THERE IS AN EXPLICIT SUBJECT.
> Why is the only true when we have an explicit subject? Why not with an
> elliptical subject?

Because a word can only be marked for case if it is there. If the subject
is not explicit, there is nothing there to have case. Subject is an
obligatory element of English clauses (as a general rule; the exceptions
are irrelevant to my point here), but not in Greek. The verb morphology
in Greek indicates something about the subject HAD THERE BEEN ONE,
however, by indicating person and number. This information allows us to
supply a subject in English translation, which English demands since we
cannot normally have independent finite clauses without subjects. We must
resist moving from what English requires to statements about what Greek
does--many Greek clauses do not have explicit subjects, and the verb
ending is NOT the subject; it indicates some of the information provided
by an English pronoun, but that does not make it a pronoun.


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