Re: Adverbials in the Acc Neut Sing

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Sun Oct 04 1998 - 12:46:56 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> I don't know that I'd want, at least without seeing your other "working
> definitions," Clay, to venture a "working definition of an adverb" beyond
> saying that it is a word or phrase that LIMITS the range of meaning of a
> verb, adjective, or another adverb. As for "complement," I'd never thought
> of using the term "complement" for a subject, but I think it might be more
> meaningful to speak of "objects" as complements--more meaningful to speak
> of "direct complement" rather than "direct object" and of "indirect
> complement" rather than "indirect complement." That would permit us to
> understand an instrumental dative used with XRWMAI as a direct complement,
> e.g. BIBLIOIS XRHTAI, "he uses books".

Thanks Carl.

My last post was made more obscure by the use of the term complement when in
fact what I was thinking in my mind was the term argument.

I think that I can see two main ideas emerging here. Traditional grammar as it
was taught in high school when I was there broke down clauses into two main
parts subject and predicate. If we use this binary clause model as our
starting point then a constituent that is functioning adverbially is confined
to the predicate part of the clause. I believe this is the clause model you
are using and most Greek grammars use.

The second idea is what might be humorously called unitarian. In this clause
model, the main verb is viewed as the basic building block of the clause and
all the other constituents are viewed as limiting the verbal idea. These other
constituents are called arguments. When one constructs a clause, one places
the main verb and then one hangs arguments like christmas tree ornaments off
of the main verb.

Now the thrust of my question about adverbials is, why do we call an
accusative constituent adverbial but not other ARGUMENTS? Since in the
unitarian model all the arguments LIMIT the main verbal idea.

The answer to this seems to be that most of us are using the subject-predicate
model and the subject part of the clause is considered to have rights of its
own independent of the main verb.

Most of us know what we mean when we say a constituent is functioning
adverbially, so why muddy the waters? I tend to get confused when passing back
and forth between different schools of thought. So this question is probably
not of earth shaking importance.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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