Accusative exercise in Vaughan - Matthew 20:6

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Jan 10 20:44:50 EST 1999

At 2:56 PM -0500 1/10/99, AgapeLove9 at wrote:
>Hi. I am a self-taught Greek student plodding my way through Vaughan -Gideon.
>I like it because it is a workbook format and makes me work. But it doesn't
>have the answers! I was hoping some on this list could edit my answers. The
>subject is the Accusative Case and I am assigned to translate several verses,
>giving special attention to accusative constructions. Here are my accusative
>1. Accusative of direct object
>2. Adverbial accusative
>  a. measure (extent of space or time)
>  b. manner
>  c. reference
>  d. goal, termination
>3. Double Accusative
>  a. person - thing
>  b. direct - predicate
>  c. oath-taking
>4. Accusative absolute

At some point you might want to look at one or another different grammar to
see alternative organizations of case functions, and the accusative in
particular. As I said on this list the other day, in a certain sense the
accusative case ALWAYS functions to indicate a limit whether to a verb (by
far the most common--and the accusative is sometimes called the "adverbial"
case as the genitive is called--sometimes and by some, at least--the
"adnominal" case), a noun, an adjective, or often enough with a preposition
that helps to characterize more precisely  the kind of limit in the
particular instance. The listing you cite is not an unreasonable one, but
you'll find some variations of it in other Biblical Greek textbooks.

>And going out, he found them about the eleventh hour standing (loitering) and
>he said to them: "Why have you stood here all day unemployed?"

(I would just note that hESTHKATE here has the force of a present tense
even though it is technically perfect: the question is "Why are you (still)
standing here (as late as) the eleventh hour?"

>PERI DE THN hENDEKATHN - Acc of extent of time (When?)

This is one place where "extent of time" is not quite adequate; I think
that hOLHN THN hHMERAN in the clause below is more precisely an answer to
the question "how long"--while here THN hENDEKATHN is functioning more
precisely with the preposition PERI as its object: PERI with an accusative
of time means that the time is approximate and that "the eleventh hour" is
about as close to the actual time you can get. If I were drawing up a list
like the above, I'd probably include a list of prepositions taking the
accusative, many of which are clearly limits of motion or time (like EIS,
PROS, PARA, and some others)--but there are other prepositions also that
take the accusative--and the accusative used with them generally will
indicate a limit with regard to the sense of that preposition--but it would
be dangerous to lay down too simplistic a rule at the outset. The problem
with almost any grammarian's list is that another grammarian is likely to
be able either to rearrange that list or point out some things that list
could reasonably be said to omit.

>ALLOUS - acc of direct object (Who?)
>Doesn't the hESTWTAS serve some kind of accusative function even though it is
>a verb here? (he found them doing WHAT?)

No: hESTWTAS is accusative simply because it describes a word (ALLOUS)
which happens in this instance to be accusative. But suppose that same
sentence were case in the passive: ALLOI DE hEUREQHSAN hESTWTES: "others
were found standing": in this instance the participle is nominative because
ALLOI is nominative. So the fact that hESTWTAS is accusative exemplifies
not an accusative usage but rather a principle of agreement of adjectives
and participles with the noun or pronoun that they describe.

>THN hHMERAN - acc of extent of time
>HOLHN - acc of extent of time modifying THN hHMERAN

Yes, THN hHMERAN is an instance of accusative of extent of time but you
ought to consider the whole expression as such; hOLHN is simply an
adjectival modifier of  hHMERAN and is in the accusative because it agrees
with it--just like hESTWTAS above in relation to ALLOUS.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at OR cconrad at

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