[B-Greek] Re: outside the article noun

Chet Creider creider at uwo.ca
Fri Jun 13 17:48:44 EDT 2003

Mitch Larramore wrote:
>  I am currently reading about the Attributive and
>  Predicate positions of the Adjective. The catchy
>  slogan to help remember the rule is that the Predicate
>  Adjective is "OUTSIDE the Article-Noun group." So then
>  hO ANQRWPOS hO AGAQOS is Attributive, meaning "the
>  good man" and hO ANQRWPOS AGAQOS is Predicate, meaning
>  "the man is good". It is said that AGAQOS is "outside"
>  of hO ANQRWPOS (Article-Noun group). Would it be more
>  precise to say that the Predicate position of the
>  Adjective is OUTSIDE the Article-Noun AND WITHOUT THE
>  ARTICLE? Because if you look at the example above, the
>  Attributive position (hO ANQRWPOS hO AGAQOS) has hO
>  AGAQOS "oustide" the hO ANQRWPOS (which is the
>  Article-Noun group) but is Attributive. 
>  Is it important to recognize this Article (hO AGAQOS) with the Adjective? 

These matters have always puzzled me, and I remember that it took what seemed like
forever before I could recognise quickly and accurately constructions with demonstrative
adjectives (which occur in so-called Predicate position: hOUTOS hO ANQRWPOS).  What I
can say with some confidence is that eventually it all becomes second nature and you scarcely think about it.

Let's set the question of Predicate Adjective and Predicate position aside first.
Attribute adjectives occur in three constructions, the two you give plus one other:


There are excellent discussions of these constructions in Smyth, Greek Grammar, p.293, para. 1154 - 1160 (not also, although this is not relevant here, the discussion of the attributive
genitive on the following page in para. 1161.  Also excellent is Goodwin-Gulick, Greek
Grammar, p.208, para. 959.  If you don't own one or both of these books, I strongly
recommend a trip to a library to read them.  For the NT, there is a good discussion in 
Blass, Debrunner & Funk, A Greek Grammar of the NT, p.141-2, para. 270. 

You can see that what the three attributive constructions have in common is that the article precedes the adjective, but what I don't understand is _why_ this is so.  In English and I think in terms of meaning, the adjective modifies the noun and is syntactically dependent on it, not the article.  However, it is true in English as well, that an attributive adjective
must not precede an article.  

As far as predicate adjectives and predicate position are concerned, the traditional terminology is extremely misleading (we are stuck with it, and I'm not proposing a change, only that care must be exercised with its use).  Note that predicate adjective means just
what it says (or ought to): an adjective which is functioning syntactically and semantically as a predicate, i.e. is being predicated of a subject or an object:


But a demonstrative or quantifying expression such as PAS in the same predicate position is NOT a predicate adjective (at least not in the usage of ordinary grammarians -- logicians argue that quantifiers are semantically predicates and it is conceivable that this is behind the Greek constructions).  It is therefore important to remember that Predicate postion does not necessarily mean "is functioning syntactically as a predicate". 


There is much more to the subject, but this is as far as I can take it. 

Chet Creider

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