[B-Greek] Attributive and Predicate Adjectives

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Mon Jul 30 01:44:45 EDT 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Donald R. Vance, Ph.D." <donaldrvance at mac.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2007 6:31 AM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Attributive and Predicate Adjectives

> What people seem to be missing in this discussion is that a predicate
> adjective forms the predicate of a clause (hence the name), i.e., it
> makes a sentence, and the attributive adjective does not. The
> difference between "the red ball" and "the ball is red" is that the
> first one is an incomplete thought. It is part of a larger clause
> whereas the second sentence IS the clause. Whether or not there is a
> lesser or greater emphasis on the adjective depends on the rest of
> the clause/sentence of which "the red ball" is a part.
> Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.

Yes, and I think the confusion is partly caused by the questionable habit of 
talking about predicate position versus attributive position in traditional 
Greek grammar. It is better to talk about the function of the adjective. It 
may function as a predicate (similar to a verb) or it may function as a 
modifier within a noun phrase. The difference is more syntactical than 

MAKARIOS ANHR ... means "(a) man is blessed ...", but ANHR MAKARIOS is "a 
blessed man". If there is no definite article involved we sometimes need to 
look at the whole sentence to see whether an adjective is used as a 
predicate or as an attribute/noun modifier. Concerning the difference of 
meaning (if any) between an attributive adjective occurring before or after 
the noun it modifies there is no simple answer. It partly depends on the 
style and preference of the particular writer.

Iver Larsen 

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