[B-Greek] Attributive and Predicate Adjectives

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Jul 30 06:11:55 EDT 2007

On Jul 30, 2007, at 1:44 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:

> ----- 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
> semantic.
> MAKARIOS ANHR ... means "(a) man is blessed ...", but ANHR MAKARIOS  
> is "a
> blessed man".

I would question that differentiation as having any strict universal  
validity-- at least in a situation where those are the only two words  
in an expresssion. But I also wouldn't expect to see such a phrase  
commonly in isolation from a context; it is the sort of a phrase that  
one is most likely to find in a grammar book -- especially one not  
written by a Greek-speaker.

> 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.

Carl W. Conrad

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