Verbless clauses

Kirk Lowery KirkLowery at
Mon May 24 20:41:29 EDT 1999

Matthew Anstey wrote:

> However, we would just like some more technical linguistic advice as
> to the placement of the [is] in the interlinear. It has to be attached to
> either "the man" or "good." So the two options are (the full-stops indicate
> connection):
>         1. [is].good
>         2.[is] good

The way we parse verbless clauses here, option 1 is how we would do it. The
verbless clause will have -- apart from temporal or other types of adjuncts -- a
subject and predicate. In English "the man" == subject, "is good" == the

> What are the opinions of linguists (and others) on the list as to which is
> more linguistically accurate?  Likewise, with this sort of sentence (Gen
> 2.19), what is best:
>         1. that.[was]
>         2. that [was]

Gn 2:19: HW.' $:MOW

Based upon the way I define subjects and predicates, HW.' is the subject, $:MOW
is the predicate, so option 2 would be my choice.

> One final example from Eze 28.3:
>         1. wiser you.[are] than.Daniel
>         2. [are].wiser you than.Daniel


Ah, here is where we have three syntactic elements for a verbless clause, as I
see it:

Predicate (XFKFM) + Subject ('AT.FH) + Adjunct:comparative (MID.FNI'"L)

Now, do you want to include the comparative as part of the predicate? Then we
have a spit constituent. But I would vote for option 2 for this verse.

So the algorithmic rule (if you are automating the glossing): put the copula
with the predicate. The subject and predicate can be determined on a
morphological ranking scheme. Email me offlist if interested in the details....


Kirk E. Lowery, Ph.D.                              voice: (215) 572-3854
Associate Director, Westminster Hebrew Institute   fax:   (215) 887-5404
Adjunct Professor of Old Testament                 email: <KirkLowery at>
Westminster Theological Seminary              
Philadelphia, PA 19118

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