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Question about English Grammar

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Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Wed May 20, 2009 2:46 am

I am sure that between "I know whom he is" and "I know who he is" the second is the grammatically correct, but for some reason I have difficulty explaining the reason for this to my mind. :)

Is it something such as the word "that" being removed: "I know (that) he is who" as "I know (that) who he is"?
Last edited by Essorant on Wed May 20, 2009 2:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Wed May 20, 2009 2:51 am

Essorant wrote:I am sure that between "I know whom he is" and "I know who he is" the second is the grammatically correct, but for some reason I have difficulty explaining the reason for this to my mind. :)

Is it something such as the word "that" being removed: "I know (that) he is who" as "I know (that) who is he"?

No, it's because we do not reverse the order for the embedded question.

Where is he? - I know where he is.

Who is he? - I know who he is.

This is an embedded question. "Who" must be in the subjective case, although the question is not reversed (is he) but rather in the normal order (he is).
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Wed May 20, 2009 2:56 am

Sorry, in my question I meant to say:

Is it something such as the word "that" being removed: "I know (that) he is who" as "I know (that) who he is"? (not "who is he"!)
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Wed May 20, 2009 3:10 am

I know it should be "who". I am just trying to understand why it is "who" instead of "whom" in this case.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby paulusnb » Wed May 20, 2009 3:15 am

Can we say it is who because it is the subject of the verb is? We do not say, for example, we saw the guy whom did it.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Wed May 20, 2009 3:39 am

Paul

But why isn't "who" the object of "know" when we say "I know who he is"?

Should we consider a "whom" as being implied instead, so that in meaning it is "I know whom who he is" but written as "I know who he is"?
Last edited by Essorant on Wed May 20, 2009 3:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Kasper » Wed May 20, 2009 3:44 am

Hi Essorant,

it seems to me that the whole clause 'who he is' is the object of 'know', not merely the word 'who'. Within the object-clause however, the word 'who' is the subject, and therefore in nominative, not accusative case.

Does that make sense?
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Bretonus » Wed May 20, 2009 3:53 am

Maybe this little line of medieval Latin can help you.

Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

Classical authors, I think, would have preferred something like "Novit enim Dominus quos esse suos." However, if you wish to use a finite form of the verb, you must have a subject that agrees with it.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Lucus Eques » Wed May 20, 2009 3:58 am

The reason is this:

"who he is" is a clause that you will agree sounds correct. For example, "Who he is astounds me!" "Who he is makes everyone tremble," etc. Therefore, "Who he is, I know him." Thus: "I know who he is." In reality, what has been omitted is the word "him" : "I know him who he is." So "him" is the missing object you're looking for, and its objectivity is transferred fully upon the clause "who he is," though it shows no accusative marker.

Make sense?

It's comparable to how Latin will omitt "is" in sentences like, "Is qui in lectica portatur multam pecuniam habet," into "Qui in lectia portatur multam pecuniam habet."
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Kasper » Wed May 20, 2009 5:25 am

Lucus Eques wrote:In reality, what has been omitted is the word "him" : "I know him who he is." So "him" is the missing object you're looking for, and its objectivity is transferred fully upon the clause "who he is," though it shows no accusative marker.



Do you have any sources you could refer to for this Luce? English is admittedly only my second language, but i don't see any need to imply the word 'him', or assume that it has been omitted, particularly 'in reality'. It seems to me that English simply does not require such a word to be expressed or implied, because the clause as object itself suffices.

Afterall, contrary to popular belief, English is not Latin in code.

Of course, i'd happily be wrong.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Lucus Eques » Wed May 20, 2009 5:46 am

Kasper wrote:
Lucus Eques wrote:In reality, what has been omitted is the word "him" : "I know him who he is." So "him" is the missing object you're looking for, and its objectivity is transferred fully upon the clause "who he is," though it shows no accusative marker.



Do you have any sources you could refer to for this Luce? English is admittedly only my second language, but i don't see any need to imply the word 'him', or assume that it has been omitted, particularly 'in reality'. It seems to me that English simply does not require such a word to be expressed or implied, because the clause as object itself suffices.

Afterall, contrary to popular belief, English is not Latin in code.

Of course, i'd happily be wrong.


Hi Kasper; I had no idea that English was your second language; what's your first, if I may ask?

Have you read the King James English version of the Bible? In it you'll read many unmodern forms of English, that still fully qualify as Modern English and are officially part of this very language (including "thou" and "thy," inter alia). Constructions such as, "They saw him who was fortold," and so forth, are much more common. Though the hodiern English eschews these redundancies, they used to be quite normal.

So indeed, in reality, this is the omission, of the word "him." I agree with you fully that the English of today, and of yesterday, does not require this "him," and leaves it implicit — it even sounds strange to our ears of today. Still, this is the form, and I defer to someone else with more experience in explaining these constructions to provide more appropriate terminology and examples. After all, I learned about this concept here, at Textkit.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby edonnelly » Wed May 20, 2009 11:36 am

This is like déjà vu all over again (almost to the day one year ago).
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Wed May 20, 2009 12:10 pm

Essorant wrote:Paul

But why isn't "who" the object of "know" when we say "I know who he is"?

Should we consider a "whom" as being implied instead, so that in meaning it is "I know whom who he is" but written as "I know who he is"?

No, I already told you. The fact that it is an embedded question is the REASON. There is no relative pronoun left out. It is not "I know that he is who" which becomes "I know who he is." Just look at other embedded questions and you will see that it only makes sense!

What does he want? > I don't know what he wants.
Whom will he bring? > I don't know whom he'll bring. (grammatically correct, though not colloquial)
Who will be there? > I don't know who will be there.
Where has he been? > I don't know where he has been.
How did he get there? > I don't know how he got there.
Why did you say that? > I don't know why you said that.

The question word is attached to the QUESTION. It is not a connector or relative clause opener. It is simply a QUESTION WORD! So, it functions in the same way that it would if you didn't have the introductory phrase, which makes the question both indirect and embedded.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed May 20, 2009 1:04 pm

I agree with jaihare that it's just a matter of being an indirect question, and the question word never changes when you go from direct to indirect. Also, I don't think "who" is the subject of "who is he?". Compare "who are you?" where the verb agrees with "you", and how "he" moves back in front of the verb to subject position in the indirect question like with "I know who he is" but on the other hand you have "who's here?" > "I know who's here".
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Wed May 20, 2009 10:15 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:I agree with jaihare that it's just a matter of being an indirect question, and the question word never changes when you go from direct to indirect. Also, I don't think "who" is the subject of "who is he?". Compare "who are you?" where the verb agrees with "you", and how "he" moves back in front of the verb to subject position in the indirect question like with "I know who he is" but on the other hand you have "who's here?" > "I know who's here".

Indeed. :) Because in "who is he?" the "who" functions as the predicate nominative in question.

He is John.
He is __?__.
Who is he?

The subject is still "he."

He is at work.
He is __?__.
Where is he?

You're right on the money. The difference in the last sentence is that "who" is the subject there.

John is there.
__?__ is there.
Who is there?

I always tell my students that English grammar's mostly systematic and easy, but sometimes I think I'm just plain wrong. LOL
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Wed May 20, 2009 10:56 pm

Me liketh Lucus' explanation best. It makes most sense to me to to think of the object as being invisible.

But I admit I am so obstinate that I still think that "whom" may be better in this case. That is is because the object itself is meant refer to a questionable being (a who), not a specific person with indication of gender (a him). I think this may be seen a bit better in a saying such as "she is who I love". It doesn't seem correct to decipher that as "she is who (her) I love". But similar to the saying "It is that that I love" with two that's, one going with "is" and the other being the object of "love", it seems like sayings such as these have two who's, where the one that is the object (the whom) is invisible.

I know who he is = I know (whom) who he is.

She is who I love = she is who (whom) I love

The subject "who" is seen by the eye. But the object "whom" is invisible and playing the ghost. :)
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Wed May 20, 2009 11:06 pm

Essorant wrote:Me liketh Lucus' explanation best. It makes most sense to me to to think of the object as being invisible.

But I admit I am so obstinate that I still think that "whom" may be better in this case. That is is because the object itself is meant refer to a questionable being (a who), not a specific person with indication of gender (a him). I think this may be seen a bit better in a saying such as "she is who I love". It doesn't seem correct to decipher that as "she is who (her) I love". But similar to the saying "It is that that I love" with two that's, one going with "is" and the other being the object of "love", it seems like sayings such as these have two who's, where the one that is the object (the whom) is invisible.

I know who he is = I know (whom) who he is.

She is who I love = she is who (whom) I love

The subject "who" is seen by the eye. But the object "whom" is invisible and playing the ghost. :)

Certainly you can see that these two sentences are VERY different.

He is __?__. (PREDICATE NOMINATIVE OF EQUATIVE VERB)
I know who he is. (Both GRAMMATICAL and COLLOQUIAL)
*I know whom he is. (Neither grammatical nor colloquial)

I love __?__. (OBJECT OF THE VERB LOVE)
She is whom I love. (GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT, though not colloquial)
She is who I love. (Colloquial because we would now ask "Who do you love?" rather than "Whom do you love?" despite its being ungrammatical)

The two cases are different. The first case has to be the subjective case (who) while the second should grammatically be in the objective case (whom). Really, I don't see what the confusion is here. The syntax is quite obvious.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Wed May 20, 2009 11:25 pm

Certainly you can see that these two sentences are VERY different.



VERY different?
They are the same kind, just with a different wordorder!
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby paulusnb » Wed May 20, 2009 11:43 pm

jaihare wrote:No, I already told you. The fact that it is an embedded question is the REASON.


Um. Ok. SInce you told me...............

With that said, your reasons sound sound.


But, what about the following sentence: I have always known him to be a stand up guy. Him is the Objective case. Colloquial?
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Kasper » Thu May 21, 2009 12:20 am

Lucus Eques wrote:
Hi Kasper; I had no idea that English was your second language; what's your first, if I may ask?


Sure. It's Dutch.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 1:51 am

Essorant wrote:
Certainly you can see that these two sentences are VERY different.


VERY different?
They are the same kind, just with a different wordorder!

Except that one has a TRANSITIVE VERB and the other has an EQUATIVE VERB. If you can't see that difference and understand how cases work in English (since we only have two real cases), I would really start to worry about any other language you study. The difference between transitive and intransitive, let alone equative, verbs is so essential to understanding case that I thought the difference would be obvious. If not, let me spell it out.....

The verb TO BE is followed by the SUBJECTIVE CASE in English (that is, it doesn't take a direct object but instead a predicate nominative in the subjective case).

The verb TO LOVE is transitive, and as such it is followed by the OBJECTIVE CASE in English.

While in your opinion these may be "the same kind, just with a different word order," in reality these are very different sentence structures, just as I already pointed out.

EDIT: Let me append this apology for my curtness. I got frustrated when, having given a clear explanation, I got rebuffed — after all, I have done more than my duty to help you understand how the English language works. I was answering in sincerity, but you were rejecting my responses without consideration — and I'm the one who is right on this. All the other theorizing in this thread is not based on the structure of the English language. I teach English for a living — and make decent money for it. I'm a professional, and I know what I'm talking about. Why reject this in preference of conjecture? Perhaps it's better that I just stay out (that's subjunctive, by the way) of people's ways and let them chase rabbits. Either way, my apologies ahead of time for the rudeness.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 1:57 am

paulusnb wrote:But, what about the following sentence: I have always known him to be a stand up guy. Him is the Objective case. Colloquial?

Nope. ;) It's not because it's colloquial but because of the shift in subject.

The subject of the main clause ("I have always known ___") is the first-person, "I."
The subject of the embedded clause ("He is a stand-up guy") is the third-person "he."

The switch in subject can activate two things generally: (1) the subjunctive or (2) the infinitive. In this case, it is in the infinitive. The subject of an infinitive is regularly placed in the objective case. Other examples:

She wanted me to take out the garbage. (cp. "She wanted to take out the garbage." The change in subject goes in the objective case.)

She asked him to go to the store. (cp. "She asked to go to the store.")
This is interchangeable with the subjunctive mood (which makes the subject shift obvious): "She asked that he go to the store."

He wants us to go with him. (cp. "He wants to go with him.")
This is interchangeable with the subjunctive mood: "He wants that we go with him."

English grammar is a lot more interesting that people generally give it credit for. I would suggest a basic introduction to transformational grammar and syntax tree and bar structure. I think it would clarify a lot of these things.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Thu May 21, 2009 3:39 am

jaihare ,

I apologize for not being able to follow you very well. But my last comment was about the sentences in the context of my question, regarding "who" being used instead of "whom". From what I understand, those sentences do use "who" in basically the same manner, regardless of the difference of the verbs. In both examples we have "who" not being turned into "whom" by the verbs (know and love). If the action of the verbs "know" and "love" are not acting on "who" turning it into "whom" then where is the action of the verbs going instead? You don't think it is acting upon an omitted or implied object of "him" or "whom" "the one" "the person" (or what you will):

I know (whom/him/the one/the person, etc) who he is
She is who (whom/her/the one/the person, etc) I love
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Thu May 21, 2009 4:11 am

He wants that we go with him.


I never heard anyone speak like that before.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 4:20 am

Essorant wrote:jaihare ,

I apologize for not being able to follow you very well. But my last comment was about the sentences in the context of my question, regarding "who" being used instead of "whom". From what I understand, those sentences do use "who" in basically the same manner, regardless of the difference of the verbs. In both examples we have "who" not being turned into "whom" by the verbs (know and love). If the action of the verbs "know" and "love" are not acting on "who" turning it into "whom" then where is the action of the verbs going instead? You don't think it is acting upon an omitted or implied object of "him" or "whom" "the one" "the person" (or what you will):

I know (whom/him/the one/the person, etc) who he is
She is who (whom/her/the one/the person, etc) I love

This is a complex issue in English grammar. Relative clauses are not the clearest things in the world.

In Hebrew, I would make the following sentence:

זאת הבחורה שאותה אני אוהב || Zot ha-bachurá she-otá aní ohév.
Literally: "This {is} the-girl that-her I love."

We maintain both elements in Hebrew. We maintain the original "this is the girl" and also "I love her." We simply join them with a relative pronoun (ש). English is quite different. We do not maintain two identical objects when we have a subordinate clause. We drop one of them! The same sentence in English is:

This is the girl that I love.

We are missing the reference in the embedded clause, which is found in the higher/main clause. We could reconstruct this as two sentences:

This is the girl.
I love (the girl).

In your example sentences, here is a possible reconstruction for the first:

I know (a fact).
He is (who/someone).

"Who" remains in the subjective case because it serves as the predicate nominative of the verb "is."

She is (someone).
I love (her).

"Whom" should take the objective case grammatically because of the fact that "her" is objective in the embedded sentence. The sentence should, according to the rules, read "She is whom I love." We don't speak like this very much, however.

Does this help at all?
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 4:21 am

Essorant wrote:
He wants that we go with him.

I never heard anyone speak like that before.

Doesn't change the fact that it's correct. ;)

As time passes, English drifts further and further away from the use of the subjunctive. It's no surprise to me that you haven't heard it that way, but it is indeed proper English.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby paulusnb » Thu May 21, 2009 10:51 am

jaihare wrote:I would suggest a basic introduction to transformational grammar and syntax tree and bar structure. I think it would clarify a lot of these things.


jailhare wrote:If you can't see that difference and understand how cases work in English (since we only have two real cases), I would really start to worry about any other language you study.


You would be a lot more pleasant to talk to if you would stop saying things like this.

jailhare wrote:I was answering in sincerity, but you were rejecting my responses without consideration — and I'm the one who is right on this. All the other theorizing in this thread is not based on the structure of the English language. I teach English for a living — and make decent money for it. I'm a professional, and I know what I'm talking about. Why reject this in preference of conjecture? Perhaps it's better that I just stay out (that's subjunctive, by the way) of people's ways and let them chase rabbits. Either way, my apologies ahead of time for the rudeness.


Pardon me. But when I disagree with someone over whether something is the dative of reference or the genitive of characteristic with the infinitive, I cite an authority instead of using All-caps. You may teach English for a living, but we have not signed up for your class. When you speak to us like children, it shows a lack of respect. So, perhaps instead of insulting someone who disagrees with you or asks a question of you, you could cite a grammar.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 2:34 pm

paulusnb wrote:
jaihare wrote:I would suggest a basic introduction to transformational grammar and syntax tree and bar structure. I think it would clarify a lot of these things.


jailhare wrote:If you can't see that difference and understand how cases work in English (since we only have two real cases), I would really start to worry about any other language you study.


You would be a lot more pleasant to talk to if you would stop saying things like this.

"Things like this"? The first quote that you've pasted there was not intended at all as a jibe. I was serious. A basic introduction to these matters would clarify these questions, without a doubt. How is that insulting?

As for the second quote, it wasn't directed to you, and I made my apology regarding the reaction, though it came from my emotions at the time.

paulusnb wrote:
jailhare wrote:I was answering in sincerity, but you were rejecting my responses without consideration — and I'm the one who is right on this. All the other theorizing in this thread is not based on the structure of the English language. I teach English for a living — and make decent money for it. I'm a professional, and I know what I'm talking about. Why reject this in preference of conjecture? Perhaps it's better that I just stay out (that's subjunctive, by the way) of people's ways and let them chase rabbits. Either way, my apologies ahead of time for the rudeness.


Pardon me. But when I disagree with someone over whether something is the dative of reference or the genitive of characteristic with the infinitive, I cite an authority instead of using All-caps. You may teach English for a living, but we have not signed up for your class. When you speak to us like children, it shows a lack of respect. So, perhaps instead of insulting someone who disagrees with you or asks a question of you, you could cite a grammar.

The all-caps were intended to separate it from the text around it, not to appear as shouting. Surely you know that using all-caps is similar to using italics or underlining. I was already using italics for a ton of other things in these posts and wanted the case remarks to stand out.

At the very least, people could weigh what I was saying against their own experience instead of just casting it off. Or, is that how it works? I either cite an authoritative grammar for my remarks or you just ignore what I type and keep on rambling in the dark asking completely irrelevant questions in the wrong direction? I mean, I'll gladly just ignore people's posts if that's the kind of forum that you want to have here. I was offering an answer that was coherent and persuasive, and I was rebuffed for it. Of course my reaction was harsh, but it was based on how people responded to me.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 2:48 pm

For those hungry for grammar links, check this out: http://www.englishlanguageguide.com/eng ... ronoun.asp

:? Referencing English grammars for native English speakers who should be able to determine these things by introspection. What will the world come to next?
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 2:52 pm

And just because I apparently need to start posting links to everything I have to say about the English language (since being a trained professional, a native speaker and a philologist aren't enough), here's a grammar reference for the use of the subjunctive, as I mentioned above.

http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verb ... nctive.htm

Good grief....
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Alatius » Thu May 21, 2009 3:54 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:"who he is" is a clause that you will agree sounds correct. For example, "Who he is astounds me!" "Who he is makes everyone tremble," etc. Therefore, "Who he is, I know him." Thus: "I know who he is." In reality, what has been omitted is the word "him" : "I know him who he is." So "him" is the missing object you're looking for, and its objectivity is transferred fully upon the clause "who he is," though it shows no accusative marker.


As Kasper, I too am not a native speaker, but I have issues with this explanation. As stated by jaihare, in "I know who he is", the phrase "who he is" is an indirect question, which acts as the object of "know". Hence, "who" is an interrogative pronoun. But in "I know him, who he is", "who" is a relative pronoun (which happens to look the same as the interrogative.)

Explaining or defending a grammatical construction by supplying a word that was not in the original, and argue that it is implied, is quite frankly a rather naive way of reasoning, and regrettably prone to err. Let me give another example: it is (or at least was) widely argued, that a construction such as "he is taller than I" is grammatically superior to "he is taller than me", since, it is said, what we "really" have is an "am" that is implied or understood: "he is taller than I [am]". Now, as it happens, this exact construction, and accompanying prescriptive explanation, also exists in Swedish (being, as it is, a relatively closely related language). The prescriptive grammars advocate, on the same reasoning as the English prescrivists, that it should be "han är längre än jag" (being word for word identical in structure to "he is taller than I"), but people tend to say "han är längre än mig", with "mig" = "me" in the objective case. Now, one difference between English and Swedish, and the reason why I started to discuss another language, is that Swedish has reflexive pronouns (which work fairly similarly to those in Latin). The exciting and interesting fact is that virtually everyone would say or at least accept "han är längre än sin bror" (="he is taller than his [own] brother"), while at the same time *"han är längre än sin bror är", with "är" (="is") added, is grammatically impossible! It must be "han är längre än hans bror är" (="he is taller than his brother is"). This demonstrates that, in Swedish at least, the argument that there is a word that is "implied" or "understood" is faulty.

Lucus Eques wrote:Have you read the King James English version of the Bible? In it you'll read many unmodern forms of English, that still fully qualify as Modern English and are officially part of this very language (including "thou" and "thy," inter alia). Constructions such as, "They saw him who was fortold," and so forth, are much more common. Though the hodiern English eschews these redundancies, they used to be quite normal.


Do you argue that "they saw him who was foretold" and "they saw who was foretold" is (or was) semantically equivalent?
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Lucus Eques » Thu May 21, 2009 5:17 pm

At the very least, people could weigh what I was saying against their own experience instead of just casting it off. Or, is that how it works? I either cite an authoritative grammar for my remarks or you just ignore what I type and keep on rambling in the dark asking completely irrelevant questions in the wrong direction? I mean, I'll gladly just ignore people's posts if that's the kind of forum that you want to have here. I was offering an answer that was coherent and persuasive, and I was rebuffed for it. Of course my reaction was harsh, but it was based on how people responded to me.


I must say, amice Israeliane, that certainly I do agree with your arguments, and the logic you have presented with regard to this discussion.

But I take issue with the tone with which you express yourself here, as do perhaps some others here. I know that at least three of us are teachers, yourself and myself included. And you know that there are sometimes a few slow students who have trouble grasping the basics — perhaps that is what you see in us, which is why you are frustrated with us. But just as you would be with your students, I ask you to be more patient in your treatment of us. You say that your arguments have been practically air-tight in their reasoning and explanation — but if they are inherently so logical, why do we (who have a certain amount of good education ourselves on grammatical topics) feel reluctant to accept them out-of-hand, and merely trust your authority alone?

And this comes back to how we have interpreted your tone — whether you meant it or not, phrases like the ones I placed in bold above sound as if you are condescending to us — as if we were foolish middle schoolers not even worth your time. Also, some of these comments make you sound defensive, and overly self-confident, in a way that only shrouds your logical, clear statements in a haze of emotions that don't interest us so much.

Someone in this thread cited a thread from a year ago this week in which I participated — and when I read my comments now, I blush! how just a year ago, I sounded so much harsher, egotistical, and uncompromising! I feel embarrassed. But at the time, I didn't realize it — nor that my attitude just put off my colleagues and made them feel attacked, and less willing to see whatever logic or force of reason I may have had to offer.

Have I matured? I hope so, but it's always possible for me to recede back into that kind of flaming rhetoric again — and when I do, amici, I trust you will kindly redirect me to this post of mine here, and knock some sense into me about my manner of expression. :)

So this is why we have reacted badly. As I said, when I look beyond the emotions you have expressed to us in your posts (with very colorful and well-written language, it should be said), I see the reason of your arguments. But as far as I feel about these things, exasperation and impatience do not make me feel any more willing to listen.

**

Salve, Alati! Quid novi?

I agree with you, amice, and with the others who have rightly insisted that the predicate "who he is" acts as an indeclinable object unto itself, and that my own explanation — altho' I believe it fully to be correct, and demonstrable through analogy with other languages and with older forms of English — is unnecessarily obtuse. And yes, Alati, I do argue that my two examples, "They saw who was fortold," and "They saw him who was fortold," are semantically the same thing.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby paulusnb » Thu May 21, 2009 6:09 pm

Ignore this. I did not mean to post to this topic.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Thu May 21, 2009 8:46 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:I must say, amice Israeliane, that certainly I do agree with your arguments, and the logic you have presented with regard to this discussion.

But I take issue with the tone with which you express yourself here, as do perhaps some others here. I know that at least three of us are teachers, yourself and myself included. And you know that there are sometimes a few slow students who have trouble grasping the basics — perhaps that is what you see in us, which is why you are frustrated with us. But just as you would be with your students, I ask you to be more patient in your treatment of us. You say that your arguments have been practically air-tight in their reasoning and explanation — but if they are inherently so logical, why do we (who have a certain amount of good education ourselves on grammatical topics) feel reluctant to accept them out-of-hand, and merely trust your authority alone?

And this comes back to how we have interpreted your tone — whether you meant it or not, phrases like the ones I placed in bold above sound as if you are condescending to us — as if we were foolish middle schoolers not even worth your time. Also, some of these comments make you sound defensive, and overly self-confident, in a way that only shrouds your logical, clear statements in a haze of emotions that don't interest us so much.

Someone in this thread cited a thread from a year ago this week in which I participated — and when I read my comments now, I blush! how just a year ago, I sounded so much harsher, egotistical, and uncompromising! I feel embarrassed. But at the time, I didn't realize it — nor that my attitude just put off my colleagues and made them feel attacked, and less willing to see whatever logic or force of reason I may have had to offer.

Have I matured? I hope so, but it's always possible for me to recede back into that kind of flaming rhetoric again — and when I do, amici, I trust you will kindly redirect me to this post of mine here, and knock some sense into me about my manner of expression. :)

So this is why we have reacted badly. As I said, when I look beyond the emotions you have expressed to us in your posts (with very colorful and well-written language, it should be said), I see the reason of your arguments. But as far as I feel about these things, exasperation and impatience do not make me feel any more willing to listen.

**

Salve, Alati! Quid novi?

I agree with you, amice, and with the others who have rightly insisted that the predicate "who he is" acts as an indeclinable object unto itself, and that my own explanation — altho' I believe it fully to be correct, and demonstrable through analogy with other languages and with older forms of English — is unnecessarily obtuse. And yes, Alati, I do argue that my two examples, "They saw who was fortold," and "They saw him who was fortold," are semantically the same thing.

I'm not one who likes opposition like this, and I will admit sometimes issues like this (problems related to clause embedding) can give you a headache. The nature of a forum, though, is give-and-take, and I responded to what I felt was being given to me. I know it's not the most flattering way to respond, and for that I'm sorry to the entire body of participants. But it's like when paulusnb made his comments in the Why ITALIAN Athenaze thread. He assumed he was addressing peers and made a statement that I personally didn't think was unacceptable, but some people on the forum attacked what he said. He had to respond to how they reacted to him.

This is how I felt: Imagine sitting in a room with other people, and everyone there is supposed to be working together to come up with a solution for some business challenge. People start going in directions that will not be advantageous, and you can see that — so you try to get their attention and suggest what you know is the best way to look at the problem. You've got experience and have faced the problem before, and you explain yourself in such a way that you end up exerting energy in your explanation. Next thing, they look at you with blank faces, turn to each other and begin to run off in the other direction and just ignore what you presented. What do you do? Personally, I would do my best to stop them and say, "Look. I know what I'm saying. Listen up. We need to look at it from this perspective." By becoming more aggressive in my post, I felt like I was banging on the table a bit trying to get the questioner to look in the right direction.

I see in my reaction the condescension that you're pointing out, and I see the frustration on my behalf and its resultant alignment/positioning of others against me — which only caused me to react yet again. Cause-and-effect, I guess — though these things should not produce such a personal reaction within me. I'm not even sure why I'm putting forth any kind of self-defense at all.

The point is, I'm sorry for the tone. It was reactionary and condescending. Hopefully, we can move on into bigger and better things. On the other side, I would ask posters to have a bit of respect for others' explanations. Give them a little consideration rather than just brushing them off. Personally, I felt brushed off — and that's where the emotions started to play a part for me. Either way, thanks for pointing these things out, even though they really were obvious. I just haven't been in the mood to deal with them patiently. (It's been a wearing few weeks, personally — and I haven't slept well this week. But it's no excuse for impatience and rudeness.)

My apologies,
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Kasper » Thu May 21, 2009 11:24 pm

jaihare wrote:
This is how I felt: Imagine sitting in a room with other people, and everyone there is supposed to be working together to come up with a solution for some business challenge. People start going in directions that will not be advantageous, and you can see that — so you try to get their attention and suggest what you know is the best way to look at the problem. You've got experience and have faced the problem before, and you explain yourself in such a way that you end up exerting energy in your explanation. Next thing, they look at you with blank faces, turn to each other and begin to run off in the other direction and just ignore what you presented. What do you do? Personally, I would do my best to stop them and say, "Look. I know what I'm saying. Listen up. We need to look at it from this perspective." By becoming more aggressive in my post, I felt like I was banging on the table a bit trying to get the questioner to look in the right direction.


Problem is, of course, that just because you know yourself to be an expert doesn't mean that they do. And until you have actually convinced your companions that you are an expert who must be listened to, you will only be considered the rude guy who keeps banging on the table. And convicing others of your expertise (without showing degrees written in impeccable latin), takes time and patience and persevering with those who may also consider themselves experts, however inferior they may be.

All that said, i also think you are correct in what you said.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Fri May 22, 2009 12:12 am

jaihare,

"Whom" should take the objective case grammatically because of the fact that "her" is objective in the embedded sentence. The sentence should, according to the rules, read "She is whom I love." We don't speak like this very much, however.

Does this help at all?



Yes, your manner of examples made much sense to me.

The only place I am still a bit confused is where you say that "who" in the other sentence should rightly be "whom" ("She is whom I love", instead of "She is who I love")
I am just wondering why "who" isn't considered as going with "is" here too and therefore correct in its case.


I know (a fact)
(that) who he is

She is who (someone)
(that) I love.


Does that make sense?
Last edited by Essorant on Fri May 22, 2009 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby jaihare » Fri May 22, 2009 12:19 am

Essorant wrote:Yes, your manner of examples made much sense to me.

The only place I am still a bit confused is where you say that "who" in the other sentence should rightly be "whom" ("She is whom I love", instead of "She is who I love")
I am just wondering why "who" isn't considered as going with "is" here too and therefore correct in its case.


I know (a fact)
(that) who he is

She is who (someone)
(that) I love.

The relative pronoun takes the case of the function it performs in the subordinate clause, not in the main clause. ;)
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Fri May 22, 2009 12:24 am

I know that! But my suggestion is that "who" in "she is who" isn't a relative pronoun, but just who in the sense of " someone."

She is who (someone) (that) I love.

Alas, you must think I don't know anything about grammar.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Benedarius » Sat May 23, 2009 6:33 pm

I've always had that explained as, a word always takes its case from its own clause. "who he is" is a relative clause, and if that is the correct clause, then no matter what you do with it, it stays the same.

This is prescriptivism though, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Postby Essorant » Sun May 24, 2009 4:36 pm

That makes sense and is especially easy when you isolate "who he is" from following "I know". But some easily confused folk (such as I) may be put off by the seeming absence of an object following "know" or by "who" being in the position of the object but not being "whom". Relative to saying "I know the person who he is" saying "I know who he is", gives a bit of an impression that either it has a missing object ("the person") or that "who" is the object and therefore should be "whom". I think such an expression as "I know the person who he is" is the more complete edition of sentence. Relative to that it seems appropriate to treat "I know who he is" as a shortened edition of the same sentence, where "the person" (or similar expression) is conveniently omitted or invisiblely implied. Just as in "I know the person he is" the "who" is conveniently omitted or invisiblely implied. In likewise it seems to stand for the sentence "she is who I love". But here it seems who is an unrelative pronoun meaning "someone" or "the one", the which is followed by an omitted or invisiblely implied relative pronoun that is the object of the verb "love": She is who (whom) I love (i.e she is someone whom I love).


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