Question about English Grammar

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Lucus Eques
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Re: Question about English Grammar

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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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Re: Question about English Grammar

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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?
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

Post by 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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