Prepositional Predicates with Nominalized Subjects in Classical Hebrew*


The paper characterizes the PP–nominal (prepositional phrase + nominalization) pattern in Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinic Hebrew (e.g., 'it is our duty to do') and discusses its relation to the so-called evaluative or pattern (e.g., 'it would have been better for us to serve'). In spite of the resemblance between the two, it is argued that the former is a distinct pattern both historically and typologically, but that both share similar generalizations within predicate-initial sentence patterns. Historically, the PP-nominal sentences are a unique case of prepositional phrase predicate sentences with simple noun phrase subjects, having fixed word order and nominalized subjects. Typologically, they are essentially marked for person. Changes in the PP-nominal pattern in Rabbinic Hebrew suggest that it grew closer to the evaluative pattern.