. 10
( 17)


In general: -nj signals that there exists an entity suf¬ciently individuated
that it could be distinguished from other possible entities. -Yb,elm indicates
that a possible individual exists that would ¬t in the event, but it cannot be
differentiated from other possible individuals.

4.8.4 Rjt-
Compounds with rjt- seem similar to compounds in - nj. Rjt- invites one to think
of a plural set of possible elements that could be involved in the event. Of this
set certain entities ¬t while others might not. Rjt- ¬ts naturally in description
as opposed to narrative:

[365] Hfc[jlbkbcm vjkxf. Rjt-rnj rjcj gjukzlsdfk yf vtyz. Hs,frjd itk hzljv,
euh/vj gjvfkrbdfz.
People dispersed in silence. Here and there somebody would glance at me
sideways. Rybakov walked alongside, gloomily maintaining silence.
[366] Rjt-rnj jcnfkcz pf cnjkjv, lheubt hfp,htkbcm.
Somebody or another stayed at the table, others scattered.

-Nj, in contrast, is interested in whether at least one individual exists. -Nj ¬ts in
causal, sequential narrative. In [367], the hero was able to sit, and further events
followed, because there existed at least one individual who made room for him.

[367] Ybrjyjd djitk. {Rnj-nj ∼ ?Rjt-rnj} gjntcybkcz, jy ctk, pfgs[fdibqcz,
cltkfkcz ytdblbvsv.
Nikonov entered. Somebody squeezed over to make room, he sat down wheezing
and made himself inconspicuous.

-Nj and rjt- then come close to each other™s domains, but still differ: -nj implies
the existence of at least one relevant entity; no more is known about a set of
possible entities. Rjt- expresses existence and differentiation of some entities
from others in the set.

4.8.5 -Kb,j
-Kb,j, like -yb,elm, deals with a set of possible entities that might ¬t in a propo-
sition. If with -yb,elm it does not matter which entity is chosen, with -kb,j there
is at least the possibility that some elements ¬t, others would not. Accordingly,
-kb,j is used when alternative scenarios are differentiated. Four contexts can be
264 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Epistemological uncertainty: Though -yb,elm is more usual, -kb,j can be used
in contexts that comment on the speaker™s indeterminate knowledge ([368]),
doubt ([369]), incredulity ([370]), or hope ([371]):

[368] Rnj-nj dscrfpfk vytybt -- vj;tn ,snm, lzlz Vbif evth jn rfrjq-kb,j ,jktpyb.
Someone expressed the thought -- maybe Uncle Misha died of some sort of
[369] Cjvytdf/cm, xnj rnj-kb,j ntgthm cvj;tn cltkfnm xnj-kb,j gjlj,yjt.
I doubt that anyone now could do anything similar.
[370] Htrjhl dhzl kb ,eltn rjulf-kb,j gj,bn.
The record will hardly be broken anytime.
[371] {jxe yfltznmcz, xnj эnf zhrfz cthbz ,eltn rjulf-kb,j yfgtxfnfyf.
I would like to think that, one day, this brilliant series will be published.

Potential occasions: In potential contexts -- imperatives, future events, events de-
pendent on modal predicates -- the usual existential pronoun is -yb,elm, which
focuses on whether any element exists that would ¬t: Cgjqnt rfre/-yb,elm
[jhjie/ gtcy/ ˜Sing some nice song™. -Kb,j is possible with the future, if there
is epistemological uncertainty (see [370--71]), or with modals, if the context sug-
gests multiple occcasions ([372]).

[372] Lkz njuj, xnj,s gjckfnm dfv gbcmvj, cgfvth ljk;ty jnrelf-kb,j epyfnm dfi
In order to send you a letter, a spammer has to ¬nd out your e-mail address from

Iterative occasions: -Kb,j is used in iterative contexts, if it is of interest that,
on various occasions, different elements with different properties would ¬t.

[373] Ghb[jlbkb yf cdblfybt ldjt, yf gthde/ cvtye zdkzkfcm tuj ;tyf, yf dnjhe/ --
tuj jntw bkb vfnm bkb rnj-kb,j bp tuj ctcnth.
Two people came for the visits, his wife for the ¬rst shift, and either his father or
mother or some one of his sisters for the second.

Negation of multiple alternatives: It has been noted that -kb,j is often used
in contexts of weak or implicit negation. In such contexts -kb,j invites one to
think: no matter which element is selected, the result will nevertheless be the
same. -Kb,j is usual with the preposition ,tp ˜without™ ([374]), with which it is
more frequent than -yb,elm by a ratio of 100 to 1. -Kb,j can also be used with
comparatives ([375]) and summaries of failed occasions, on which some positive
element might have appeared ([376--77]):

[374] Dct ,skj jhufybpjdfyj cfvj cj,jq, ,tp rfrjuj-kb,j exfcnbz.
Everything got organized by itself, without anyone™s participation.
Arguments 265

[375] Hf,jnf эnf bynthtcytt, xtv rfrfz-kb,j lheufz.
This work is more interesting than any other [you might think of ].
[376] Z jnrfpfkcz xnj-kb,j gjtcnm.
I declined to eat anything whatsoever.
[377] Ghbynth C80 d ghjwtcct ecnfyjdrb yt cjplfk rfrb[-kb,j nhelyjcntq.
The C80 printer caused no problems of any sort in the process of installation.

In [377], -kb,j appears in a clause with a negated ¬nite predicate, where yb- is
more usual.
-Yb,elm and -kb,j, then, both invite one to think of a possible set of enti-
ties that might conceivably ¬t in the event. -Kb,j allows that there might be
differences among entities, and it implies a process of sorting through possible
entities to determine which might ¬t and which not. It is especially common in
contexts of weak negation, when the possibility of differences is entertained and
then rejected. -Yb,elm, in contrast, asserts from the outset that it is indifferent
which individual is selected. Any is as good as the next, and all that matters is
that there be at least one such entity that would ¬t.

4.8.6 Indefinites y†rjnjhsq, y†crjkmrj
Some interrogative pronouns combine with the negative pre¬x yt-, yielding
lexicalized inde¬nites: wthrjdm, d rjnjhjq ytrjulf dtyxfkfcm ljxm Ifkzgbyf
˜a church, in which Shaliapin™s daughter once was married™. Y†rjnjhsq and
y†crjkmrj are common. Y†rnj is archaic, typically used modifying a name with
a touch of irony: ytrnj Bdfyjd ˜a certain somebody named Ivanov™. Y†rbq ˜a cer-
tain kind of™ is likewise old-fashioned: Jyf jnghfdbkfcm r ytrjtve cdznjq ;bpyb
cnfhwe ˜She set off for some saintly elder™.

4.8.7 Summary
Table 4.17 paraphrases the meaning of the two widely used existential pronomi-
nal compounds in -nj, -yb,elm, -kb,j, and rjt- and identi¬es preferred contexts.
The meaning is given as a complex of different levels of reference: nature of
reference (existential), the individual (in relation to other possible individuals),
tense-aspect-modality, speaker perspective, and register.

4.8.8 Negative pronouns in yt-
The other series of negative pronouns uses the stressed pre¬x y†(-): y†rjve,
y†xtuj, y†ult, y†rjulf, y†relf, y†jnrelf, . . . (unlikely: y†xtq, y†crjkmrj, y†rfrjq).
Y†(-) pronouns are negative modal existentials: they deny any possibility of an
individual that might ¬t in the event. Denying possibility is a modal act, and
266 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 4.17 Properties of -nj, -yb,elm, -kb,j, rjt-

description natural contexts

-nj indicates existence of at least actual:
one entity [existence of nfv d rjhhbljht xnj-nj ckexfkjcm/ckexftncz
essence] that is potentially ˜in the corridor something™s going on™
unique [individual] in potential modality if entity unique:
situations understood as rybue ,eltn gbcfnm rnj-nj lheujq ˜the book will
actual [modality] from an be written by someone else™
internal perspective [speaker]; iterative if entity unique on each occasion:
neutral [register] rf;ljt enhj jy b[ relf-nj djlbk ˜each morning
he took them somewhere™
-rjt like -nj, but: entities viewed as actual if some one way, some another:
types, some might ¬t, some rjt-rnj jcnfkcz ˜someone remained™
might not [individual];
informal [register]
-yb,elm indicates the mere fact of epistemological uncertainty:
existence [existence of dthjznyj, xnj-yb,elm ckexbkjcm
essence] of any entity ¬tting ˜probably something happened™
the proposition [individual] hypothetical (deontic, potential, counterfactual,
that is hypothetical imperative) modality:
[modality], as viewed from an tckb ,s xnj-yb,elm c lzltq Vbitq ckexbkjcm
external perspective ˜if anything were to happen to Uncle Misha™
[speaker]; neutral [register] iterative conditional:
tckb xnj-yb,elm ytghbznyjt ckexfkjcm ˜if
something unpleasant happened™
-kb,j like -yb,elm, but: entities iterative, potential, if selection of some vs. others:
viewed as types, some might bkb rnj-kb,j bp ctcnth ˜or someone of the
¬t, some might not; bookish sisters™
[register] implicit negation:
jnrfpfkcz xnj-kb,j gjtcnm ˜refused to eat
anything at all™

negative existentials are used with the special syntax of the free dative-with-
in¬nitive construction (§5.10.5).
Many combinations have become elliptical and idiomatic: vyt ytrjulf ˜I don™t
have the time to do it™; ytxtuj ltkfnm ˜nothing can be done™; ytxtuj ˜there™s no
cause to™, as in Ytxtuj pfbvcndjdfnm nt[ybre c uybkjuj Pfgflf! ˜There™s no reason
to borrow technology from the putrid West!™

4.8.9 Universal adjectives
The four adjectives dc†, dcz
´rbq, r’;lsq, k/,j presume a set of entities and
then assert that the activity or state could, in principle, extend to any or all
Arguments 267

elements in the set. These universal adjectives differ in how possible entities are
selected and in the modality of events.77
With plural dc† ˜all™, the whole group is undifferentiated: the ships all have
the same destination in [378]:

[378] Yt ,skj gfhj[jlf, rjnjhsq itk ,s dj Ahfywb/ bkb d Bnfkb/. Dct gfhj[jls
ikb njkmrj lj Rjycnfynbyjgjkz.
There was no steamship that went to France or Italy. All steamships went only as
far as Constantinople.

Dc† is natural in both general statements and unique past events ([378]).
In the singular, with a concrete noun, d†cm (fem dcz nt dc=) indicates that all
parts of a whole are involved (xthtp dct rkfl,bot ˜through the whole cemetery™)
or, with an abstract noun, that the quality is manifested in all respects, com-
pletely (dcz ,tpds[jlyjcnm cbnefwbb ˜the whole (utter, complete) inescapability
of the dilemma™). Thus, d†cm is exhaustive and collective (non-individuating).
With r’;lsq, the elements of the set are thought of as distinct individuals,
and every individual member of the set could participate in the predication.
R’;lsq is used in contexts of actual, multiple occasions with present or past
imperfectives ([379]), occasionally on a single occasion with a past (realized, ac-
tual) perfective ([380]):

[379] Rf;ljt enhj Yfnfie {jndjlzn<if prs> ∼ jndjlbkb<if pst> } d ltncrbq cfl.
Every morning [they] {take ∼ used to take} Natasha to kindergarten.
[380] Vfnm gjkj;bkf<pf> gthtl rf;lsv gj recre [kt,f.
Mother set one piece of bread each in front of every person.

R’;lsq is then exhaustive (distributive over all members), individuating, and
K/,j selects one individual from the set who could participate in a poten-
tial activity. Only one member of the set -- it is indifferent which -- need be
chosen. K/,j is then not concerned with multiple, actual situations, but with
a single, potential situation. K/,j is naturally at home in statements of poten-
tial developments or conditions, expressed as an imperative ([381]), a perfective
non-present ([382]), or a modal with an in¬nitive ([383]):

[381] -- Cghjcbnt<imv> k/,juj ijathf-ghjatccbjyfkf, rjuj jy ,jkmit dctuj ,jbncz, b
ytghtvtyyj ecksibnt: cj,hfnmtd gj hf,jnt.
Just ask any professional driver, who he fears most, and you™ll hear without fail:
the others in the trade.

77 Bogus awski and Karolak 1970:272--73, Ponomareff 1978, Fontaine 1983:232--37 (source of [379],
[381], [382], [383], [387], sometimes modi¬ed).
268 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 4.18 Summary of d†cm (dc†), r’;lsq, dcz
´rbq, k/,j

d†cm (dc†) r’;lsq k/,j
´q dcz

open set (— bp)
sense of bounded set bounded set bounded set
√ √ √
individual ( bp) of non- ( bp) of ( bp) of of entities
entity individuated individuated individuated viewed as
entities taken entities, all of entities, from potentially
as a whole which actually which a single different types
¬t representative
entity is chosen
natural actual, repetitive actual, repetitive potential general, potential
aspectual- imperfective; imperfective (perfective situation
non-past ∼
modal single past (imperfective)
modal ∼
context perfective
imperative ∼

[382] Tckb dblbn, xnj vyt [jxtncz c ybv gj,jknfnm, jnkj;bn<pf prs> k/,e/ hf,jne.
If he sees that I™d like to chat with him, he™ll put down any work.
[383] K/,e/ ckj;ye/ hf,jne vj;yj hfp,bnm<pf inf> yf ghjcntqibt jgthfwbb.
Any dif¬cult task can be broken down into simpler operations.

K/,j is individuating and representative rather than exhaustive of the set
(unlike dc† or r’;lsq), and potential.
´rbq counters the lingering doubt that perhaps not all members of the set
would participate: rather, any possible member of the set, with whatever prop-
erties one might choose to name, would be appropriate: ˜no matter which x is
chosen, still <. . .>™. Dcz
´rbq is unlikely to be used with bp, which restricts the
set. Dcz´rbq often occurs with negation, actual or imputed: yt dczrbq gjregfntkm
˜not every customer™, ,tp dczrjuj juhfybxtybz ˜without any limit™, cdth[ dczrjq
vths ˜without any limit™, dlfkb jn dczrjq wbdbkbpfwbb ˜far from any civiliza-
tion™ ≈ ˜without any of the amenities of civilization™, c vtyz ,skb cyzns dczrbt
gjljphtybz ˜all suspicions about me were removed™.
´rbq implies a static, unchanging situation. Used with imperfectives, it im-
plies the same (negative) result over many occasions, whether actual ([384]) or
potential ([385]):

[384] Dczre/ vsckm j yjdjq hf,jnt dcnhtxfk<if pst> c hfplhf;tybtv.
He greeted any sort of thought of a new job with annoyance.
Arguments 269

[385] Wtypjhs gjkexbkb bycnherwb/ nofntkmyj dsxthrbdfnm<if inf> dczrjt
egjvbyfybt j Ahtqlt.
Censors received instructions to meticulously cross out any sort of reference to

Used with a past perfective, dcz
´rbq points to a resulting state -- in [386], the
future absence of any contact with dangerous friends:

[386] Dkflbvbh ghtrhfnbk<pf pst> dczrbt cyjitybz c byjcnhfywfvb.
Vladimir stopped all contacts with foreigners.

While each of these universal adjectives has its preferred context, there are
contexts that allow more than one of the adjectives, though with different

[387] Hf,jnfkb vjhzrb lhe;yj. Vjkjltymrbq ktqntyfyn cfv j[jnyj c,hfcsdfk<if>
jabwthcrbq rbntkm b ,hfkcz<if> pf {rf;ljt ∼ k/,jt ∼ dczrjt} ltkj.
The sailors worked in a friendly fashion. The young lieutenant himself threw off
his of¬cer™s cape and would undertake {every ∼ any ∼ any manner} of task.

Most natural here is k/,j since the context suggests a condition (˜if and when
a task arose™). Dcz
´rjt suggests the presumption that some tasks might not be
performed (˜no matter how unpleasant the task™), and r’;ljt ¬ts as a factual
generalization about past behavior (˜this is what happened on every occasion
when a task arose™).
The relationship of the four adjectives is summarized in Table 4.18.
Predicates and arguments

5.1 Predicates and arguments

5.1.1 Predicates and arguments, in general
Argument phrases, which include nouns, pronouns, phrases consisting of nouns
and adjectives or quanti¬ers and nouns, and prepositional phrases, establish en-
tities for discussion.1 Predicates, which include verbs and non-verbal predicates
such as y’lj ˜[it] is needed™, [jhjij ˜[it] is good™ and predicative adjectives such
as cdj,j ´lys ˜free™, report on the properties of entities established by argument
phrases and the relations among entities.

[1] Dj dnjhjq gjkjdbyt lyz vs ,skb cdj,jlys. Ctht;f Cf[fhjd b z jnghfdbkbcm
j,jphtdfnm jrhtcnyjcnb. Gjljikb r ,thtue htrb Git[b. Vs htibkb
gthtghfdbnmcz yf ne cnjhjye d,hjl. Hfpekbcm, cfgjub dpzkb gjl vsirb b
gjikb. B nen vtyz cib,kj ntxtybtv, cfgjub gjgkskb. Cxfcnmt, xnj Ctht;f b[
We were free in the second half of the day. Serezha Sakharov and I set off to look
at the environs. We approached the Pshekha River. We decided to ford the river.
We took off our boots, stuck them under our arms, and set off. And then I was
knocked off my feet by the current; my boots sailed off. Fortunately, Serezha
caught them.

1 Valence patterns -- combinations of arguments and predicates -- have been well studied in Russian
(Apresian 1967, 1974). In general linguistics, the burden of description has been put on the
arguments™ “thematic roles,” conceived of as exclusive, binary properties. We emphasize here
the semantics of predicates and their relations to arguments. Critical is the idea of predicate
history, a description of how a predicate presents change, responsibility, and information. The
notions of agent and theme are extended to general notions of responsibility and aspectual-
ity, which are neither binary nor exclusive. With predicate histories, it is possible to make ex-
plicit similarities between transitive and intransitive valences (both can combine with preposi-
tional phrases expressing domains of change), to introduce some semantic correlates of case (not
unlike Jakobson 1936/1971[b], Wierzbicka 1980), and to make connections between aspect and
The discussion here blurs certain familiar distinctions, such as the distinction between gov-
erned arguments (recently, “con¬gurational” cases) and ungoverned adverbial complements. For a
rigorous treatment of valence with tests for government, see Schmidt and Lehfeldt 1995.

Predicates and arguments 271

In [1], for example, protagonists are introduced -- the speaker, his companion,
their boots, the river -- and various properties, many of them changing, are
reported -- their movement (gjljik«), the fate of the boots (gjgks ´kb), a new
relation with the errant boots (gjqv’k).
Argument phrases can mention a wide range of things, and predicates can
describe a wide range of possible situations and changes of situations. A given
predicate generally occurs with its arguments expressed consistently in the same
cases; for example, gjljqn« ˜approach™ takes a nominative subject and a goal
phrase expressed by the preposition r<\dat> . Some predicates can take different
cases, but variation in case government is quite circumscribed: nominative or
genitive with negated intransitive existential predicates (§5.3), accusative or gen-
itive with negated transitive predicates (§5.4), nominative or instrumental of the
predicative complement (§5.2), instrumental as opposed to another case to ex-
press synecdoche (§5.6). Overall, the va l e nc e patterns of predicates are limited,
stable, and conventionalized.
When different predicates use the same cases to mark arguments, the rela-
tions of these arguments to their predicates are similar. A predicate uses the
accusative (or dative or instrumental) because the relation of that argument to
the predicate is similar to other accusative (or dative or instrumental) arguments
of other predicates, more similar than to arguments expressed in other cases.
For example, all arguments in the dative case are goals, although what it means
to be the goal differs depending on the predicate. The dative with l’nm/lfd’nm
l†ymub tv©<dat> ˜give money to him™ is the goal of the transfer of the money;
the dative with gjlj ´,yj tv©<dat> ˜similar to™ is the goal of a static relation of
similarity; with gjvj ´xm/gjvju’nm ˜help™, it is the recipient of the verbal activity
(the help); with y’lj ˜necessary™, the dative is the individual to whom obligation
is directed.
Because the behavior of any given predicate is largely stable, it is possible to
construct a typology of predicates according to the arguments with which they
occur. Such typologies can in principle be ¬ner, as is the typology of eighty-
four kernel valence patterns of Apresian 1967, or they can be coarser, as is
the typology below, where seven classes of predicates are distinguished. Before
developing the typology proper, it will be useful to introduce basic concepts
relevant for describing predicates: tense-aspect-mood and information. Both are
relevant on two levels, on the level of the predicate itself (its semantics and
interaction with arguments) and on the level of context.

5.1.2 Predicate aspectuality and modality
Predicates report states, situations, and more than that, they describe histories
of states. These histories are temporal, in the sense that they are grounded in
272 A Reference Grammar of Russian

time, and they are aspectual, in the sense that the states can change over time.
(In the following, the temporal and aspectual character of histories is compressed
to a single idea of a s p e c t ua l i t y .) Predicate histories are also modal, in the
sense that the states interact with other states and other alternative states.
The change, or aspectuality, reported by a predicate history is often con-
centrated in one argument, the subject of an intransitive (in [2], the pack of
cigarettes is lying in a certain position) or the object of a transitive verb (in [2],
the cigarette or the match which are moved).

[2] -- Rehbnt! -- ytj;blfyyj jy ghtlkj;bk vyt gfgbhjce<acc> bp gfxrb, kt;fotq
yf cnjkt<loc> , cfv pf;tu cdj/, gjlytc vyt cgbxre<acc> . Z pfrehbk, dpukzyek yf
-- Have a smoke! -- unexpectedly he offered me a cigarette from a pack lying on the
table; he lit up one himself and offered me a light; I lit up and glanced at him.

When aspectuality is concentrated in one argument, it can be termed the
a s p e c t ua l argument.
Change is by its nature a modal concept. In [3],

[3] Vfnm vskf gjk. Dth[y// /,re jyf cyzkf, herfdf pfcexbkf gjxnb lj gktx.
Mother was washing the ¬‚oor. Her outer skirt she removed, her sleeves she rolled
up almost to her shoulders.

the change in the sleeves -- the aspectual argument -- is associated with differ-
ent modal possibilities. In the initial, descended position, the affected entity is
vulnerable to possible contact with soap and water, while after the change in
con¬guration, the entity is presumed to be out of harm™s way. Thus pfcex«nm
reports not only change in physical position, but also changes in possibilities.
Aspectuality is not always concentrated in a single argument. Often it is more
abstract. Sometimes it has to do with the status of activity; for example, in [2],
dpukzy©k reports a change in the status of gazing -- gazing comes into existence --
more than a change in a concrete entity. There is more than one layer of aspectu-
ality. In [2], the event of lighting (pf;=u) both affects a speci¬c entity (a cigarette)
and, at the same time and more abstractly, brings into existence a process (of
burning). Thus aspectuality is not always concentrated in a single argument, and
in the long run, aspectuality should be viewed as a property of the predicate
history rather than of a single argument.
The aspectuality of a predicate -- its states and changes of state over time --
exists or occurs in spaces of possible states, or domains. Oblique cases and prepo-
sitional phrases can explicitly name domains -- or rather, critical landmarks
within the domain.2 For instance, [1] above mentions the goal of the heroes™
2 Jackendoff 1976.
Predicates and arguments 273

motion, r ,†htue htr« ˜to the shore of the river™, and the ¬nal goal of ascension
of the boots, dpzkb gjl vsirb ˜took up under our arms™. Because aspectual
´ ´
arguments are objects of transitives and subjects of intransitives, domains in
effect state where the motion of these arguments will occur. For this reason, for
many of the intransitive valence patterns described in Apresian 1967, there is an
analogous transitive combining with the same case or prepositional phrase. For
example, Apresian™s intransitive pattern 17 ghbdcn’nm c v†cnf ˜stand up from a
place™ and transitive 57 cjhd’nm h’vs c jrj ˜remove the frames from the win-
dows™ both have a domain phrase with the preposition c describing the source
of motion of the aspectual argument; in the same way, intransitive 20 gjljqn« r
cnjk© ˜approach the table™ parallels transitive 60 ;’nm ghjn«dybrf r htr† ˜squeeze
the enemy against the river™.
The lexical history of a predicate is not only aspectual but at the same time
modal. It is concerned with possibilities and with responsibility -- why the world
is the way it is. A speci¬c entity is responsible to the extent that the reported
situation is the way it is because the entity is what it is; if the entity had differ-
ent properties, what one could say about the world would differ. An argument
that is responsible in the sense of having certain properties that determine
why the world is the way it is can be termed the modal or agentive argument
(using “agentive” here in the sense of “responsible,” but not necessarily “willful”
or “conscious”). The subject argument is usually, perhaps always, a modal ar-
gument. A subject is obviously responsible when it is an animate being that
willfully initiates an activity, such as dispenser of cigarettes in [2]. But subjects
can also be responsible when they are not intentional or energetic actors. The
subject of ;l’nm is responsible by virtue of remaining “in a state of readiness,”
anticipating that “there must, or may, occur a certain event” (Slovar sinonimov).
Or consider the subject X of ,j„¦nmcz ˜fear™, who holds the opinion that “the
realization of an event Y, undesirable for {, is highly likely, while X is incapable
of counteracting Y, and X would like to act in such a way as to avoid Y” (Tolkovo-
kombinatornyi slovar ). This X is responsible in multiple ways. X is responsible for
the opinion about the impending event, for the desire to act, but also for the
inability to counteract the impending event.
In some instances responsibility can be displaced to an argument that has
some other role in the predicate history, for example, the dative argument of
y’lj is responsible and, at the same time, the goal of the imposed obligation;
the instrumental in vtyz ci«,kj ntx†ybtv ˜I was caught by the current™ in [1]
obliquely names a phenomenon of nature as the responsible force.
The limiting case of responsibility is the subject of existential predicates like
be. The subject of be is not agentive in the usual sense of engaging willfully in
an activity. Yet it is possible to apply modal operators such as dtlm ˜after all™,
274 A Reference Grammar of Russian

ytcjvy†yyj ˜undoubtedly™, and the validity of these evaluations depends on the
subject -- for example, on the subject™s talents in [4].

[4] F dtlm cljcj,yjcnb r hbcjdfyb/ e vtyz ytcjvytyyj ,skb.
But some talent for drawing there certainly was by me [≈ I had some talent].

In this sense even the subject of existential be is responsible. The modal ar-
gument should be construed in broader terms than the idea of conscious or
intentional agency.
Predicate histories are then both aspectual (they are concerned with change
over time) and they are modal (they are concerned with possibilities and contin-
gencies). Modality and aspectuality are often concentrated in speci¬c arguments,
but ultimately these are broad, layered concepts that belong to the whole pred-
icate, not exclusively linked to speci¬c arguments.

5.1.3 Aspectuality and modality in context
When a predicate is used, its lexical history is embedded in speci¬c time-worlds,
namely the here and now of speech, the connected narrative of events in the
past, or a projected future. For example, in [1] above, the initial stative predicate
establishes a time and a world (dj dnjhj gjkjd«yt lyz), and makes possible
´q ´
the subsequent decision (jngh’dbkbcm j,jphtd’nm jrh†cnyjcnb). During the ex-
tended (imperfective) process of viewing, a sequence of (perfective) actions occurs
one after the other, each in consequence of the preceding (gjljik«, hfp©kbcm,
gjgkskb). In this embedding of lexical histories in time-worlds, we see the
familiar lexico-grammatical categories of tense, aspect, and mood.
A predicate history is located in time (past, present, future); the world in which
it occurs can be presented as actual (realis mood) or desired by the speaker of
the addressee (imperative) or hypothetical but not actual (irrealis mood). The
categories of tense, aspect, and mood are treated together here, and separately
from predicates and arguments (§5).
As a predicate is used in context, the time-world of a predicate can be left
implicit, to be determined from context, or it can be spelled out: by preposi-
tional phrases (dj dnjhj gjkjd«yt lyz d [©litv ck©xft ˜in the worst case™) or
´q ´,
by adverbs (njul’ ˜then™, x’cnj ˜often™, gjcntg†yyj ˜gradually™) or by certain noun
phrases without prepositions (ld’ xfc’ ˜(for) two hours™, nfr«v j ´,hfpjv ˜in such
a fashion™). In a loose sense, these phrases expressing information about time
and possibility can also be called arguments, though in comparison to subject
or object arguments, they are less speci¬c to the particular verb. These adverbial
temporal-aspectual-modal arguments, however, are not completely unrestricted.
For example, the bare accusative of duration only occurs with imperfective verbs
(Ltvjycnh’wbz ik’ w†ks[ ld’ xfc’ gjlhz ˜The demonstration went two whole
Predicates and arguments 275

hours™) and with certain pre¬xed perfectives; adverbs or prepositional phrases
describing the mode of progress of an action only combine with verbs expressing
a process; adverbs expressing frequency occur almost exclusively with imperfec-
tive verbs; the prepositional phrase pf (ld† ytl†kb) ˜within (two weeks)™ occurs
most naturally with perfective verbs which, furthermore, express the idea of
overcoming an obstacle. Thus there is some justi¬cation for extending the con-
cept of argument to aspectual and modal phrases as well.

5.1.4 Predicate information structure
At the same time that predicates locate states in time-worlds, they shape and
rank the information they present, in two ways.
First, they in¬‚uence how arguments, speci¬cally aspectual arguments, are
understood. On the one hand, a predicate can describe a property of an entity
presuming that the entity is known as an individual with well-de¬ned properties.
For example, in [1] above we are introduced to two protagonists, the speaker
and his companion Serezha, and we gradually learn more about them. This type
of reference can be termed i n d i v i d ua t e d , and predicates that impose this
sense on their arguments (speci¬cally the aspectual argument) can be termed
i n d i v i d ua t i ng p r e d i c a t e s .
In contrast, predicates are sometimes interested in an entity only for its quan-
tity -- for how much there is of something. Existence is minimal quanti¬cation:
either there is some of an entity or there is none. The entity is often a token
of a type, the instantiation of an essence; reference is not i n d i v i d ua t e d , but
[5] Z ghtlcnfk gthtl rjvbccbtq d rjcn/vt Flfvf, f chtlb tt xktyjd ,skb ldt
vjkjlst ;tyobys. Ghtlctlfntkm ecgtk pflfnm kbim jlby djghjc: -- Ds ult
Tuj ghthdfk dhfx b crfpfk:
-- Lfdfqnt tuj cgthdf dpdtcbv. Ghb vjtv hjcnt -- 180 cv dj vyt jrfpfkjcm dctuj
55 ru dtce.
I appeared before the commission in my birthday suit, and among its members
were two young women. The chair managed to ask just one question: -- Where did
you study?
He was interrupted by a doctor, who said:
-- Let™s weigh him ¬rst. For all my height -- 180 cm -- there turned out in me
[≈ I weighed] just 55 kg.

In [5] the past tense of be (,skb) asserts the existence of the two members of the
committee; then jrfp’kjcm gives a measurement of kilograms, a number with-
out individual characteristics. Predicates that are concerned with quantity, in-
cluding e x i s t e n t i a l predicates, are q ua n t i f y i ng predicates. The difference
276 A Reference Grammar of Russian

between individuation and quanti¬cation is one way in which predicates shape
information about arguments.
A second way in which predicates shape information is that they rank and
hierarchize the information. Any predicate can be viewed as a predication about
the entities in the predicate and the universe of discourse at the time. In [1]
above we learn something about the two travelers but also about a town and
a river, about the author™s boots. In the choice of a predicate with its valence
pattern, the participants and their properties are in effect ranked, and generally
one participant is chosen as subject. The subject is a kind of synecdoche for the
whole predicate; the subject™s properties are taken to be most informative and
r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of the world as a whole.

5.1.5 Information structure in context
In speech and writing, the predicate and its arguments have to be put in linear
order, and (in speech) given an intonation contour. Each predicate, as a lexical
convention, has a preferred linear order. For example, a transitive verb such as
j,thy©nm ˜wrap™ is likely to have the order nominative subject, verb, accusative
object, and domain (s z v j,thy©kf o ry«ue d d ,ev’ue ˜I wrapped the books in
paper™), while jrfp’nmcz ˜turn out to be™ in an existential sense is likely to have its
domain come ¬rst in the clause and its subject after the verb (d n’v v jrfp’kjcm
´djt s ctht,hj ˜in that place there turned up silver plate™). But with most
cnjkj ´
predicates, other orders are possible; for example, the object can be made more
the topic by putting it at the front of the sentence:

[6] o
Rybue s z v ljk;yf j,thyenm d d ,evfue.
The book I was supposed to wrap in paper.

And various intonation contours are possible. At the level of discourse, by vary-
ing word order, the relationship of the predicate and its arguments can be pre-
sented in different ways, and through intonation and sentence stress, different
elements can be selected as focal. These modulations of information -- how the
speaker presents the information of predication in sequence, for the bene¬t of
the addressee -- deserve a separate discussion (§7).

5.1.6 The concept of subject and the concept of object
The two threads discussed above -- the modal argument and the representa-
tive argument -- come together in the concept of the subject. The subject, in
terms of tangible morphological and syntactic properties, is an overt argument
phrase expressed in the nominative case, with which a ¬nite predicate agrees
for the features of gender--number (past tense) or person--number (present tense)
(§5.9). There are various situations in which predicates do not actually have an
Predicates and arguments 277

argument in the nominative. In discourse, once a certain individual is identi-
¬ed, it can often be reconstructed from context and need not be named as an
argument with each new predicate; note gjljik« ˜approached™, hfp©kbcm ˜took
off shoes™ above in [1]. Occasionally the expected position of a subject expressed
in the nominative case is ¬lled instead by a prepositional phrase expressing ap-
proximate quantity: yf,hfkj lj cj ´dfyys[ ˜there gathered upwards
´cm ´nyb fhtcnj
of a hundred people who were under arrest™. Even in these instances, the predi-
cate is such that there could have been a nominative subject. Similarly, non-¬nite
predicates necessarily lack any constituent in the nominative functioning as the
subject in the same clause, though the referent of the missing subject can be
supplied from context. Thus “subject” refers not only to arguments actually ex-
pressed as nominative nouns, but also to virtual arguments -- to arguments that
would be overt nominative subjects of a ¬nite predicate, were it not for certain
other (quite speci¬c) considerations.
Is there any meaning, any positive value, to being the subject in the nomina-
tive case? In recent years, the subject has come to be de¬ned only negatively,
as the argument that fails to have any positive qualities. Possibly, however, the
nominative subject has a positive value, as used to be assumed in an earlier
tradition of grammar.3 The subject is the argument in which the two major
strands come together: the subject is the modal argument -- it is the argument
that is held responsible -- and the informational argument par excellence -- it is
the argument whose properties represent the whole situation of the world.
It is then clear why subjects have special, positive, properties. Inasmuch as the
subject is the informational argument, the identities and properties of other
arguments are naturally de¬ned relative to the subject -- as re¬‚exive pronouns
are (§4.7). Because subjects are the arguments most representative of the world,
whole predicates can be turned into properties of the subject. Accordingly, it is
through the subject that non-¬nite verb forms (participles, in¬nitives, adverbial
participles) are integrated with the larger clause. For example, the noun modi¬ed
by a participle (vjy’[ in [7]) is the subject of the participle (dsitlibq),

[7] Yfc jrkbryek jnrelf-nj dsitlibq vjkjljq vjyf[.
We were hailed by a young monk who had come out from somewhere.

and the subject of an adverbial participle (,©lexb in [8]) is identi¬ed with the
subject of the ¬nite verb (jn†w in [8]):

[8] Vjq jntw, ,elexb ,jkmysv, djj,ot ybrelf yt tplbk.
My father, being ill, did not go anywhere at all.

3 See Kozinskii 1983, Chvany 1996, on properties of subjects in Russian. Halliday 1970 pointed out
that subjects are the focus of modal operations.
278 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Passives present the argument that might otherwise be the accusative object
as the nominative subject. Being the “derived” subject of a passive allows that
argument to function, for example, as the subject of the modal vj the validity
of the possibility hangs on the subject.

[9] Xedcndj yt vj;tn ,snm pf,snj.
The feeling cannot be forgotten.

These are familiar facts, but they serve to remind us that there is some value
to being the subject: it is the argument which is most responsible for the state of
the world and the argument whose states are representative of the whole world.
It is for this reason that -- if need be, under certain conditions -- the picture of
the world reported by the predicate can be reduced to a property of the subject.
Something similar could be said about the direct object. The direct object,
which is expressed in the accusative, is expressed in the accusative because its
properties are in some way contingent, dependent, subject to change. This is
true both when the object is signi¬cantly affected, such as the footwear in [1]
cfgju« vs dp„¦kb gjl vsirb, and also when it is merely held static in a de-
´ ´
pendent state, such as the instruments in vepsr’yns lth;’kb gjl vsirfvb ´
bycnhev†yns ˜the musicians held their instruments under their arms™. Thus the
object (when there is one) is an aspectual argument -- an entity whose states
are contingent and subject to change. Arguably other entities could be subject
to change, as, for example, the hospital in Gj ´ckt bywbl†ynf utyth’kf n©n ;t
evx’kb d ,jkmy«we ˜Right after the incident they whisked the general off to the
hospital™. But such loci are subject to change exactly because the direct object
is subject to change; their change depends on the change in the object. The
aspectual properties of the direct object -- its potential for change -- are the most
informative and representative of the aspectuality of the predicate, of the pos-
sible change of the predicate. If the subject is the argument whose properties
best de¬ne responsibility for the world, in the object we see the entity whose
changes best represent the change of the world.

5.1.7 Typology of predicates
With these concepts in hand, we can construct a typology of predicates as fol-
lows. The typology is relevant for valence in the strict sense -- the arguments and
their cases that occur with given predicates -- and also for other patterns of be-
havior (agreement with quanti¬ed subjects, or use of a re¬‚exive cdj in reference
to an argument other than a nominative subject, to name two examples).
(a) I M P E R S O N A L : Impersonal predicates -- one of the distinctive characteristics
of Russian syntax -- arise by suppressing the possibility of a subject argument.
In [10], responsibility is presented as indirect, displaced, and there is no subject
Predicates and arguments 279

argument; in [11], responsibility is not attributed to anything:

Ljhjue pfkbkj djljq.4
There occurred ¬‚ooding over of the road by water.
[11] Yf Rhsvcrjv vjcne z ljkuj cnjzk, cvjnhz d venyst djkys, vtyz njiybkj,
ljvjq tkt lj,hfkcz.
On the bridge I stood for a long time staring at the muddy waves, it made me
sick, I hardly made it home.

Or a predicate can be impersonal by suppressing the expression of any possible
aspectual argument. Thus with certain verbs stating discomfort in the domains
of a person and a body part of the person, there is no aspectual argument.
Aspectuality is absorbed in the predicate:

[12] E vtyz wfhfgftn d ujhkt, nhtobn d eif[.
I have a scratchiness in my throat, a ringing in my ears.

And some verbs reporting adverse effect leave that effect unnamed:

[13] Rfr njulf dktntkj Zujlt jn cfvjuj Cnfkbyf.
Just as Iagoda caught it from Stalin himself.

When the predicate is impersonal, it adopts the neuter singular in the past
tense, the third-person singular in present-tense forms.
The term “impersonal” is applied to sentences which necessarily lack a subject,
but not to sentences in which the subject argument happens to be omitted by
ellipsis (for example, the omitted subject of hfp©kbcm in [1]) or to unspeci¬ed
third-plural agents (Vtyz edthzkb, xnj ybrfrb[ vfkmxbitr yf ,fks yt gecrf/n
˜I was assured that they were not admitting any young boys to the balls™) or
generic addressees (nbit tltim, lfkmit ,eltim ˜go quietly, you™ll get further™).
(b) Q ua n t i f y i ng ( e x i s t e n t i a l , m o da l ) : The verb be and similar predi-
cates establish the existence of an entity in a domain.

[14] D ktce kt;fk uke,jrbq cytu.
In the forest lay deep snow.

As a rule, the domain argument, expressed as a dative or some prepositional
phrase (d<\loc> , as in d ktc©; e plus genitive is a favorite), is well-de¬ned. The
entity whose existence is established is the aspectual argument (cy†u). That ar-
gument is generally the nominative subject. That argument can be genitive if
the predicate is negated or if the predicate is one of the lexical quantifying pred-
icates, such as [dfn«nm ˜to be suf¬cient™ (§5.3). In this way quantifying predicates
can also be impersonal.

4 Babby 1994.
280 A Reference Grammar of Russian

(c) I N T R A N S I T I V E : Intransitives are predicates with a sole major argument, the
nominative subject. That argument can combine all the characteristic properties
of subjects to some or another degree. Thus in gj ´tpl evx’kcz ˜the train dashed
off™, the subject argument gj ´tpl ˜train™ is the most informational argument
(its movement de¬nes the world); it is the modal argument (it is responsible,
even if not conscious); and it is the aspectual argument (its position changes).
Intransitives often use oblique phrases or prepositional phrases to specify the
domain of states over which the aspectual argument changes, for example, the
tunnel of gj ´tpl evx’kcz d neyy†km ˜the train dashed into the tunnel™ or the
shore in [1] (Gjljik« r ,†htue htr«).
(d) R E F L E XI V E I N T R A N S I T I V E : Many intransitives are related to a trans-
itive predicate by the addition of the “re¬‚exive” af¬x -cz (-cm): jnlfk«nmcz/
´nmcz ˜remove oneself™ (jnlfk«nm ˜remove, send something away™),
´nmcz/gjlybv’nmcz ˜rise™ (gjlyz ´nm ˜raise something™), ecnhj
gjlyz ´bnmcz/
ecnh’bdfnmcz ˜get settled™ (ecnhj ´bnm ˜settle someone™). Whereas in a transi-
tive the roles of responsible argument and aspectual argument are separated,
re¬‚exive intransitives merge these roles, and present a change or relation as
not arising from an external source.
(e) S e m i -t r a n s i t i v e s : With some predicates, the aspectuality -- change or
potential for change -- is not localized to an argument expressed in the accusative
case. Because there is no accusative object, the predicates are not, strictly speak-
ing, transitive. Yet there is an argument other than the subject that is involved
in the change; in this respect they are something more than intransitive. Such
predicates might be termed semi-transitive. There are different groups, depend-
ing on the case governed by the predicate: genitive, expressing quanti¬cation
or partial contact (bp,t;’nm ytghbz ´nyjcntq<gen> ˜avoid dif¬culties™); dative, ex-
pressing a goal (gjvj ´xm/gjvju’nm directs succor to its dative goal); or instrumen-
tal expressing metonymy (eghfdkz cnhfyj <ins> ˜govern the country™, ld«ufnm
´nm ´q
´vb ˜to move with the elbows™).
(f) T R A N S I T I V E S : A transitive predicate has a nominative subject and an ac-
cusative object. The nominative subject is responsible for the state of the object
or changes in the object. The accusative object is the aspectual argument, or
patient: its states are subject to change and dependent on the ¬‚ow of the pred-
icate history and, ultimately, dependent on the subject. The object can undergo
actual change, as do the instruments of d rjhblj gz ´ht ´nthj ht,z jn djcmv« lj
xtnshyflwfnb yfcnh’bdf/n bycnhev†yns ˜in the corridor ¬ve children from eight
to fourteen are tuning their instruments™, or be held in a relationship in which
its location or existence is contingent, such as the instruments of vepsr’yns
lth;’kb gjl vsirfvb bycnhev†yns ˜the musicians held their instruments un-
der their arms™.
Predicates and arguments 281

Like intransitives, transitives can be enriched with phrases expressing the do-
main of change of the object. Thus gjl vsirb is the goal of the boots™ movement
in [1].
(g) P R E D I C A T I V E S : with the predicate be -- that is, the absence of an overt
predicate in the present tense or forms of ,sk, etc., in the past and ,©le, etc.,
in the future -- an adjective or noun predicates a property of an entity, as in
[1] Dj dnjhj gjkjd«yt lyz vs ,skb cdj,j ´lys ˜in the afternoon we were free™;
´q ´´´
´xyjq ˜the transcript turned out to be accurate™. The subject
p’gbcm jrfp’kfcm nj
argument is modal (responsible) and aspectual -- any changes are changes in its
properties, as in ld’ aen,jk«cnf jrfp’kbcm cdj,j ´nfvb ˜two
´lysvb gthtl djhj
players got free in front of the goal™. The subject is individuated and represen-
tative. The domain is the values of the state.
The predicate types listed above can be hierarchized according to the parame-
ter of quanti¬cation -- viewing the world and its participants as existing or not,
as tokens of types -- as opposed to individuation -- viewing the world in terms
of properties of distinct individuals. At one extreme are existential predicates,
in which the nominative subject is not individuated and the domain argument
is rather the most individuated argument. (Similar are modal and quantifying
predicates.) At the opposite end are predicatives, whose subject is necessarily in-
dividuated. Transitives are close to predicatives. Intransitives cover a wide range.
Among intransitives, verbs of position and motion most easily allow an existen-
tial reading.
The individuation of the predicate shows up in: (a) which argument is refer-
entially more prominent, and can therefore serve as the antecedent to re¬‚exives
and other reference operations (§4.7.4); (b) the likelihood of using the genitive of
negation (§§5.3, 5.4); (c) the likelihood of plural agreement as opposed to singular
agreement, when the subject is a quanti¬er phrase (§5.9); (d) preferred patterns
of the order of predicate and its arguments (§7.3).

5.2 Predicative adjectives and nouns

5.2.1 General
Like verbs, adjectives can predicate properties of entities, as in [15--17].

[15] Vjq ,hfn Dkflbvbh gj[j;<pv> yf lzl/.
My brother Vladimir looks like our uncle.
[16] Jyf ctujlyz jleitdktyyfz<nom> , ;bdfz<nom> , yfhzlyfz<nom> .
Today she is animated, lively, elegant.
[17] Jyf djj,ot xfot ,skf dtctkjq<ins> , hjdyjq<ins> , gjrkflbcnjq<ins> , xtv
ytljdjkmyjq<ins> , pkjq<ins> .
282 A Reference Grammar of Russian

In general she was more often cheerful, even, obliging, than she was dissatis¬ed,

The adjective establishes a property that holds of the subject argument, which
is individuated and responsible, inasmuch as the subject™s unique identity deter-
mines the validity of the predication. The subject argument is aspectual: if there
is change in the property, it is a change in that entity. The subject argument
is informative: its property is what is at issue. Adjectives in this construction
can appear in one of three forms: the predicative, or “short” form ([15]), the
nominative, a “long” form ([16]), or the “long” instrumental ([17]) (§§5.2.5, 5.2.6).
In the present tense, no form of a verb is needed to make an adjective serve
as a predicate; the adjective itself makes the predication. The corresponding
sentences in the past or future use a past or future form of the verb ,snm ˜be™
that agrees with the subject: Vfif<\fem> ,skf<pst> dtctkfz ˜Masha was cheer-
ful™, Vfif<\fem> ,eltn<fut> yfhzlyfz ˜Masha will be elegant™; adjectives can be
used as predicates with forms of ,snm in the imperative (,elm<imv> dtctkjq) and
in various non-¬nite verbs of ,snm (adverbial participle in [8] ,elexb ,jkmysv
˜being ill™). It is useful to refer to the whole set of these copular constructions
in various tenses and moods as constructions with the verb be, and include in
that designation predicate adjectives in the present tense which do not have an
overt verb form of be.
In parallel fashion, nouns can predicate:

[18] -- Jy vjq cnfhibq ,hfn<nom> !
He™s my older brother!

As with adjectives, predicative constructions with nouns can appear in all tenses
and moods. Again, no overt form of ,snm is needed in the present tense. As
predicatives, nouns can in principle appear in the nominative or instrumental
(§5.2.5). A noun used as a predicative is interpreted as a property -- it states
something about the subject -- in one of a number of ways: as a relation ([18]),
as a description (Jy ,sk vbksq xtkjdtr ˜He was a nice person™), as a classification
into a group (Jy ,sk vjyfh[bcnjv ˜He was a monarchist™), as a function (Jy ,sk
yfxfkmybrjv njq kf,jhfnjhbb, d rjnjhjq hf,jnfk ve; vjtq ctcnhs ˜He was the
head of the laboratory where my sister™s husband worked™).
Passive participles ([19]) and prepositional phrases ([20]) also function as

[19] Fh,ep njh;tcndtyyj c(tlty<pss> .
The watermelon was consumed triumphantly.
[20] Dkflbvbh ,sk d vjhcrjv ,eikfnt.
Vladimir was [dressed] in a navy jacket.
Predicates and arguments 283

Table 5.1 Typology of predicative constructions

construction meaning examples

copular predicative reports property Exbntkm ,sk yjdsq.
of subject ˜The teacher was new.™
Jy vjq cnfhibq ,hfn.
˜He is my older brother.™
copular, host predicate reports Ltkj jrfpfkjcm elbdbntkmysv.
aspectual-modal property of subject, subject ˜The matter turned out surprising.™
to change over time-worlds Jy jrfpfkcz kexibv extybrjv.
˜He turned out to be the best
co-predicate, predicative reports state of Jyb dthyekbcm ecgjrjtyyst.
aspectual relation to aspectual argument ˜They returned comforted.™
host predicate contingent on host Z dthyekcz ctlsv cnfhbrjv.
predicate ˜I returned a gray-haired old man.™
co-predicate, modal predicative states condition B cgzobq jy jgfcty.
relation to host for truth of host predicate ˜Even asleep he is dangerous.™
predicate Z pyfk tuj ht,tyrjv.
˜I knew him as a child.™

Active participles, at least those that are well on their way to being lexicalized
as adjectives, occasionally appear in predicative constructions ([21]):

[21] J,cnjzntkmcndf ghtcnegktybz ,skb zdyj jnzuxf/obvb<pcl> .
The circumstances of the crime were obviously aggravating.

Constructions analogous to those with be can be formed with other, more
meaningful host predicates. Four broad groups of predicative constructions can
be distinguished according to the context (host predicate) with which the pred-
icative is used (Table 5.1).5
The four groups can be ranked according to the relative autonomy of the
predicative, from copular constructions in which the adjective or noun acts as
an autonomous predication (there is no predicate other than past or future be)
to those in which the predicative is a co-predicate with an independent, au-
tonomous host predicate. The four groups will be discussed in greater detail
below, in reverse order of Table 5.1.

5 The typology of constructions is based on Nichols 1981.
284 A Reference Grammar of Russian

5.2.2 Modal co-predicates
In one type of predicative construction, the situation expressed by the pred-
icative is taken as a given, as a condition, for the event expressed by the host
predicate. The coincidence of two states is noteworthy, often because it runs
counter to expectations, as does the condition of attire during sleeping in [22].
Common are quali¬ers such as b ˜even™, tot ˜still™, e;t ˜already™, e;t yt ˜no
longer™, which comment on the unexpected fact that the two events overlap.6
An adjective or participle is nominative, not instrumental ([22]):
[22] Jy byjulf ,hjcftncz yf rhjdfnm b cgbn jltnsq<nom> .
He occasionally throws himself onto the bed and sleeps dressed.

An adjective or participle can be used to state a property of an object, when it
will be accusative ([23]):
[23] Yfcntyt b cgzoe/<acc> tt lth;fnm ljcnfdkzkj eljdjkmcndbt.
For Nastena it was a pleasure to hold her even [while she was] asleep.

Nouns ([24]) and nominal adjectives (dphj
´cksq in [25]) use the instrumental:

[24] Ht,tyrjv<ins> z dctulf cnhtvbkcz gj,scnhtt cvsnmcz jn dphjcks[.
As a child I always tried to sneak away from the grownups as quickly as possible.
[25] E;t dphjckjq<ins> Wdtnftdf xfcnj dbltkf evthituj Fktrcfylhf <kjrf
;bdsv<ins> .
Even as a grownup Tsvetaeva often [imagined she] saw the deceased Alexander
Blok alive.

A special construction is one in which the predicative adjective, in the nom-
inative or instrumental, refers to ordering of elements: g†hdsq/g†hdsv ˜¬rst™,
gjck†lybq/gjck†lybv ˜last™. The nominative is temporal: the entity who is g†hdsq
is earlier than anyone else:
[26] Bvtyyj :lfyjd gthdsq<nom> ddtk vfccjdst fhtcns rjvveybcnjd.
It was speci¬cally Zhdanov who ¬rst introduced massive arrests of Communists.

The instrumental is implicitly nominal. It characterizes an individual in a se-
quence of individuals, each of which has a distinct role, such as the wedding
attendants in [27]:

[27] Gthdsv<ins> lth;fk dtytw yfl ytdtcnjq tt ,hfn Cfif, dnjhsv<ins> -- z.
The ¬rst holding the wreath over the bride was her brother Sasha, the second
was I.

6 Exceptionally the predicative can be hosted by a noun with implicit predication: yfl tuj
gbcmvtyysv cnjkjv dbcbn ajnjuhfabz vfnthb tot ltdeirjq<ins> ˜Above his desk there hangs
a photograph of his mother as a girl™.
Predicates and arguments 285

5.2.3 Aspectual co-predicates
Predicates reporting the position or motion of an aspectual argument in some
space can host a predicative referring to the aspectual argument.7 Nouns state
in what capacity the individual moves (qua what) and are instrumental ([28]):
[28] Jy ghbt[fk d Vjcrde b gjgfk yf cdflm,e ifathjv<ins> .
He came to Moscow and wound up an attendant at a wedding.

With adjectives and participles, both nominative and instrumental are used. The
nominative reports a continuing state that overlaps the main action. Hence nom-
inatives combine with imperfectives stating habits ([29]) or events in progress
([30]), and with perfectives expressing a background (episode-initial) state ([31])
or an episode™s ¬nal static scene ([32]):
[29] <kfujlfhz jxthtlzv yf yfib[ ekbwf[ k/lb [jlzn [vehst<nom> ,
jpf,jxtyyst<nom> , ujnjdst<nom> bp-pf k/,jq vtkjxb hfphfpbnmcz ,hfym/.
Because of the queues on our streets people walk gloomy, preoccupied, ready to
break out cursing over any tri¬‚e.
[30] Jy d эnjn vjvtyn itk edthtyysq<nom> , [jkjlysq<nom> , cj,hfyysq<nom> .
At that moment he was walking con¬dent, cool, collected.
[31] <sk nfrjq ckexfq: ghbitk z bp Frfltvbb ujkjlysq<nom> , pfnjgbk
¤,eh;eqre≥, b cnfk dfhbnm rfie.
Here™s what happened once: I came home from the Academy hungry, heated up
the stove, and started to cook some kasha.
[32] Z dthyekcz uhecnysq<nom> d Vjcrde.
I returned gloomy to Moscow.

The instrumental case reports a change in the property coinciding with the
change reported by the host predicate, usually a perfective stating the result of
an episode ([33]):
[33] Z dthyekcz d Gfhb; tot ,jktt hfccnhjtyysv<ins> .
I returned to Paris [having become] even more distraught.

With a transitive verb, it is the object that moves or is situated, and it is the
subject of the predicative. The instrumental, suggesting change and causation, is
more usual ([34]), but the accusative (or acc=gen) is possible if the very property
is critical ([35]):
[34] Tuj ghbdtpkb nz;tkj ,jkmysv<ins> d ,jkmybwe.
They brought him [having become] seriously ill to the hospital.
[35] Tuj gjcflbkb ujkjuj<acc> yf jckf.
They seated him naked on an ass.

7 Timberlake 1986. Nikunlassi 1993 reports on extensive and meticulous work with informants
documenting the effect of various factors on the choice of case.
286 A Reference Grammar of Russian

The adjective in dbltkf <kjrf ;bdsv<ins> ([25]) is an instance of this

5.2.4 Aspectual and modal copular predicatives
Some verbs are copular, but indicate additionally that the predicative relation
changes over some boundary. With cn’nm/cnfyjd«nmcz ˜become™, the state changes
from one time to another. With jcn’nmcz/jcnfd’nmcz ˜remain™, the state con-
tinues past a certain time despite the possibility it might not. With rfp’nmcz
˜seem, appear™ or zd«nmcz/zdkz ´nmcz ˜seem, appear, turn up™, the state holds in
the speaker™s world of perception, though it might not hold everywhere. With
these host predicates, the predicative is valid only in certain times or worlds; it
could differ in other times or worlds. Because the validity of the state is limited,
nouns ([36]) always use the instrumental, adjectives ([37]) generally do:

[36] Jy cnfk bpdtcnysv ntfnhfkmysv rhbnbrjv<ins> .
He became a famous theater critic.
[37] Gtcjr jrfpfkcz cjdctv cshsv<ins> .
The sand turned out to be completely wet.

The predicative (short) adjective ¬ts if the adjective is restricted by a complement

[38] Jyf jcnfkfcm ljdjkmyf<pv> vjbvb jndtnfvb.
She in the end was satis¬ed with my answers.

The nominative adjective, used rarely, emphasizes the continuation of a state,
either a prior state ([39]) or a resulting state analogous to an English perfect

[39] Vtnjl hfcghjcnhfytybz ufptns jcnfdfkcz dxthfiybq<nom> .
The method of distributing the newspaper was to be the same as the day before.
[40] Djn rfrjq<nom> e ytt cnfk csy!
Just look at what her son has become!

5.2.5 Copular constructions: instrumental
In copular constructions with be, an option for both nouns and adjectives is the
With adjectives, the instrumental implies a contrast between two polarities
of the state in two time-worlds: in one, the state holds; in another, it does not.
Accordingly, in the present tense, where only one value of the state is in view,

8 A long tradition sees the instrumental as signaling a difference in the value of the state over a
boundary (Mr’zek 1961, 1964). Ueda 1992 establishes that the frequency of the predicative (short)
form and the nominative depend in a complementary fashion on the referentiality of the subject;
the instrumental is neutral (and hence treated separately here).
Predicates and arguments 287

predicative adjectives do not appear in the instrumental. They appear in the
instrumental case in the future tense (approximately a third of the time) or the
past tense (approximately a ¬fth of the time).9 The instrumental is used when
a state is canceled ([41]) or initiated ([42--43]):
[41] Rfrbvb jyb ,skb dtctksvb<ins> , эnb eprbt vjyujkmcrbt ukfprb! B rfrbt jyb
necrkst b gjrhfcytdibt ctqxfc . . .
How joyful they were, those narrow Mongolian eyes! And how they are dim and
reddened now . . .
[42] Dcnhtxf ,skf jgznm ;t ,tphtpekmnfnyjq<ins> .
And this meeting as well was [≈ turned out to be] without result.
[43] Z yfltzkcz, xnj dct ;t vjt gbcmvj ,eltn gjktpysv<ins> .
I hoped that, nevertheless, my letter would be [≈ prove to be] effective.

The change can be change in an observer™s perception as much as change in the
real world. In [44], the fragments of Greek marble did not change in time, but,
once examined, they turned out to be more attractive than expected.
[44] Эnb j,kjvrb ,skb ytj,sxyj ghbdktrfntkmysvb<ins> rfr gj ajhvt, nfr b gj
cdjtq jhbubyfkmyjq cnherneht.
These fragments were unusually attractive both in form and in original structure.

In the present tense, nouns normally use the nominative and not the instru-
mental (unless the predicative means to function in a certain capacity: jyf pltcm
fuhjyjvjv<ins> ˜she™s here as an agronomist™). Outside the present tense, nouns
normally use the instrumental. The instrumental is used if there is any hint of a
change in the state over time, whether cancellation ([45] -- he is no longer young)
or inception ([46]):
[45] Tuj ltl pyfk ujcelfhz, rjulf njn tot ,sk vfkmxbrjv<ins> .
His grandfather knew the tsar when the latter was still a lad.
[46] Bpuyfybt Dkflbvbhf ,skj gthdsv vjhfkmysv elfhjv<ins> gj yfitq ctvmt.
The expulsion of Vladimir became the ¬rst moral blow struck at our family.

The instrumental is used with a noun stating a function of acting in a certain
capacity over time (in [47], as a coach for two winters running):
[47] <hfn ldt pbvs gjlhzl ,sk d Nekt htgtnbnjhjv<ins> e vfkmxbrjd Kjge[bys[.
Brother worked two winters in a row in Tula as the coach for the Lopukhin boys.
[48] C 1974 gj 1977 ujl jy ,sk xktyjv<ins> Wtynhfkmyjuj rjvbntnf.
From 1974 through 1977 he was a member of the Central Committee.

The instrumental is also used when the predicative noun is used to de¬ne the
subject: as a member of a group ([49]), in relation to another individual ([50]), or
as a unique individual satisfying a formula ([51--53]):

9 Ueda 1992.
288 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[49] Jy ljrfpsdftn, xnj Geirby d gjcktlybt ujls ;bpyb ,sk vjyfh[bcnjv<ins> .
He attempts to show that Pushkin in the last years of his life was a monarchist.
[50] Jy ,sk csyjv<ins> bpdtcnyjuj ktcjdjlf, Atljhf Rfhkjdbxf Fhyjkmlf.
He was the son of the famous forester Fedor Karlovich Arnold.
[51] Kfyctkjn ,sk cfvsv [hf,hsv hswfhtv<ins> bp nt[, rnj cj,bhfkcz pf Rheuksv
Lancelot was the bravest knight among those who gathered at the Round Table.
[52] Gjcktlybv hjlcndtyybrjv<ins> , rnj yfc hfpscrfk, ,sk lzlz Fktif.
The last relative who searched us out was Uncle Alesha.
[53] B[ pflfxtq<ins> ,sk ds,jh jcyjdys[ yfghfdktybq hfphf,jnrb bpltkbq.
Their task was the selection of the basic directions of the preparation of models.

Used in this sense, the predicative noun often appears in initial position ([52--53]).
The instrumental is likely whenever negation is involved: when the predicate
is irrealis or overtly negated ([54]):

[54] Jy, cj,cndtyyj, ,sk rjvveybcn, yj e ytuj yt ,skj gfhnbqyjuj ,bktnf. Jy yt
,sk xktyjv<ins> rjvveybcnbxtcrjq gfhnbb.
He, actually, was a communist, though he didn™t have a party card. He was not a
member of the Communist Party.

In short, with nouns, the instrumental is used when there is any hint of lim-
iting the state in time-worlds or any concern with de¬ning an individual -- of
indicating that this individual, not others, ¬ts a certain de¬nition. The nom-
inative is used only when the subject is presumed known and the predicative
noun contributes little, the communicative weight being carried by the adjective
(talented in [55], virtuous in [56]).

[55] Jy ,sk dctcnjhjyyt nfkfynkbdsq xtkjdtr<nom> .
He was a man of many and varied talents.
[56] <sk jy jxtym vbksq, ghjcnjq, jxtym crhjvysq vjkjljq xtkjdtr<nom> .
He was a very nice, simple, very modest young person.
[57] Dtlm jy ,sk xkty<nom> Gjkbn,/hj.
After all he was a member of the Politbureau.

The nominative is also possible if the communicative import of the sentence is
the fact of the identity ([57]: ˜that he was a member is true™).

5.2.6 Copular adjectives: predicative (short) form vs. nominative (long) form
If an adjective is not instrumental, it can appear in either the nominative
(long) form or the predicative (short) form.10 The choice is partly lexical, partly

10 Shvedova 1952, Tolstoi 1966, Gustavsson 1976, Ueda 1992 (on text usage). There is a long-standing
view (Isachenko 1963, but see Boguslawski 1964) that the long form is an attributive modi¬er of
Predicates and arguments 289

Table 5.2 Adjectives preferring the predicative (short) form

semantic ¬eld examples

(a) measure dtk«r ˜large™, lfk=r ˜far™, gj
´kjy ˜full™, v’k ˜(too) small™
(b) attitude ´kty ˜satis¬ed™, cjuk’cty ˜agreed™, e,t;l=y ˜convinced™,
ed†hty ˜con¬dent™, h’l ˜pleased™
(c) manner of ´qcndty ˜characteristic™, ghbc©o, ˜intrinsic™, [fhfrn†hty
characterization ˜characteristic™, crkj´yty ˜inclined™, gj[j ˜similar to™
(d) modality ´;ty ˜possible™, lj
´k;ty ˜obligated™, yfv†hty ˜intending™,
ytj,[jl«v ˜essential™, y©;ty ˜necessary™, j,z ´pfy ˜obligated™
(e) perception d«lty ˜visible™, ckßity ˜audible™
(f) variable conditions dbyjd’n ˜guilty™, uj´kjlty ˜hungry™, ujnj ˜ready™, pyfrj
´d ´v
˜familiar™, cgjcj´,ty ˜capable™, h’dty ˜even™, csn ˜satiated™
(g) modal adjectives ytd†ljv ˜unknown™, ytjcgjh«v ˜indisputable™, joen«v
(h) evaluative, diminutive dtkbrjd’n ˜largish™, vfkjd’n ˜smallish™, hfl=itytr ˜pleased™,
hfl=[jytr ˜pleased™

contextual. Moreover, the use of adjectives has evidently been changing; the
predicative form is little used in conversation, and is therefore a marker of the
written register. Written usage is the primary concern below.
Certain adjectives (Table 5.2) require, or almost require, the predicative form.
With these adjectives, the property is contingent and variable depending on the
The predicative form is used when the only argument is a clause.

[58] Bcghfdbnm эnjn ytljcnfnjr vyt ,skj jxtym nhelyj<pv> .
To ¬x that de¬ciency was very dif¬cult for me.

Passive participles are generally in the predicative (short) form:

[59] Yfv ,skj ghtljcnfdktyj<pv> regt.
A compartment was made available to us.
[60] Djpkt gkjnbys ,sk gjcnhjty<pv> lthtdzyysq lde[эnf;ysq ljv.
Alongside the dam there was built a wooden two-story house.

In contrast, certain other adjectives use the long form exclusively or prefer-
entially. A productive type is adjectives that describe a property of having or
manifesting a substance. An entity either has the substance or does not; there
is no question of degrees or contingent manifestations of the property.

a dummy pronominal head -- that is, yfhzlyfz in [16] jyf yfhzlyfz would have the structure:
[np [n [modp [adjp [adj0 yfhzly-] ] ] [n [n0 … ] ] ] ] (here as in Bailyn 1994; see also Babby 1975[a], 1999).
Pereltsvaig 2001 notes that the difference between two kinds of adjectives, short and long, cannot
be expressed if all adjectives are labeled simply as [-N, -V].
290 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 5.3 Adjectives preferring the general (long) form

type example

(a) substance {-sk-} c†kmcrbq ˜village™, ,h/cc†kmcrbq ˜of Brussels™
(b) substance {-ov-j pthyjdj ˜of seed™
´j} ´q
(c) other substance nev’yysq ˜cloudy™, lthtdz ´yysq ˜wooden™, id†lcrbq ˜Swedish™,
´xysq ˜of milk™, ,ev’;ysq ˜of paper™, ,eh;e’pysq
˜bourgeois™, c«ybq ˜blue™, r’hbq ˜brown™, ,tkjrj ´;bq
˜white-skinned™, vjho«ybcnsq ˜wrinkled™, lde[rj ´vyfnysq
(d) relational ´yybq ˜all-sided™, l’dybq ˜long-ago™, ch†lybq ˜middle™,
´plybq ˜late™, dy†iybq ˜outside™, gh†;ybq ˜former™

Aside from the adjectives listed in Tables 5.2 and 5.3, which have little freedom
of choice (though that lack of freedom is semantically motivated), there are
many adjectives that are used in either form, predicative or nominative. Each
form has a preferred context and sense.
The nominative (long) form is used when the concern is with characterizing
the essential as opposed to the accidental properties of the subject. The nomina-
tive is thus used when the subject is a hypothetical individual ([61]) or something
that is de¬ned as an essence (in [62], ˜whatever we had by way of food™). At issue
is whether the characteristic holds or not, not under what conditions or to what
degree it holds.

[61] Tckb [jpzqrf [bnhfz<nom> , pkfz<nom> , nj b rjhjdf e ytt cj dhtvtytv cnfyjdbncz
jxtym yf ytt gj[j;tq.
If the housewife is sly, nasty, then her cow with time will become very similar to
[62] Xtv vs njulf gbnfkbcm, jnrelf ljcnfdfkb ghjlerns -- yt gjvy/; tlf ,skf
ytdrecyfz<nom> .
What we ate, where we got provisions, I don™t remember; the food was

If the subject is a well-de¬ned individual, the nominative form describes that
individual as a token of a type, often as a general, timeless description ([63]):

[63] Pbyf -- uhe,fz<nom> , gkjcrfz<nom> .
Zina is crude, ¬‚at.

But such a description can be localized to a speci¬c time ([64--65]):

[64] Pf xftv Fyyf Fylhttdyf ,skf gjxnb dtctkfz<nom> .
At tea Anna Andreevna was almost cheerful.
Predicates and arguments 291

[65] Rjulf z ghjdf;fkf tt ljvjq d nfrcb, jyf cyjdf ,skf gtxfkmyfz<nom> b
cthmtpyfz<nom> .
When I took her home in a taxi, she was back to being sad and earnest.

To sum up, the nominative (long) form presents the subject as instantiating an
essence and the property as a necessary rather than an accidental one.
A predicative (short) form is used when the subject is a well-de¬ned individual,
and the property is an accidental property that could vary in different time-
worlds ([66]):
[66] Jntw dctulf ,sk d nfrb[ ckexfz[ cgjrjty<pv> , ghbukfifk rfuэ,tiybrjd
dsgbnm xfqre, yj, rjulf ltkj rfcfkjcm ghbywbgjd, ,sk jxtym ndthl<pv> .
Father in such circumstances was always calm, he invited the KGB to have some
tea, but as far as matters of principle were concerned, he was ¬rm.

When an adjective is speci¬ed by a circumstance or perceiver, as in [67], the
predicative form is almost obligatory (97% in one count).11
Jyf {ytljdjkmyf<pv> ∼ — ytljdjkmyfz<nom> } -- b Jkmujq b ryb;rjq.
She™s dissatis¬ed -- with Olga and with her book.

When no modal complement is stated, the predicative form imputes a restriction
[68] Dct ,skb ljdjkmys<pv> .
Everyone was satis¬ed [with the turn of events].

Because of this concern with contingency, the predicative form ¬ts naturally in
discourse that is concerned with causality. Thus this form is used for properties
which have consequences ([69--70]) or which themselves are the consequences of
other situations ([71]).
[69] Njulf ;t z gjyzkf, xnj heccrbq zpsr yfcnjkmrj rhfcbd<pv> , xnj cnjbn tuj
bpexfnm, b cnfkf bpexfnm ckfdbcnbre.
At that point I understood that Russian is so exquisite that it deserves to be
studied, and I began to study Slavistics.
[70] Dsukzlbn jy jnkbxyj: pfujhtksq, rhfcbdsq. B jn njuj, xnj jy rhfcbd<pv> b
vjkjl<pv> , gtxfnm nhfutlbb ghjcnegbkf tot zdcndtyytt.
He looks wonderful: tanned, handsome. And because he is handsome and young,
the stamp of tragedy showed through even more clearly.
[71] Jy bp nt[, rnj yt vj;tn ,snm csnsv<ins> , rjulf ujkjlys<pv> lheubt.
He is the kind of person that cannot be full when others go hungry.

In such explicit contexts, the predicative form was selected regularly in a pilot
study with half a dozen young educated speakers.
11 Ueda 1992.
292 A Reference Grammar of Russian

It has been said that the predicative (short) form is used when the property
is temporary (as in [67]), while the nominative states a timeless characteristic of
an individual ([63] above). There is a certain truth to this. But the nominative
can be localized to a single time ([64--65] above), and, conversely, the predicative
form can be used in timeless characterizations of individuals ([72]):

[72] <jhbc ybrjulf d ;tyobyf[ ybxtuj yt gjybvfk. Gthdfz ;tyf, Tdutybz
Dkflbvbhjdyf, vbkf<pv> b byntkkbutynyf<pv> , yj jyf djj,hf;fkf ct,z dtkbrjq
Boris never had any understanding of women. His ¬rst wife, Evgeniia
Vladimirovna, was pleasant and cultured, but she imagined herself a great artist.

Here the predicative forms focus on how certain properties interact with oth-
ers; the properties vbk’ b byntkkbu†ynyf would be harmless if they were not
combined with pretense. Thus the predicative form means not so much that
the state is literally temporary as that it is contingent and therefore potentially
In speech, younger speakers use the predicative form less frequently than do
written texts, especially in discussions of people. Quite possibly, the pervasive-
ness of the long form represents an instinct to speak about people as represent-
ing types.

5.2.7 Residual tcnm, cenm in copular constructions
Copular constructions in the present tense usually do not have any overt verb
form. Nevertheless, relics of third-person present-tense forms of be can be used
for emphasis. The relic form †cnm, etymologically the third singular present, is
used in predicative constructions to insist that it is worth making the de¬nition,
even if it is tautological.

[73] Yj xtvgbjyfn vbhf tcnm xtvgbjyfn vbhf.
But the world championship is the world championship.
[74] Vj;tn z b tcnm njn vfktymrbq dbynbr ,tp rjnjhjuj ybxtuj yt dthnbncz.
Perhaps I am that small screw without which nothing turns.

Écnm is common in the idiom э b †cnm; for example, э b †cnm c©nm vfhrc«pvf
´nj ´nj
˜that is precisely the essence of Marxism™. The negation of †cnm is yt †cnm:

[75] <skj эnj yt ajhvfkmyjt, f -- gjlkbyyjt c[jlcndj, rjnjhjt yt tcnm c[jlcndj xthn.
That was no formal similarity, but a genuine similarity, which is not merely a
similarity of features.

The historical third-plural form c©nm can be used in scienti¬c de¬nitions, when
the terms of the de¬nition are plural.
Predicates and arguments 293

[76] Эnb vjltkb j,kflf/n cdjtq cbkjq yt ,kfujlfhz rfrbv-nj dyenhtyybv
cdjqcndfv, yj gjnjve xnj jyb cenm nhflbwbjyyst xfcnb rekmnehs.
These models have force not by virtue of some intrinsic properties, but because
they are traditional components of culture.

5.2.8 Эnj ,sk . . .
The demonstrative э equates its referent (something in the text or the speech
context) and a predicative noun. In the past or future, the copula agrees with
the noun:
[77] Эnj ,skf<fem sg> ,sdifz ctrhtnfhif<\fem sg> Rhegcrjq.
That was the former secretary of Krupskaia.
[78] Эnj ,sk<msc sg> dtcmvf pfvryensq vbhjr<\msc sg> .
That was a very closed world.

If the applicability of the equation is restricted by a circumstantial argument,
the noun goes into the instrumental, and the copula agrees with э (that is,
neuter singular):
[79] Эnj<nt sg> ,skj<nt sg> lkz dct[ ,jkmibv cj,snbtv<ins> .
That was for us all a great event.

5.2.9 Predicatives in non-finite clauses
Predicatives with non-¬nite verbs tend strongly to appear in the instrumental.
With ,©lexb, the adverbial participle of be, the instrumental is always used with
nouns ([80]), usually with adjectives ([81]), and regularly with passive participles
Vfnm Njkcnjuj, ,elexb {— cthmtpyfz [jpzqrf<nom> ∼ cthmtpyjq [jpzqrjq<ins> },
cltkfkf gjlhj,ye/ jgbcm.
Tolstoy™s mother, who was a dedicated housewife, made a detailed description.
{?ytljkmysq<nom> ∼ ytljdjkmysv<ins> }
Jy dsitk bp cj/pf, ,elexb
{jcrjh,ktyysq<nom> ∼ jcrjh,ktyysv<ins> }
dissatis¬ed with
He withdrew from the coalition, being Romanov.
insulted by

With in¬nitives whose implicit subject corresponds to the subject of the main
clause, the instrumental is obligatory with nouns ([82]), usual with adjectives,
though the predicative form is possible for certain adjectives ([83]), and possible
for passive participles ([83]), especially as the main verb increases in semantic
weight ([84]):
Jy vj;tn ,snm {— cthmtpysq [jpzby<nom> ∼ cthmtpysv [jpzbyjv<ins> }
He could be a dedicated landlord.
294 A Reference Grammar of Russian

{ytljdjkty<pv> ∼ ytljdjkmysv<ins> }
Jy vj;tn ,snm
{jcrjh,kty<pv> ∼ jcrjh,ktyysv<ins> }
He might be
Xtkjdtr k/,bn ,snm {— jcrjh,kty<pv> ∼ jcrjh,ktyysv<ins> }.
Man loves to be humiliated.

In the dative-with-in¬nitive construction, adjectives in earlier Russian used to
be in the dative ([85], from The Igor Tale), but now only the instrumental is used
(as in the modern translation of [85] in [86], or [87]):
[85] Kewt ;( ,s gjnzne<dat> ,snb yt;t gjkjytye<dat> ,snb.
It would be better to be stretched out dead than to be captured.
E; kexit bcctxtyysv<ins> ,snm, xtv d ytdjk/ ljcnfnmcz.12
It would be better to be hacked to bits than to fall into captivity.
[87] Rfr yt ,snm j,vfyensv<ins> ghb gjregrt rfcctns?
How not to be deceived while buying a cassette?

A special construction that has attracted attention in the recent literature is
the case used by the adjectives c’v ˜self™ and jl«y ˜alone™. In reference to the
subject of a ¬nite verb or a dependent in¬nitive, they are nominative, and agree


. 10
( 17)