HomeQ&AHow does one determine the subject with linking verb : Lo mejor de ese cine son las butacas lujosas.

How does one determine the subject with linking verb : Lo mejor de ese cine son las butacas lujosas.

5
votes

This is the reverse of Gekkosan's question. He asked how does one know which is the subject in an English sentence using a linking verb. Here is a sentence similar in form to the one he referenced...

The best feature about that theater is its luxurious chairs.

He wanted to know if the verb (to be) should agree with feature (is) or with chairs (are). Apparently in Spanish the obvious thing to do is make the verb agree with chairs like in the sentence below...

Lo mejor de ese cine son las butacas lujosas.

Gekkosan accepted my answer regarding the English grammar, which was that, in English, it is the position of the nouns relative to the verb that determines which is the subject and, thus, the conjugation of the verb. That is, if he writes the sentence such that feature precedes the verb, then feature is the subject and the verb must be is, but, if he writes it so that chairs precedes the verb then chairs is the subject and the verb must be are.

However, my question, which is not necessarily posed to Gekkosan but rather to any who might know the answer, is: how does Spanish grammar determine that butacas is the subject?

Phrased another way, how do we know that lo mejor is not the subject?

Just in case using a neuter noun (lo mejor) is forcing butacas to become the subject, then let me rephrase the Spanish a bit...

La mejor característica de ese cine son las butacas lujosas.

Now, let me mix it up just a bit more. How do I, a non-native, use Spanish grammar rules to determine the subject of the following sentence...

La mejor característica de esa habitación es la butaca lujosa.

Which is the subject: característica or butaca? Why? How can I tell which one is the subject using Spanish grammar rules?


I have searched and searched and cannot find the answer.

Here is a guess at the rule based on my current knowledge of Spanish grammar:

Either can be the subject. Spanish doesn't care which one you consider the subject. However, if one is singular and one is plural, then make the verb agree with the plural one.

Here's another guess at the rule:

Make the verb agree with the closest one. If both are right next to the verb (just before and just after), then flip a quarter to choose which one to make the verb agree with.

What say ye?

6483 views
updated FEB 25, 2011
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
I think you mean to say "feature...is" not "features...is" - nizhoni1, ABR 23, 2010
web, I have changed the title slightly for further searches, as I will remember the sentence for sure, jeje - 00494d19, ABR 23, 2010
ust type in butacas, and there is the thread, good job for asking, web, I did not remember why...I only knew that it was a fact. besos:-) - 00494d19, ABR 23, 2010
I'm thrilled with the fascinanting debate that resulted from that initial little exchange about the Cinema Seats! I must admit that today I am much too tired to be able to follow all this heavy-duty grammar, but I'll make a point to read it all later. - Gekkosan, ABR 23, 2010
This is just one of those things that I know how to say and use, but for the life of me I couldn't explain why it works that way! - Gekkosan, ABR 23, 2010

13 Answers

2
votes

And now, this is it:

c) Cuando el sujeto y el atributo son dos sustantivos que difieren en número, lo normal es establecer la concordancia con el elemento plural: «Mi infancia son recuerdos de un patio de Sevilla» (Machado Campos [Esp. 1907-17] 491); «Todo eso son falacias» (Ott Dientes [Ven. 1999]); «La primera causa de regresión de la especie son las alteraciones de su hábitat» (DNavarra [Esp.] 20.5.99).

Look at the examples, it is the same case as in the above. Well, you owe me a beer, a cold one pleasewink

I would like to drink it here, if you don't mindgrin

alt text

updated ABR 23, 2010
posted by 00494d19
Great! My first guess was right on the money! :) And I DO appreciate it. Thank you, thank you! - webdunce, ABR 23, 2010
2
votes

um.... when I was a child, so i was tought grammar, the teacher showed us any sentence, for instance: Lo mejor del burdel son las mujeres. then, the teacher pointed at any trembling boy and said: you, worm, tell me everything about the sentence.

then the boy thougt himself: "who is the subject? um... if I change the singular part into plural the verb doesn't change, but if I change the singular part into singular, the verb does."

so: Las mejores cosas del burdel son las mujeres.

and: Lo mejor del burdel es la mujer.

interesting. then u get the subject.

well, it doesn't work unless you are a native speaker. But I can tell you something else: think logically. either burdel/brothel or mujeres/women can be the subject in this sentence. Because brothels and women can be good or bad, or whatever, but "the best feature of anything" is just a description of the subject. Obviously "brothel" is not the subject as it is part of the description.

Of course you can also say: the best feature of the brothel is really crappy. in this case "t-b-f-o-t-b-" is acting as subject, but here "the best feature of the brothel" is actually replacing "women". and if it weren't clear, the recipient would ask: "what is the best feature of the brothel?"

there is not such a rule like: the subject is the closest one to the verb. this makes no sense. what about those sentences where the subject ain't written nor spoken?

use logic. don't forget language was invented so it must be logical!!

updated FEB 25, 2011
edited by srovietico
posted by srovietico
You get my vote for messing it all up so much that I don't have the faintest idea what it's all about! ;PAh, that's interesting, if the language, as you claim, is an invention, can you tell me the exact date of its invention and the name of the inventor? - bomberapolaca, JUN 4, 2010
I am no teacher, so if i cannot make myself clear forgive me, but i just wanted to help somepeople. um. the exact date of the invention is unclear yet, but the name, think logically, how can a man or woman have a name if he has inventted the language? - srovietico, JUN 5, 2010
I love, "pointed at any trembling boy and said: you, worm..." brilliant writing! :-) - webdunce, FEB 25, 2011
1
vote

Look:

Resultados 1 - 10 de aproximadamente 63.100 de "la principal caracteristica son.

This is like saying: lo importante son ....

You must remember, the subject is not always before the verb like in English, and this form is special. I really don't know how to explain this.

Look:

Resultados 1 - 10 de aproximadamente 576.000 de "lo importante son.

In any case the verb ser is copulative in Spanish, that is it does not have a direct object but an atributo, and we ...

O M G..I found it!!!! puffff, you owe me, web, I have been freaking looking for this for two hours! grin

2.1. Copulativo. Ser es el verbo copulativo por excelencia y su función es la de afirmar del sujeto lo que significa el atributo: Luisa es alta;

this is what I was saying so far.

You have to consider several facts:

2.1.1. Para establecer correctamente la concordancia del verbo ser en las oraciones copulativas, ha de tenerse en cuenta lo siguiente:

That is, to establish the subject/atributo +verb agreement you have to consider the following:

a) Como norma general, ser debe concertar con el sujeto en número y persona: «Este club es una maravilla» (Bayly Días [Perú 1996]); «Algunas cosas son el colmo de la dificultad»

As a general rules it agrees with the the subject.Look a the examples above.

b) No obstante, si el atributo es un pronombre personal, la concordancia, tanto de número como de persona, se establece necesariamente con este: «Dios somos nosotros» (Alviz Son [Esp. 1982]); «Mi diaria preocupación sois vosotros»

As you can see here we have the first disagreement with English, in Spanish the pronoun is predominant.

Dios somos nosotros: God are we (English: God is us/we)

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by 00494d19
Which explains "Soy yo" for "It's me" in Spanish! :D - Luciente, ABR 23, 2010
I always wondered why the "so yo" pattern was different from English. Now I know. Thanks! - MacFadden, ABR 23, 2010
Actually, correct English would be "It is I". - Lrtward, MAY 11, 2010
I found a second translation the Spanish "atributo", Heidita: "complement", and the complement can be a noun phrase or noun clause, adjective, or adverbial complement. - Janice, MAY 16, 2010
@Leslie, I have read in alt.usage site here on the web that "It is me" is attested since the 16th Century. "Me" is not in the "accusative" case here, but rather this is a special form of "me" which I think is called "disjunctive". - Janice, MAY 16, 2010
I don't agree: Dios somos nosotros. this does not mean God is us, but just the opposite. We're all god (which doesn't mean that we are all gods, but that we all are part of) "Nosotros" is the subject "Dios" is the atributo... - srovietico, JUN 4, 2010
1
vote

All this is taken from the "bible" where I should have looked right from the start, I did actually , but I was looking for "atributo" which was not listed.

You can find all this under "ser", type it in here.

R A E Panhispánico de Dudas.

updated ABR 24, 2010
posted by 00494d19
1
vote

A quick glance at the level of the head on "El Doble's" beers suggest that maybe it should really be called "La Mitad".

updated ABR 24, 2010
posted by geofc
lol ;) - galsally, ABR 24, 2010
0
votes

Fascinating. Noone has yet mentioned either logic or the intentions of the speaker/writer.

When I compose a sentence, I know what the subject, the thing my statement (or question) is about, is. The fact that I may then try to add emphasis to the object or attribute by promoting it to the beginning of the sentence is irrelevant. Whoever wrote "Dios somos nosotros" knew that he was categorizing "us, ourselves" as the reality of "God" but decided that there was more weight to be had by inverting the syntax and writing (my extended version) "God, that's us". If it had occurred to him to include a comma after God there would be far less confusion.

Inversion is not unique to Spanish but occurs in all the few languages I command including English. With luck a good example will flit through my brain in a moment. I used frequently to use inversions for the sake of emphasis in the days when I wrote reports in Spanish (rejected by the secretary but reinstated by my Spanish boss) and I can assure you that it never changed my perception of my subject.

How about "Silently, through the forest, goes the tiger." Guess what's the subject - it sure ain't the forest.

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by geofc
Why would you include a comma, though, after the word 'forest' in your sentence? ...or before 'through', for that matter? - Janice, ABR 23, 2010
The forest cannot be the subject becuase "through the forest" is a preopsitional phrase. You can remove it and still have a complete sentence with the basic meaning intact: "Silently goes the tiger." - Lrtward, MAY 11, 2010
of course, silently is the subject, unless the tiger eats it... ain't i right? - srovietico, JUN 4, 2010
0
votes

Make the verb agree with the closest one. If both are right next to the verb (just before and just after), then flip a quarter to choose which one to make the verb agree with.

That's my method too.

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by --Mariana--
Very erudite. You should submit the method to the RAE. - 0074b507, ABR 23, 2010
yes, u can sit on the empty chair at the RAE - srovietico, JUN 4, 2010
0
votes

Why would you include a comma, though, after the word 'forest' in your sentence? ...or before 'through', for that matter? - Janice

It probably depends on your age and point of view. In Shakespeare's time, commas (and most punctuation) served to indicate the length of the pause between phrases. (ranging from comma, through semi-colon and colon to full stop) in normal speech.Modern "usage" experts have complicated matters. Probably one would say, because "through the forest" is, essentially a parenthetical interpolation (even without the parentheses). It interrupts the basic statement "Silently goes the tiger" in a way that "The tiger goes silently through the forest." does not. If one simply reads (without pauses) the sentence "Silently through the forest goes the tiger.", the result sounds very odd.

updated MAY 11, 2010
posted by samdie
0
votes

Don't cheat and make the answer seem simplistic. Show the other 1/2 of that "rule":

No obstante, en algunos casos es posible establecer la concordancia también en singular, en especial cuando uno de los dos sustantivos tiene significado colectivo, o cuando, siendo un plural morfológico, se refiere a un concepto unitario: «Quienes desarrollaron la cultura de La Venta era gente de habla maya» (Ruz Mayas [Méx. 1981]); «El sueldo es tres mil dólares al mes» (Donoso Elefantes [Chile 1995]); «Las migas ruleras es un postre que se reserva para la cena» (Vergara Comer [Esp. 1981]).

Now we're almost back to the flipping a coin method.

updated ABR 23, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
ha - ian-hill, ABR 23, 2010
they do say: en algunos casos, so the normal thing is, the plural form is dominant - 00494d19, ABR 23, 2010
0
votes

Thanks for letting me know about that website! I didn't know about it.

updated ABR 23, 2010
posted by jzl1
0
votes

I looked through a few very advanced books on syntax and grammar that I have. What was the reference that you were using to find that answer, Heidita?

updated ABR 23, 2010
posted by jzl1
0
votes

Let me throw something into the issuet: One characteristic of a linking verb is that other parts of the sentence must agree with the subject.

Therefore if chairs were the true subject, the agreement would be: Las butacas son las mejores características del cine.

Which seems to make for the argument that La mejor característica or lo mejor is really the true subject:

La mejor característitica/lo mejor del cine ES las butacas.

Opinions?

updated ABR 23, 2010
posted by jzl1
0
votes

No tengo ninguna idea. :(

Good question, I'm going to watch for the answer.

updated ABR 23, 2010
posted by galsally
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