Prepositional phrases with indefinite NP’s

The question was asked on Facebook about what principles might motivate the occurrence of indefinite noun phrases to take prepositional phrases. It’s a good question. Prepositions phrases tend be restrictive when they occur in noun phrases just like other NP modifiers. But they certainly can still be descriptive, too.

I ran a quick and dirty syntax search through Cascadia Syntax Graphs in Logos Bible Software to see what we could find.

Unsurprising, we find a lot of instances of τις, and generic references to people with ἄνθρωπος and ἀνήρ. That is to be expected. And consistently, we find situations where the participant the NP references is new to the discourse and thus is not yet identifiable. Identifiability is a key ingredient for definite article usage in Ancient Greek.

Here’s the search I ran:

Indefinite NPs with internal PPs

And here’s some of the data from Matthew & Mark with the SBLGNT beside the NRSV below. If you have Logos, the bible reference links will open to that verse in Cascadia Syntax Graphs and the links in the translation will open up the NRSV:

Matt 4:15 Γῆ Ζαβουλὼν καὶ γῆ Νεφθαλίμ ὁδὸν θαλάσσης πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles
Matt 8:9 καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν ἔχων ὑπʼ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας καὶ λέγω τούτῳ Πορεύθητι καὶ πορεύεται καὶ ἄλλῳ Ἔρχου καὶ ἔρχεται καὶ τῷ δούλῳ μου Ποίησον τοῦτο καὶ ποιεῖ For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”
Matt 10:10 μὴ πήραν εἰς ὁδὸν μηδὲ δύο χιτῶνας μηδὲ ὑποδήματα μηδὲ ῥάβδον ἄξιος γὰρ ἐργάτης τῆς τροφῆς αὐτοῦ no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.
Matt 22:30 ἐν γὰρ τῇ ἀναστάσει οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται ἀλλʼ ὡς ἄγγελοι θεοῦ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ εἰσιν For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Matt 22:35 καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν νομικὸς πειράζων αὐτόν and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
Matt 26:47 Καὶ ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ἰδοὺ Ἰούδας εἷς τῶν δώδεκα ἦλθεν καὶ μετʼ αὐτοῦ ὄχλος πολὺς μετὰ μαχαιρῶν καὶ ξύλων ἀπὸ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ πρεσβυτέρων τοῦ λαοῦ While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.
Matt 27:57 Ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης ἦλθεν ἄνθρωπος πλούσιος ἀπὸ Ἁριμαθαίας τοὔνομα Ἰωσήφ ὃς καὶ αὐτὸς ἐμαθητεύθη τῷ Ἰησοῦ When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.
Matt 28:18 καὶ προσελθὼν Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων Ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mark 1:4 ἐγένετο Ἰωάννης βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Mark 5:2–3 καὶ ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ πλοίου εὐθὺς ὑπήντησεν αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν μνημείων ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ ὃς τὴν κατοίκησιν εἶχεν ἐν τοῖς μνήμασιν καὶ οὐδὲ ἁλύσει οὐκέτι οὐδεὶς ἐδύνατο αὐτὸν δῆσαι And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain;
Mark 12:25 ὅταν γὰρ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῶσιν οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται ἀλλʼ εἰσὶν ὡς ἄγγελοι ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Mark 12:38–39 Καὶ ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῶν γραμματέων τῶν θελόντων ἐν στολαῖς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀσπασμοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς καὶ πρωτοκαθεδρίας ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ πρωτοκλισίας ἐν τοῖς δείπνοις As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!
Mark 12:38–39 Καὶ ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῶν γραμματέων τῶν θελόντων ἐν στολαῖς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀσπασμοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς καὶ πρωτοκαθεδρίας ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ πρωτοκλισίας ἐν τοῖς δείπνοις As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!
Mark 12:38–39 Καὶ ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῶν γραμματέων τῶν θελόντων ἐν στολαῖς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀσπασμοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς καὶ πρωτοκαθεδρίας ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ πρωτοκλισίας ἐν τοῖς δείπνοις As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!
Mark 14:18 καὶ ἀνακειμένων αὐτῶν καὶ ἐσθιόντων Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι εἷς ἐξ ὑμῶν παραδώσει με ὁ ἐσθίων μετʼ ἐμοῦ And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”

The search doesn’t account for coordinated NP’s very well, where the first NP has an article and the second NP with the PP is definite because it refers to the same participant as the first.

PDF of the results: Indefinite NPs with internal PPs

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