1

I want to explain my problem by the following sentence.

Among those scientists recently exploring 'terra cognita' were psychologists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

  1. In that sentence, what is the subject of the auxiliary verb "were"? I think, subject of auxiliary verb is 'there' and it has been omitted in this sentence. Am I right?

  2. If I wish to place 'that/who' before the word 'exploring' in that sentence, will it be legal? And if I do this, the form of 'exploring' will be 'explore'. Am I right?

  • 5
    If you re-sequence to the standard English Subject-Verb-Object order, you get Psychologists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook were among those scientists recently exploring 'terra cognita'. Which should make it pretty obvious the subject of the statement is psychologists (modified by the "adjectival" clause from the State University of New York at Stony Brook). – FumbleFingers Mar 10 '15 at 15:16
  • This is not a result of There-Insertion. This is simple fronting of a heavy predicate prepositional phrase with normal subject-auxiliary inversion. Were is the auxiliary verb for non-verbal predicates (nouns, adjectives, phrases), and this predicate is a long locative prepositional phrase. Same structure as On the screen were Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. – John Lawler Mar 10 '15 at 17:34
  • @JohnLawler There's no particular link between the length of the PP and the inversion, is there? – Araucaria Mar 10 '15 at 21:09
2

If I understand, in 1) you propose a derivation like the following to get the prepositional phrase with "among" into first position:
basic form:

"Psychologists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook were among those scientists recently exploring 'terra cognita'."

there-insertion ==>

"There were psychologists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook among those scientists recently exploring 'terra cognita'"

there-replacement ==>

"Among those scientists recently exploring 'terra cognita' were psychologists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook."

I think it's very interesting -- I haven't seen it proposed before. You might find evidence for it by finding some restriction on the occurrence of there which is obeyed by such examples, even though there is not overtly present.

0

Yikes! Let me just add...Psychologists is the subject of There were psychologists, not There, and were is the main verb, not the auxiliary verb.

0

The sentence is correct and needs no additions.

It's a reversal of a straightforward sentence:

Psychologists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook were among those scientists recently exploring 'terra cognita'.

The reversal is the same thing as the change from "Dick and Jane were in the house" to "In the house were Dick and Jane". I believe the reversal doesn't change the parts of speech, making "psychologists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook" the subject of the verb.

Adding the word "that' or "who" as you indicate would make the sentence incorrect. You could correctly write:

Among those scientists that were recently exploring 'terra cognita'...

or

Among those scientists that recently explored 'terra cognita'...

Substituting who for that in either of those would also be correct.

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