For example in a simple sentence such as:

Jim saw another man eat a cow.

I know that "Jim" is the subject, and "another man" is the direct object. But then is "another man" a subject as well because it "eats" the cow (making the cow a direct object as well)?

  • "eat" here is actually an infinitive. "another man" isn't the object of the verb "to see", it's the infinitive clause "another man eat a cow". What Jim saw was the eating of a cow by another man.
    – A.Ellett
    May 21, 2015 at 21:51
  • 2
    You should be glad this isn't Latin because then "another man" would also be marked in the accusative case. But that's because the subjects of infinitives are put in the accusative.
    – A.Ellett
    May 21, 2015 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


If you mean: can a person that is referred to by a direct object noun phrase of some verb also be referred to by a subject noun phrase of another verb, then sure. Why not? But if you mean: can a noun phrase simultaneously be the direct object of one verb and the subject of another verb, the answer is unclear. This is possible in Relational Grammar (and probably also in some other theories), but it's not allowed in Transformational Grammar.

For your example, "Jim saw another man eat a cow", if we decide that it is true that "another man" is the object of "saw", and it is also true that "another man" is the subject of "eat" (which isn't obvious), then we'd have to either (1) have a deeper level of representation in which "another man" is subject of "eat" and suppose that it is moved from that position into object position of "saw", or (2) begin with a deeper level of representation that has two instances of the noun phrase "another man", one instance to be object of "saw" and another to be subject of "eat".

(1) Jim saw [ another man eat a cow ] ==> Jim saw another man [ eat a cow ]
(2) Jim saw another man [ another man eat a cow ] ==> Jim saw another man [ eat a cow ]

In TG, (1) is called a raising analysis, and (2) is called an equi analysis (after the names given to the transformations that were supposed to perform these changes).

  • 2
    Worryingly, if you hadn't posted this, we'd probably have got a 'yes' or a 'no' rather than a balanced answer from someone convinced that the approach they were familiar with was gospel. May 21, 2015 at 22:58
  • The Cliff's on Equi and Raising, for those interested. May 21, 2015 at 23:42
  • @JohnLawler, reading your Cliff's, I notice "Raising is restricted to infinitive complements." What about "It began raining"?
    – Greg Lee
    May 22, 2015 at 0:49
  • 1
    Good example. Note it began to rain, also. Start works the same way, and also continue. But not stop. Hmmm. Well, aspectual predicates seem to be an exception to that generalization. How about there? There has started to be some comment. May 22, 2015 at 1:21
  • @JohnLawler ?"There continued being a commotion." "Track continued being kept of all their movements."
    – Greg Lee
    May 22, 2015 at 1:39

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