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If two people are looking at a photo, and one of them pointing out the different people says:

And up here in the corner is me.

... what is the Subject of the sentence?

The phrase up here in the corner feels like a Locative Complement. It is tempting to see this as a case of subject-dependent inversion like On the corner is a cafe. However, the NP me has accusative case and the verb is third person singular. The sentence isn't:

  • *And up here in the corner am me.

Also, if and only if, 'me' is not the Subject, what type of use of the verb BE is this? If me is an internal Complement of the verb, then this doesn't seem to be a specifying, ascriptive or locative use in the normal sense (me is not a description of up in the corner, neither is it a location. And the sentence does not mean "up in the corner = me").

And if, and only if, me is the Subject, why is me acceptable instead of I? Does me invariably take third person singular agreement of the verb?

  • 2
    How about "And up here in the corner am I"? – Peter Shor Nov 12 '15 at 13:43
  • @PeterShor Yes, so that case is nice and clear! – Araucaria Nov 12 '15 at 13:43
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    a) Knock knock. --Who's there? It's me. b) Who wants ice cream? --Me! c) Who's tidied this room up in my absence? --Why, that was little ole me. – TRomano Nov 12 '15 at 13:57
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    @TimRomano +1 Yes, so in your first example, the Subject is it. In your second, me is accusative because there is no verb. In your third the Subject is the word that! :D – Araucaria Nov 12 '15 at 13:59
  • @Araucaria: "up here in the corner" seems to work like "that". Do linguists distinguish between subjects and subject-pointers? – TRomano Nov 12 '15 at 14:05
3

I think that with BE we're probably better off subordinating the syntactics to the pragmatics and thinking of the two arguments on either side of the verb as something more like Topic and Comment, which are structurally assigned the syntactic roles Subject and Complement.

In that sort of context there's no problem with seeing a locative as de facto Subject:

A: Do we want to eat at the table or in front of the TV?
B: At the table would be my choice.

And the conventional understanding of the existential construction is that there is the subject:

A: Isn't there anybody might help?
B: Well, there's Jack.

Alternatively, you may think of the locative as an attributive which has 'fused' with its head: this up here on the corner. The important thing is that up here in the corner is Old Information, and me is New Information.

On either analysis the understanding of pronominal case becomes clearer. In the vernacular—and to a growing extent even in the most formal registers—what we traditionally call the 'nominative' is not the form which marks the Subject but the form which marks a (unique, non-conjoint) Topic. All other uses call for the base form, hitherto called the 'accusative'.

In your example the locative is the Topic, assigned the syntactic role of Subject, and the pronoun is the Comment, assigned the syntactic role of Predicate Complement.


Yeah, I know, the conventional understanding is that there is a pronoun, bleached of locativity. I think that's an unnecessary inference from the Subject role and suggest it's more parsimonious to think of it as the ordinary locative, bleached of deixis.

  • Hmm, but topicalisations seem to be topics but not Subjects! ;) – Araucaria Nov 12 '15 at 14:59
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    Topic, Subject, and Agent usually fall together prototypically, though they're capable of being separated (by Passive or Topicalization, for instance). And each of these category labels is really a bundle of features, which may not lead to a coherent choice in some situations. "Subject" is not a universal feature, anyway; ergative languages don't have it, for instance. So it's not surprising that it's not a useful (or discernible) feature in some situations. – John Lawler Nov 12 '15 at 15:05
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    Consider just for fun what the difference is between "I'm here", "Here I am", "Here am I", and "Here's me". – StoneyB Nov 12 '15 at 15:21
  • @Araucaria Well, you gotta call it something, and practically anything you might call it is gonna conflict with somebody else's use of the same term. Would you prefer Theme/Rheme? ... anyhow, you gotta decide whether you want to deal in the first instance with semantic (thematic) or syntactic or pragmatic roles, and adjust the two leftovers to suit what you're up to. – StoneyB Nov 12 '15 at 16:06
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    @Araucaria Note, by the way, that the terms theme, topic, subject, object are all locative metaphors! – StoneyB Nov 12 '15 at 16:09
2

Verb agreement would point to "me" being the subject:

“And up here in the corner is me” vs “And up there in the corner are us".

Accusative "me and "us" are the 'normal' forms here, the absurdly formal nominative "I" and "we" also being possible.

But only the nominative "I" would be possible in the non-inverted equivalent:

"I am up here in the corner".

The PP "up here in the corner" would then be a locative predicative complement.

  • 1
    Up here in the corner is them seems to work for my BE ear... Hmmm, not sure yet. – Araucaria Nov 12 '15 at 17:03
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    I'd be more likely to say "And up there in the corner is us," but be is notoriously irregular and this question is ample demonstration that that irregularity extends beyond its mere conjugation. – Andrew Leach Nov 13 '15 at 8:12
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And up here in the corner is me

Answer

'me' is the subject of the sentence. It doesn't comply with standard grammar but it is idiomatic use and that is what it is.

A grammarian would say, And up here in the corner am I.

Reasoning

1.

Up here in the corner is John.

This can be inverted to make:

John is up here in the corner.

2.

Now try the same procedure with 'me'

Up here in the corner is Me.

Me is up here in the corner.

3. The final sentence above is typical of children's speech when they are learning or of adults when they are being 'cute'.

Example: Me want some more sweeties.

The child is clearly using 'me' as the subject of the sentence. It's not correct grammar but that's what it is -- the subject.

  • I'm not saying your wrong, but I'm not sure about your evidence. I don't believe that kids actually say that! – Araucaria Nov 12 '15 at 14:44
  • Okay. Here's some cast-iron evidence: Child Language By Jean Stilwell Peccei books.google.co.uk/… – chasly from UK Nov 12 '15 at 14:51
  • @Araucaria this brings up the whole "It is me." "It is I" debate. Assuming your sentence were actually spoken by someone, I think Chasly is right that it would be idiomatic, which means it's not gonna play by the rules. – michael_timofeev Nov 12 '15 at 17:20
  • If I'm outside on your doorstep and I call out "It's me", that isn't an accident slip on my part. It's the normal Standard English way to confirm my identity to someone who knows me but can't see me. – BillJ Nov 12 '15 at 17:33
  • @BillJohnstone - In that case 'it' is the subject. However there is no 'it' in the sentence "Here, in the corner is me" See the answer by mikki1970 and the reply by Araucaria. The correct grammar would be 'Here in the corner am I'. – chasly from UK Nov 12 '15 at 17:45
1

A different approach. Let's delete words that clearly aren't the subject and don't chance the form of the sentence:

And up here in the corner is me

'And' clearly isn't the subject, and 'in the corner', as 'the corner', being preceded by 'in' clearly isn't the subject, doesn't contain the subject. That leaves us with:

Up here is me

Now, I think this may in fact the same construction as 'Here is me' or 'Here I am'. If it's different, then 'up here' makes 'here' a straight noun, but not the subject.

That leaves us with 'here' and 'me'.

Re 'here', see What part of speech does “here” have in “I am here”? - TLDR, 'here' is either:

  • an adverb, or
  • a proximal deictic locative predicate

So that leaves us with 'is' (nope), or 'me'. I'd settle on 'me' as the subject. Perhaps it should be 'And up here in the corner am I'

If you want examples of similar construction of this peculiar inversion of word ordering:

  • 'Here stand I'
  • 'That say you!'
  • 'And up here in the corner is an apple'

Removing the inversion, it's simply 'And I am up here in the corner'

  • Well, Here might be a locative predicate in one sentence and a Locative Complement in the same one, and a Subject in another and a Post-modifier in a noun phrase in another. Some grammars may say it's an adverb (It isn't). But being a "deictic locative predicate" and being an "adverb" and being a "Subject" are different things ... Being one of them doesn't stop you being another necessarily. – Araucaria Nov 13 '15 at 0:29
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We might need to consider the possibility of an elided subject. 

Let's start with a simple and unsurprising utterance: 

That's me. 

This sentence works in any English dialect that allows the complement to take an objective form.  It even stands as an argument for using the label oblique in preference to objective.  The "me" is not an object, but it is part of the predicate.  The subject, of course, is the demonstrative pronoun "that". 

Person and number are irrelevant in the complement.  "That's me", "that's you", "that's him", "that's us", and "that's them" are also simple and unsurprising.  They all work with the subject "that" and the verb "is". 

Adding prepositional modifiers is easy: 

That up here in the corner is me. 
Up here in the corner, that's me. 

At this point, the demonstrative property of the pronoun is redundant.  We have modifiers that carry a locative semantic.  Other than marking that there is a subject, "that" doesn't have a job to do.  This could be sufficient explanation for an elision: 

[That] up here in the corner is me. 

In turn, elision explains an otherwise bizarre flexibility in the verb's grammatical number: 

[That] up here in the corner is us. 
[Those] up here in the corner are us. 

The verb "to be" retains its normal use and behavior as the copula.  The complement "me" simply specifies what [that] is.  Different dialects can have different preferences regarding the choice between [that] and [those] without needing a further grammatical explanation.  The implication that such prepositional phrases need something to modify is satisfied by the existence of an understood, unwritten subject. 

An elided subject isn't the only possible explanation.  However, as explanations go, this one is simple, clear, and productive. 

  • +1 From me. Sounds very plausible and similar to what I've been thinking more recently. Don't know if it's right though! – Araucaria Nov 23 '15 at 18:35
  • I don't know, either. I'm not sure that elision can be proven. The evidence that we really want is, by the very nature of the assumption, missing. The best I can do is justify the assumption and tentatively accept it until something better comes along. Alternatives like discarding the notion that a clause requires a subject or the notion that a subjective/oblique form distinction exists certainly don't seem better. – Gary Botnovcan Nov 23 '15 at 20:01
-1

It's the same as saying "It is me up here in the corner." - "me" is the subject.

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    But I think, in it is me up here in the corner the Subject is it, not me! We can show this by making a question. The verb will invert with the Subject: "Is it me up here in the corner?" So I'm not sure the sentences are exactly the same :-) – Araucaria Nov 12 '15 at 13:57

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