In behind the house was an old culvert, is behind the house the subject of was, or is it an adjunct? I had it down as an adjunct but am changing my mind.

If it's an adjunct, what rule allows us to elide there or otherwise accounts for the lack of subject?

  • 1
    What lack of subject do you mean? an old culvert is the subject of that sentence.
    – oerkelens
    Jun 24, 2019 at 6:59
  • @oerkelens: It kind of seems like that. At the same time, if we assume that question tags have to have a pronoun that corresponds to the subject of the main sentence (I'm not sure if that's true), then it seems hard to explain why "Behind the house was an old culvert, was there?" seems OK (to me at least!) whereas *"Behind the house was an old culvert, was it?" seems completely unacceptable.
    – herisson
    Jun 24, 2019 at 7:07
  • Araucaria discusses question tags like that in a comment on a related previous question: Why put the verb before the subject?
    – herisson
    Jun 24, 2019 at 7:11
  • 1
    There's no adjunct. Your example has subject-dependent inversion that combines preposing of the PP "behind the house" and postposing of the subject NP "an old culvert". The basic order would be "An old culvert was behind the house", where the PP is clearly a complement, not an adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Jun 24, 2019 at 7:26
  • 1
    @BillJ: What is your understanding of how question tags relate to the subject of the main clause? Does the inversion alter the form or acceptability of a question tag? Or is a "was it" question tag unacceptable in a sentence like this because of something related to the (non?)specificity of the subject "an old culvert"? (e.g. I think I feel like *"A car drives past this window every minute, doesn't it?" might not be acceptable with a non-specific subject, only with a specific one, where it's the same car every minute)
    – herisson
    Jun 24, 2019 at 7:43


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