Good afternoon! Please could you help me to define what parts of a sentence are included in this phrase: "The most interesting thing for me is to create pictures". What is a subject and what is a predicate here? Is "thing" an optional element? Why isn't "for me" situated at the end of the phrase? Thank you in advance...

  • I really think this question would translate into your own language with basically the same order of words. Kindly tell us what you think the subject is. Open-ended questions on basic grammar are not really the type of question we answer here.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 17:51
  • @Lambee I should formulate it better. I have received an answer below. The main question was about a place of "for me", other questions were excessive or maybe additional. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 18:27

1 Answer 1

  • The most interesting thing for me is to create pictures.

First, this is not a phrase; this is a sentence. Phrases are parts of sentences.

Second, like all English sentences, it has a subject noun phrase and a predicate verb phrase.

The subject noun phrase is

  • the most interesting thing for me

and the predicate verb phrase is

  • is to create pictures.

Neither of these is a simple phrase; the subject phrase has a superlative construction in it, and the verb phrase is equative, with an infinitive clause equated to the subject.

For me is located where it is because it modifies most interesting; the speaker is judging interest from their own experience. It could go at the beginning, with a comma, but that would emphasize the personal nature; it really couldn't go anywhere else in the sentence without changing the meaning or creating ungrammaticality.

Thing, while essentially meaningless, is nevertheless not optional. It's required because English does not allow adjectives to stand as nouns except in very special cases. If we say the old we mean generically old people as a class, but we can't mean 'that old guy over there' the way el anciano or der Alte might in Spanish or German. Thing is the dummy noun that we use as a crutch in such cases (for non-living nouns; for people, guy, lady, folks, people, etc. are common).

There's lots more grammar in the sentence; superlatives are very complex, and the infinitive has no subject, for instance. But this is long enough already.

  • Thank you very much for such a detailed and interesting answer, @JohnLawler! I should formulate my question more clearly. The sticking point for me was ... a place of "for me"). Now I see that it is not an object but a part of a subject. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 18:23
  • the most interesting thing [for me,for them, for us]. I don't see how those would not be prepositional phrases. They could be left out and the subject would still stand or work....
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 18:49
  • Indeed. The experiencer is optional with a flip predicate like be interesting; it's assumed to be the speaker (who is a position to judge their interest, anyway) unless otherwise specified. With interesting, the experiencer is expressed with a preposition (either to or for, no difference, speaker's choice). Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 22:40

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