Predicate Accusatives

In double accusative constructions, predicate accusatives are (a) both objects of the same verb and (b) synonymous with one another. They are especially common with verbs of naming, choosing, appointing, making, esteeming and showing.

  • They elected Cicero consul: Cicerōnem cōnsulem creavērunt.
  • The people will soon name me augur: populus mē mox augurem nōminābunt.
  • He thought no one a man in comparison with himself: hominem prae sē nēminem putāvit.
  • He offered himself as leader: ducem sē praebuit.
  • She turned boys into men: puerōs virōs vertēbat.
  • The girl named the horse Blondie: puella Flavum equum appellāvit.

The distinction here is with double accusative constructions that feature two different accusative objects.

  • She taught the boys the basics: puerōs elementa docuit.

There is no identity between the boys and their basics, whereas with Cicero and consul are now synonymous in the first example above.

When these constructions are made passive, both predicates are put in the nominative.

  • Cicero is elected consul: Cicerō cōnsul creātur.
  • Blondie was named by the girl: Flavus ab pellā appellātus est.

The predicate accusative can also be an adjective.

  • Old age makes men mild and gentle: aevus mītēs et mānsuētōs hominēs facit.

The Essential AG: 392-3

4 comments on “Predicate Accusatives

  1. Kathy says:

    How would you transform ‘pueros elementa docuit’ or another double accusative, non-synonymous construction into the passive? Would it be ‘pueri de elementis docti sunt’ or ‘elementa pueris docta sunt’ or something else?

  2. rsmease says:

    I imagine this varies, verb to verb, but the options with doceō are plentiful. You could have an ablative (docta fēmīna Graeciis litteris) an adverb (docta fēmīna Graece [in the Greek manner]), an accusative (doctus vir elementa et extrema rerum), a genitive (doctus vir saggitārum), an infinitive (doctus vir tenere saggitās), with in + abl (docta fēmīna in carminibus Sapphicis) or with ad + acc (docta fēmīna ad servandum volernīs). [These are edited versions of Lewis and Short’s entries.]

  3. KLC says:

    Would you also call the accusative complement of an accusative subject in indirect speech a predicate accusative?

    For example, existimavimus eum bonum imperatorem esse.

    Wouldn’t imperatorem be the predicate of eum?

  4. rsmease says:

    It should be, if we follow AG270, but it isn’t, according to AG392. Go figure. In AG270, it’s made clear that in the sentence ‘He is a good general,’ ‘good general’ is a predicate of ‘He.’ However, this is a case of apposition, and AG392 claims that a “Predicate Accusative” is never an apposition. By my reading, I think A&G were trying to specialize the phrase “Predicate Accusative” to cover only these special double accusative constructions (or they were handing down this specialization from another grammar). Ultimately, I think you’re correct, in the most literal sense of all the terms on the table.

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