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I learned English grammar with my mother tongue, and am not sure how to call it in English.

There are clauses in the form, 'for subject to do' or 'of subject to do'.

For example,

It is necessary for her to learn English.
It is rude of her to ignore him.

The structure appears when the subject of sentence is different from the subject of action for the infinitive.

Is there a word to indicate 'for her' and 'of her' in grammar?

If I translate it from the grammar of my mother tongue, it is something like 'subject in context'.

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It is necessary for her to learn English

"For her" in this sentence is not part of the adjective "necessary". It is part of the infinitive clause "for her to learn English". This is evident from the fact that this whole constituent can be moved:

[For her to learn English] is necessary

In English, an infinitive clause can have a subject, but it has to be preceded by "for" as a marker.

Two special features of the to-infinitival construction are, firstly, the for that introduces the clause if it contains a subject and, secondly, the to itself that marks the VP. (Huddleston & Pullum, 2002: 1181)


It is rude of her to ignore him

In this case, "of her" is a complement of "rude", which means that it is part of the adjective phrase "rude of her". Adjectives that take this kind of complement are generally those that describe personality, style, and attitude, eg:

Considerate
Generous
Kind
Honest
Pleasant
Considerate
Naive
Idiotic
Indelicate
Boastful
Infuriating
Classy
Sexy


Note also that adjectives that fall within this category typically occur in combination with it + extraposed subject: cf. "She is afraid of death", but not *"it was afraid of her to be dead". (The adjective "afraid" takes an of-phrase complement but does not belong to this category.)

In short, "for her" in the first sentence is a subject of an infinitival clause, and "of her" in the second sentence is a prepositional phrase functioning as a complement of "rude".

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  • Great answer, but I would make a minor disagreement with one bit: I don't think that the adjectives that can take "of her" are limited to only "a handful". That term suggests it's a list of oddballs, but, to my mind, just about any adjective describing personality, style, or attitude would do: kind, indelicate, boastful, infuriating, foresighted, classy, even sexy! May 8, 2021 at 22:51
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    @tea-and-cake agreed! :)
    – user178049
    May 9, 2021 at 1:03

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