4

In this sentence:

The "No" was stronger than her craving to be in Frisco's arms and forget this dreary existence.

Did I distinguish all subjects in the sentence? Can it be that her craving is a complex subject?

7

The subject of the sentence is:

  • The "No"

However, the complement of the preposition than is the noun phrase:

  • her craving to be in Frisco's arms and forget this dreary existence.

This has a co-ordination of clauses which appears as the complement of the noun craving.

The coordination of clauses is:

  • to be in Frisco's arms and forget this dreary existence.

The unexpressed subject of these is 'her', whoever that is.

To sum up there is only one subject of the sentence: "The "No". However, there is a coordination of verb phrases which have her as the unexpressed subject of these clauses, not the subject of the sentence.

The noun phrase her craving is not a subject. Craving is the head of the noun phrase: "her craving to be in Frisco's arms and forget this dreary existence". This noun phrase is the complement of than.

Hope this is helpful!

EDIT: Some readers might wonder whether craving is a verb here. In my opinion it isn't. I explain why in a different post below (because the explanation's quite long!)

  • +1. :) I wonder if you could possibly add a bit to explain why you think "craving" cannot be a verb? – F.E. Feb 16 '15 at 23:32
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    @F.E. Have done my best (might be wrong though!) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Feb 17 '15 at 0:31
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Extra commentary for grammar junkies:

Some people might argue that craving is a verb here. There are some good reasons to think that maybe craving should be a verb. It isn't, in my opinion, in the normal reading of the sentence. We can do some tests to show this. There is a noun craving. If this is the noun craving we should expect it to be modifiable by an adjective:

  • The "No" was stronger than her urgent craving to be in Frisco's arms and forget this dreary existence.

The sentence above seems ok.

Now if craving was a verb in the sentence above, it would be modified by an adverb urgently. Now, that sentence would work with the verb form too:

  • The "No" was stronger than her urgently craving to be in Frisco's arms and forget this dreary existence.

This sentence seems ok as well.

The clue to the status of craving is in the grammar. The verb crave is very difficult to use without an object:

  • Elephants crave.

The sentence above is possible, but very unusual. It would be unusual in the same way that:

  • Elephants like.

... would be unusual. We normally expect these verbs to have an object. If we don't have an object this use of these verbs is very unusual, very marked. However, the use of craving as a noun without any complement is commonplace:

  • Cravings are very inconvenient when you are trying to concentrate.

The Original Poster's sentence seems quite ordinary when there is no complement for the word craving:

  • The "No" was stronger than her craving.

In addition to the other evidence, this would seem to suggest that craving is a noun. Notice that:

  • The "No" was stronger than her liking.

... is a bit strange when given the normal meaning of the verb LIKE.

Lastly, notice that if we use craving modified by an adjective, but without a complement, the result is good and not marked:

  • The "No" was stronger than her urgent craving.

However, if we substitute the noun craving with a verb modified by an adverb, the result is not very good:

  • *The "No" was stronger than her urgently craving. (X)

The result above is very similar to the to her liking example.

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