Learn English – What’s the Subject in: ‘And up here in the corner is me’


If two people are looking at a photo, and one of them pointing out the different people says:

And up here in the corner is me.

… what is the Subject of the sentence?

The phrase up here in the corner feels like a Locative Complement. It is tempting to see this as a case of subject-dependent inversion like On the corner is a cafe. However, the NP me has accusative case and the verb is third person singular. The sentence isn't:

  • *And up here in the corner am me.

Also, if and only if, 'me' is not the Subject, what type of use of the verb BE is this? If me is an internal Complement of the verb, then this doesn't seem to be a specifying, ascriptive or locative use in the normal sense (me is not a description of up in the corner, neither is it a location. And the sentence does not mean "up in the corner = me").

And if, and only if, me is the Subject, why is me acceptable instead of I? Does me invariably take third person singular agreement of the verb?

Best Answer

I think that with BE we're probably better off subordinating the syntactics to the pragmatics and thinking of the two arguments on either side of the verb as something more like Topic and Comment, which are structurally assigned the syntactic roles Subject and Complement.

In that sort of context there's no problem with seeing a locative as de facto Subject:

A: Do we want to eat at the table or in front of the TV?
B: At the table would be my choice.

And the conventional understanding of the existential construction is that there is the subject:

A: Isn't there anybody might help?
B: Well, there's Jack.

Alternatively, you may think of the locative as an attributive which has 'fused' with its head: this up here on the corner. The important thing is that up here in the corner is Old Information, and me is New Information.

On either analysis the understanding of pronominal case becomes clearer. In the vernacular—and to a growing extent even in the most formal registers—what we traditionally call the 'nominative' is not the form which marks the Subject but the form which marks a (unique, non-conjoint) Topic. All other uses call for the base form, hitherto called the 'accusative'.

In your example the locative is the Topic, assigned the syntactic role of Subject, and the pronoun is the Comment, assigned the syntactic role of Predicate Complement.

Yeah, I know, the conventional understanding is that there is a pronoun, bleached of locativity. I think that's an unnecessary inference from the Subject role and suggest it's more parsimonious to think of it as the ordinary locative, bleached of deixis.