Is the subject of a to-infinitive a nominative, because it's a subject, or an accusative, because it's assigned the Case by 'for'?

  • The man kept the door open for the cat to enter the room.
  • [For the cat to enter the room] is a CP. Its head 'for' is a prepositional complementizer which assigns accusative case. Prepositions do no assign nominative case.
    – Tsutsu
    May 26, 2020 at 11:50
  • Well, nouns don't have case in English; only pronouns can be said to vary that way. And "subject" does not equal "nominative". The subject of an infinitive is "objective" (English doesn't distinguish dative from accusative), and not "nominative". The subject of a gerund is either possessive or objective, but never nominative. Nominative pronouns (I, she, he, we, they) occur only as subjects of tensed clauses (infinitives, gerunds, and participles are untensed), so they're the exception rather than the rule.
    – jlawler
    May 26, 2020 at 15:32
  • Thanks, Tsutsu. Thanks, jlawler. I could have said a nominative 'position' or an accusative 'position' to be clear. Yes, nouns do not structurally inflect according to the positions; only pronouns do. So the position is that of 'objective,' or 'accusative' if distinguished. Right?
    – Sssamy
    May 29, 2020 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


The easiest way to test this is to swap in a word that shows case-marking overtly.

*The man kept the door open for they to enter the room.
The man kept the door open for them to enter the room.

  • 1
    I think a better answer would go on to mention that English does not really have case, but rather it has remnants of case surviving in the pronoun system. It merely has subject and object forms of pronouns. The OP would likely benefit from this insight. May 26, 2020 at 1:03
  • Thanks, Tim, for your message!
    – Sssamy
    May 29, 2020 at 0:14

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