blessed are/is the merciful

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painn

Member
Indonesia Javanese
Hi, I lookep up the word "blessed" in the mcmillandictionary and came across the sentence "blessed are the merciful". I wonder why the word order is like that? Why shouldn't it be "the merciful is blessed" instead?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    This looks like the poetic language of the bible, painn. You can find many old-fashioned, poetic phrases in that book. Many of those phrases use unusual word order that is not ordinary in today's speech. The sentence uses "are" because "the merciful" means "merciful people": Blessed are the merciful = Merciful people are blessed.

    Cross-posted with TT.
     

    painn

    Member
    Indonesia Javanese
    Very interinsting. Thank you Thomas and Owlman. The merciful means merciful people. But how about this one?
    In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. (the first line of the Koran translation)
    Does the merciful mean merciful people too?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You're welcome. No. "The merciful" doesn't refer to merciful people in that line. It means that Allah is a merciful being.
     

    painn

    Member
    Indonesia Javanese
    So that I'm not confused. So in conclusion, "the merciful" has two meanings "merficul people" and "a merciful being". Am I right, Owlman?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "The merciful" in poetic language can mean "merciful people", "a merciful being", or any other noun that the poet considers to be merciful.
     

    painn

    Member
    Indonesia Javanese
    I see. Technically, I can say "the merciful is blessed" or "blessed is the merciful" to refer to a merciful being, right? I fully understand now. Thanks, Owlman.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Technically, I can say "the merciful is blessed" or "blessed is the merciful" to refer to a merciful being, right?
    Right. There aren't many rules for how to phrase things if you are writing poetry. Different poets use different techniques in their work. Many of these techniques have little to do with the English we use in speech and prose.
     

    painn

    Member
    Indonesia Javanese
    I see. Technically, I can say "the merciful is blessed" or "blessed is the merciful" to refer to a merciful being, right? I fully understand now. Thanks, Owlman.
     

    painn

    Member
    Indonesia Javanese
    Thanks again, Owlman. But it seems the writer in the above is referring to merficul people. If I change "be" to "is", the sentence will lay emphasis on the adjective "blessed". Don't you agree? For example: blessed be the merciful.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The use of adjectives as nouns is not uncommon, and when that happens the noun is considered plural.

    We can talk about the rich, the poor, the proud, the unwanted, the destitute and so on.

    This construction is often associated with the Beatitude in the Bible. You might want to have a look at it in Matthew 6:3-10.

    However, adjectives can be used as titles, accorded to great personages or to God: Peter the Great. If you are using the title to refer to God, theoretically you can say: The Merciful is to be praised. I think it would be more common to say The Merciful One is to be praised. We say things like: We pray that the people will turn to the Holy One.
     
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