SENTENCE STRUCTURE (7): understanding complicated structures

1. clause within a clause
Sometimes an adverb clause is put into the middle of another clause, separating a subject from its verb.
structure: subject + if/when/after/because...+verb
Ann, when she finally managed to go to sleep, had a series of bad dreams.
The government, if recent reports can be trusted, has decided not to raise rates.
In these structures, a noun may not be the subject of a verb that comes after it.
Example: Mr. Andrews, when he saw the policeman, started running as fast as he could. (It was not the policeman who stated running.)
There are sentences wherein learners may find difficulty understanding especially if they are too long.
Mr. Fisher, after he had completed his discussions with the bank manager, drew a large sum of money out of the bank and caught the next plane to Paris. (A learner might think that it was the bank manager who took the money and went to Paris, it's Mr. Fisher.)

2. descriptive phrase or relative clause
subject + descriptive phrase/clause + verb
That picture 'of the children standing in front of the Palace talking to the Prime Minister' is wonderful. (The sentence does not say that the Prime Minister is wonderful, but the picture of children standing...)
The tree 'that Mary gave to my younger brother' is growing fast.
The reporter 'who first made contact with the kidnappers' telephoned the police immediately. (Who telephoned?)

3. missing relative pronouns
It may hard to deal when relative pronouns (who/which/that) are left out.
It was a question a small child could have answered. (=...that a small child could have answered.)
The film she was talking about at Celia's party turned out to be very boring. (=...the film which she was talking about...)

4. conjunction 'that'
We often leave out the conjunction 'that' after verbs. This actually bring about complicated sentences more hard to follow.
The man who was arrested claimed he was somewhere else at the time of the robbery. (=...claimed that he was...)
She insisted she thought he knew she was on the train. (=She insisted that she thought that he knew that...)
In short news reports, 'that' is sometimes missing after nouns.
Officials did not accept his claim he was innocent. (=...that he was innocent.)
The Minster denied the suggestion he had concealed information from Parliament. (=...the suggestion that he...)

5. past participles that look like past tenses
Past participles are often used descriptively after nouns, rather like reduced relative clauses. When these look the same as past tenses, they can cause confusion.
A court has heard that a young civil servant 'arrested'(who was arrested) after shootings on Tyneside left one man dead is to be charged murder.
A Karnak separatist 'accused'(who is accused) of leading an attack on a French police barracks in which four gendarmes died has been arrested.
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