Student or Learner
Could anyone tell me how to analyse the clauses, including sub-clauses, in following sentence?
"This is what they understood the Presidentís testimony to be"
Thank you very much!
I have two books that explain such a sentence in two different ways. The "troublemaker" is that word "what."
Well, I always take the harder approach.
Look at this sentence from that book: "(You) do what is right."
My book says that it should be parsed as: (You) do that which is right.
"Which is right" is an adjective clause that modifies "that."
Therefore, the book, I presume, would parse your sentence as:
"This is that which they understood the President's testimony to be."
* "which they understood the President's testimony to be" would be an adjective clause.
Source: House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar (copyright 1931 and 1950).
Would you like an easier analysis? OK. Here is the other book's idea.
Its sentence is: "That is not what I meant."
The book says that "what I meant" is a noun clause. It is the subjective complement of "that."
Thus, I presume, that book would parse your sentence as:
"What they understood the President's testimony to be" is a noun clause acting as the subjective complement of "This."
Source: Pence and Emery, A Grammar of Present-Day English (copyright 1947 and 1963).
P.S. Messrs. Pence and Emery remind us that "[O]ften there is more than one good explanation for a construction in English grammar."