had the longest neck of any animal

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hhtt

Senior Member
Turkish
"This dinosaur had the longest neck of any animal that ever lived."

The structure used in this sentence seems to me as very confusing. This is exactly a writing style. The part "have the neck of any animal" makes no sense to me.

Would you like to explain it.

Source: National Geographic Kids

Thank you.
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "The longest neck ...:" No other neck was longer.

    "... of any animal" qualifies this. Perhaps a bird or a fish had a longer neck, but all animals had shorter necks.

    Does that help?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The part "have the neck of any animal" makes no sense to me.
    The sentence is confusing because "of any animal" modifies "this dinosaur", but it is put after "neck" in the sentence. I understand it better if the sentence is in this order:

    Of any animal that ever lived, this dinosaur had the longest neck.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The sentence is confusing because "of any animal" modifies "this dinosaur"
    I don't see how that can be. It describes the neck. We can point at a picture of a dinosaur's neck and say "This is the longest neck of any animal that ever lived". Here it clearly does not refer to the dinosaur, because the animal is not mentioned, but does refer to "This" - the neck we are pointing at.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I don't see how that can be. It describes the neck. We can point at a picture of a dinosaur's neck and say "This is the longest neck of any animal that ever lived". Here it clearly does not refer to the dinosaur, because the animal is not mentioned, but does refer to "This" - the neck we are pointing at.
    I agree, Andygc. But your comment doesn't mention "have", which is the part that confuses OP. How can a dinosaur "have" the neck of "any animal"?

    And while "this" in your sentence refers to the neck, your sentence is not what the thread is discussing. The sentence OP asks about says "this dinosaur".
     
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    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    " "... of any animal" qualifies this. Perhaps a bird or a fish had a longer neck, but all animals had shorter necks.
    Does that help?
    No, this does not help much.

    I agree, Andygc. But your comment doesn't mention "have", which is the part that confuses OP. How can a dinosaur "have" the neck of "any animal"?

    And while "this" in your sentence refers to the neck, your sentence is not what the thread is discussing. The sentence OP asks about says "this dinosaur".
    You are right.
     

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    What about these as the alternative ways:
    1. "This dinasour was the animal of longest neck that ever lived.
    2. "This dinasour was the longest-necked animal that ever lived.
    3. "This dinasour was the anmial with the longest neck that ever lived.

    Thank you.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't see any problem coming from using "have"

    The giraffe has a long neck.
    The giraffe has a longer neck than any living animal.
    The giraffe has the longest neck of any living animal.

    Al that changes is the detailed description of what the giraffe has. The next step is to consider the past and all animals ever having lived, which takes us to:

    This dinosaur had a longer neck than any animal that ever lived.
    This dinosaur had the longest neck of any animal that ever lived.

    "This dinosaur" also doesn't change anything - replace "the giraffe" by "this animal" and "this dinosaur" by "the sauropod". In all of those sentences everything to the right of "has" or "had" is the object and has no other grammatical reference to the subject.

    We could write, with exactly the same meaning, "This dinosaur had the longest animal-that-ever-lived's neck" but that's just not the normal way of writing this.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    What about these as the alternative ways:
    1. "This dinasour was the animal of longest neck that ever lived.
    2. "This dinasour was the longest-necked animal that ever lived.
    3. "This dinasour was the anmial with the longest neck that ever lived.
    All three sentences are clear and understandable.
    #2 is normal idiomatic AE.
    #1 sounds odd.
    In AE, I would add two words to sentence 3:

    3a. "This dinosaur was the animal with the longest neck of any that ever lived.
     

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    All three sentences are clear and understandable.
    #2 is normal idiomatic AE.
    #1 sounds odd.
    In AE, I would add two words to sentence 3:

    3a. "This dinosaur was the animal with the longest neck of any that ever lived.
    Your suggestion, 3a., is very similar to the original. Is the original also American, not British? And would you like to explain what "of any" refer to by alone?

    And what is the function of "of" standing in front of "any" ?

    Thank you.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I find none of these sentences acceptable.
    I suppose no. 2 is the best of the three and is better suited to a headline.
    No. 3 introduces a neck that lives.

    I suggest you study the original sentence, which is perfectly clear.
    Think of it as the neck of all animals that ever lived.
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Our dictionary page includes two definitions: of:

    WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English
    © 2017
    9. (used to indicate that a noun is included, or to show a part of an amount): You are now one of us. Three-fifths of a cup should be enough.

    WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
    8. (used to indicate inclusion in a number, class, or whole): one of us.
    I think the second may be the more helpful of the two. The dinosaur is among the animals 'that ever lived'.
     

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I find none of these sentences acceptable.
    I suppose no. 2 is the best of the three and is better suited to a headline.
    No. 3 introduces a neck that lives.

    I suggest you study the original sentence, which is perfectly clear.
    Think of it as the neck of all animals that ever lived.
    Dojibear is American and think very differently from you. This should be an accenteal difference, American and British. And very strange.

    Thank you.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I see why you think it's strange, hhtt: when I look closely, I find it strange too.

    It's just one of those 'things that we say'. I suppose the idea is "Of all the animals that ever lived, it was the dinosaur that had the longest neck". I can't tell you why we're able to translate this into "The dinosaur had the longest neck of any animal that ever lived". But we can....
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I find none of these sentences acceptable.
    I suppose no. 2 is the best of the three and is better suited to a headline.
    No. 3 introduces a neck that lives.

    I suggest you study the original sentence, which is perfectly clear.
    Think of it as the neck of all animals that ever lived.
    You can hardly complain about a neck that lives when you're willing to say all animals share one neck. ;)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    "This dinosaur had the longest neck of any animal that ever lived."
    This sentence is good, correct English and does not need any modification.

    It is equivalent to saying, 'The longest neck of any animal that ever lived was that of this dinosaur'.
    Bear in mind that it is not an individual neck in question, but the neck as an organ of a species: that is to say, a type.
     
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