was not advisable

< Previous | Next >
But to affiliate himself with Nazis was something even he had to have known was not advisable.

How should I understand its structure?

But to affiliate himself with Nazis was something
even he had to have known / was not advisable.

What is the subject of "was not advisable" ? I feel the sentence breaks up when it comes to the sign of "/"


Many thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:
  • jinti

    Senior Member
    But to affiliate himself with Nazis was something even he had to have known was not advisable.

    How should I understand its structure?

    But to affiliate himself with Nazis was something
    even he had to have known / was not advisable.

    What is the subject of "was not advisable" ? I feel the sentence breaks up when it come to the sign of "/"
    Another way of putting it: Even he had to have known (that) it was not advisable to affiliate himself with Nazis.

    The author put to affiliate himself with Nazis first to emphasize it.
    I think you can omit "was", shortly it can be like that: But to affiliate himself with Nazis was something inadvisable even he had to have known.
    No, but you could break it into two sentences if you want to do that:
    But to affiliate himself with Nazis was something inadvisable. Even he had to have known that.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    This can be confusing. Native speakers understand the sentence without consciously analyzing it. Here we are dealing with a relative clause with no relative pronoun containing a subordinate clause with no subordinating conjunction. I'll try to explain the structure, but bear in mind that native speakers don't go through all this on a conscious level when we read the sentence.

    A relative clause is like a sentence with a noun phrase missing that is used to modify a noun or pronoun. For example, in "The woman I saw yesterday was here again today", the part "I saw yesterday" is a relative clause. The direct object of "saw" is missing, and the clause modifies "woman".

    A relative clause often, but not always, begins with a relative pronoun. For example, in "The woman whom I saw yesterday was here again today", "whom" is a relative pronoun. A relative pronoun makes it easy to see there is a relative clause, and it can also give us information about the missing noun phrase. The relative pronoun "whom" tells us that the missing noun phrase is the object of something (in this case "saw"), not the subject of a verb.

    A subordinate clause is a clause used as part of another clause. For example, in "I said the woman was here again today", the part "the woman was here again today" is a subordinate clause used as the direct object of "said".

    A subordinate clause can, but does not have to, begin with a subordinating conjunction. For example, in "I said that the woman was here again today", "that" is a subordinating conjunction. It can help us to recognize the subordinate clause.

    We can of course include a relative clause within a subordinate clause. The relative pronoun and subordinating conjunction may be omitted:

    I said (that) the woman (whom) I saw yesterday was here again today.

    The part "(whom) I saw yesterday" is the relative clause with missing direct object. It modifies "woman". "The woman (whom) I saw yesterday" is the subject of "was". "(That) the woman (whom) I saw yesterday was here again today" is the direct object of "said".

    Now the sample sentence:

    But to affiliate himself with Nazis was something (which) even he had to have known was not advisable.

    The part "(which) even he had to have known was not advisable" is a relative clause modifying something. I have added the relative pronoun which to make this easier to see.

    The noun phrase missing from the relative clause is the subject of "was not advisable". The subordinate clause "(that) <missing.subject> was advisable" is the direct object of "had to have known". Because the subject is missing, the subordinating conjunction that must be omitted to prevent confusion with the relative pronoun that.

    That's my explanation of the structure. I hope it helps.

    The meaning might be easier to see with the clauses subordinated differently. The difference is mainly in what receives emphasis by being mentioned first:

    Even he had to have known that to afilliate himself with Nazis was something that was not advisable.

    Now we have a subordinate clause containing a relative clause, the first that is a subordinating conjuction, the second that is a relative pronoun, and the missing noun phrase is still the subject of "was".

     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top