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I'm reading now a chemistry book which saying:

Chemistry is the study of matter, its chemical and physical properties, the chemical and physical changes it undergoes, and the energy changes that accompany those processes.

I am trying to understand the connection between these two bold words ("it undergoes") to the rest of the sentence and I'm not understand. Is it a correct sentence or wrong?

  • Are you asking what "it" is referring to? – Mari-Lou A Sep 30 '16 at 17:54
  • Please tag responsibly. If you're really looking for a word's meaning in this case, your question would become closable by a dictionary. – M.A.R. Sep 30 '16 at 17:59
  • I looked for the connection of the pronoun "it" to the the rest of the sentence. Now I understand that the meaning is like: "Chemistry is the study of matter, its chemical and physical properties, the chemical and physical changes <that> it undergoes, and the energy changes that accompany those processes."\ – Judicious Allure Sep 30 '16 at 18:15
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It's correct usage.

I'm assuming you already know what undergo itself means. The sentence contains a coordination of the complements of "of". It additionally omits any redundant matters that would've been used in the sentence. Then it proceeds to refer to processes with those, having created a mental image of processes beforehand. That's not wrong, that's just good and efficient writing.

This is the unambiguous but cumbersome-to-read version, for comparison:

Chemistry is the study of matter. Chemistry is the study of matter's chemical and physical properties. Chemistry is the study of the chemical and physical changes matter undergoes. Chemistry is the study of the energy changes that accompany the chemical and physical processes.

Finally, the sentence in question boils down to

Chemistry is the study of the chemical and physical changes matter undergoes.

matter undergoes is a relative clause, with an omitted "that". You can think of it as something like I think, syntactically.

  • Indeed, the word "that" (it undergoes) is omitted and that what confused me. Now I understand the sentence. Thank you – Judicious Allure Sep 30 '16 at 18:16
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The commas indicate that we're looking at a list, all of which starts after "study of".

To rephrase the parts you're having trouble with, we might say "Chemistry is the study of the chemical and physical changes matter undergoes". It is correct, but probably would have been clearer if it was shorter!

In full, it might also be written:

Chemistry is the study of:
Matter
Matter's chemical and physical properties
The chemical and physical changes Matter undergoes
The energy changes that accompany those processes

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