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There is a sentence that I could not fully understand.

"Most automobile thefts are the work of professional thieves against whose efforts antitheft devices offer scant protection."

Can someone explain what this sentence means?

Also, could someone explain how the sentence is grammatically structured (ex. the word "whose" modifies something ... etc)?
The part right after "whose" sounds weird because both "efforts" and "antitheft devices" are nouns.

  • It is a perfectly grammatical, and well-written sentence. I would merely place a comma after "thieves". Does that help? – WS2 Oct 2 '16 at 6:21
  • Whose is a possessive relative pronoun with antecedent profession thieves. That means that the sentence may be rephrased "... and against the efforts of those professional thieves, antitheft devices offer scant protection." The meaning should be clear -- antitheft devices wont' stop most of the car thieves you have to worry about. – deadrat Oct 2 '16 at 6:59
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Let's break it down:

"Most automobile thefts": The subject of the sentence.

"are": main verb

"the work of professional thieves against whose efforts antitheft devices offer scant protection": A long noun phrase that is the complement of the subject.

A "professional thief" is one who is skilled and makes his or her money from stealing. A professional thief will have stolen many times before and will know how to disable a car alarm.

The last part is a clause, "antitheft devices offer scant protection". The word scant means "very little", and protection is implicitly "protection from the thieves."

"against whose efforts" is a prepositional phrase. Efforts refers to the efforts of professional car thieves.

The whole means that antitheft devices (such as car alarms) don't work, because most car thieves are skilled and experienced and so are able to steal cars even if they have car alarms.

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Most automobile thefts are the work of professional thieves against whose efforts antitheft devices offer scant protection.

This seems pretty basic, but it literally means that the majority car thefts are carried out by professionals, against cars with very little protection from being stolen.

  • Nope. That isn't what it means at all. – Catija Oct 2 '16 at 10:45

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