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Source: The ABCs of IP Addressing by Gilbert Held (2002)

Example:

The information to the right of the pair of forward slashes represents what is referred to as the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the destination computer. That name can be considered to represent a position in an inverted tree structured directory where the suffix (.gov) indicates the address is part of the government domain space.

Do you really think that everything is absolutely fine with that clause grammatically? I asked a friend of mine who is a native English speaker living in the U.S. and he told me that there was nothing wrong with that sentence. I don't know about you, but I really want to place a that between suffix and indicates or, as another possible solution, replace indicates with indicating. Otherwise, the grammatical structure just doesn't sound right to my ears. What do you think?

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It's grammatically correct, and doesn't sound too wrong or non-idiomatic - although I agree that I'd personally use "indicates that...".

The reason for that is that it's a mild example of a garden path sentence - the bolded part begins with

where the suffix indicates the address

so it's natural (at least for me) to start reading it with "the address" as an object of "indicate" - like in:

where the suffix indicates the address and the prefix indicates the file

Instead, the object of "indicate" is "(the fact that) the address is part of the government domain space". If you started interpreting that part of the sentence in the former way, you have to stop for a bit and re-read it from the start.

Adding "that" removes the ambiguity - grammatically you expect a dependent clause, not a noun, to come after "that", so you instinctively know "the address" cannot be the object.

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  • I got ya. I just read it wrong. It, of course, should be "where the suffix (.gov) indicates THAT the address is part of the government domain space". Now, everything makes perfect sense. And thank you for the link on garden path sentences. That was very educational and informative because I think I used to and in part still, though very, very occasionally, do have problems misreading things in English. This question has been one of those occasions. It's good to know that people wrote an entire article about this on Wikipedia which means that it's at least recognized somewhat as a problem. Nov 28, 2016 at 9:09

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