I don't understand this sentence well and am not sure where the subject is so I don't know what I can fill.

  1. At present production levels, they are known deposits of bauxite can provide the world with aluminum for hundreds of years.

  2. At present production levels, known deposits of bauxite can provide the world with aluminum for hundreds of years.

I think the first sentence (they are known)is correct but I saw the answer key is the second sentence (known).

  • 2
    The first sentence is ungrammatical. The sentence reduces to: deposits can provide for years. Thus anything the precedes deposits must be adjectival.
    – Jim
    Dec 24, 2013 at 3:59
  • 2
    Jim I think it reduces to "Deposits can provide the world" - the world is an argument [DO], for years is an adjunct. Without the with it would be "Deposits can provide the world aluminum" - the world is IO, aluminum is DO. Dec 24, 2013 at 4:08
  • Yes, of course you are right. Thanks. But the adjectival prescription is still correct I think.
    – Jim
    Dec 24, 2013 at 4:44

1 Answer 1


The first example is incorrect, and the second is correct.

In the second clause, the subject is "known deposits of bauxite" and the predicate is "can provide the world with aluminum...".

An alternate wording would be

At present production levels, there are known deposits of bauxite that can provide the world with aluminum for years to come.

There can be used as a kind of "dummy" subject here, when there is no actual subject to the clause.

They can not be substituted here. To use they you would have to have some context that establishes what they refers to:

Jamaica has many bauxite deposits. They are enough to supply to world for many years to come.

Here they refers to the specific bauxite deposits in Jamaica that were previously mentioned.

  • I think the wording I would choose is: At present production levels, the known deposits of bauxite can provide ...
    – Jim
    Dec 24, 2013 at 3:57
  • @Jim, I can't say that's not grammatical, but I wouldn't write it. If I wanted to use the I might write, "...the bauxite deposits that we know..."
    – The Photon
    Dec 24, 2013 at 4:01
  • The difference is subtle, but using there are known deposits implies that there exist, among all known deposits, some deposits which by themselves can provide the world..., while saying the known deposits means that taken together all the known deposits can provide...
    – Jim
    Dec 24, 2013 at 4:05
  • @Jim, If all of the known deposits can supply the world with aluminum, then surely 1 fewer deposits than that could also do so.
    – The Photon
    Dec 24, 2013 at 4:22
  • If I've got 10 dimes I can buy a candy bar that costs a $1. Surely I could also buy it with only 9 dimes, right?
    – Jim
    Dec 24, 2013 at 4:27

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