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Our best hope in keeping our best reporters, copy editors, photographers, artists - everyone - is to work harder to make sure *they get the help they are demanding to reach their potential.*If we can't do it, they'll find someone who can.

How to parse the clause sentence in bold? I have two explanations of this sentence and wonder which one is correct and how to judge it?

Explanation 1: They /get /the help( they are demanding)/ to reach their potential. "They are demanding" functions as an attributive clauses, modifying " the help".

Explanation 2: They/ get the help (they are demanding to reach their potential). "they are demanding to reach their potential" is an attributive clause, modifying "the help".

Which one is correct? And why?

2 Answers 2

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The phrase "they are demanding" is modifying "the help" (your explanation #1). You can think of the longer phrase being built up this way:

they get help.
they get help to reach their potential.
they get the help they are demanding to reach their potential.

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I agree with @godel9 in preferring your first explanation.

I think "they are demanding" and "to reach their potential" both modify "help" separately. That is, they are demanding help, and the purpose of the help (that they are demanding) is to help them reach their potential. I think if they were demanding to reach their potential, you'd have a hard time understanding what this has to do with "the help," unless they were demanding that it (the help) should reach its potential, in which case "their" would be an awkward and probably incorrect pronoun for "the help."

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