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It relies on the opinions of a group unlikely to be representative of the group at issue in the conclusion.

  1. Is there a omitted "that" between a group and unlikely? In other words, is the phrase (unlikely...... conclusion) modifying a group?

  2. If it is true for the first question, then is "a group" different from "the group" in the sentence?

  • It would be "It relies on the opinions of a group (that are) unlikely to be representative of the group at issue in the conclusion." However the (that is) is commonly omitted. Answering 2 requires more context about relevant group(s). – user3169 Apr 3 '18 at 2:10
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    Yes, "unlikely to be representative of the group at issue in the conclusion" is modifying "group". But there is no omitted "that" between "group" and "unlikely". The reason is that the subordinator "that" introduces finite clauses, but the clause "to be representative of the group at issue in the conclusion" is a non-finite one (an infinitival clause). The clause itself is not a modifier at all, but a complement of the adjective "unlikely", and it is the whole adjective phrase "unlikely to be representative of the group at issue in the conclusion" that is modifying "group". – BillJ Apr 3 '18 at 7:38
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Is there an omitted "that"?  No.  The phrasing "a group that unlikely to be . . ." makes no sense. 

Does the phrase "unlikely to be . . ." modify "a group"?  Yes.  In spite of the -ly ending, "unlikely" is an adjective.  On its own, it would be naturally placed before the noun: "an unlikely group".  That natural placement isn't a required placement.  We can find adjectives following the nouns that they modify in poetry and song, in old-fashioned text and certain fixed phrases, and in cases where some other element of syntax makes it convenient.  In this case, the adjective is modified by the infinitive phrase "to be representative of the group at issue".*  Since the infinitive phrase needs to follow the adjective that it modifies, the entire adjective phrase follows the noun that it modifies. 

Is "a group" different from "the group".  Yes.  The phrase "the group" is part of the phrase "the group at issue".  The phrase "a group" is part of the phrase "a group unlikely to be representative of the group at issue".  These are two different groups.  Whatever the issue happens to be, "the group" represents the entire group which is definitively involved with the issue, but "a group" represents some group that isn't involved, or at least isn't involved in the same way.  That the two groups are different is the main point of the phrasing.  The author's opinion is that "a group" is too different from "the group" to be useful. 
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* It is most likely that "in the conclusion" modifies "relies".  It is possible that it modifies "issue", "the group at issue", or even "representative", any of which would make it part of the infinitive phrase.  That determination cannot be made without further context. 

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to be representative of {something} means to have very much in common with it, to share many significant (and relevant) characteristics with it. That which is representative is a smaller piece or subset of a larger whole, and it does not possess characteristics which strongly distinguish it from the larger whole.

A group cannot be representative of itself.

the group therefore refers to a different group.

The website received many responses to its opinion poll, but its audience demographic is very narrow, and thus those responses are not representative of the population at large.

Be sure to get a representative sampling of mollusks for your study. Don't focus exclusively on one section of the lake when selecting them.

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