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“I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.

Where to split the sentence?

I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you, because we’re part of the master race.

or

I don’t want you to think, I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.

I think the first means "I don't want to pick on you, because we're part of the..."

the second means "I want to pick on you, but the reason is not we're part of the..."

"We" here means "white people" or "He and the female project planner"?

  • also, I don't understand the following setence "You know you got a gap in your teeth. You’re the masters. Don’t ever forget that". What did he mean? It was a praise or an ironic? – Zhang Nov 19 '18 at 2:58
  • after continued read, " Klemp, Loughry said, meant that he and the woman are part of the master race." I understand this expression. Maybe in the western culture, "got a gap in one's teeth" means "master race". – Zhang Nov 19 '18 at 3:19
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    Just insert a "that" into the sentence like this: I don’t want you to think that I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race. – Michael Rybkin Nov 19 '18 at 4:40
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First of all, the sentence isn't about the one person being picked on; it's about the one person thinking they are being picked on. It's an important distinction.

Second, you shouldn't split the sentence anywhere. Not unless you want to change its meaning.


You have three different sentences in your question. Each of them means something different because of where or if a comma is used.

I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.

This means:

I don't want you to think that it's because we're part of the master race that I'm picking on you. (I want you to think I'm picking on you for a different reason.)


I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you, because we’re part of the master race.

This means:

We're part of the master race. Therefore, I don't want you to think I'm picking on you. (People who are part of the master race shouldn't think they are being picked on.)


I don’t want you to think, I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.

This is ungrammatical. By splitting the sentence there, you are indicating there are two independent clauses. But you can't use a comma with two independent clauses unless you also use a conjunction.

With the split there, these would be grammatical:

I don’t want you to think. I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.
I don’t want you to think; I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.
I don’t want you to think—I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.

However, there is no version of the sentence (with the split there) that can use a comma and a simple conjunction and both be grammatical and make sense.

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Your difficulty in understanding this sentence seems to stem from uncertainty as to whether "to think" is using its transitive or intransitive form.

If intransitive, it would mean "I don't want you to think," and then have another detail about picking on you as a separate clause. However, in order for there to be a separate clause in this sentence, there must be punctuation to divide it! Without the punctuation to split off the clause, the sentence can only be read as using the transitive form.

Using the transitive form of "to think" indicates "to think something is true". What doesn't the speaker want "you" to think is true? Here, the answer is "to think the reason I am picking on you is because I am a member of the master race." (or substitute "we" and "are", appropriately)

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