3

Here is a diologue from a passage.

Rob: The Institute of Management recently questioned 2,000 managers to find out their pet hates of office workers. Pet hates are the small annoying habits that really irritate someone.

Jennifer: So this survey asked the managers what annoyed them about their staff?

Rob: No, it was about what managers believed annoyed their workers about each other.

Well, I couldn not understand the structure of the sentence "it was about what managers believed annoyed their workers about each other."

Isn't this sentence more grammatically correct " it was about what managers believes in things which make their workes annoyed each other"

Thank you in advance

4

The pronoun it refers to "the survey". This sentence tells us what the survey is about.
The pronoun their refers to "managers". They were the managers' workers.

The survey was about [ what managers believed ____ annoyed their workers about each other ] .

The bracketed portion is a free relative clause.


Let's try putting this sentence together:

Something annoyed the workers about each other.

There was something about the workers that annoyed the other workers.
At least, managers believed this was true:

Managers believed [ something annoyed their workers about each other ] .

Now let's relativize the clause:

  1. We'll pull out the word something, replacing it with the relative pronoun what.
  2. We'll move what to the front of the clause, leaving behind a gap.

[ what managers believed [ ____ annoyed their workers about each other ] ]

Now we have a relative clause. We'll use it as a noun phrase:

It was about [ what managers believed [ ____ annoyed their workers about each other ] ] .

Here, what has two roles at the same time:

  1. It's the subject of the verb annoyed.
  2. It's the head of the noun phrase that is the object of the preposition about.

The survey was intended to identify the attributes of workers that annoyed other workers. It was not intended to identify the attributes of workers that annoyed their managers, which is why the sentence began with no.

The original sentence is grammatical.

0

The phrasing is a bit awkward, to be sure, but I don't think you've got the gist of it with your proposed replacement.

Imagine an office with 3 people: Elvis, Ed, and Mike. Mike manages Elvis and Ed. From your sample dialog, Jennifer assumes that the survey asked Mike what Ed and Elvis do that Mike found annoying. Rob clarifies that the survey actually asked Mike what he thinks Ed does that annoys Elvis and what Elvis does that annoys Ed.

As to the grammatical structure, the grammar of the given phrase is correct (if, as I said, a bit awkward), while your replacement has a few issues:

"managers believes" -> singular/plural mismatch; must be "managers believe"

"believe in" -> is used to indicate a conviction that the stated object or idea is real or true; to "believe in things that make people annoyed" is to hold the position that some unspecified things exist that make people annoyed, which is a position so obviously true as to be not even worth mentioning.

"what managers believe in things" -> this is a statement selecting a subset of managers, not a statement about annoying habits; it is equivalent to (which managers are there that believe this), not (what thing do these managers believe).

"make their workers annoyed each other" -> each other is left hanging here; you need a "with" or an "at" to make it grammatical.

A better replacement phrase might be "it was about what managers believe their employees do, that their other employees find annoying."

  • Hi Hellion! Thank you so much your help.Now I am sure I understood the passage correctly but still I could not figure out the structure of the sentence I had mentioned before.. I mean is there a deduction in this sentence.. Isnt it supposed to come a different word after the word believed in this sentence? Does it sound natural? – Radiant Mar 12 '14 at 18:20
  • I got delayed trying to write up how the original sentence worked and then snailplane snuck in with an excellent explanation, so I won't bother trying to top her answer there. – Hellion Mar 12 '14 at 20:31
  • @snailplane duly noted, and apologies for the mispronounciation. :-) – Hellion Mar 12 '14 at 20:35

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