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He gave me the resources that are needed to reach a higher status.

Can this sentence be interpreted in three different ways?

  1. If the infinitive phrase is an adverb, modifying the verb "gave" I think it means

"he gave me the resources so that he can reach a higher status" Am I correct?

But if it's an adverb, it seems like it's also possible that "to reacher a higher status" can also modify " are needed". If that's true, how can this sentence be interpreted?

  1. If the infinitve phrase is an adjective, I think it modifies the noun "resources", then the resources allow me to reach a higher status.

    Is that correct?

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No, you cannot interpret that sentence to mean "so that he could reach a higher status".

The noun phrase resources (that are) needed to reach a higher status is silent with respect to who is benefiting from these resources, silent with respect to who is reaching the higher status.

All we know is that they are the kind of resource one needs to reach a higher status, and that he gave such resources to you.

The inference one might draw from the wider context is that it is you who were given these resources in order that you might reach a higher status. But that is inference only. If you wanted to make it clear that it was you who was reaching the higher status:

He gave me the resources I needed to reach a higher status.

The infinitival clause there is either a complement of needed or an adjunct that tacks information onto needed, whereby the nature of the need is presented, and the participial clause headed by needed and including that complement or adjunct is a modifier of resources.

Compare:

He sold me a ladder needed to reach the second storey windows.

If you wish to identify clearly who has the need:

He sold me a ladder (that) I needed to reach the second storey windows.

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  • Thank you so much for the answer.If i change the sentence to "He gave the kid a box that contains candies to please the kid." Is the infinitival clause " to please the kid" a modifier of "box" ? – Fionna Jan 24 '19 at 1:24
  • @Fionna: Here's a way to test. If you can move the infinitive clause to the very front of the sentence, it applies to the next clause in its entirety: To please the kid, he gave her a box of candy. It is an adjunct of purpose or intention. The meaning of the infinitive clause does not change by virtue of its position, before or after the main clause. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 24 '19 at 13:54
  • Let's apply that test with my ladder example, where the infinitive clause cannot be moved to the front without a change of meaning: To reach the second storey windows, he sold me a ladder I needed. So I would call the infinitive clause there a complement of needed or an adjunct of needed, rather than an adjunct of purpose that applies to the main clause in its entirety. Your example with needed is a more complicated situation than the box of candy example. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 24 '19 at 14:05
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He gave me the resources that are needed to reach a higher status.

The noun phrase "the resources that are needed" is Od of "gave".

Within that phrase is the relative clause "that are needed, which modifies "resources".

The infinitival clause "to reach a higher status" is a purpose adjunct in clause structure, cf. "… that are needed in order to reach a higher status".

We are not told who the ultimate beneficiary of the resources is -- indeed the whole sentence is somewhat vague -- so the interpretation is limited to:

"He gave me x resources; y resources are needed in order to reach a higher status; x = y".

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  • Thank you so much for the answer.If i change the sentence to "He gave the kid a box that contains candies to please the kid." Is the infinitival clauses " to please the kid" still part of the relative clause? – Fionna Jan 24 '19 at 1:21
  • @Fionna I think it's better to say that the infinitival clause "to reach a higher status" is a separate constituent, so I've amended my answer accordingly. In your new example, the infinitival clause "to please the kid" is likewise a separate constituent, not part of the relative clause. It doesn't modify box, but is an adjunct in clause structure (for the sake of simplicity, you could say that it modifies the verb "gave") – BillJ Jan 24 '19 at 10:26

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