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He realized the importance of changing organizations to accommodate individuals.

In this sentence , what is the understood subject of the gerund-verb changing,
is it unknown ?

Secondly, what is the understood subject of the infinitive clause to accommodate individuals ,
my guess is: if the infinitive is a purpose , then the subject will be unknown,
but if the infinitive is a complement, then the subject will be organizations?

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There is no understood subject for changing organisations; it is equivalent to saying:

"it is important that organisations be changed..."

"To accommodate individuals" is indicating the purpose or objective of change, so it has no subject - it is acting as an adverbial to modify "changing organisations".

  • Thanks , but if the sentence is changed to "the importance of persuading managers to accommodate individuals" , the structure remains the same , but the understood subject would be "managers" instead of not having a subject , what causes this difference? – Fionna Mar 17 at 4:28
  • The to in the example in the question is introducing an adverbial of purposes, because it goes with changing and that's the only way it makes sense with changing. If you are persuading instead, the to is an infinitive acting as an infinitive - what verb you are persuading them to take part in. I would think of it as being catenative, personally, though authorities vary as to whether persuade is considered catenative. – SamBC Mar 17 at 9:42
  • Thank you so much , seems like the best way to make the distinction is to indentify whether the verb is catenative or not. Btw, I think I saw sentences like "This is the ability needed to join the team" before on other posts, for this example, there is no understood subject for the infinitive as well , is this correct? – Fionna Mar 17 at 9:51
  • Correct. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn't - or you could argue that there is, but it's very abstract, like "a person who wants to join the team". – SamBC Mar 17 at 10:15
  • Thanks a lot :) – Fionna Mar 17 at 11:21
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He realized the importance of [changing organizations [to accommodate individuals]].

Most non-finite, including the ones in your example, have no overt subject, though in a sense we understand them as if they do have subjects.

Sometimes the subject can be interpreted syntactically by looking at a linguistic antecedent that appears in some particular syntactic function in the matrix (overall) construction.

But sometimes there is no syntactic determination, no plausible candidate to fit the bill. The meaning then depends heavily on inference, and here one might say that the subject of both clauses is some "arbitrary person". This is true of both non-finite clauses in your example.

Note that the accommodate clause is not a complement but a purpose adjunct in clause structure.

  • Thanks , but if the sentence is changed to "the importance of persuading managers to accommodate individuals" , the structure remains the same , but the understood subject would be "managers" instead of arbitrary person , what causes this difference? – Fionna Mar 17 at 4:27

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