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Need recognition occurs when an individual senses a difference between what he or she perceives to be the ideal versus the actual state of affairs.

I bolded the noun phrase "what her or she perceives to be the ideal".

I understand what will serve as the object of perceives ,
and I am guessing that the infinitive to be the ideal is a object complement instead of a purpose adjunct.
So in the example sentence , since what is understood to be between "perceives" and "the infinitive clause(to be the ideal)" ,to be the ideal will be the complement of what.

Which means that the noun phrase can be interpreted as :
He or she perceives what, and what is the ideal .

Is my understanding above correct?

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    No: object complements can only be AdjPs and NPs, not clauses. "To be the ideal" is an infinitival relative clause modifying the object of "perceives", i.e. 'gap'. – BillJ Apr 4 '19 at 14:36
  • @BillJ Thanks for the answer, the infinitive clause "to be the ideal" will be adjectival and modifies the "gap" , and the gap represents "what", is this correct? – tsai zi Apr 4 '19 at 15:40
  • And I found this website (thefreedictionary.com/Object-Complements.htm) when I started learning complements, it says that infinitive can be complements , is the information from that website reliable? – tsai zi Apr 4 '19 at 15:46
  • Yes, it's completely wrong. The infinitival in your example is a relative clause. – BillJ Apr 4 '19 at 16:22
  • Between and versus should not be combined. It should either be X versus Y or between X and Y. But between X versus Y is wrong. – Jason Bassford Apr 5 '19 at 19:28
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Need recognition occurs when an individual senses a difference between [what he or she perceives ____ to be the ideal versus the actual state of affairs].

The bracketed element is a noun phrase in a 'fused' relative clause where "what" means "that which". "What" thus serves simultaneously as head of the whole NP and object of "perceives", and is represented in the relative clause by the '____' notation, called 'gap'.

The variables can be represented as "he or she perceives x; x could be the ideal ...".

The clause to be the ideal versus the actual state of affairs is an infinitival relative clause modifying 'gap'.

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