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Some of the world's oldest preserved art is the cave art of Europe, most of it in Spain and France.

The above sentence is from IELTS test reading passage, and it is oral English. I want to make sure that the grammatical function of 'most of it in Spain and France' in the sentence. In my opinion, it is a parenthesis, which is to add some new information to the main sentence. This is because there is a comma in front of it. But I am not sure if it's possible that it is the complement of the subject or not.

So I need your kind help.

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Some of the world's oldest preserved art is the cave art of Europe, most of it in Spain and France.

No, not a complement. The comma marks it as a supplement, here an appendage, a loosely attached element presenting supplementary, non-integrated information typically set off in speech by a slight pause.

The supplement here has the form of a reduced (verbless) clause, comparable in function to a relative clause, compare "most of which is in Spain and Europe".

  • Is the OP's sentence grammatically correct? – SinK Aug 8 at 14:23
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Some of the world's oldest preserved art is the cave art of Europe, most of it in Spain and France.

To answer your first question, the bold phrase is not defined as a parentheses (It would need to be within the parentheses such as this statement). In this case the comma is used to denote nonessential information. This sentence is grammatically correct without the comma. "Some of the world's oldest preserved art is the cave art of Europe". The nonessential clause "most of it in Spain and France" is a subject complement to "art" through the linking verb "is".

  • While it's true that the expression is not in parentheses, as you say, we could still regard it as parenthetical information. (I think that might be what the OP originally meant.) – J.R. May 21 at 17:09
  • Verbless clauses like "most of it in Spain and France" cannot be subject complements (only NPs and AdjPs are permitted). The comma is required to mark it as a supplement. – BillJ May 21 at 17:18
  • @J.R. - Yes, that's what I mean. – Henry Wang May 21 at 17:24
  • @BillJ and sometimes AdvP. Remember "the best way to enjoy fine wine is slowly"? :D – Man_From_India May 21 at 17:46
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Sample sentence:

Some of the world's oldest preserved art is the cave art of Europe, most of it in Spain and France.

is the same as: Some of the world's oldest preserved art, most of it in Spain and France, is the cave art of Europe.

For me, the phrase: most of it in Spain and France is an appositive phrase. The reason is that it adds extra information about the first part.

However, it is not easily identifiable coming at the end of the sentence and appositive phrases are supposed to be next to what they describe. Appositives are usually next to the noun they explain.

But, the comma allowed me to change its position in the sentence. appositive phrase

Also, some and most are in contrast to each other. Another reason that supports moving it for purposes of explanation and structural analysis.

"An appositive is a noun or noun phrase (appositive phrase) that gives another name to the noun right next to it. It adds descriptive words about a specific thing (the noun), which helps make a sentence more detailed; or, it adds essential information to make the sentence’s meaning clear."

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