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Can a sentence (subject+verb+object) follow a preposition? There is an example sentence I think it’s wrong.

XYZ showed how certain protein molecules repair DNA damaged by UV light. These discovery provided us insight into how the living cells work and the causes of cancer.

I think it should be

XYZ showed how certain protein molecules repair DNA damaged by UV light. These discovery provided us insight into how the living cells being worked and the causes of cancer.

Am I wrong? Why? If I’m right why? I wonder because I see generally a sentence after preposition with being instead of am/is/are or verb.

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Your example

These discovery provided us insight into how the living cells work and the causes of cancer.

does have some problems. It should read "This discovery" or "These discoveries" depending non whether there is one or more than one discovery, but never "These discovery". I would also favor "insight into how living cells work", not "insight into how the living cells work", unless a specific set of cells is identified in previous text. Other than these minor issues, this example sentence is fine.

However, in this construction one should use "work" not "being worked". "Being worked" would describe an ongoing process. "How Xs work" is the standard way for referring to the manner in wich multiple items of X function.

  • "How Xs work" is the standard way for referring to the manner in which multiple items of X function. is “”how + s + v+ o”” usage okay after a preposition? If yes, is there any course explanation topic about it? – concurrencyboy Jul 18 at 13:37
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    @concurrencyboy: This sentence is an example of how we use English includes the sequence "[preposition] + how + s + v + o". Or I could say This one is an example of how English works ((which doesn't include an "object"). What specific aspect of these usages are you having problems with? – FumbleFingers Jul 18 at 14:37
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To strictly answer your general question, there is nothing wrong with a preposition that's followed by a subject+verb+object construction that includes the use of being.

For example:

Out of the blue (prepositional phrase), she (subject) was being (verb) a nice person (object).

That particular sentence might sound better with she was a nice person, omitting being, but the inclusion of being actually lends a specific subtle nuance to the sentence. It can be interpreted both as acting as if as well as having the quality described for a certain period of time.


Some grammar issues with the example sentences aside, a similar (although different) change in meaning also occurs when being is added:

how the living cells work

This means the way in which the living cells function.

how the living cells being worked

This means how the living cells are being operated (by someone or something).

Other issues aside, both specific phrases—with and without being—are grammatical. But the inclusion or omission of being changes the meaning of the sentence.

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