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"A family is "the basic unit in society having as its nucleus two or more adults living together and cooperating in the care and rearing of their own or adopted children."

"having as its nucleus two or more adults." Could you tell me how to interpret this fragment? I mean, has what as what? and why "nucleus" could proceed "adults" since they are both nouns.

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    It's the same as saying having two or more adults ... as its nucleus Feb 28 '20 at 11:04
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The phrase "nuclear family" is commonly used in English as a metaphor for the "traditional" family structure, comparing it to the structure of an atom, which "is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus."

In that metaphor children are like electrons, bound to a nucleus comprised of "two or more adults living together and cooperating in the care and rearing of their own or adopted children". The entire phrase is what is meant to be described as a "nucleus", not merely the "two or more adults" part.

You could rewrite this sentence like so:

Two or more adults living together and cooperating in the care and rearing of their own or adopted children is the nucleus of the basic family unit.

Both this sentence and the one you quoted have the exact same meaning, all that is different is which part is presented first: the metaphor or the explanation of what a nuclear family is. Which form you use is a subjective style choice. The author of the provided quote decided to lead with the metaphor and so employed a different grammatical structure.

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In the science of physics, the "nucleus" is the positively charged central core of an atom.

In a broader, figurative sense, "nucleus" can mean the central and most important part of an object, movement, or group, forming the basis for its activity and growth.

Your statement means that two adults are at the centre of every family - the building block on which a larger family can be built.

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