This is my first question on this site. If you could, please help me learning English.

I am struggling to understand following sentence.

Finding such stars with very similar parameters as our sun but being five times more variable was surprising"

Source → https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/study-suggests-sun-less-active-than-similar-stars/5404915.html

In my understanding,
1. "Finding〜variable" are subject section.
2. "was" is verb.
3. "surprising" is complement.

I already translated this sentence to my native language Japanese,
but the subject section is TOO long to understand smoothly!

Why can the word "but" be there in the subject section?
For me, the position of "but" is unnatural.

So please give me examples of paraphrase related from the sentence.

thank you for your time. arigato!!

  • 1
    There is a similar sentence in the link which is easier to follow: "They found that on average, the other stars had five times more brightness variability than our sun." May 6, 2020 at 10:46
  • The word "but" is there, because the suns are similar to ours but / except that their greater variation in brightness makes them not exactly the same. May 6, 2020 at 10:50
  • It was surprising to find stars like that, which have similar parameters to our sun but are five times more variable. May 6, 2020 at 10:53
  • @KateBunting I have a question. Shouldn't it be "have similar parameters as our sun"? Or "have parameters [that are] similar to our sun"?
    – AIQ
    May 6, 2020 at 12:33
  • I would never say similar as. May 6, 2020 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


If I was trying to drop the reading level a bit, I might go with:

We have found stars that are very similar to our own sun.

Surprisingly though, some of those have a brightness that varies by more than five times as much as our own sun.

I agree with you that the original is too long - even for a native speaker to understand without reading it twice.


Your understanding of the subject-verb-complement breakdown of this sentence is correct. To make it a little bit easier, I would reverse it:

It was surprising to find such stars, because they had very similar parameters as our sun, but were five times more variable.

  • I didn't see Kate Bunting's comment while writing my answer, but I guess we have a very similar approach to rephrasing this sentence in a way that's a little easier to understand.
    – RuslanD
    May 6, 2020 at 10:58

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