That may seem deliberately and needlessly lavish. Yet even boosting vaccine funding tenfold to $100bn or more, in line with the most ambitious proposals, pales in comparison with the $7trn which governments across the world have spent or pledged since the pandemic began in order to preserve incomes and jobs. The real extravagance would be to wait until a successful vaccine candidate emerges before rushing to boost production. In terms of the economic output that is saved, to say nothing of lives, it would make sense for the world to spend as much as $200bn on bringing forward an effective covid-19 vaccine by just one week.

What's the subject of this sentence? Does it miss a "it" before pales?

"Yet even boosting vaccine funding tenfold to $100bn or more, it pales in comparison with the $7trn"

  • 3
    No, there's nothing missing. The subject of "pales" is "yet even boosting vaccine funding tenfold to $100bn or more, in line with the most ambitious proposals".
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 9:08
  • Isn't "yet" a conjunction meaning "but", how can a subclause be subject? Sorry my grammar is bad
    – wtdark
    Aug 15 '20 at 9:17
  • Subordinate clauses of all kinds can be subjects. Compare "But Ed leaving college is a real disappointment". Here "but Ed leaving college" is the subject. Similarly "Bringing you dad was a good idea", where "bringing your dad" is subject.
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 9:27
  • 2
    The noun here is "boosting vaccine funding". I think it is called a "gerund phrase"; the gerund is "boosting", a noun formed from the verb "to boost"; the phrase acts like a noun. grammarly.com/blog/gerund-phrase
    – rcook
    Aug 15 '20 at 9:33
  • @rcook "Boosting vaccine funding" is not a noun, but a gerund-participial clause, i.e. non-finite. Clause aren't nouns or any other part of speech, but are simply clauses that can occur in different functions like subject, complement or adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 9:35

"Boosting vaccine funding " is the subject proper of the verb ' pales'. Let me remind you , this is the traditional approach where we brand an "–ing" word as participle, gerund or verbal noun according to the function they discharge. When an –ing word is a gerund it combine the function of a verb with a noun by appending "ing" to the stem of the verb. A gerund consists of the modified verb and governs a noun:

Eg Writing books (gerund) is not so easy.

The subject is a phrase combination of both ' writing' and ' books'. Had writing been a loner, we would call it a verbal noun.

Cf. Seeing is believing.

So appending "ing" to the stem of the verb or ,in other words, an '–ing word' is judged by its function. In the given example " Boosting vaccine funding " functions as a compound subject. This binding of the "-ing" word to another noun phrase combines the functions of verb and noun with the consequence that the phrase of three words becomes a single gerund and functions as a noun. The rest of it are appendages― 'Yet even' , 'tenfold to $100bn or more', and ' in line with the most ambitious proposals are either adverb, adjective or prepositional phrase functioning as adverb.

  • Noun is not a function, like 'subject, 'object' etc. "Yet even boosting vaccine funding tenfold to $100bn or more, in line with the most ambitious proposals" is a gerund-participial clause functioning as subject.
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 13:13
  • Noun is what function it serves; and the same is equally valid for all parts of speech. Aug 15 '20 at 16:27
  • All parts of speech are judged by their functions and it is a pity there are just eight of them. When you admit it to be gerund participle clause you are suggesting but not admitting that it is a noun. Otherwise who/ what could be a subject? Aug 15 '20 at 16:55
  • 1
    @BillJ, I agree with you and I also agree with him. It is a non-finite clause with "yet" as an adv. Thank you all for helping me.
    – wtdark
    Aug 16 '20 at 7:00
  • 1
    @wtdark You are welcome. It is very important to distinguish form and function. In your example, the subject is not a noun but a clause. Learners often think that all subjects are noun phrases, which is of course untrue. (Incidentally, I teach English grammar).
    – BillJ
    Aug 16 '20 at 7:09

The subject is boosting vaccine funding

This blog under the heading Participles as Nouns gives a nice explanation of how present participles can act as a noun:

Present participles can function as nouns—the subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, objects of prepositions, and subject complements in sentences. Whenever a present participle functions as a noun, you call it a gerund.

Take a look at these examples:

Sneezing exhausts Steve, who requires eight tissues and twenty-seven Gesundheits before he is done.

Sneezing = the subject of the verb exhausts.

Valerie hates cooking because scraping burnt gook out of pans always undermines her enjoyment of the food.

Cooking = the direct object of the verb hates.

We gave bungee jumping a chance.

Bungee jumping = indirect object of the verb gave.

Joelle bit her tongue instead of criticizing her prom date's powder blue tuxedo.

Criticizing = object of the preposition instead of.

Omar's least favorite sport is water-skiing because a bad spill once caused him to lose his swim trunks.

Water-skiing = the subject complement of the verb is.

  • There's no noun. "Yet even boosting vaccine funding tenfold to $100bn or more, in line with the most ambitious proposals" is a gerund-participial clause functioning as subject. Not all subjects are NPs!
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 13:11

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