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Below is an excerpt from a newspaper column.

The impact of the restrictions is substantial. A recent survey conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan of its members showed that 78 percent of them regard the entry ban as a significant burden to their businesses. In addition, 79 percent of the affected companies say their turnover is endangered because ongoing projects cannot be completed and new projects cannot be initiated.

I'm wondering what the "of its members" refer to in this context?

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  • +1 The sentence would be more readable if it said "...survey conducted of its members by the Gerrman Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan showed...". Sep 22, 2020 at 12:51
  • Thanks. I wasn't familiar with "conducted + of + someone" structure. Now I understand it.
    – Takashi
    Sep 22, 2020 at 22:19
  • @JackO'Flaherty, Takashi: more idiomatically, it is a survey of the members that was conducted by the organization. That is, we have two phrases here both modifying "survey": the prepositional phrase "of its members" and the participial phrase "conducted by the [organization]." An analogous construction: a photograph taken by Alice of her home showed that half of the windows were broken."
    – phoog
    Feb 5 at 9:31

2 Answers 2

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A recent survey conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan of its members showed that 78 percent of them regard the entry ban as a significant burden to their businesses.

"of its members" means the members of the committee/company named "German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan". In simple words, the committee members themselves. They mean to say that the survey was conducted amongst the members of the committee to know their opinions about the matter in hand. It isn't like the typical surveys where common people have a right to say.

As pointed out by Jack O'Flaherty in the comments section, the sentence could have been easily constructed as "...survey conducted of its members by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan showed...". This is more readable and understandable as compared to the former sentence.

However, this is a news article. And news channel editors always like their articles and blogs to be more verbose and on the heavier side.

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  • There is no committee in that sentence. A chamber of commerce is not a committee. Members of a chamber of commerce are typically companies. The respondents to the survey will have been officers of those companies.
    – phoog
    Sep 22, 2020 at 14:08
  • Oh..I see. I did not search much about who they really are! I will edit it. Sep 22, 2020 at 14:09
  • @Dhanishtha Thanks. I like the way you rephrased: "the survey was conducted amongst the members of the committee".
    – Takashi
    Sep 22, 2020 at 22:23
  • @TeeBee Happy to help! Sep 23, 2020 at 8:27
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In a comment, you wrote

I wasn't familiar with "conducted + of + someone" structure.

There isn't really such a structure. The idiomatic phrases here are

  • the noun phrase survey of something (where something is a statistical population such as a group of people or a group of animals or even a set of consumer products)
  • the participial phrase conducted by someone

The latter is closely related to the passive voice and is perfectly productive -- it can be used with any verb:

  • a ball thrown by one of the children flew across the street
  • meals made by my grandmother always tasted best.

Others have suggested that the sentence could have been

A recent survey conducted of its members by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan showed that 78 percent of them regard the entry ban as a significant burden to their businesses.

A more straightforward rewording, however, is

A recent survey of its members conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan showed that 78 percent of them regard the entry ban as a significant burden to their businesses.

This avoids splitting the participial phrase "conducted by the German Chamber..."

The wording given in the question was likely selected to avoid using the pronoun "it" before the noun that it represents. Another characteristic of the initial wording is that it suggests that "in Japan" is part of the organization's name rather than the location of the members who were surveyed or the place where the survey was conducted.

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