For example, if you were afraid of standing on balconies, you would start on some lower floors and slowly work your way up(literally) to higher ones. Facing your fears isn’t as easy or tidy when it comes to social situations It would be easy to face a fear of standing on high balconies in a way that’s totally controlled and on your terms. Socializing is trickier. People aren’t inanimate features of a building that you just have to be around to get used to. You have to interact with them, and their responses can be unpredictable. Your feelings toward them are more complex too. Most people’s self-esteem isn’t going to be affected that much if they don’t like balconies, but your confidence can suffer if you can’t socialize effectively.

-The Social Skills Guidebook by Chris MacLeod

In the above, the bolded sentence is hard to difficult.

Q1. What's the exact meaning of "features"? Referring to Merriam-Webster dictionary, 'a prominent part or characteristic' or 'the structure, form, or appearance especially of a person' or else? If it is 'a prominent characteristic', I can't understand the meaning of 'People aren't inanimate characteristic of a building'.

Q2. The relative clause "that you just have to be around to get used to" takes "features" as an antecedent. Then, what's the original sentence of it? 'You just have to be around to get used to the features(or, them)' or 'You just have to be around the features(or, them) to get used to"?

1 Answer 1


Q1. You should be using the other definition, "part" here. They're talking about components of the building. "Features of a building" could be balconies (as mentioned), stairs, floors, walls, ceilings, or basically any other part of the building.

Q2. It would be "You just have to be around the features to get used to them."

  • About Q1, you mean 'a prominent part', right? Thanks. I got it. But about Q2, because the author used 'you just have to be around to get used to,' I think we cannot add 'the features' and 'them' at the same time when we try to make an original sentence. If only one addition is possible, which sentence is right? By any chance, did the author use an ungrammatical clause?
    – Mcreaper
    Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 20:41
  • No, it's perfectly grammatical. There are two "gaps" in the relative clause, both filled by the same antecedent.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 22:07
  • @ColinFine Two gaps by the same antecedent in a relative clause? I didn't know that. Is this rule included in grammar books?
    – Mcreaper
    Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 22:18
  • Read it like this: people aren't inanimate features [of a building] that you just have to be around to get used to. There's one reference. The point the author is making is that people ARE NOT some non-interactive physical part of the building -- they are more complicated. You can't master people like you might master a fear of heights; you have to learn social skills. Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 23:10
  • @Mcreaper: more accurately, there is an infinitive purpose clause "to get used to t" embedded within the relative clause "that you have to be around t to get used to t". Each of these has one gap (or "trace", labelled t), and these both relate to the same argument in the main clause.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 27, 2021 at 22:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .