<...> 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. <............> The social situations you need to expose yourself to may not be available when you want them, or they may not last long enough or go well enough for you to experience the necessary relaxation and sense that things are under control. The progression from one step to the next may not be clear, creating unavoidable large increases in difficulty from one to the next.
-The Social Skills Guidebook by Chris MacLeod

Q1. The bolded part is a difficult one, in large part because of "from one to the next." What does "from one to the next" modify? "difficulty"?
If I think that the NP[difficulty [from one to the next]] can be bracketed, is this wrong?
What meaning does "from one to the next" add to the sentence? I cannot even guess. Could you paraphrase the bolded part and explain it?

Q2. What is the subject of the bolded part in terms of meaning? What creates unavoidable large increases in difficulty? 'The progression from one step to the next' or 'The fact that the progression from one step to the next may not be clear'?

2 Answers 2


From one to the next is a restating of the earlier phrase "one step to the next." It is specifying where the unavoidable large increases in difficulty are found. I do not think your bolded phrase contains a subject; the subject is "the progression" from earlier, and "increases in difficulty" is the object of the verb "creating."

To paraphrase: the logical path to follow from one social situation to a "higher" or "more intense" situation is not obvious, meaning it will be hard to do it, it being go from one social situation to a more intense situation.


The key noun phrase is "increases in difficulty". This is then modified by "unavoidable large". It is then applied to "from one to the next."

In short the phrase is saying that one cannot take predictable small steps in going from isolation to extensive social interaction. Unlike climbing a building, one does not have control over the size of the steps available. In going from one interaction to the next most involving, a person may have to face a large increase in ivolvement, and ther may be no way to avoid this.

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