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Eric Leed identifies and provides historical, sociological and psychological insights about the different elements that together combine to form a journey, carried out by a traveller.

In the above sentence, which is the object of the verb "identify"? Is it "insights" or "elements" and why? If you only consider grammar rather than meaning, are they both legitimate candidates for the object?

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    The Od of the coordination "identifies and provides" is the whole "historical, sociological and psychological insights about the different elements that together combine to form a journey, carried out by a traveller". The Od is one long noun phrase with "insights" as head.
    – BillJ
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 7:56
  • I don't recognise the abbreviation "Od", @BillJ
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 10:24

2 Answers 2

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There's no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to determining what you are asking, but here's a simple approach.

You know that the most basic sentence is subject-verb-object, right? For example, "I like apples", or "the dog ate the biscuit". Once you strip away information that is parenthetical, defining clauses etc, you'll be left with something resembling a basic sentence.

  • Eric Leed (subject)
  • identifies and provides (verbs)
  • historical, sociological and psychological insights (object)
  • about the different elements that together combine to form a journey, carried out by a traveller (additional information about the object)

So, put simply, Eric provides insights.

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Eric Leed identifies and provides [historical, sociological and psychological insights about the different elements that together combine to form a journey, carried out by a traveller].

The object of the coordination of transitive verbs "identifies" and "provides" is the whole of the NP (noun phrase) "historical, sociological and psychological insights about the different elements that together combine to form a journey, carried out by a traveller". Note that like most objects it is located immediately after the verb.

The NP object has the noun "insights" as head, with the about preposition phrase as its complement. The NP "the different elements that together combine to form a journey, carried out by a traveller" is object of the preposition "about", not object of the verbs.

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