I am very confused about understanding that sentence: "what Derrida thinks is impossible". It seems to me:

"What Derrida thinks" + "is impossible" (It is impossible)

but it is:

"What Derrida thinks is impossible" (It is what Derrida thinks as impossible)

I tried to transform it into question form to attempt to clearify its structure:

"What is it Derrida thinks AS impossible?"

looks ok, but still I am confused to handle the sentence.

How to decompose it into grammatic elements?

BTW: Full sentence is "Yet this is precisely what Derrida thinks is impossible, since his ontology rules out the possibility of anything existing in isolation from anything else at all."

  • 2
    You want to reorder things? Derrida thinks this is impossible. Oct 23, 2022 at 13:06
  • 1
    @YosefBaskin: That Derrida thinks that is impossible! I know how he thinks, so I know he would never think that! Oct 23, 2022 at 13:07
  • 2
    Digerkam - your cited full sentence means Yet this is precisely the thing which Derrida thinks is impossible... Oct 23, 2022 at 13:11
  • 2
    If it's a full sentence, then it means "Derrida's thoughts are impossible". If it's a noun clause, then it means "The thing that Derrida considers to be impossible...". So, if you give it to us in a complete sentence, we'll be able to tell. Just as words on their own with no context, it's ambiguous. I think this question should be closed for lack of clarity, but I don't want to use my mod hammer on it
    – gotube
    Oct 23, 2022 at 16:48
  • 1
    Would it help to replace "thinks is" with "considers"?
    – Sven Yargs
    Oct 24, 2022 at 5:56


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