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He then describes the situation as he sees it in the public schools of the United states. (Source: COCA)

I want to know whether the as-clause "as he sees it in the public schools of the United states" modifies the preceding noun "situation" or the verb "describe" in the above sentence.

I asked a similar question in the sentence "She is going to tell the truth as she saw/understood it" (we can see it at She's going to tell the truth as she saw/understood it). I learned that the as-clause modifies the preceding noun "truth" in this case.

But I feel that "as he sees it in the public schools of the United states" can modify the verb "describe." Seems to me at least that both interpretations are possible. I am not a native speaker of English, so I want to know whether the two interpretaions are really posiible.

(context:The author begins with information concerning his background, education, and experience. He then describes the situation as he sees it in the public schools of the United states giving personal examples as well as other examples taken from current periodicals. The author doses with a plea for greater public involvement with the schools of our nation and a renewed and reinvigorated interest in education on the part of au Americans.)

Thank you for reading.

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But I feel that "as he sees it in the public schools of the United states" can modify the verb "describe."

I don't think so. "the situation as he sees it" can be treated as one unit of meaning like "The situation from his interpretive point of view". The "as he sees it" modifies "the situation".

Quoting @ColinFine, the reason for this is that

Syntactically, an as clause modifies a noun phrase, not normally a verb or predicate. There may be exceptions, but they're pretty unusual. (In this is it different from an as if clause).

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  • Thanks, is your reason for this as follows: if the as-clause modified "describe," it means "describe in the way he sees the situation," but such a manner is unthinkable or improbable?
    – saki
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 5:27
  • @saki The "it" in "as he sees it" is referring to "the situation". That's all I can think of to explain the way I understand it.
    – starball
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 5:33
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    It would be more natural to say He describes the situation in the public schools of the United States as he sees it. Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 9:19
  • In this sentence "He describes the situation in the public schools of the United States as he sees it," the as-caluse still modifies "the situation" and "the situation in the public schools of the United States as he sees it" constitute a unit as in the phrase "Life as we know it"?
    – saki
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 12:06
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    Syntactically, an as clause modifies a noun phrase, not normally a verb or predicate. There may be exceptions, but they're pretty unusual. (In this is it different from an as if clause).
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 19:20

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