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Here is the full sentence.

From his own experience joining the air force as a young man, Mike had a clue to the riddle. While the rigors of his induction weren’t quite as harrowing as those of West Point, there were notable similarities. The most important were challenges that exceeded current skills. For the first time in their lives, Mike and the other recruits were being asked, on an hourly basis, to do things they couldn’t yet do. -- Source

In this sentence,to me as a beginner, 'The most important' looks incomplete to be used as a subject. I thought it is inverted, but it turned out no.

Could you explain grammatically?

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    Important" is a 'fused' modifier head. It serves as modifier and head of the noun phrase at the same time. We understand it to mean "the most important similarities"
    – BillJ
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 6:44
  • Can you please rewrite your title? It doesn't make any sense to me.
    – Joachim
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 13:36

1 Answer 1

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When referring back to something mentioned earlier, it’s common practice to elide some of the words, for the sake of conciseness. The fuller version of the sentence, which will be easier to parse, would be: “The most important of these were challenges that exceeded current skills”.

And so the subject is actually “the most important of these”, which is a noun phrase, and remains so even with “of these” elided.

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    Thanks for your comment!
    – Sydney
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 6:01
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    Modern grammar analyses "important" here as a 'fused' modifier head. It serves as modifier and head of the noun phrase at the same time. We understand it to mean "the most important similarities".
    – BillJ
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 6:46

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