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Sometimes making complex sentences it is difficult to understand what part of the sentence the word or group of words belongs to.

For an example:

  1. And its court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors, is to consist of one branch of the legislature and the principal members of the judiciary department.

In the sentence 1. The phrase and correction of errors refers to its court for. Question: Why does it (and correction of errors) not refer to the trial of? If and correction of errors does refer to court for then why is the preposition for not put before the phrase correction of errors

The second part of the sentence 1: is to consist of one branch of the legislature and the principal members of the judiciary department. Here the phrase and the principal members of the judiciary department refers to to consist of. The same question: Why does the phrase (and the principal members...) not refer to one branch of. It is to consist of that the phrase refers to.

Example 2: Photographs taken during archaeological work in the italian capital in the nineteenth century also include photographs from the excavation of the main harbor of Ancient Rome and presumably its first colony - Ostia.

Logically the phrase and presumably its first colony - Ostia refers to Ancient Rome. But in my opinion it can refer to excavation of, photographs from, or even the verb include. How can I understand gramatically to what word the phrase and presumably its first colony - Ostia. refers ?

To put it brief, how can I understand gramatically to what part of the sentence the word, noun phrase(s) refer after and when we have the following structure of the sentence:

A) noun + verb from + noun of + noun + and noun phrase.

What part of the sentence does (and noun phrase.) refer to?

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  • You've chosen unreasonably complex examples, with long and unfamiliar noun phrases, which makes it harder to see the relationships between the parts. Take your question Why does the phrase "and the principal members" not refer to "one branch of"? You say you know that in fact it refers to "is to consist of". But reducing the relevant noun phrases to single-letter tokens, we easily see the pattern of the example sentence is just X is to consist of Y and Z. Making it easy to see why Z can't "refer to" a sub-component of Y. Nov 18, 2023 at 11:55
  • Excavations and photographs don't have colonies; cities may have them. You use your common sense in interpreting the sentence. Nov 18, 2023 at 13:07

1 Answer 1

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And its court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors, is to consist of one branch of the legislature and the principal members of the judiciary department.

I add to what @FumbleFingers said and use tokens to represent the long noun phrases.

... its court for the W and X, is to consist of Y and Z.

Clearly, X refers to court for the, and Z refers to consist of. You can choose to add for the before X, but that is unnecessary and usually not done.

In the original example, it would not make sense if X referred to the trial of as we would then have the trial of correction of errors. Similarly, it would not make sense if Z referred to one branch of as we would then have one branch of the principal members ....

The second example should be raised in a separate post.

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