I saw this sentence today on a hoodie:

I work at


I solve problems

you don't know you have
in ways you can't understand

What exactly is the meaning of the third and fourth segment? Speaking as a non-native English speaker, it makes zero sense to me.

  • @Mitch, Tyler - Is that 'problems' there extracted from the object position of understand or the object of have? - or the object position of know? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jan 8 '15 at 1:27
  • @Araucaria: I think it is rather that 'in ways you can't understand is a prepositional phrase which is adverbial modifying 'solve': 'I solve in ways you can't understand'. The ways are what are not understood. – Mitch Jan 8 '15 at 15:50
  • @Mitch Agreed. I was really just wanting to show that the question was not trivially simple, there being two relative clauses in there and all! It's easy to see why it's difficult to parse, though less easy to explain exactly why! I wonder if gsharp will manage it :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jan 8 '15 at 16:02
  • @Araucaria I was just confused by the design of the hoodie. "I solve problems" it's written in a own line with a different font as "you don't know...". I thought that they are "standalone" statements not belonging to each other... :-) – gsharp Jan 8 '15 at 17:41
  • 2
    I edited the question to reflect the confusing formatting and lack of punctuation on the hoodie. I work at / UBS / I eschew punctuation and good typography / to be cool / in ways you can't understand" – ColleenV Jan 9 '15 at 20:43

To force that to make sense I would rewrite it as:

I solve problems that you don't know that you have, in ways that you can't understand.

The line breaks in the text given on the hoodie lead to misunderstanding and lack of parsability. It sounds like two entirely separate sentences "We solve problems", which is fine by itself, and then "You don't know you have in ways you can't understand" which is not grammatical English.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.