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Consider the following sentence:

In one study, 83 percent of 140 male and female executives in variety of businesses report having a mentor when they were younger.

More specifically,

...(they) report having a mentor when they were younger.

I am confused with the grammatical structure of the sentence. My inference is

They report that they had a mentor when they were young.

It can be seen that the "having a mentor when they were younger" play role of object in that sentence.

I am confused with the sentence, especially with "having".

Perhaps, having a mentor when they were younger is a noun clause. I am not sure about it.

Thanks in advance.


Edit explanation : The missing article, a , has been corrected

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    Just a note, you don't generally need to explain your edit in the content of the question. That's what the edit summary is for on the edit page, which you don't seem to be using. :)
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:46

2 Answers 2

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Yes, having a mentor when they were younger is a noun clause, but not a noun phrase. The difference is that a noun clause is an entire clause acting as a noun in the main clause and a noun phrase is a phrase built around a noun. Here are some examples:

  • He is the man in red. (noun phrase)
  • That is the man who I saw yesterday. (noun phrase)
  • I told you that I saw a man yesterday. (noun clause)

Note how the noun phrase is built around the noun man. The third example also contains man, but it is not the core of your phrase.

For the sake of readability, I'd make a few adjustments to your sentence:

First of all, having a mentor... can be put in the past tense, even as a gerund. You should do that here, because when they were younger implies that the event being described has passed and is no longer true in the present. So, reformulate like so:

...having had a mentor...

However, because your direct object (the noun clause in this case) is quite long, going with a gerund might not be very tidy. Try using a subordinate clause by using the conjunction that. It will make your sentence more readable:

They report that they had a mentor when they were younger.

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  • In the first example I can see an adjective clause.Which part of it is a noun phrase ? am I right ?
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:32
  • And the last highlighted sentence in your answer is exactly my inference which is given in the question. I am confused !
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:34
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    The first example doesn't contain an adjective phrase. The part in bold is the noun phrase built around man. The words the and who I saw yesterday modify man. Perhaps it is the latter part that confuses you, because it is a relative clause within the noun phrase.
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:40
  • And yes, that last phrase is the same as what you understood from your sentence. It is also a better than your version with a gerund which is why I recommend you use it ;)
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:40
  • Got it , Thanks. Sorry for my terrible English. And the final question, in the second highlighted noun phrase, I think "that" is the conjunction and we have M.Clause and Sb.Clause. am I right ?
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:52
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You parsed the sentence correctly. "Having" is a gerund, "having mentor ..." is a noun phrase (or is it a clause? I confuse the two, sorry).

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    But if having mentor is a noun phrase, isn't it missing an article (or another determiner)?
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:43
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    Yes, it is a noun clause. A noun clause is an entire clause that functions as a noun within the main clause.
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:53
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    Longevity? You mean "length"? I wouldn't worry about it. And, it's "of the noun clause" since you mean that particular one, I believe. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:54
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    @Cardinal "longevity" means an amount of time, not length. If you say the "longevity" of this phrase it makes it sound as if you think it will become obsolete in the future.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:59
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    @CrazyEyes Not always. In "The cat is on the sofa" the PP is a subject complement; in "I put the cat on the sofa" the PP is an object complement; in "On the sofa is where the cat is" the PP is the subject; these cannot be omitted. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:53

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