0

Prince Andrew, looking again at that genealogical tree, shook his head, laughing as a man laughs who looks at a portrait so characteristic of the original as to be amusing

I got four problems in this complicated sentence:

  1. Does "looking again at that genealogical tree" equal "who was looking again at that genealogical tree"?
  2. Does "laughing as a man laughs…" equal "while he was laughing…"
  3. Why is there a noun "laughs" after the man? and the "who" after the "laughs"? You know, the word "laughs" is not a person, so the "who" should be changed into "that", shouldn't it? Or maybe the word "laughs" function as a verb here rather than a noun?
  4. Is "characteristic" here an adjective or noun? And I found a word "so" placed before it. So I guess the "characteristic" is an adjective, but there is no any prepositions before it… or maybe it is the structure of "so + adj + as to be"?
  • 1. Yes. 2. No. 3. "laughs" is not a noun but a verb. 4. An adjective, you need to take it together with "of the original". – Victor Bazarov Sep 28 '15 at 19:48
  • Let me elaborate on '2'. "Laughing as..." = "while he laughed as...". Your sentence can be rewritten as "Prince Andrew, as he looked again at that genealogical tree, shook his head, and laughed as a man laughs who looks at a portrait so ..." – Victor Bazarov Sep 28 '15 at 19:51
  • 1
    The subject is doing three things at once - looking, shaking (his head), and laughing. Everything from 'as a man...' to the end of the sentence is an adverb phrase modifying 'laughing'. – MrTheWalrus Sep 28 '15 at 19:52
  • Please try to use correct capitalization. Please try to put spaces between words. Please try to put one or two spaces after each period that is before the start of a sentence. (I prefer two spaces after periods, but one space is OK.) Please do not put spaces between quote-marks (such as ") and the contents of the quotation. – Jasper Sep 29 '15 at 3:19
  • I cannot understand why they use "ing" form in "laugh" – 오준수 Sep 29 '15 at 12:41
1

"Prince Andrew, looking again at that genealogical tree, shook his head, laughing as a man laughs who looks at a portrait so characteristic of the original as to be amusing."

This sentence is large and awkward, but it seems to be grammatically sound. As you suggested, it looks like it is taken from a piece of literature, probably fiction. The simplest version of the sentence that only contains the subject and the subject's action looks like this:

Prince Andrew shook his head.

On to the OP's questions:

1. Does " looking again at that genealogical tree" equal "who was looking again at that genealogical tree" ?

Not exactly. Your version can be made into a complete sentence ("who" is the subject). The version the author used is a parenthetical phrase being used as an adjective -- namely, a participle phrase. "Looking again at that genealogical tree" describes Prince Andrew as a complete phrase. The two phrases' meaning is the same, but grammatically they are different.

2. Does "laughing as a man laughs..."equal " while he was laughing .."

No. "Like" and "as" in literature are important to look for, because they usually are markers that denote the start of a comparison. These specific comparisons are called "similies" by authors. This particular example is more complicated because the author is using "as" for two different purposes in this sentence.

laughing as a man laughs...

Here, "as" is used to compare "Prince Andrew's laugh" to "the same kind of laugh that a man [meaning any man] would have while looking at a portrait which is so characteristic [meaning "similar"] of the original as to be amusing."

...of the original as to be amusing.

Here, "as" is used in a way similar to "that" -- it's so characteristic of the original that it is amusing. It is an uncommon and somewhat dated usage.

3. why is there a noun "laughs" after the man? and the "who"

"Laughs" isn't a noun. "Who" refers to "a man." Could you clarify why you think that's wrong?

4. is " characteristic" here anadjective or noun? and i found a word "so" placed before it.so i guess the "characteristic" is an adjective. but there is no any prepositions before it.. or maybe it is the structure of "so + adj + as to be"..???

It's an adjective, meaning "similar" or "resembling."

0

This sentence is perfectly correct, and is not 'awkward' as one commentator suggested. Essentially the sentence reads, 'Prince Andrew shook his head and laughed'.

  1. Does " looking again at that genealogical tree" equal "who was looking again at that genealogical tree" ?

    Basically yes. It is equally comparable to "while looking at..."

  2. Does "laughing as a man laughs…" equal "while he was laughing…"

    No. It means 'laughing in the way that a man would laugh if...'

  3. Why is there a noun "laughs" after the man?

    There isn't. 'Laughs' is a verb. E.G. 'A man laughs when he sees something amusing'.

  4. Is "characteristic" here an adjective or noun?

    Adjective

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.