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Source:

Those entering adulthood now will form the backbone of Chinese society at a pivotal moment, as the ranks of the elderly grow rapidly and as the economy faces new strains, including a shortage of workers.

Does "those entering adulthood" mean "the people who enter adulthood"? Is it a acceptable word-formation? I do want to have a grammatical explanation on that.

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In the sentence you quote, the phrase in question certainly sounds fine to me as a native speaker. The word those is a demonstrative pronoun or determiner, and the sentence implies (but actually omits) the noun it refers to. For example, a more explicit sentence might start with:

  • Those people entering adulthood...
  • Those who are entering adulthood...
  • Those people who are entering adulthood...

However, the phrase as quoted is a correct idiom, and sounds appropriate in the context of an oratorical or political speech.

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It's worth pointing out that time is a factor in these phrases. "The people who enter adulthood" implies that it refers to any person who enters adulthood at any point.

However, the context of the sentence is that it is referring specifically to those in the transitional phase at this point in time. "Those entering adulthood now will form the backbone of Chinese society at a pivotal moment", implying that those who entered adulthood before were too early, and will be too far through their lives at the pivotal moment, and those who have yet to enter adulthood will be too late to play such a pivotal role.

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Those who enter childhood......

Who enter childhood is a relative clause or adjective clause that modifies the subject "those". According to grammar, this clause can be reduced by replacing "who enter" with the present participle "entering" as follows:

Those entering childhood........

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  • 1
    Can I say "those playing football" or "those speaking English"?
    – dennylv
    Nov 16 '15 at 5:15
  • 1
    Yes, you can say instead of those who play football and those who speak English.
    – Khan
    Nov 16 '15 at 5:21

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