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  • The last two decades have seen enormous changes in the way people's lives are affected by IT.

This sentence has been taken from this link.

The above sentence means that IT affected people's way of living and creates enormous changes in the last two decades. But I have some questions. What is the subject of are? Is it the whole phrase in the way people's way? Or is only in the way? I think that a words group that starts with preposition cannot be a subject of a clause. That is why I think people's lives is the subject of are affected by IT, not in the way or in the way people's lives. If I write the above sentence in the following way, do you think that the following sentence can be considered as a correct with having similar meaning of the above sentence?

  • The last two decades have seen enormous changes the way people's lives in are affected by IT.

Here in has not been placed at the before of the way, and the meaning of it is same as the meaning of previous one. But in the second example the way is the subject, not people's lives.

Personally I think there was a word/words between in the way and people's lives, and these words have been omitted. Please help me to get rid from this problem.

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    I agree that the sentence is not a very well-constructed one, but it is grammatically correct and is not missing any words. You could put "that" in there, so it reads "...in the way that people's lives...", which would make it clearer, but it isn't necessary. The main point I think you're missing is that "in" goes with "changes". The phrase changes in X means "the changes that have been made to or observed in X". – stangdon Dec 23 '15 at 16:15
  • Would you like to suggest better ways to rewrite the above example? – Azahar Ali Dec 23 '15 at 17:16
  • If I were going to rewrite the sentence completely, I might choose "In the last two decades, IT has greatly affected people's lives." (I think "changes in the way people's lives are affected" is very wordy and unclear.) If I had to make it clearer while changing it less, I might choose "The last two decades have seen enormous changes in IT's effect on people's lives." – stangdon Dec 23 '15 at 23:02
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The last two decades have seen enormous changes the way people's lives in are affected by IT.

This sentence is wrong because it doesn't correctly link the two clauses. Clause 1 is just:

The last two decades have seen enormous changes.

This is a complete and valid sentence. However, you can add additional details, like where the changes are.

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in computing power.

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in politics.

The last two decades...

Now let's take another sentence.

IT affects people's lives.

Again, this is a complete and valid sentence. "IT" is the subject, and "People's lives" is the object. Let's rewrite it in passive form.

People's lives are affected by IT.

Here, since we switched to passive form, "People's lives" becomes the subject, and "IT" becomes the object. (More on that here)

Substituting this phrase back in to the original sentence, we get

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in people's lives are affected by IT.

This is not quite correct yet. What about people's live being affected by IT is changing? In your sentence, the answer is how people's live are being affected. Meaning, "People's lives are affected by IT in a different way"

So you could say:

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in how (or, the way that) people's lives are affected by IT.

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Adding the word that to mark the relative clause, the sentence is:

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in the way that people's lives are affected by IT.

The are refers to people's lives. The in refers to the way (+ relative clause).

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