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A relationship of two sentences.

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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A relationship of two sentences.

Postby pdh0224 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 8:29 pm

Dear teacher,

Last week, in the opening week of the current prime-time season, Mr. Leno's margin of victory over Mr. Letterman was the closest the two shows had been in terms of viewers - 5.5 million for NBC versus 4.96 million for CBS - since 1994. And in the category that NBC and advertisers most prize, adults between the ages of 18 and 49, the margin was the closest for the two shows since 1996.

Q : There are two clauses connected into one sentence without a conjunction.

"Last week,.......the closest + the two shows....-since 1994."

What kind of a relationship between them is? I think the clause "the two shows.....since 1994" functions as an adverb, showing a kind of information about a ground of the writer's thought that the gap of a number of the viewers is the closest. What do you think?


All the best, :)
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Postby Alan » Thu Sep 30, 2004 9:39 am

Yes, the sentence is structurally rather dubious, although the intended meaning is clear enough, which is that 'the margin of victory was the SMALLEST (that) THERE HAS EVER BEEN BETWEEN THE TWO SHOWS in terms of viewers...'. The clause, as you can see from my suggested rephrased version, is intended as a relative clause (with ellipsis of 'that'), a little unusual in that its referent is complemental 'closest' (not a noun, and syntactically ambiguous here between adjective and adverb) which is treated, for the purpose of the clause, as a quasi-nominal antecedent to the relative pronoun (or possibly, depending on your analysis, adverb) 'that'.

The sentence seems to be a conflation of the sentence above and structurally different (if semantically similar) 'the two shows are the closest (that) they have ever been...'.
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