Reply to "still much left to learn about the nature"

symphony posted:

Is this sentence correct if we remove the explicit? [What?] If so, then “to learn about ...time” be is the object of the verb “is left”. Please correct me if i am wrong.

Much is left to learn about the nature and causes of changing climatic conditions through time.

Hello, Symphony,

You are correct that, without There-Insertion, the clause becomes "Much is still left to learn about the nature and causes of changing climatic conditions."

However, "to learn about the nature and causes of changing climatic conditions" is NOT the object of "left."

  • Much is still left to learn [__] about XYZ.
  • Much is still left to be learned (by us) about XYZ.

At a deeper level of grammatical structure, "much" is the object of "learn" in the first sentence, and the subject of "to be learned by us" in the second sentence.

"Left" does not have an object. The infinitival clause actually is an extraposed modifier of "much" -- it's a nonfinite relative clause:

  • Much to learn [__] about XYZ is still left.
  • Much to be learned (by us) about XYZ is still left.

Do you understand, Symphony? We could even change "much" to "things," in which case "is" would need to be changed to "are":

  • Many things to learn __ about XYZ are still left.
  • Many things to be learned (by us) about XYZ are still left.

"[BE] still left" really means "still remain(s)." It doesn't have the sense of a passive. If we call it passive, the active-voice correlate will have an odd subject:

  • God left us much to learn [__] about XYZ.
  • God left us much to learn [__] about XYZ.
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