“Although research in the earth and environmental sciences has pieced together narratives of ancient and historical environmental changes, there is still much left to learn about the nature and causes of changing climatic conditions through time”.

Question:3 http://www.cracksat.net/sat/id...-errors/test401.html

Please help me in understanding the grammatical form and function of “still much left to learn about the nature”.

 

Original Post
symphony posted:

Sorry, David. I forgot about the quotations. I will make sure to follow this for my next questions. 

Thanks, Symphony. We appreciate that. And thank you for editing your first post above so that it adheres to the guidelines.

symphony posted:

“Although research in the earth and environmental sciences has pieced together narratives of ancient and historical environmental changes, there is still much left to learn about the nature and causes of changing climatic conditions through time”.

Question:3 http://www.cracksat.net/sat/id...-errors/test401.html

Please help me in understanding the grammatical form and function of “still much left to learn about the nature”.

"There is still much left to learn about X" means "Much about X still remains to be learned." The OED (The Oxford English Dictionary) classifies this use of "left" as a passive form of the verb "leave" (in the sense "too allow or cause to remain in the same place or condition"); however, in this passive there is no sense of agency:

Quote:

(b) In passive without a sense of agency. to be left: to remain to be used or dealt with [. . .]

1822   C. Lamb in London Mag. Mar. 285/1   If you do not make haste to return, there will be little left to greet you, of me, or mine.

Within the infinitive clause of your example, the object of "learn" is "much" ("about the nature and causes of changing climatic conditions through time"). Compare:

A: Is there anything left to eat in the refrigerator?
B: Yes. There are plenty of leftovers in there. Have some Chinese food.

Is this sentence correct if we remove the explicit. If so, then “to learn about ...time” be 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.

 

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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