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I'm not sure about the sentence structure below:

All kinds of problems arise that smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with.

It looks like that works as a relative pronoun for all kinds of problems, but I couldn't find such usage in my dictionary or online.

This sentence could be divided into

There are all kinds of problems.

Smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with all kinds of problems.

But, I can't figure out where 'arise' fits. If you have any thoughts, please share them.

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  • I see nothing exceptional here. “All kinds of people show up who have nothing better to do than make a scene.” “All kinds of accidents happen that could have been easily prevented.”
    – tchrist
    Mar 2 '13 at 1:25
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There's a well-known syntactic rule called Extraposition from Noun Phrase that takes a heavy relative clause modifying an argument NP and "moves" it to the end of a sentence, which is the preferred place for heavy material in English, since it's a right-branching language.

Extraposition does the same thing, except it "moves" a subject complement clause and leaves a dummy it subject behind. Extraposition from NP leaves no dummy, and just expects the listener to pick up the relative clause after the verb again; so it's less common and much more prevalent with extremely short verbs, as here; the longer the verb is, the less likely the listener is to be ready to back up and parse the subject again.

Here's the input sentence, which I think we will all agree is awkward at best.
(The verb phrase is boldfaced below, and the relative clause is [bracketed])

  • All kinds of problems [that smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with] arise.

Extraposition from NP changes this to the sentence in the question

  • All kinds of problems arise [that smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with].

This also has the effect of putting the verb up front, instead of at the end. English prefers to have the verb as the second constituent in the sentence, right after the subject NP. Variations from that prototype order are used to mark special phenomena, like questions and relative clauses.

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  • 1
    Thank you so much for answering this with grammatical terms. It explains this structure well and makes sense to me. I really appreciate it.
    – Kay
    Mar 2 '13 at 4:34
  • @John Lawler: Is this what John Ross calls Heavy NP Shift or is that something different? Apr 27 at 0:14
  • No, that's a different rule. It appears on page 24 here. It, and Extraposition, and Extraposition from NP are some of a number of ways to get heavy constituents to the end of the sentence instead of the beginning. The ideal English sentence order is: Short Subject, Short Verb, Right-Branching Everything Else, and then DC al Fine in Everything Else. Apr 27 at 1:39
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There are two ways of saying this (given only what you provide in your question):

All kinds of problems that smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with arise. (This sentence, however, separates the verb arise from the subject of the sentence.)

There arise all kinds of problems that smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with. (This sentence, however, is much more formal and perhaps stilted. It's strictly written English.)

Perhaps it would be better to start off with the reason those problems arise, e.g.:

When X happens, it causes all kinds of problems that smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with.

or

X causes all kinds of problems that smaller animals or plants do not have to cope with.

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  • Thank you so much for the clear explanation! It helps a lot!
    – Kay
    Mar 2 '13 at 4:28

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