0

John Dewey once observed that more of our time than most of us care to admit is spent “trifling with mental pictures, random recollections, pleasant but unfounded hopes, flitting, half-developed impressions.”

This sentence is from "Beyond feelings, a guide to critical thinking".

I could analyze it to this extent:

"John Dewey" is subject, "once observed " is the verb phrase. and all the content after "that" is the object of "once observed". But I don't know how to deconstruct it:

more of our time than most of us care to admit is spent “trifling with mental pictures, random recollections, pleasant but unfounded hopes, flitting, half-developed impressions.”

What's the meaning of "care to admit"? Maybe they have some other meaning which blocks me to understand this statement.

5
  • Do you want the syntax of the noun clause object? It's more (subject) is spent (passive verb) trifling (participial complement clause, or possibly adverbial clause). Do you want the meaning of care to admit? It's that most of us spend our time with trifles but we don't want to admit to that.
    – deadrat
    Sep 1 '16 at 7:50
  • I'd say that the subject of the content clause (it's not an object) is "more of our time than most of us care to admit", and "trifling with mental pictures, random recollections, pleasant but unfounded hopes, flitting, half-developed impressions" a gerund-participial clause as manner adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Sep 1 '16 at 8:09
  • Deadrat. Thanks for you reply. Your understanding is almost same as mine. But this explanation couldn't make sense on the "more... than..." structure. What's the meaning of the "than most of us", who is comparing with the "most of us" in this sentence? Is the "than most of us to do something" same as "most of us don't want to do something"? So this "than" has no any relationship with the prior "more"? It's just a special usage? Is my understanding right? Sep 1 '16 at 8:19
  • BillJ, thanks! I fully understood it now. "more of our time than most of us care to admit" should be the subject of this clause. But its full format should be: "more of our time than the time most of us care to admit" Because of the redundancy, the writer omits "the time". Sep 1 '16 at 8:26
  • Yes, comparative clauses are obligatorily 'reduced' in some way.
    – BillJ
    Sep 1 '16 at 8:40
0

Thanks for BillJ's help. I believe this is the correct answer: "more of our time than most of us care to admit is spent" is the subject of the clause. This subject full format should be:

"more of our time than the time most of us care to admit"

"the time" is omitted and the "most of us care to admit" is another attributive clause for the missed "the time". This is my obstacle to fully understand the whole sentence.

And the “trifling with mental pictures, random recollections, pleasant but unfounded hopes, flitting, half-developed impressions.” is the adjunct.

2
  • I'd say that the subject is just "more of our time than most of us care to admit" ("the verb phrase "is spent" is part of the predicate). I think it would be better to say that the 'reduction' is represented by an understood subordinate clause. "Most of us care to admit __" is a comparative clause where the gap represents an omitted, but understood, subordinate clause such as "spending so much time".
    – BillJ
    Sep 1 '16 at 9:49
  • Yes, BillJ, it's right. I feel we two have learned different English grammar, but it doesn't matter, both could help us understand the statements. Sep 1 '16 at 18:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.