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Can someone help me break this sentence down for better understanding?

The first thing you need to do is clean your room.

First off, "The First thing", in the sentence above is acting like an adjective for the pronoun "you"? If so, can someone please provide me more internet reference to this pattern of "noun + pronoun"?

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    Try breaking down this sentence instead -- it means the same thing and has a few extra words -- The first thing which you need to do is that you need to clean your room. Delete the boldface words and there you are. Jan 16, 2017 at 21:53
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    Which you need to do is that S - relative clause. That's a type of adjective clause. The S clause is a tensed that-complement clause. That's a type of noun clause introduced by that. Jan 16, 2017 at 22:00
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    "Thing" is the subject of the verb "is". "First" and "you need to do" modify "thing".
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 20, 2017 at 4:23
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    Analysis: "Clean your room": a command to clean your your. "The first thing you need to do": a priority; clean your room before you do anything else. "Can someone help me break this sentence down for better understanding?": a clever procrastination technique to avoid cleaning your room.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 3, 2017 at 1:56
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    Why all this back talk? Just clean your room already.
    – Mitch
    Apr 4, 2017 at 17:55

3 Answers 3

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First, break the sentence in three: A is B.

  • A: "The first thing you need to do" is a compound subject -- it acts as a noun.
  • ("is", is the verb).
  • B: "clean your room" is a compound object.

Now you can break A: "The first thing (which) you need to do"

  • A1: "The first thing"
  • A2: (which) -- relative pronoun
  • A3: "You need to do"

And you can break B.

etc.

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The first thing which you need to do, is (to) clean your room.

  • The first thing is (to) clean your room. Pr.Clause
  • Which you need to do. Sub. Adj.Clause. modifying thing.

Together it's a complex sentence. Noun can't qualify pronoun attributively. It can at best have its renaming predictively.

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The subject is "The first thing". You know it's grammatically a compound noun because it takes a definite article. It's followed by a restrictive phrase "you need to do". (There's an omitted relative pronoun that.) Taken together, you can call that complete phrase a phrasal subject (although there might be a better term). This is followed by the predicate: "is clean your room". It's a fairly standard sentence construction.

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