Mental energy is a vital element needed to be able to concentrate one's attention and maintain a positive mental attitude.

The question I want to ask is how the section in bold is functioning over here. It is acting like a complement or it is modifying some word? Please could you explain the structure of the sentence?

  • 1
    It's a deleted version of 'Mental energy is an element which is needed for a person to be able to concentrate their attention on a matter and maintain a positive mental attitude'. May 21 '18 at 12:59
  • The past-participial clause in bold is functioning as modifier of the noun "element". Semantically, it is similar to the relative clause "which is needed to be able ...", but we don't call it a relative clause since its internal structure is different.
    – BillJ
    May 21 '18 at 13:41
  • @Billj: Careful with the use of we here. You don't call it a reduced relative clause. I do, however. So do many other linguists. It's just another way to analyze clauses; there is no ISO for syntactic terminology. May 21 '18 at 19:45
  • The crucial point is that a relative clause has an element that is anaphorically related to an antecedent from which it derives its interpretation -- this is the basis for the term 'relative clause'. But gerund-participials and past-participials lack this crucial property. They may still modify nouns, but that's no reason to call them 'reduced' relative clauses. They are a different kind of clause, semantically similar, but syntactically quite different since there's no possibility of them containing a relative phrase. I think this is a better and more logical way to categorise such clauses.
    – BillJ
    May 21 '18 at 21:14

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