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Following two sentences includes a confusing grammar in my opinion. Can you help me ?

Whatever a man lacks in himself he will seek outside.

If I wrote this sentence, I would use "it" after the verb "seek". I think there is a missing object in the second half of the sentence.

What a man already possesses in himself he will not bother to look for outside.

The part "What a man possesses in himself" should be a noun. The part " he will not bother to look for outside" should be the defining sentence of the noun. So, it is like this sentence :

"The table i cannot see." I mean, the sentence has no main verb. How could this be possible ?

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Whatever a man lacks in himself he will seek outside.

What a man already possesses in himself he will not bother to look for outside.

The clauses starting with "whatever" and "what" above function as topicalized direct objects, that is, as direct objects that have been placed in front position for emphasis. Without such emphasis, this is how the sentences would read:

A man will seek outside whatever he lacks in himself.

A man will not bother to look outside for what he already possesses in himself.

Therefore, using "it" after "seek" or "look for" would be grammatically incorrect, as it would entail a repetition of the object. However, some speakers may be found to duplicate the object:

? Whatever a man lacks in himself he will seek it outside.

? What a man already possesses in himself he will not bother to look for it outside.

  • Thank you very much. The information you provided is very useful. One more question : The difference between "Whatever a man lacks in himself he will seek outside." and "A man will seek outside whatever he lacks in himself." is mere emphasis, right ? I mean, when using "whatever", Can I use the second format, or do you advise me to emphasize the meaning of the sentence by using the first format ? – Serhan Jun 24 at 18:41
  • There's merely a difference in emphasis. At the beginning, it does sound like "No matter what it is that a man lacks in himself, he will seek it outside." If placed after the verb, there is no such emphasis. – Gustavson Jun 24 at 19:08
  • Last question : I noticed when giving the example "A man will not bother to look outside for what he already possesses in himself." , you placed "for" after the word "outside". Can we leave the word order as it was in the original sentence ? What is the difference ? – Serhan Jun 24 at 19:19
  • It's a question of balance. The point is that the object "what he already possesses in himself" is too long and "outside", which is only one word, would appear too far from the verb if placed at the end, after the object. – Gustavson Jun 24 at 20:56

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