1

I realize how so many people don't have those simple things that we so much take for granted.

"how so many people don't have those simple things that we so much take for granted" is an object of 'realize' and a wh-clause.

Q1
What's the role of 'how'? When we parse this clause, what is a subject of the wh-clause?

  1. [how so many people]? If this is right, 'how' may be a modifier of 'many'. As a result, [how so many people] is a subject of the clause and at the same time, a conjunction of the wh-clause.
  2. [so many people]? If this is right, 'how' does not belong to the NP, [so many people] and just takes a role of conjunction alone.

Q2
Which meaning does 'how' in the clause come under when referring to macmillandictionary?

  1. #2 used for asking or saying what quantity, distance, age etc something is, or to what degree something is true
  2. #5 used for referring to a particular fact that you want to mention
    In this meaning, 'how' is used like 'that'.
2
  • Where did the sentence come from? Did you read it somewhere (Where?) or did you write it yourself? For me the use of "how" here is questionable. I might write, "I realize that so many people don't have those simple things ... " Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 22:19
  • @chaslyfromUK The sentence came from Michael Jackson. Here is the link link
    – Mcreaper
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 4:28

2 Answers 2

3
  • I realize how so many people don't have those simple things.

How is a Wh-word, even though it isn't spelled that way. It can start a Wh question,

  • How are you feeling? How did she do it? How long is that in meters?
    (note that how is the Wh-word for adjectives like long, the way who is the one for human nouns;
    aside from this, how refers to manner and means, which are optional categories)

and it can appear as a relative pronoun in a few constructions, but not in tensed relative clauses, where it's either deleted (since it can't be a subject), or replaced with that:

  • the way that she did it ~ the way she did it ~ but not *the way how she did it

though relative infinitives can use it:

  • the way to do it ~ how to do it

The particular how in the example sentence should be understood as equivalent to that -- a complementizer for the complement of realize. The use of how instead of that changes the complement from a that-clause to an embedded question, which in this case has to do with the vast realization reported by the speaker -- how could such a thing be true (with the unspoken echo of "... and I didn't realize it at all!"). So the rule of how in the sentence is to be another cog in the syntax machine. The rest of the clause it introduces isn't part of the problem -- it's got a straightforward meaning.

4
  • Thank you for your detailed answer. I've got a better understanding of this structure. I have a minor question. You said 'how' is the Wh-word for adjectives and secondly it can refer to manner and means. 'How are you feeling?' seems to come under the Wh-word for adjectives. 'How did she do it?' appears to fall under the manner and means. Then, 'how' in 'How long is that in meters' belongs to what?
    – Mcreaper
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 17:56
  • I wasn't quite sure how to phrase that. I meant that how is the word you use to identify degree of adjectives. How long will it take? How tall is she? I don't know how tall she is, etc. It's not a question of meaning but of syntactic structure. Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 18:16
  • Then, the usage of 'How are you feeling' is the same as that of 'How tall is she'? as 'to identify degree of adjectives'?
    – Mcreaper
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 18:28
  • Yes, and to identify which adjectives are appropriate. Cf She said she's feeling how? Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 19:39
0

How so many sentences hide their subject?

Like much of spoken English even the written word is increasingly casual. This is a shortened version of the sentence;

"How is it that so many people don't have those simple things?"

Which is still a shorter form of;

"How is it the case that so many people don't have those simple things?"

With this expansion you may be able to diagram more completely. Here I think that The Case is the subject, actually the subject compliment, and the rest should follow with little trouble.

2
  • Isn't it that 'the case' in your sentence is a subject complement not a subject?
    – Mcreaper
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 4:32
  • @Mcreaper; Quite right. Thank you.
    – Elliot
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 5:16

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