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What word should come in place of (?) in the sentence below? Personally, I would use of or that.But I am not sure if these are correct or if I should forgo any word at all there. I would appreciate the logic behind your answer(s). Also, what clause is introduced by how in this example sentence?

The scientist put forward the idea (?) how a recessive gene might become dominant in a later generation.

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    Why use a fancy construction like put forward the idea? It has all sorts of restrictions and presuppositions, as you found out. Why not just use said that or told us that or showed us how or demonstrated the ways that? Nov 28, 2020 at 1:27
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    I would advise you to drop the term 'noun clause', even though it is still used in some trad grammars. Noun is a part of speech like "house", "car", "Fred" etc. The classification of finite subordinate clauses is based on their internal form rather than spurious analogies with the parts of speech. Note that only noun phrases, not clauses, can be appositives.
    – BillJ
    Nov 28, 2020 at 10:44
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    Incidentally, I'm not sure why you feel that there should be a word between "idea" and "how". It seems to me that in your example "how" is being used as an informal variant of the subordinator "that", and more formally we would have "The scientist put forward the idea that a recessive gene might become dominant in a later generation".
    – BillJ
    Nov 28, 2020 at 11:04
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    I misunderstood your original question. As I said, "how" is here an informal variant of "that", and is not recommended.
    – BillJ
    Nov 28, 2020 at 14:10
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    Yes, you should rephrase it that way. I would certainly avoid using "how". The reason is that "how" is not a subordinator, so it should not be used to introduce subordinate clauses.
    – BillJ
    Nov 28, 2020 at 14:28

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I would rephrase your sentence, separating "the idea" from "the mechanism".

The scientist put forward the idea of a recessive gene becoming dominant in a later generation, and explained how it might happen.

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  • Thank you but isn't it almost the gospel of books on style to cut,cut,cut? Your sentence circumvents the problem by rephrasing my sentence but rambles a bit. Don't you think so @Centaurus?
    – user405662
    Nov 28, 2020 at 2:07
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    If you cut, cut, cut until it is incomprehensible, this is not good style. Your text should be long enough that it's easily understood, but no longer. Nov 28, 2020 at 19:02

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