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More girls than boys raised the idea of rainforest as animal habitats.

If I wrote the sentence, I would use "being", "More girls than boys raised the idea of rainforest being animal habitats. the words coming right after of should be a noun or a gerund, is that right? If putting "as" here, then what's the function of "as" serve? Is it a conjunction?

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    The rainforest is serving as a habitat for animals. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 9:44
  • This doesn't help with understanding the grammar, but I'd paraphrase as: 'More girls than boys raised the idea of rainforest being seen as important in terms of its animal habitats.' Perhaps over-egging. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 13:39

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More girls than boys raised the idea of rainforest as (being) animal habitats.

The grammatical function here of the preposition "as" is head of the PP "as (being) animal habitats".

"of rainforest being animal habitats" is also a PP with "of" as head.

Note that prepositions can take a wide range of complements, including noun phrases and clauses.

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As has many uses. The relevant one here is

As: used to describe the purpose or quality of someone or something:

She works as a waitress.

It could be used as evidence against him.

The news came as quite a shock to us.

I meant it as a joke.

Cambridge dictionary

Applying this definition and examples to your text gives us the idea of describing animal habitat to be one of the uses or purposes of rainforest.

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