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I read a sentence from the economist

Fed also propped up the corporate-bond market, action it had shied away from during the financial crisis a decade earlier.

Although I know the meaning of the sentence,I can't understand the grammatical function of the 'action'.At first, I thought it was an Appositive or Complement.Then I realized that appositive and complement can only supplement or replace the noun component, but can not explain the predicate component.In meaning, the action refers to the preceding predicate action——propping up.But as far as I am concerned, no word appears for no reason and always needs to be used as a grammatical element. It can only be subject, predicate, object, adverbial, attribute or appositive.So I hope you can help me to explain the grammatical function of this word action.Thank you!

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  • Is there a missing “an” that should come before “action”? – Stefan Jan 3 at 12:35
  • @Stefan Google finds the text as-is in an Economist article (free registration is needed to view it). Action can be a mass noun. – Andrew Leach Jan 3 at 14:53
  • The grammatical function of "action" is head of the NP "action (that) it had shied away from during the financial crisis a decade earlier". – BillJ Jan 3 at 16:06
  • @AndrewLeach well, English is not my first language, but it makes sense to me (or parses better) in the form...action that... – Stefan Jan 3 at 20:13
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The function of "action" is strictly speaking head of the noun phrase "action it had shied away from during the financial crisis a decade earlier"; that noun phrase has not in the sentence the function of apposition but that of parenthesis. The parenthesis used here is of the summative modifier sort; below is found the example from wikipedia, which shows a construction parallel to that of the sentence in the question.

My father ate the muffin, a feat which no man had attempted.

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    No, no, no", LPH! The function of "action" is head of the NP "action (that) it had shied away from during the financial crisis a decade earlier". – BillJ Jan 3 at 16:05
  • @BillJ Right, it is better to keep to a strict nomenclature; it seems that, at least sometimes, an approximation is made, the head being made to stand for the phrase; the parenthesis is really the noun phrase. As the OP seemed to be concerned with "action" as it relates to the preceding clause, I didn't look further. – LPH Jan 3 at 16:20
  • Can you address the OP concern that propping is an action, but not exactly "propped." So eating a muffin is a feat, but not "ate the muffin". – Yosef Baskin Jan 3 at 20:25
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    @YosefBaskin There is a slight inexactitude that I have to be reminded of in order to perceive it, so much used am I to finding it in the language and as well so insignificant it appears. But relating the occurrence of an action is not truly stating that action, although you "painlessly" transcend the second from the first; there is perhaps no better solution than to live with this trifle of an anomaly. In keeping with this concern for exactness, eating a muffin is not a feat, but eating a muffin in the conditions the narrator's father had to eat one apparently is, according to the writer… – LPH Jan 3 at 20:49

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