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I think I understand what he wants to say, but cannot figure out the sentence structure or I just don't know such a phrasal verb.

"I thought of the Lake Como what I had thought of Lugano."

3 Answers 3

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The sentence you write means "I thought of Lake Como that which I had thought of Lugano." Follow the link to find out about cleft sentences.

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    Right. What I had thought of Lugano (which looks like an embedded question) is actually what's called a Headless Relative Clause, and is equivalent to that (thought) which I had thought of Lugano. Headless relatives function as noun phrases, not as adjectives, because they have swallowed their coreferential head indefinite pronoun. Isn't English syntax fun? Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 18:29
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    @JohnLawler: Absolutely. One of the reasons I fell in love with the English language.
    – Irene
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 18:34
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    Oh, just noticed. This isn't actually a Cleft; it's at best an aberrant Pseudo-Cleft. There are other problems with the sentence, too, like article use and excessively complex structure. Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 18:39
  • @JohnLawler: Oops, I hadn't noticed the article use. I'll edit my answer. Thank you. I agree with your (more) accurate definition, too. Why don't you post your own answer? I'll be happy to upvote you.
    – Irene
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 18:54
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To figure it out, substitute "I thought of the Lake Como" with "this was". E.g;

This was what I had thought of Lugano

There is a kind of comparison between the lakes.

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One meaning of the phrasal verb to think of is to have an opinion about. So the sentence you quote means: I had the same opinion about Lake Como as I did about Lugano. The next sentence follows the same structure:

  • I ate yesterday what I had eaten the day before.

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