"This deck of cards can be viewed as a mapping out of a spiritual journey, one that parallels the journey of faith and discovery found in Anderson's book."

I am specifically wondering about the phrasing "as a mapping out of a..." I've seen this type of phrasing so many times before. Can anyone share why it works (or doesn't)? Thank you for your responses.

  • 1
    It may be okay syntactically, but I have trouble imagining a deck that’s the result of a map that’s parallel to a journey.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jun 7 at 0:57
  • 1
    The deck is a Tarot deck. It is supposed to map out a journey in consciousness, from birth ("The Fool") to death ("The World").
    – Riley
    Commented Jun 7 at 1:01
  • Oh, a deck of cards. But it’s not the deck, it’s the deal, isn’t it? The deck can produce many layouts.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jun 7 at 1:25
  • To some degree, yes. But the 22 cards themselves (of the Major Arcana), from start to finish, depict the individual's journey in consciousness from beginning to end. Of course nothing (and no one) is that simple, but the order of the cards tells a story. Earlier I should have said from birth to enlightenment, not necessarily death...
    – Riley
    Commented Jun 7 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


There is a passive voice construction with view sth. as sth.

PERSON views A as B.

passivized into

A is viewed as B (by PERSON)

Then, most transitive verbs have corresponding -ing nouns with their object put into a preposition phrase headed by of, and their subject appearing as a subject-determiner. The whole thing is then a noun phrase.

He tamed the shrew -> his taming of the shrew

These have versions with articles or other determinatives where the agent is not clear.

the/a taming of the shrew

Being a noun phrase, it's allowed as complement to preposition as in the construction 'view A as B'.

Nominalizations like these aren't always elegant, so a little care is needed when using them.

? This hearing of the song was pleasant.

An interesting aspect of the construction in question is that it includes a particle (a complement usually in the form of a preposition that may be put either before or after the object of the verb).

We mapped out a spiritual journey.

We mapped a spiritual journey out.

This particle has been included in the nominalization as it is essential to the meaning.

a mapping out of a spiritual journey

Were it not a particle but a transitive preposition instead, the of would not be necessary.

He cared for me.

I appreciated this caring for me.

*I appreciated this caring for of me.

Examples of the construction are pretty common.

This hunger has led to a deconstruction of the process, a mapping out of the steps that a book should go through from the moment the last sentence is typed to the day it hits the bookshelves, including copyediting, strong cover design, internal layout, proofreading, pass-for-press checks, not to mention a whole world of unsexy but critical metadata. (Irish Times)

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley was forced to clarify police would not be searching shopping trolleys after earlier suggesting it could be part of a ramping up of the enforcement of social distancing rules. (POLITICO)

Thomas Hauser, Ali's official biographer, also here, concurs about the potential that Joshua possesses to become a crossover star, believing that he could be " the real deal " and this could be his opportunity, through fighting Klitschko, to complete a passing on of the torch, and turn millions of heads. (Telegraph)


Why does the phrase "as a mapping out of a..." work?

"Mapping" is a verbal noun

a/the mapping out is a noun phrase

Verbal nouns describe an instance of the action of their verb and are modified by adjectives: "a careful mapping out of a spiritual journey.

(This is as opposed to gerunds, which describe the action of the verb and are modified by adverbs. "Carefully mapping out the details will avoid later errors")

Verbal nouns often appear modified by a determiner in the form "{A/The verbing} [of noun phrase.]

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