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They are not auxiliaries unlike 'need' can be.

Unlike=preposition

a) need can be=noun clause as object

or is it:

b) need=noun as object

(that) can be=relative clause
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Not to be picky, but, would you might re-posting a little less cryptic treatment?
I can't make anything of this question, and bet I'm not the only one.

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Would you say the words after 'unlike' is a noun clause (as object) or noun (as object) that is modified by a relative clause?
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These things will stop interesting you someday. Emotion: smile Once I used to be interested in sentence structure and wanted to be able to analyse each and every sentence there is, now ... Emotion: shake

To me, "unlike 'need' can be" functions as a subordinate clause in your sentence. The noun (phrase) " 'need' " (here treated as an linguistic item; not a verb) is its subject, while the verb phrase "can be" is the predicate of the subordinate clause.

Michal
MichalSThese things will stop interesting you someday. Once I used to be interested in sentence structure and wanted to be able to analyse each and every sentence there is, now ...

To me, "unlike 'need' can be" functions as a subordinate clause in your sentence. The noun (phrase) " 'need' " (here treated as an linguistic item; not a verb) is its subject, while the verb phrase "can be" is the predicate of the subordinate clause.

Michal

I agree, but what makes you disregard 'unlike' being a preposition?

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No, I didn't say so. No doubt 'unlike' is a preposition in this sentence but I wouldn't say that "unlike need can be" is a prepositional phrase here.
Greetings, dear friends,

there are several facts relating to this matter that can be unambiguously stated a priori. One of them concerns the definition of a lexico-grammatical class of the word 'unlike' (i.e. its word class/part-of-speech possession). Any kind of analysis will no doubt reveal that 'unlike' has two uses - that of an adjective (which is not our concern within the post) and that of a preposition. It has no conjunctive power.

On looking carefully at the sentence, one may find that it is structurally ambiguous. Superficially, it looks like two clauses combined by way of 'unlike', but, since we know definite facts about this preposition, we'd better disregard this version as ill-grounded. To English 1b3: if you say that the clause is a noun clause, you will overlook its structure, namely, SV (where 'need', as already observed, has become nominalised). This pattern pertains to an 'ordinary' independent declarative clause the way it is written. However, even calling it an independent clause won't help, as the second part is flawed in itself - it logically cannot follow a preposition as an independent clause. We are then left with an impression that the second part is a complex noun phrase with postmodification by a relative clause, but it somehow doesn't sound correct. The reason is the omission of a relativizer, which is not allowed with subject gaps (in the present example 'need' is a gapped subject of a relative clause). The information about 'can be' is non-restrictive, using 'that' in this case is not common, so the best choice will be 'which':

? They are not auxiliaries unlike 'need', which can be.<'need' ... be' is a prep complement of 'unlike'>

Overally, I suppose there can be plenty of ways to rephrase the original idea for it to become more understandable, given that placing unlike after the first negative in the sentence is rather debatable and open to objection. Where it stands in the original example, it should be changed to 'like'. Here is one of the many possible rephrasings:

Unlike 'need' (which can function as an auxiliary), these (verbs) cannot.
...

Respectfully, Gleb Chebrikoff
I've never heard of a subordinate clause that is headed by a preposition...
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