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The nervous system of small children is not yet developed enough for them to keep still for more than a few seconds at a time unless they are asleep.

I know what the sentence above means. But let me ask a question from a grammatical point of view.

What part of the sentence in front does the 'unless...' in bold modify?
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Comments  
the sentence starting with the word unless is subordinate clause.

The nervous system of small children is not yet developed enough for them to keep still for more than a few seconds at a time.

that sentence is in the second line is main clause.
Hi,

'Keep still'.

Clive
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CliveHi,

'Keep still'.

Clive

Initially I thought so too. But does 'to keep still...unless they are asleep' really make sense? Semantically, shouldn't it be 'not to keep still...unless they are asleep'?
Hi,
The nervous system of small children is not yet developed enough for them to keep still for more than a few seconds at a time unless they are asleep.

But does 'to keep still...unless they are asleep' really make sense? Semantically, shouldn't it be 'not to keep still...unless they are asleep'?

I'm not sure if you are recommending an additional 'not', or simply moving the original 'not'.
But, either way, the original seems OK to me.
Consider these similar but simpler examples.

His skill is not great enough for him to fly a plane.

His skill is not great enough for him to fly a plane unless he concentrates.

Clive

CliveHi,

I'm not sure if you are recommending an additional 'not', or simply moving the original 'not'.

Moving the original 'not', that is. What I mean by moving is not that it has to be moved as 'yet developed enough for them not to keep still for more than a few seconds at a time unless they are asleep' but that it is within the scope of negation.

Speaking of moving, would your example make sense if 'unless...' was moved in front of the main clause as this?

Unless he concentrates, his skill is not great enough for him to fly a plane.

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Hola, Taka!
HI,

Speaking of moving, would your example make sense if 'unless...' was moved in front of the main clause as this?

Unless he concentrates, his skill is not great enough for him to fly a plane unless he concentrates.

Yes, it's OK.

Clive
HI,

Speaking of moving, would your example make sense if 'unless...' was moved in front of the main clause as this?

Unless he concentrates, his skill is not great enough for him to fly a plane unless he concentrates.

Yes, it's OK.

Clive
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