Grammar in EAP

Nominal groups

Exercise 2

Read the following text. Notice how the word "need" is used. Notice how it is modified (premodified and postmodified) and how the nominal group it is the head of functions in the clause.

The fundamental human need to belong comes from the desire to associate with others, to cooperate, to accept group norms. However, the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) shows that the need to belong can also be perverted into excessive conformity, compliance, and in-group versus out-group hostility. The need for autonomy and control, the central forces toward self-direction and planning, can be perverted into an excessive exercise of power to dominate others or into learned helplessness.

Consider three more such needs that can cut both ways. First, needs for consistency and rationality give meaningful and wise direction to our lives. Yet dissonant commitments force us to honor and rationalize wrong-headed decisions, such as prisoners remaining when they should have quit and guards justifying their abuse. Second, needs to know and to understand our environment and our relationship to it lead to curiosity, scientific discovery, philosophy, the humanities, and art. But a capricious, arbitrary environment that does not make sense can pervert those basic needs and lead to frustration and self-isolation (as it did in our prisoners). And finally, our need for stimulation triggers explorations and adventurous risk taking, but it can also make us vulnerable to boredom when we are placed in a static setting. Boredom, in turn, can become a powerful motivator of actions as we saw with the SPE night shift guards to have fun with their "playthings."

(The Lucifer Effect, by Philip Zimbardo, 2007, Rider Books)

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