I was reading the following example sentence:


My first instinct was to parse this as:


But this led to a slightly non-sensical translation along the lines of 'There are three fathers who are students of doctors.'

Since the true translation was 'There are three students whose fathers are doctors', I assume the sentence must be parsed as:


Does this mean I am wrong to automatically separate NのN constructions as having a 'priority' over other types of constructions (such as NがN)? Is it best to assume no 'stronger' relationship and to just parse a sentence into whatever makes the most contextual sense?

Or is it parsed as the second way because of the relative clause, thus making this NのN equivalent to NがN to make:


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    I find the point of the two threads are different: the other one is about の vs である only. This OP is having trouble parsing the sentence.
    – karlalou
    Jul 19, 2017 at 17:17
  • @Noktis > parse a sentence into whatever makes the most contextual sense? I say that is a good start to see a sentence. We can't generalize anything just looking at a few sentences. I don't know what you mean by NがN. が is another topic marker, which does not necessarily to indicate the action maker but can be to indicate the object of the verb, but so, anyway it's always expected to be followed by a verb. I think I naturally expect the words before は to be the subject of います, and... anyway you can't switch this の to が here, because -- it doesn't have a verb for it. 医者が here doesn't work.
    – karlalou
    Jul 19, 2017 at 19:03
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    This page says that the particle の can be used as if it were an attributive form of the copula だ. This probably explains why "AがBのC" is possible and means the same thing as "AがBであるC" even though の is not a verb.
    – naruto
    Jul 19, 2017 at 19:30


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