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Die Nase ist das bei Wirbeltieren meist mittig im Gesichtsfeld angelegte Riechorgan, d(as) bei Mensch wie Tier häufig auch Teil des Atmunsapparats ist.

The bracketted part was deleted, and I am expected to fill it in. I wrote "ie" , since I thought it was referring "die Nase" but it isn't.

I believe it is referring Riechorgan. But why? Why that instead of nose?

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Let me answer with a counter question: why would it refer to Nase? The relative clause comes right after Riechorgan. If it would refer to Nase, it should be there right after Nase. There is no ambiguity here.

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  • is there such a rule that rel clause comes closest to referred obj? Jan 9 at 8:19
  • X ist an Y, that ... Does that refer to Y or X? The rule is simple: don't make it more complicated than it is! ;-)
    – Olafant
    Jan 9 at 8:31
  • fine I guess ... Jan 9 at 8:46
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    Perhaps it would clarify things to explain why this is confusing to an English speaker. The first clause seems to be talking about "the nose": "the nose" is this, "the nose" it that, and the next clause seems to be continuing that pattern, "the nose is part of the respiratory system". And the nose certainly is that, so it seems like a valid interpretation. It's not the correct interpretation though, since some animals have olfactory organs which are not part of the respiratory system, and I think that's part of what the sentence is trying to imply.
    – RDBury
    Jan 9 at 8:53
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    @RDBury No, the second clause is a relative one (I think that's clear in this task): "the nose is the ... organ, which is part of ..." Is it really ambiguous to an English speaker what "which" refers to there?
    – DonHolgo
    Jan 9 at 12:32

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