# Question Structure

• 20-Feb-2007, 09:16
minamax
Question Structure
Hello. A friend of mine has been learning some of the useful English phrases and expressions for use on the phone. When she came across the question "Who should I say is calling?", she got really confused. She had asked me what type of question it was. What was the subject of this question? Was this an embedded question? I really could not answer. So, I was wondering if anyone could explain this question and perhaps give a few other examples of this type of question.
• 20-Feb-2007, 09:34
Casiopea
Re: Question Structure
Welcome, minamax. :hi:

Underlying Structure: I should say who is calling
Subject-Verb Inversion: should I say who is calling?
WH-Movement: who should I say is calling?

Meaning
I should say who is calling.
I should tell e.g., my sister who is calling her.

Variation
Who may I ask is calling?
May I ask who is calling?
• 21-Feb-2007, 05:51
minamax
Re: Question Structure
Dear Casiopea,

Thank you for your reply. I was wondering is any of the following would be alright. And if not, why not?

Who I should say is calling?
Who is calling should I say?
Who is calling I should say?

and what type of question is "Who should I say is calling?"

Thank you
• 21-Feb-2007, 07:03
Casiopea
Re: Question Structure
[1] Who I should say is calling? :cross:
[2] Who is calling should I say? :tick:
[3] Who is calling I should say? :cross:

Examples [1] and [2] don't work because the subject-auxiliary set 'I should' looks like a statement. To get a question, you need to invert them, like this: I should => should I?

I'm not sure what you're asking here, 'what type of question is "Who should I say is calling?" ' The base structure looks like (A) below. (B) is the result of auxiliary+subject inversion, and (C) is the result of two things: (i) who movement, and (ii) auxiliary+subject inversion.

(A) I should say who is calling.
(B) Should I say who is calling?
(C) Who should I say is calling.

'who is calling' is the object of the verb 'say'. 'should' is a modal-auxiliary, and 'I' is the subject. The difference between (B) and (C) in terms of meaning is this. The answers:

(B) Yes, you should tell me the name of the person who is calling me.
(C) Yes. Please tell Max that Casiopea is calling him.

All the best. :-D
• 21-Feb-2007, 08:36
minamax
Re: Question Structure
Thank you so much, Casiopea!

After reading it a dozen of times... I finally got it! Thank you. Even before posting a question in this forum, I could understand the initial quesiton and what it meant, but I just could not figure out why it's written this way or how I could help my friend figure out the structure. Thank you for a clear breakdown!!!
• 21-Feb-2007, 09:46
Casiopea
Re: Question Structure
You're welcome, minamax, and I'm sorry it took you a dozen times. :oops: (I'll have to work on that.) :-D:up:

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