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Thread: need explaining

  1. #1
    M56 Guest

    need explaining

    Is there anything wrong with the "Whatever" reply below?

    Example dialogue:

    Tom: I don't understand this.

    M56: Google it.

    Tom: Google what?

    M56: Whatever it is that you need explaining.

    Tom: (sarcastically) What a peculiar sentence! What language is it? LOL!
    Last edited by M56; 07-Sep-2005 at 20:10.

  2. #2
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    Re: need explaining

    Tom: Google what?

    M56: Whatever it is that you need explaining.= Google whatever it is that you need explaining/to be explained.

    (There is nothing wrong with the "whatever" reply.)
    Last edited by Temico; 07-Sep-2005 at 22:28.

  3. #3
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    Re: need explaining

    I agree with Temico. [It's a] Good example of ellipsis.
    M56: Google it.
    Tom: Google what?
    M56: [Google] Whatever it is that you need explaining.
    Tom: (sarcastically) What a peculiar sentence! What language is it? LOL!
    Mind you, and even though it's correct, from Tom's point of view I can see why he thinks it's odd. Consider this,

    Google it.
    Goodle what?
    [Google] whatever it is that you need explaining.

    The entire string, 'whatever it is that you . . . ' functions as the object of the omitted verb 'Google', but what function does the word 'whatever' play in that string? Is it the subject or the object? Moreover, if it's the subject, then what function does "it" play, and if it's the object, then what's it doing ahead of the subject? Isn't English word order SVO, and not OSV? Aha, maybe that's what Tom saw as "peculiar"?

    It would have been less of a hassle, not to mention empowering if you replied, "It's a _____ structure, Tom."

    Do you know the name of that structure? Why not check it out?

  4. #4
    M56 Guest

    Re: need explaining

    Google it.
    Goodle what?
    Google whatever it is that you need explaining

    I think it would be better as:

    Google it.
    Goodle what?
    [Google] whatever "it" that you need explaining

    There "whatever" is an adjective.

    Anyway, my reason for posting was not that part, though I appreciate your comments. I wanted to know how folk felt about the "need explaining" part of the sentence.
    Last edited by M56; 10-Sep-2005 at 21:48.

  5. #5
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    Re: need explaining

    OK. Try,

    Whatever it is that needs explaining.
    Whatever it is that you need someone to explain to you = explaining
    Whatever it is that you need an explanation for = explaining
    Whatever it is that needs to be explained to you.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: need explaining

    I'm happy with the ellipsis and need + gerund.

  7. #7
    M56 Guest

    Re: need explaining

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    OK. Try,

    Whatever it is that needs explaining.
    Whatever it is that you need someone to explain to you = explaining
    Whatever it is that you need an explanation for = explaining
    Whatever it is that needs to be explained to you.
    I use all of them invariably. This too:

    Whatever "it" that you need explaining.

  8. #8
    M56 Guest

    Re: need explaining

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I'm happy with the ellipsis and need + gerund.
    Good. Me too.

    Also, maybe a bit of semantic ellipsis is going on here:

    Whatever "it" that you need explaining <done/carried out on>.

    I need this door oiling.

    I need oiling <done/carried out> on this door.

  9. #9
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    Re: need explaining

    Whatever "it" that you need explaining.
    To me, the above sentence is grammatically incorrect without a verb "is/may be/etc."

    Whatever it= is an incomplete sentence because there is no verb in it.
    that you need explaining = adjective clause qualifying the pronoun "whatever".

    "Whatever that you need explaining it......"??

    Another example:-
    "Whatever you say that is reasonable." = "Whatever that is reasonable you say."

    Without the verb "say", the sentence would become:-
    "Whatever that is reasonable you....what"??
    Last edited by Temico; 10-Sep-2005 at 22:41.

  10. #10
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    Re: need explaining

    Quote Originally Posted by M56
    Also, maybe a bit of semantic ellipsis is going on here:

    Whatever "it" that you need explaining <done/carried out on>.
    I need this door oiling.
    I need oiling <done/carried out> on this door.
    I like your analysis. Ellipsis, yes, but as Temico points out, the result is ungrammatical. "oiling", a present participle, is used to describe what needs to be done on the door. 'to be done' is a linking structure, wherein the past participle 'done' functions as a predicate adjective: (to be is often omitted)

    I need this door to be oiled ~ I need this door oiled.
    I need this door to be done ~ I need this door done.
    I need this project to be carried out ~ I need this project carried out.
    I need it to be explained ~ I need it explained.

    If we replace the past participles above with present participles, the result is ungrammatical. The verb's object is described as carrying out an event:

    *I need this door (to be) oiling. (this door needs to be oiling something)
    *I need this door (to be) doing. (this door needs to be doing something)
    *I need this project (to be) carring out. (this project needs to be . . .)
    *I need whatever (to be) explaining. (whatever needs to be explaining something)

    The nouns 'door', 'project', and 'whatever' function as the direct object of the verb "need", as well as the subject of "the verb" 'to be -ing'. The present participles 'oiling', 'doing', 'carring out', and 'explaining' function as part of the linking "verb". That structure is different from our original example's structure:

    [1] Present Participle Structure
    subject + verb + object + verb (to be + ing)
    *I need whatever explaining.
    => 'whatever' functions as the object of 'need'
    => If 'whatever' functions as an adjective modifying the gerund 'explaining', the sentence is somewhat grammatical; e.g., I need whatever explaining you can offer. (I need this kind of explaining.)

    [2] Gerund Structure
    subject + verb + object + noun (gerund)
    I need explaining for whatever.
    => 'explaining' functions as the object of 'need'. It's a gerund, a noun, as tdol mentioned. 'whatever' also functions as a noun, as the object of the preposition 'for'. If we cleft the gerund structure, the result is a familiar one:

    You need explaining (for) whatever.
    (for) Whatever it is you need explaining.
    Whatever it is you need explaining (for).

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