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  1. #1
    symaa is offline Member
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    Question Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    Hello,

    My question is about the difference between the wh-interrogative and the nominal relative clause.


    *I couldn’t remember which shelf he kept it on:
    *Money is what counts.
    *I can't imagine what made her do it.
    *What they agreed to is OK with me.
    *What he is looking for is a friend.
    *How the book will sell depends on its author.


    The sentences above are just some examples of wh-interrogative and a nominal relative clauses.

    Would you please tell me how to differentiate between a wh-interrogative and a nominal relative clause? Is there any grammatical rule that explains why sometimes the clause is considered as a wh-interrogative clause, whilst sometimes is nominal relative clause?


    Thank you in advance.

    Regards,

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    This may help eliminate some of your problems: English relative clauses - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  3. #3
    symaa is offline Member
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    Thank you for the link.
    Actually I've read it, but it's really still vague to me.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    A number of things can distinguish between the two – mainly the word order. In questions, the word order changes from SubjectVerbObject (Sam eats oranges) to VerbSubjectObject (Does Sam eat Oranges?)

    And think of context, take the fifth sentence for example, What he is looking for is a friend.
    If you're asking what he is looking for, you wouldn't know he was looking for a friend, that would be what the addressee of that question would say.

    [Not a teacher]

  5. #5
    symaa is offline Member
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    Quote Originally Posted by Calis View Post
    A number of things can distinguish between the two mainly the word order. In questions, the word order changes from SubjectVerbObject (Sam eats oranges) to VerbSubjectObject (Does Sam eat Oranges?)

    And think of context, take the fifth sentence for example, What he is looking for is a friend.
    If you're asking what he is looking for, you wouldn't know he was looking for a friend, that would be what the addressee of that question would say.

    [Not a teacher]
    Thank you for your answer.

    Perhaps, I wasn't more explicit in my question.

    Actually, I'm talking about ''clauses'', not question. For example:


    1- I can't imagine what made her do it. ( Wh-interrogative clause)
    2-You can call me what you like. ( Nominal relative clause)

    So, how can I differentiate between them?


    Thank you again.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    Quote Originally Posted by symaa View Post
    1- I can't imagine what made her do it. ( Wh-interrogative clause)
    2-You can call me what you like. ( Nominal relative clause)
    How did you do it there? That's one way.

    One not very scientific way is simply to see if you can easily make the question from which the dependent wh- interrogative clause was formed. If you can't, its probably a nominal relative clause. #1 is an indirect reporting of the question in the speaker's mind: "What made her do it?' It is therefore a dependent wh- interrogative clause. #2 is not a question, indirect or otherwise. So, it's not a wh- interrogative clause.

    A crude test for a 'what' NRC, is whether you can replace 'what' with 'the thing(s) that'. That's possible with #2 (though we would not actually say 'You can call me the thing that you like'; 'anything that you like' would be more natural in this particular example.) So, it's a nominal relative clause.

    There's a more in-depth look at this here.

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    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    Thanks a million, Symaa, for asking that question. I have never been able to understand the difference, either. Thanks to you, we members got those great answers from Calis and 5jj. Above all, we got that awesome link in 5jj's latest post.

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER


    Symaa,

    I have found some information to share with you.

    (1) One expert says:

    (a) Many books call "what" an interrogative if it introduces an indirect question, like "I asked what he meant"; they call it a relative if it introduces an indirect statement, like "I know what he meant."

    (b) These are indirect questions that are difficult for many people to recognize:

    (i) I wondered who blew the horn.
    (ii) I might have guessed who blew the horn.
    (iii) I did guess who blew the horn.
    (iv) I know who blew the horn

    Source: Paul Roberts, Understanding English (1954), p, 79, p. 334.

    (2) Two experts say that this is an interrogative "what": I know what you did last night.


    Source: Homer House and Susan Harmon, Descriptive English Language (2nd edition), p. 65.

    (3) I really like these sentences from an expert:

    (a) They inquired what our business was. (interrogative)
    (b) They guessed what our business was. (relative)
    (i) Because the verb "guess" has a "factual quality."
    (ii) Because "what" clearly means "that which."
    (iii) Because it would be difficult to convert it into a direct question.

    Source: John B. Opdycke, Ph.D., Harper's English Grammar (Warner Books paperback, 1987), p. 57.

    (4) Some experts say:

    (a) "I don't know what to say" is interrogative = "What should I say?"

    (b) This sentence is ambiguous: They asked me what I knew.

    (i) Relative = They asked me things that I knew.
    (ii) Interrogative = They asked me, "What do you know?"

    Source: Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985), p. 1052 and p. 1055.

    (5) One expert says these are interrogatives:

    (a) I asked them on what they based their predictions.
    (b) I asked them what they based their predictions on.
    (c) He is not sure (about) what he should say.
    (d) Jill gave him something last night, but I don't know what [she gave him].

    Source: the link given us by 5jj. The author's name is Marcela Mala of the University of Liberec.

    (6) One expert says that the classification as a relative or as an interrogative "will be determined by whether or not a question is implied." [My emphasis.]

    (a) I told you what he did. (relative)
    (b) I asked you what he said. (interrogative)
    (c) The debate will be on the question of what this country should do in case of war.

    Source: Walter Kay Smart, English Review Grammar (4th edition), p. 36.

  9. #9
    symaa is offline Member
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    Default Re: Wh-interrogative Vs nominal relative clause.

    How did you do it there? That's one way.
    From the worksheet I have.




    Thanks to all of you for your fruitful answers. Sorry for taking your time.

    Much obliged.

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