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    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #1

    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.
    Thank you in advance!

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: Question Structure

    Welcome, minamax.

    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?


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    #3

    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

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: Question Structure

    [1] Who I should say is calling?
    [2] Who is calling should I say?
    [3] Who is calling I should say?

    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. <statement>
    (B) Should I say who is calling? <question>
    (C) Who should I say is calling. <question; requesting the person's name>

    '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.


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    #5

    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!!!

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #6

    Re: Question Structure

    You're welcome, minamax, and I'm sorry it took you a dozen times. (I'll have to work on that.)

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