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  1. #11
    Clark is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Smith View Post
    I think you mix the indirect questions with the questions used in reported speech.
    Could you enlighten me on the difference?

  2. #12
    naomimalan is offline Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Raymott, you consider the whole complex sentence as an indirect question: He asked what the matter was. In my opinion it's only the reported clause 'what that matter was' that should be labelled as an indirect question.

    I think you understand indirect questions in a rather straightforward way: What's the matter? (direct) - He asked me what the matter was. (indirect).
    The original question (What's the matter?) can have various realizations in reported speech:
    I didn't know what the matter was.
    I couldn't see what the matter was.
    He told me what the matter was.
    etc.
    All these sentences give different reports on 'what the matter was'. They all contain this question as a topic in their semantic structure.
    Yes, that's exactly what Quirk et al say in the page reference I quoted higher up.

  3. #13
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Raymott, you consider the whole complex sentence as an indirect question: He asked what the matter was. In my opinion it's only the reported clause 'what that matter was' that should be labelled as an indirect question.

    I think you understand indirect questions in a rather straightforward way: What's the matter? (direct) - He asked me what the matter was. (indirect).
    The original question (What's the matter?) can have various realizations in reported speech:
    I didn't know what the matter was.
    I couldn't see what the matter was.
    He told me what the matter was.
    etc.
    All these sentences give different reports on 'what the matter was'. They all contain this question as a topic in their semantic structure.
    So, I assume you would say that "Your name is Jack", and "She said she would marry me" are indirect questions, because they contain various "realizations" of "Is your name Jack" and "Will you marry me?"
    I assume that you don't see that the first two of your sentences above refer to a question in the person's mind, and the third is an assertion that someone told him the answer.
    A phrase is not a single semantic structure if it plays a different semantic role - one in a question and the other in a statement, otherwise any sentence which could be translated into a question would be a question while, by an intelligent definition, it is not.

    "Your name is Clark". I know this. It is not a question, indirect or otherwise.
    "Your name is Clark?" is a question.
    The "semantic structure argument" is either meaningless, or you have not presented it faithfully.

    Could you give me an authoritative reference that states that simple indicative statements like "He told me where the keys were" is a question?
    Your proposition that such a direct statement is an indirect question is outside my field of experience, and I find it pointless to argue that black isn't white unless you give me some good and well-argued reason to believe that it just might be.

  4. #14
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by naomimalan View Post
    Yes, that's exactly what Quirk et al say in the page reference I quoted higher up.
    Hi naomimalan,
    I cannot find any page references that you've quoted. Would you post them again, with the full title of the book?
    Thanks.

  5. #15
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Can anyone tell me what the word "about" is doing in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by forinfo View Post
    Hello,

    I wonder if the following is an example of an indirect question where the order of the subject and predicate doesn't get reversed like a direct question.

    Ex. "He told me about what the most useful books were."

    Thank you for your help in advance.
    If the sentence didn't have this "about" then it's the same as He told me which books were the most useful.

    The "what" is just a preposition standing in for those later-mentioned books; it's not an embedded question at all.

  6. #16
    Harry Smith's Avatar
    Harry Smith is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Could you enlighten me on the difference?
    e.g. I wonder what time it is. Tell me what you have done. Do you know what he wants.
    All these above given examples are indiect questions.
    " What time is it? What have you done? What do you want? are direct questions. We can use them in reported speach but I don't think they are indirect questions. They are simply questions used in reported speech.
    I'd like to hear other native speakers' opinions.

  7. #17
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Smith View Post
    e.g. I wonder what time it is. Tell me what you have done. Do you know what he wants.
    All these above given examples are indiect questions.
    "Tell me what you have done" sounds like an imperative to me, not an indirect question.
    "Do you know what he wants?" is an actual question, with an embedded question of "what does he want?"

    Maybe I'm mixing up indirect questions with embedded questions.

  8. #18
    Clark is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Sorry for the delay in answering your post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    So, I assume you would say that "Your name is Jack", and "She said she would marry me" are indirect questions, because they contain various "realizations" of "Is your name Jack" and "Will you marry me?"

    No, I wouldn't. When an indirect question is built into a reported speech sentence, it is introduced by either a conjunction ('if, whether' for general and alternative questions) or a conjunctive pronoun (who, which, what, etc)/adverb (where, when, etc for special questions).
    So, your example "She said she would marry me" doesn't meet this requirement.


    I assume that you don't see that the first two of your sentences above refer to a question in the person's mind, and the third is an assertion that someone told him the answer.

    Again, you refer to the whole sentence as an indirect question, and in my opinion the indirect question is only a fragment of the sentence.
    So "He told me what the matter was" has an indirect question as its reported clause.


    A phrase is not a single semantic structure if it plays a different semantic role - one in a question and the other in a statement, otherwise any sentence which could be translated into a question would be a question while, by an intelligent definition, it is not.

    "Your name is Clark". I know this. It is not a question, indirect or otherwise.
    "Your name is Clark?" is a question.
    The "semantic structure argument" is either meaningless, or you have not presented it faithfully.

    I'll leave this piece of philosophy without any comment as I think I clarified my position above.

    Could you give me an authoritative reference that states that simple indicative statements like "He told me where the keys were" is a question?

    I don't think referring to authorities can serve as an argument in a scientific discussion.

    Your proposition that such a direct statement is an indirect question is outside my field of experience, and I find it pointless to argue that black isn't white unless you give me some good and well-argued reason to believe that it just might be.

    Life is too various to be looked at as a black and white dichotomy.
    Last edited by Clark; 25-Nov-2008 at 13:34.

  9. #19
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    I now understand that you are not claiming that "He told me what the matter was." and the OP's sentence are indirect questions.
    That was my only argument. We now seem to agree.

  10. #20
    Clark is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I now understand that you are not claiming that "He told me what the matter was." and the OP's sentence are indirect questions.
    That was my only argument. We now seem to agree.

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