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    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 4
    #1

    Noun Clause

    Hi everyone;

    I have a problem with a noun clause structure.

    "Who was your partner at the ball? We all wonder."

    1- We all wonder who was your partner at the ball.
    2- We all wonder who your partner was at the ball.

    As far as I know, if the question word is asking the subject, we don't need to make a difference.

    e.g. Who invited you?
    - I just wondered who invited you.

    But, if we are enquiring about the object, we need to transform the question type into an affirmative one.

    e.g. Who did you invite?
    -I just wondered who you invited.

    My initial sentences sounded rather odd. It seems that the question "Who was your partner at the ball?" is enquiring about the subject but the first sentence with the noun clause structure (without a change in the question type) sounded weird. The second sounded OK, but it is against the rule.

    Can somebody explain how it should be?

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Oct 2010
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    #2

    Re: Noun Clause

    Quote Originally Posted by angelfacesatan View Post
    Hi everyone;

    I have a problem with a noun clause structure.

    "Who was your partner at the ball? We all wonder."

    1- We all wonder who was your partner at the ball.
    2- We all wonder who your partner was at the ball.

    As far as I know, if the question word is asking the subject, we don't need to make a difference.

    e.g. Who invited you?
    - I just wondered who invited you.

    But, if we are enquiring about the object, we need to transform the question type into an affirmative one.

    e.g. Who did you invite?
    -I just wondered who you invited.

    My initial sentences sounded rather odd. It seems that the question "Who was your partner at the ball?" is enquiring about the subject but the first sentence with the noun clause structure (without a change in the question type) sounded weird. The second sounded OK, but it is against the rule.

    Can somebody explain how it should be?
    The paragraph which I have underlined is a little confusing to me, but here goes:

    If we accept that your #1 and #2 are indirect questions, then your sentence #2 is fine, as is:

    2a. We all wonder who your partner at the ball was.

    (There is a slight difference in meaning between #2 and #2a, but that is not really relevant to your question).

    With BE, the 'rule' is sometimes not observed, as in your #1, which is acceptable in conversation.

    When an there is an object involved, then we are more restricted:

    3. Who invited your partner to the ball? We all wonder.
    ~ We all wonder who invited your partner to the ball.

    4. Who did your partner invite to the ball? We all wonder.
    ~ We all wonder who your partner invited to the ball.

    Does that help?


    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 4
    #3

    Re: Noun Clause

    Thank you for your reply

    I think I'm still a bit confused. :) According to the "rule", this question:

    -Who was your partner at the ball?

    is directed to subject.
    e.g.
    -Who was your partner?
    -Jack was my partner.

    My question could be answered this way and "Who and Jack" refer to the same person, which is the subject of the sentence. However, you stated that with the verb "BE", this rule can be ignored. What if I see a similar question in an exam? My sentence 2 seems wrong according to the rule. Which way should I follow in a formal context?


    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 4
    #4

    Re: Noun Clause

    Anyone? I need to make a presentation tomorrow...

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Noun Clause

    I am not sure precisely to which ‘rule’ you are referring, but I’ll try again:

    Direct Questions:

    With the exception of BE and, for some speakers, HAVE, the interrogative of all full verbs in English is formed with an auxiliary for both yes/no and wh- questions. In the present and past simple tenses, the auxiliary DO, (absent in the non-emphatic form of the affirmative) is used. There is inversion of subject and auxiliary:

    a. Are you working?
    b. Have you worked?
    c. Can you work tomorrow?
    d. Do you work?
    e. Where did you work?
    f. Who did Booth assassinate?

    (g. Are you a teacher?
    h. Have you any children?)

    The only exception is when the wh- word is itself the grammatical subject of the sentence:

    Who assassinated Lincoln?
    What caused the explosion?

    Indirect questions:

    In indirect questions, the auxiliary verb DO is not required in present and past simple questions, and there is no inversion of subject and verb:

    a. He asked me if I was working.
    b. I wonder if you have worked.
    c. I wasn’t sure if I could work the following day.
    d. She asked me whether I worked.
    e. I asked Luke where he worked.
    f. I am not sure who Booth assassinated.
    g. She asked me if I was a teacher.
    h. I don’t know whether you have any children.

    With BE and HAVE in wh- indirect questions, particularly when the subject is made up of several words, the speaker may* preserve the inversion of the direct question. We could probably call this ‘incorrect’, but we certainly hear it, and it doesn’t normally disturb us:

    “Who was the Speaker of the House when Palmerston was Prime Minister?”
    He asked me who the Speaker of the House when Palmerston was Prime Minister was.
    He asked me who the Speaker of the House was when Palmerston was Prime Minister.
    He asked me who was the Speaker of the House when Palmerston was Prime Minister.

    None of these is particularly elegant. I suspect that, in conversation, we’d be most likely to hear the third.

    Final note: The Spelling and Grammar facility of my computer tried to reject my #3, and change it to #2. I stand by what I have written.

    * may is used with the sense of possibility, not permission in this sentence.

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