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  1. roseriver1012's Avatar
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    #1

    Are the sentences acceptable in grammar?

    I found such two sentences in a textbook named "Oxford English", which is used to teach junior students English.
    Can I borrow your typewriter for a couple of days?
    (S1 doesn't feel well.) S2 asks S1 what the matter is.
    All the underlined parts are in fact against the grammar I've learned before.
    I would say: Can I keep your typewriter for a couple of days.
    S2 asks S1 what is the matter.
    So are the sentences right or not?
    Thanks for your replies!

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Are the sentences acceptable in grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by roseriver1012 View Post
    I found such two sentences in a textbook named "Oxford English", which is used to teach junior students English.
    Can I borrow your typewriter for a couple of days?
    (S1 doesn't feel well.) S2 asks S1 what the matter is.
    All the underlined parts are in fact against the grammar I've learned before.
    I would say: Can I keep your typewriter for a couple of days.
    S2 asks S1 what is the matter.
    So are the sentences right or not?
    Thanks for your replies!
    Yes the sentences are right.
    1. You can't keep the typewriter until you have the typewriter, and you can't get it without asking to borrow it.
    If you simply said to someone, "Can I keep your typewriter?", they might ask "What!? Have you stolen my typewriter?"

    2. This is the normal way to say this in English.
    S1 asks S2 what the matter is.
    S1 asks S2 what the date is.
    S1 asks S2 what the time is.
    ...
    You can also say, S1 asks A2, "What is the matter?"
    Where did you learn different?

  3. roseriver1012's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Are the sentences acceptable in grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes the sentences are right.
    1. You can't keep the typewriter until you have the typewriter, and you can't get it without asking to borrow it.
    If you simply said to someone, "Can I keep your typewriter?", they might ask "What!? Have you stolen my typewriter?"

    2. This is the normal way to say this in English.
    S1 asks S2 what the matter is.
    S1 asks S2 what the date is.
    S1 asks S2 what the time is.
    ...
    You can also say, S1 asks A2, "What is the matter?"
    Where did you learn different?
    According to what I have been taught, the act "borrow" can not last. It seems to happen in a flash. So the "grammar" I've learnt told me: you can not conncet such words like "borrow" with a period of time. Another example is: I can not say "he married for six years". But, just now I looked it up in the dictionary and found the verb "borrow" can last. That is my long-term misunderstanding!
    But for the second one, I've been told that "what is the matter" should be treated differently when changed into indirect speech; that is, the order of the words is not changed. You should still say: I ask him what is the matter. And another similar one is the sentence "what is wrong". So did I get it wrong for a long time, too? (can "get" last? Is this sentence wrong in the same way?)
    Do there exist such questioning sentences in English that when put into a bigger sentence as a clause, the order of words remains the same?

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Are the sentences acceptable in grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by roseriver1012 View Post
    According to what I have been taught, the act "borrow" can not last. It seems to happen in a flash. So the "grammar" I've learnt told me: you can not conncet such words like "borrow" with a period of time. Another example is: I can not say "he married for six years". But, just now I looked it up in the dictionary and found the verb "borrow" can last. That is my long-term misunderstanding!
    I understand what you mean. Yes, it only takes a second to borrow something, but we say, "Can I borrow it for 2 weeks" meaning "Can I borrow it now and keep it for two 2 weeks".
    The same for renting, or hiring. You hire something for 2 weeks, but hiring it only takes a few minutes.
    This is a common concept. If you buy an "entrance ticket" to a movie, this allows you not only to enter the theatre, but to stay there while the movie is playing. Hence, borrowing something allows you to keep it for the length of time you've borrowed it for.

    But for the second one, I've been told that "what is the matter" should be treated differently when changed into indirect speech; that is, the order of the words is not changed. You should still say: I ask him what is the matter.
    No. Some people might phrase it this way, but just as many would say it the other way.

    And another similar one is the sentence "what is wrong". So did I get it wrong for a long time, too? (can "get" last? Is this sentence wrong in the same way?)
    Do there exist such questioning sentences in English that when put into a bigger sentence as a clause, the order of words remains the same?
    "What is wrong?" is a different . You can ask what the matter is, but you can't ask what wrong is. You have to ask what's wrong.

    It seems that you've come across a problem. Yes, there are different ways of saying this. Sometimes one way works, soemtimes the other, sometimes either.
    I would always say, "He asked me what the problem/matter was," not the other version.
    On the other hand, "What is for dinner?" can only be rendered as "He asked me what is/was for dinner." - not "He asked me what for dinner was."

    This isn't something I've thought a lot about. I'd like to hear some other opinions. (I mean on the wider question. My answers to your specific questions are correct).

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