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    #1

    Is it correct?

    Is it correct?
    1)
    A: Whose father is a lawyer?
    B: Nobody's father is a lawyer.

    2)
    A: Whose father is a lawyer?
    B: I don't know whose father a lawyer is.

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    #2

    Re: Is it correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by English4everyone View Post
    Is it correct?
    1)
    A: Whose father is a lawyer?
    B: Nobody's father is a lawyer. OK

    2)
    A: Whose father is a lawyer?
    B: I don't know whose father a lawyer is. No. "I don't know whose father is a lawyer."
    Your last sentence could perhaps be thought of as correct grammatically but I cannot think of a context in which it could be used. The problem is what is the subject here.

    Whose father is a lawyer?


    Theoretically, there are two ways of interpreting this sentence.

    1. "Whose father" is the subject, "a lawyer" is the subject complement. We can ask this question when there is a number of people who have fathers and we want to know which of those fathers work as lawyers. This is the natural interpretation. The answer now must be

    I don't know whose father is a lawyer.


    Since "whose father" is the subject and "a lawyer" is the subject complement, "is" must come after "whose father" and before "a lawyer" in this sentence.

    2. "A lawyer" is the subject and "whose father" is the subject complement as in

    Whose cup is this?


    This is a strange interpretation because of the indefinite article "a" before "lawyer". If it were "the", the interpretation would be possible. Let's see what it would mean with "the".

    Whose father is the lawyer?


    Now, instead of a "general" lawyer, we have a particular lawyer in our sentence. We can now understand that the question has one of two possible structrures. Surely, there is a number of people who have fathers and one of them is a lawyer, a previously specified lawyer. But now it is not clear what the subject is in this question. In other words, we can't be sure about whom the question is. Is the speaker asking about the fathers or about the lawyer? It is possible that the question is about the lawyer, because it's a specified lawyer. It would be strange to ask this question about a "general" lawyer.

    I dislike the above explanation very much. I know it's unclear and I'm sorry about it. I hope someone comes up with a better one.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 02-Jan-2012 at 22:32. Reason: typo

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