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    #1

    about relative pronoun 'what'

    Hello everyone! I would like to ask you a question.

    I think there is a similarity between interrogative 'what' and relative pronoun 'what'

    And I sometimes see and hear a sentence like s1.

    s1. Is this what you really want?

    I think 'what' is a relative pronoun.

    But I've never seen and heard a sentence like s2.

    s2. What is what you really want?

    Does s2 make sense?
    What if the first 'what' is an interrogative and the second a relative clause?
    Since I have never seen like this before, s2 seems somewhat awkward to me.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by pseudo; 12-Sep-2012 at 14:42.

  1. SlickVic9000's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    (not a teacher)S2 doesn't sound right. To keep it in the same word order it would have to be:"What is it that you really want?"I'm not sure if S2 is grammatically incorrect. It could sound plausible if you read it the right way, but trying to use 'what' twice in the same sentence just sounds weird.Suffice it to say that you'll never hear a native speaker say S2.

  2. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    Quote Originally Posted by pseudo View Post
    Hello everyone! I would like to ask you a question.

    I think there is a similarity between interrogative 'what' and relative pronoun 'what'

    And I sometimes see and hear a sentence like s1.

    s1. Is this what you want?

    I think 'what' is a relative pronoun. Yes, I agree.

    But I've never seen and heard a sentence like s2. Neither have I.

    s2. What is what you really want?

    Does s2 make sense? I think it is grammatical, but a native speaker would never say so.
    What if the first 'what' is an interrogative and the second a relative clause? It's how I would read it.
    Since I have never seen like this before, s2 seems somewhat awkward to me.

    Thank you.
    Hello, pseudo.
    My comments are in blue.
    As for s2, "What is it that you really want?" is natural in my opinion.
    Or simply "What do you really want?"

    Please wait for native speakers' comments.

    (Edit) I'm sorry, SlickVick. I didn't notice your post.

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    #4

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    Thank you so much for your quick reply.
    In Korean, s2 can be used. To be sure, in Korean relative pronoun 'what' has different form from interrogate 'what'.
    Anyway I think just "What do you really want?" will do.

    Thank you again.

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    #5

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    Thank you for your quick reply.

  3. whitemoon's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Hello, pseudo.

    As for s2, "What is it that you really want?" is natural in my opinion. (I don't think so)

    What is the thing (that) you really want?

  4. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    Quote Originally Posted by whitemoon View Post
    What is the thing (that) you really want?
    Hello, whitemoon.
    I agree that your sentence is grammatical.

    May I ask why you think the sentence below is not natural (OK)?

    "What is it that you really want?"

    Thank you.

  5. whitemoon's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    According to the context, in my view,
    What is what you really want? It means:
    What is the thing (that/which) you really want?
    Suppose that you really want a banana.
    We can write in two ways:
    1. What I really want is a banana.
    2. The thing (that/which) I really want is a banana.

    I’ve never seen: That I really want is a banana.
    However, we can see: That you should say so surprises me. That it would rain seemed likely.
    The difference is that the verb “want” needs an object.
    If we transform the two sentences into questions,
    1. What is what you really want?
    2. What is the thing (that/which) you really want?

    Therefore, your sentence sounds unnatural, I think.

  6. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    Just to be clear:

    What is what you really want? This is not natural English, as SlickVic said.
    What is the thing that you really want? This is possible.
    What is the thing which you really want? This is possible, though not as natural as 'that' in my opinion.
    What is the thing you really want? This is possible.
    What is it that you really want? This is possible.
    Last edited by 5jj; 12-Sep-2012 at 11:48. Reason: spacing

  7. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: about relative pronoun 'what'

    Quote Originally Posted by whitemoon View Post
    According to the context, in my view,
    What is what you really want? It means:
    What is the thing (that/which) you really want?
    Suppose that you really want a banana.
    We can write in two ways:
    1. What I really want is a banana.
    2. The thing (that/which) I really want is a banana.
    3. It is a banana that I (you) really want. I'd add this one, too.

    I’ve never seen: That I really want is a banana.
    However, we can see: That you should say so surprises me. That it would rain seemed likely.
    The difference is that the verb “want” needs an object.
    If we transform the two sentences into questions,
    1. What is what you really want?
    2. What is the thing (that/which) you really want?

    Therefore, your sentence sounds unnatural, I think.
    Hello, whitemoon.
    Thank you for your reply.
    I understand your views on this.

    Now, I'd like you to see the sentence #3, which is the "It is...that..." construction. (the so-called "cleft sentence")

    "It is a banana that you really want."
    "Is it a banana that you really want?"
    "What is it that you really want?"

    What do you think?
    Is my logic convincing enough for you?

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