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    #1

    about whom

    Which of these are correct:

    1-The man about whom the police asked me whether he lived in this building has disappeared.



    2-A man about whom the police asked me whether he lived in this building has disappeared.

    3-There was a man about whom the police asked me whether he lived in this building. He has disappeared.


    4-The police asked me whether a man lived in this building. He has disappeared.



    I think "4" is correct, but it is ambiguous. Maybe "a man" refers to one particular individual. Maybe the question is whether there are any men at all in the building (maybe only single women are allowed to live in the building.)

    In "1" we have "the man", so, obviously, he has been mentioned before. In that sense "1" is different from the other sentences.

    Gratefully,
    Navi.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: about whom

    They are all hopelessly complicated.

    The police asked me if the man who disappeared lived in this building.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: about whom

    Which came first? The asking or the disappearing? I had thought from your sentences that the asked about him and he has since disappeared. Mike's sentence indicates that he disappeared and then they asked.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #4

    Re: about whom

    Thank you Mike and Barb.

    You are right Barb. In my mind the disappearing came after the asking. But I think my sentences could be read both ways.

    The sentences are indeed convoluted, although I am not sure they are out and out wrong. #4 seems fine to me. (I hate to contradict Mike, who has answered about a million of my questions and whose mastery and grasp of the English language is beyond doubt ... so let's keep this between us!)

    Gratefully,
    Navi.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: about whom

    "... about whom the police asked me whether he lived in this building" is, for me, wrong.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: about whom

    Your fourth set was okay.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: about whom

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Your fourth set was okay.
    Grammatically I agree, but it is ambiguous. If someone simply asked "Does a man live in this building?", it's quite likely that the answer would be "Yes". If they showed the person a picture and asked "Does/did this man live in this building?" it would make much more sense.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: about whom

    Ems, that was my problem with #4. I don't think the police would ask if "a man" lived in the building.

  7. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: about whom

    I did not interpret it as the police saying "Does a man live here?"
    I interpreted it as the police asking me a specific man, but a man I have not introduced to the reader/listener as a subject yet. The key piece of information is not his identity, but that he is missing.

    In real-life speech, it would probably go something like this: The other day the police were asking me about this guy and whether he lived in the building, and now it turns out he's missing!

    We don't have a problem with "this guy" in that type of utterance, even though I'm not holding him or pointing to his picture at that moment. It's just "a guy" that I'm going to tell you more about in a moment.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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