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    #1

    (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    Which of the following sentences is correct?
    http://www.zhihu.com/question/21361973
    (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? Or
    (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?
    Last edited by sitifan; 05-Dec-2015 at 04:04.
    I need native speakers' help.

  1. probus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    To me, they are the same.

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    #3

    Re: (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    I would use 2) because the question is Can you tell me, so the rest isn't a question.

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    #4

    Re: (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    I remember that one of my teachers, who is American, told me that the first was correct. I learned, then, that both are used.

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    #5

    Re: (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Sitifan:

    You have already received the answer from three teachers. I only wanted to add some extra information that may interest you.

    In the opinion of a man whom many people revere and many people mock, both are indeed equally "normal." But he thinks there is a difference.

    Direct question: What are the duties? [My note: What is the matter?]

    Indirect question #1: Explain what are the duties. [My note: Can you tell me what is the matter?]
    Answer: These are the duties. [My note: This is the matter. For example: "Your driving too fast is the matter."]

    Indirect question #2: Explain what the duties are. [My note: Can you tell me what the matter is?]
    Answer: The duties are these. [My note: The matter is this. For example: "The matter is your driving too fast."]



    H.W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1965 edition, edited by Sir Ernest Gowers), page 279.

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    #6

    Re: (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    But those examples do not feature the direct question Can you tell me. Fowler's view of those sentences does not apply here IMO.

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    #7

    Re: (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    What's the matter?

    What is the subject of the above sentence?
    If the subject is what, then the noun clause is what's the matter. If the subject is the matter, then the noun clause is what the matter is.
    Last edited by sitifan; 06-Dec-2015 at 13:44.
    I need native speakers' help.

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    #8

    Re: (1) Can you tell me what's the matter? (2) Can you tell me what the matter is?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Sitifan:

    Of course, I cannot answer your question.

    I have, however, found some information that may interest you.

    Two scholars give this sentence: "What is that object?"

    a. "That object is a stethoscope."
    b. "A stethoscope is that object."

    They say that the question more closely resembles "a."

    Their explanation: in "What is that object? the predicate noun and not the subject noun is being questioned."


    Authority: Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman, The Grammar Book / An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course (1983 edition), page 152.

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