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    #1

    confusing word order: ~ what was art.

    Hi, I found a confusing sentence in an article.

    The sentence says: He challenged common beliefs about what was art and what was not.

    Isn't the word order for indirection question Interrogative + S + V ?

    I think it should have been written like this.

    He challenged common beliefs about what art was and what was not.

    Am I missing something or is that part in the article simply wrong?

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    #2

    Re: confusing word order: ~ what was art.

    Source?

    He challenged common beliefs about what was art and what was not.
    He challenged the things that are commonly believed to be art (which he would consider not art) and the things that aren't commonly believed to be art (which he would consider art). He is challenging what is art and what isn't.

    He challenged common beliefs about what art was and what was not. I would have written that as He challenged common beliefs about what art is and what it isn't, which would mean he challenged the common belief of what art is supposed to be, and what it isn't supposed to be. In other words, he's redefining what is to be believed about art.
    Not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: confusing word order: ~ what was art.

    Or more simply put, it's the difference between "What things are art and what aren't?" and "What is the definition of art?"
    Note particularly, as curiousmarcus has written, the second sentence requires "... what is art and what isn't [art]", while the first is correct as "what art is and what it isn't."

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    #4

    Re: confusing word order: ~ what was art.

    Quote Originally Posted by forinfo View Post
    Hi, I found a confusing sentence in an article.

    The sentence says: He challenged common beliefs about what was art and what was not.

    Isn't the word order for indirection question Interrogative + S + V ?

    I think it should have been written like this.

    He challenged common beliefs about what art was and what was not.

    Am I missing something or is that part in the article simply wrong?
    The article was correct. In "what was art", "what" is predicative complement; it is a fronted non-subject and is accompanied by obligatory subject-auxiliary inversion.

    Subordinate interrogatives like this can usually be glossed with the formula "the answer to the question", so the meaning here is "He challenged common beliefs about the answer to the question 'What was art and what was not?'"
    Last edited by PaulMatthews; 17-Jun-2016 at 21:41.

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    #5

    Re: confusing word order: ~ what was art.

    All of the responses are helpful as a I get to have different views
    on the sentence I questioned. And to me this is the fun part of this
    "Ask a Teacher" section.

    Thank you!

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