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    #1

    What is the cause/What are the causes

    When an appliance is not working properly.

    Which is the correct way to ask:

    1. What is the cause of the malfunction.
    2. What are the causes of the malfunction.

    Which is the correct way to say:

    1. Tell me the cause(s) of the malfunction
    2. Tell me what is (are) the cause(s) of the malfunction.

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    #2

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    1. What is the cause of the malfunction?
    2. What are the causes of the malfunction?

    Both of the above are correct. Don't forget: use a question mark when asking a question.

    1. Tell me the cause(s) of the malfunction. (Correct.)
    2. Tell me what the cause(s) of the malfunction is/are. (Note the placement of the verb "is" or "are".)


    Translator, editor and TESOL certificate holder, but not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    I think a more natural response would be: 'What's wrong with it?'
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 22-Jun-2016 at 09:16. Reason: Adding punctuation.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes



    Do you think "what...is/are" in "
    Tell me what the cause(s) of the malfunction is/are" is superfluous?

    Is it better just to say "
    Tell me the cause(s) of the malfunction."?

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    #5

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    How do you actually say cause(s)? You could remove the problem of number by asking What caused the malfunction?

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    #6

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    I think it is most natural to ask what the cause is. At least until some time when it is known that there are multiple causes.

  3. Junior Member
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    #7

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I think it is most natural to ask what the cause is. At least until some time when it is known that there are multiple causes.

    I have made the sentence complicated.

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    #8

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    It's easy to do this if you worry too much about all the possibilities. Most native speakers will use the most obvious one, as SoothingDave suggests, and allow for the other possibilities afterwards. It is, after all, simply a question and not a legal contract.

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    #9

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    Non native speakers usually write and speak English base on the grammar and style/format of their own language, or pay too much concern in English grammar, (in fact some non English speakers do not understand English grammar well), thus making what they write/speak clumsy and unnatural.
    Last edited by bigC; 24-Jun-2016 at 03:03.

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    #10

    Re: What is the cause/What are the causes

    If my attitude is typical, most people don't care what caused the problem. They just want their broken washing machine, automatic dishwasher or whatever to be put back in working order. They might listen patiently while the repair person explains things, but their only concern is to get it working again.

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