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  1. #1
    lagoo is offline Member
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    in what sources are + doing

    Hi, I have come across the sentence below at a news report of CNN website, which says:

    “A congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force were shot Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, in what sources are calling an apparent "deliberate attack. "”

    I am really confused by the sentence of “in what sources are calling …”.
    I can guess the meaning of that but it’s not a good way to learn English.
    Is it a relative clause?
    Can I change it into “in which sources are calling it an apparent deliberate attack”?


    Many thanks in advance for any kind assistance offered here.

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Re: in what sources are + doing

    No, 'in what' is correct.
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer

  3. #3
    GoesStation is online now Moderator
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    Re: in what sources are + doing

    What stands in for something like "an incident". The phrase could be rewritten as "in an attack which sources are calling deliberate."
    I am not a teacher.

  4. #4
    teechar's Avatar
    teechar is offline Moderator
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    Re: in what sources are + doing

    Quote Originally Posted by lagoo View Post
    Hi, I have come came across the sentence below at in a news report of on the CNN website. , which says:

    “A congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force were shot Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, in what sources are calling an apparent 'deliberate attack.'"

    I am really confused by the sentence use of “in what sources are calling …”.
    "What" is being used as a relative pronoun. It refers to the shooting.

    Quote Originally Posted by lagoo View Post
    I can guess the meaning of that, but it’s not a good way to learn English.
    I don't fully agree. While you can certainly ask questions about how a sentence/structure works, you don't always need to fully analyze every single structure. Sometimes, guessing is useful too.

  5. #5
    Phaedrus's Avatar
    Phaedrus is offline Senior Member
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    Re: in what sources are + doing

    Is it a relative clause?
    "What sources are calling . . ." is a free relative clause. Unlike a normal relative clause, it is not modifying a noun phrase. It is itself a noun phrase, and functions as the object of the preposition "in." "What" functions both as the head of that noun phrase and as the direct object of "calling":

    in [what [sources are calling __ an apparent "deliberate attack"]]

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