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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    Hello,

    I was wondering if the word "what" in the following sentence is
    an interrogative or a relative pronoun.

    I think it could be either way, but I'm not sure.

    ex. Isn't the idea of what is good relative?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    Unfortunately, "Isn't the idea of what is good relative?" is not grammatical. Can you explain what you're trying to express with it?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Unfortunately, "Isn't the idea of what is good relative?" is not grammatical.
    It's grammatical to me.

    Following my interpretation of what this utterance is likely to be doing, it may be better expressed as Isn't the question of what is good relative? so that it can be understood a bit more easily that this is effectively a question about the question What is good?

    This could be something said during a philosophical discussion about morality, for instance. It is supposing that the predicate good is a purely relative term, and that therefore the question cannot be answered in absolute terms.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 18-Jun-2019 at 08:04.

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    #4

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    I read it as meaning 'Isn't the idea of goodness relative?'

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    Ahhh, OK. I read it half a dozen times but that meaning never occurred to me! I kept thinking it was about a "good relative".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    It didn't look like a full sentence to me at first.
    (Now I understand.)
    As jutfrank suggests in #3, the "what" in the original sentence is an interrogative pronoun.

    Not a grammarian

  7. teechar's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    As jutfrank suggests in #3, the "what" in the original sentence is an interrogative pronoun.
    Really? How about this?
    "Isn't what we think subjective?"
    I don't see it as an interrogative pronoun.

  8. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    "Isn't what we think subjective?"

    I don't see it as an interrogative pronoun.
    Neither do I in the example quoted above.

    We recently had a related discussion in this thread. At a generous 48 posts, it certainly is a rewarding read.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 18-Jun-2019 at 20:00.

  9. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    [Possible Context: Speakers A and B are looking at a menu at a restaurant. Speaker B has been to the restaurant. Speaker A hasn't.]

    A: What's good?
    B: Isn't the idea of what is good relative?
    A: Indeed it is. What do you think is good?
    B: The spaghetti.

    I'd analyze the "what" here as a relative pronoun in a free/fused relative clause: "the idea of what is good" = "the idea of that which is good."

    The idea that the spaghetti which is served at that restaurant is good is relative. Somebody else might hate the spaghetti but love the pizza.

  10. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: What--an interrogative or a relative pronoun in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    [...] Following my interpretation of what this utterance is likely to be doing, it may be better expressed as Isn't the question of what is good relative? so that it can be understood a bit more easily that this is effectively a question about the question What is good? [...]
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    [Possible Context: Speakers A and B are looking at a menu at a restaurant. Speaker B has been to the restaurant. Speaker A hasn't.]
    A: What's good?
    B: Isn't the idea of what is good relative? [...]
    Thank you, jutfrank and Phaedrus. As I said, I'm not a grammarian.

    Now, I'd like to ask you what the red what above is.
    Is it an interrogative pronoun or a relative pronoun?
    https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/what

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    Really? How about this?
    "Isn't what we think subjective?"
    I don't see it as an interrogative pronoun.
    To be honest, I don't know.
    It must be either an interrogative pronoun or a relative one.

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