Results 1 to 3 of 3
#1
pubwie is offline Newbie
  • Member Info
    • Member Type:
    • English Teacher
    • Native Language:
    • Afrikaans
    • Home Country:
    • South Africa
    • Current Location:
    • South Korea
Join Date
Apr 2021
Posts
1

Red face Indirect question + verb subject switch + parts of speech

Good day teachers

Could I ask for help explaining or identifying a clear reason why the following two indirect questions are slightly different in forming. I ask because I have a few low level ESL students who I'd like to give every chance without confusing them.

Example 1
Direct: What is the capital of Peru?

Indirect: Could you tell me what the capital of Peru is?

RULE: In indirect questions with is/are, the verb (is) comes after the subject (the capital of Peru).
ref:https://www.espressoenglish.net/dire...ns-in-english/



Example 2
Direct: What language is spoken in the Netherlands?
Indirect: Could you tell me what language is spoken in the Netherlands?


RULE: ?

Let's break it down:

Opening phrase:"Could you tell me"
Subject: what language
Verb: is spoken
( ? ):
in the Netherlands.

"..in the netherlands" = object of the sentence, therefore the structure doesn't change like Example 1?

This is one of a few blind spots in my grammar knowledge, but hope
someone could spare a few minutes explaining, please.
TIA
Last edited by emsr2d2; 16-Apr-2021 at 15:44. Reason: Removed quote boxes to make it easier to respond

#2
PaulMatthews is offline Senior Member
  • Member Info
    • Member Type:
    • English Teacher
    • Native Language:
    • English
    • Home Country:
    • Great Britain
    • Current Location:
    • Great Britain
Join Date
Mar 2016
Posts
500

Re: Indirect question + verb subject switch + parts of speech

[1] Could you tell me what the capital of Peru is?
[2] Could you tell me what language is spoken in the Netherlands?

There’s no change in the basic rule that (normally) there is no subject-auxiliary inversion in subordinate interrogatives.

In [1] the interrogative phrase "what" is fronted, but it is not the subject. The subject is "the capital of Peru" and “what” is predicative complement of "be" (i.e. "is"). Note that you can also have "Could you tell me what is the capital of Peru?"

In [2] again the interrogative phrase "what language" is fronted but this time it is the subject. "Spoken in the Netherlands" is a clause functioning as complement of "be" (i.e. "is"). The preposition phrase "in the Netherlands" is not an object but an optional locative adjunct in clause structure.

Note that the underlined elements are subordinate interrogative clauses (embedded questions) functioning as complement of "tell". The meanings are:

"Could you tell me the answer to the question 'What is the capital of Peru?'"
"Could you tell me the answer to the question 'What language is spoken in the Netherlands?'"

#3
jutfrank's Avatar
jutfrank is online now VIP Member
  • Member Info
    • Member Type:
    • English Teacher
    • Native Language:
    • English
    • Home Country:
    • England
    • Current Location:
    • England
Join Date
Mar 2014
Posts
14,530

Re: Indirect question + verb subject switch + parts of speech

How low are they exactly? If they're below an intermediate level, I'd suggest leaving this well alone. Teach them something more useful.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •