in what sources are + doing

lagoo

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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.
 

bhaisahab

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No, 'in what' is correct.
 

GoesStation

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What stands in for something like "an incident". The phrase could be rewritten as "in an attack which sources are calling deliberate."
 

teechar

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Hi, I [STRIKE]have come[/STRIKE] came across the sentence below [STRIKE]at[/STRIKE] in a news report [STRIKE]of[/STRIKE] on the CNN website. [STRIKE], which says:[/STRIKE]

“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 [STRIKE]sentence[/STRIKE] use of “in what sources are calling …”.
"What" is being used as a relative pronoun. It refers to the shooting.

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.
 

Phaedrus

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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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