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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 5th, 2008, 01:39 pm
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Default Forming Questions

A Japanese student had a question for me that I hope some people can help out with. Here's the question:

1) How many percent of Japanese are Christians? -> Can you guess how many percent of Japanese are Christians?

2) Where is the nearest station? -> Do you know where the nearest station is?

3) How much was the medical bill? -> Can you guess how much the medical bill was?

In (2) and (3), when converting the first question to the second kind of question, the verb "is" and "was" changes its place from the middle of the sentence to the end. Sentence (1) is different. The "are" is still before "Christians".

My student actually thought that based on her understanding of (2) and (3) that "How many percent of Japanese are Christians?" would be converted to "Can you guess how many percent of Japanese Christians are?".

Of course this is wrong, but I can't explain why it is to her. I see her logic, but what's the explanation?

Thanks.
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Unread Dec 5th, 2008, 03:14 pm
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Default Re: Forming Questions

In questions 2 and 3 'where' and 'how much' ask questions about the oject, e.g. The nearest station is ...?... In a question like 'How many people go to work by bus?', the question is about the subject which is why the structure of the indirect question is different. As for your question 1, personally, I would say What percentage... but that doesn't change the structure of course.
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Unread Dec 6th, 2008, 01:52 am
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Default Re: Forming Questions

Yes - it's the same difference as in :

a) Who did John phone?
John phoned Mary.
Do you know who John phoned?
and
b)Who phoned John?
David phoned John.
Do you know who phoned John?

As the underlining in the examples show, when the question word is/refers to the object or complement - as in (a) then the question uses inversion. But in an indirect question this is lost and the order becomes Question word - subject - verb : ... who John phoned.

But when the question word is the subject, then there's nothing else to put in front of the verb, so in both the direct and indirect question you get question word (=subject) - verb - object : ... who phoned John.

So in your examples
a) Where is the nearest station?
The nearest station is over there.
Where refers to the complement so -
question = inversion :Qu word - V - S (Where is the station?)
indirect question loses inversion : Qu word - S -V (...where the station is)

But :

What percent of Japanese are Christians?
2% of Japanese are Christians.

The question phrase (underlined) = subject. So there's no inversion in either the question or indirect question - it's always question phrase - V - S
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 6th, 2008, 12:26 pm
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Default Re: Forming Questions

Quote:
Quote susan53 View Post
Yes - it's the same difference as in :

a) Who did John phone?
John phoned Mary.
Do you know who John phoned?
and
b)Who phoned John?
David phoned John.
Do you know who phoned John?

As the underlining in the examples show, when the question word is/refers to the object or complement - as in (a) then the question uses inversion. But in an indirect question this is lost and the order becomes Question word - subject - verb : ... who John phoned.

But when the question word is the subject, then there's nothing else to put in front of the verb, so in both the direct and indirect question you get question word (=subject) - verb - object : ... who phoned John.

So in your examples
a) Where is the nearest station?
The nearest station is over there.
Where refers to the complement so -
question = inversion :Qu word - V - S (Where is the station?)
indirect question loses inversion : Qu word - S -V (...where the station is)

But :

What percent of Japanese are Christians?
2% of Japanese are Christians.

The question phrase (underlined) = subject. So there's no inversion in either the question or indirect question - it's always question phrase - V - S
Thanks Sue - I was just about to post a more complete explanation but yours is perfect... leave it to a woman, eh?
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 7th, 2008, 04:12 pm
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Default Re: Forming Questions

Awesome! Thanks once again!
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Unread Dec 8th, 2008, 02:51 pm
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Default Re: Forming Questions

What a sweet, neat explanation!
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