legitimate Interrogative forms

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JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
This is a question a chef asked another chef:
Cooking is an expression of what? Tell me.

I'd like to know if the following interrogative forms are possible:
(1) What is cooking an expression of? Tell me.
(2) Of what is cooking an expression? Tell me.
(3) An expression of what is cooking? Tell me.

I think (1) and (2) are possible, but not (3). Am I right?
 
  • You are right. 1 and 2 are standard; 3 is a kind of poetical or literary wording.


    It's a bit like, 3* "Belongs to you, this dog?"

    1*: Who does this dog belong to, you?"

    ===
    ===

    I'd like to know if the following interrogative forms are possible:
    (1) What is cooking an expression of? Tell me.
    (2) Of what is cooking an expression? Tell me.
    (3) An expression of what is cooking? Tell me.
     
    Last edited:

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I think (1) and (2) are possible, but not (3). Am I right?
    Yes, you are right. 1 is more conversational; 2 would be more formal. 3 is so convoluted as to be just plain wrong, so I'm afraid disagree with Benny that there could anything literary or poetic about it.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks, guys. I have a couple of minor follow-ups.

    The first is about contraction. Are these contractions possible both in oral and written forms?
    (1') What's cooking an expression of? Tell me.
    (2') Of what's cooking an expression? Tell me.
    Theoretically, both should be fine. But somehow (2') sounds weird to my non-native ears.

    The second is about combining the interrogative with "tell me".
    (1'') Tell me what cooking is an expression of.
    (2'') Tell me of what cooking is an expression.

    I think (1'') is possible, but is (2'') ever possible?
     
    Last edited:

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    (1') What's cooking an expression of? Tell me. :tick:
    (2') Of what's cooking an expression? Tell me. :cross: [We wouldn't use the contraction in that position.]

    (1'') Tell me what cooking is an expression of. :tick:
    (2'') Tell me of what cooking is an expression of. :cross: [One "of" needs to be removed.]
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    (2'') Tell me of what cooking is an expression of. :cross: [One "of" needs to be removed.]
    Thanks, Parla.
    Sorry about the typo. I meant to put "of" in front of "what" and not at the end of the sentence. (I have edited my question accordingly.)

    So, now we have:
    (2'') Tell me of what cooking is an expression.

    Is this ever possible?
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    So, now we have:
    (2'') Tell me of what cooking is an expression.

    Is this ever possible?
    I don't know whether it's ever possible, but it doesn't work in this case. "Tell me of..." sounds like an old-fashioned way of saying "tell me about...", and then the rest of the question doesn't fit.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    (2') Of what's cooking an expression? Tell me. :cross: [We wouldn't use the contraction in that position.]
    What do you think would be the reason the contraction is not allowed there?
    My best guess is that (2')'s construction is limited to formal style, which doesn't readily allow contraction.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    So, now we have:
    (2'') Tell me of what cooking is an expression.

    Is this ever possible?
    Technically, it's grammatically correct, but I don't think anyone would ever say it. You can construct lots of sentences that follow all the rules of grammar but they won't necessarily sound like anything a native speaker would say (or write).

    [You said] "Of what's cooking an expression? Tell me. :cross: [We wouldn't use the contraction in that position.]"
    What do you think would be the reason the contraction is not allowed there?
    It's not a matter of being "allowed". We just wouldn't use a contraction in that position. Further, while the sentence would be grammatically correct if "what is" were spelled out, it's not something a native speaker would say.
     
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