prepositon and interrogative pronoun

Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

1. a. By whose order was this done? b. Whose order was this done by?

2. a. From where do you come? b. Where do you come from?

3. a. Since when did you become so brave? b. When did you become so brave since?

4. a. Since when have you been so diligent? b. When have you been so diligent since?


I think that these all sentences are possible and correct.

But, It seems that the sentences such as 2(a), 3(b), and 4(b) are not common expression.

Question : Some cases usually are used with "prepostion + interrogative pronoun", other cases usually are used with " interrrogative pronoun ~~~~+prepositon".

Are these only linguistic habits? or are there any reason?


Thank you always~
 
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    With "Since when," only 3A and 4A are correct. "Since when" is actually a completely different question word than "when." It's used only as a compound.

    In 2, you've got another, similar problem. "From" sticks very close to "come" in the verb phrase "come from." It would be rare to split it up. So 2B is going to be much more common. (Also, "from where" contracts to "whence," if you're being pedantic. Finally, if you really want to use "from + X," then you're going to end up with "from which": "Poland is the country from which my parents emigrated." "From which country did your parents emigrate?" sounds good, as did "Where did your parents emigrate from?")

    1A and B just don't sound like English. "Who ordered this?" is what almost all native speakers would say.

    Of these, only 2 I think really raises problems. "Since when" is a red herring, since it can't be split.
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    5. a. Till when should he work? b. When should he work till?

    6. a. Till when will I grow? b. When will I grow till?

    Question : In common wiht 'since', can't 'till' be split like (b) sentences? ( are (b)'s pattern always incorrect?)
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    "Since when" cannot be split. It's one question-word-unit unto itself.

    "Till when will I grow" is not a natural question in English, so I suggest that you discard it.

    There are examples of prepositions ending questions beginning with "when":

    7. When will the meeting go until?
    8. When will the meeting run to/till?
    9. When do you think the meeting will end at?

    Of these, 9. deserves some note: it's pleonastic; it doesn't need its final "at." I think the "at" is only there because the verb phrase "end at" is so popular. Sentence 9. feels a lot like spoken English to me. The other sentences would be fine both spoken and written, because it makes more sense to keep the preposition with the verb in both of them.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Question : Some cases usually are used with "prepostion + interrogative pronoun", other cases usually are used with " interrrogative pronoun ~~~~+prepositon".

    Are these only linguistic habits? or is there any reason?
    The reason is in how we interpret phrases. The best choice of word order is the one that most clearly expresses the intended meaning(s).
    1. a. By whose order was this done? b. Whose order was this done by?
    By has a special meaning ("under the permission granted by") in by whose order, that differs from what we might expect to come after "This was done by ..." (an agent or means), so I think keeping by whose order together makes the most sense here.
    2. a. From where do you come? b. Where do you come from?
    In this case, it is come that has a special meaning ("hail"/"originate") in come from, so the phrase needs to be kept together. If we change come to hail, the ambiguity disappears, and it makes equal sense to ask "Where do you hail from?" or "From where to you hail?".
    3. a. Since when did you become so brave? b. When did you become so brave since?

    4. a. Since when have you been so diligent? b. When have you been so diligent since?
    There are two problems with separating since when.

    One is that since when together has a special meaning that makes this a rhetorical question, so rather than asking something, it seems to say "I am surprised" or "I didn't know". This "rhetorical" meaning cannot be gleaned from the parts of since when taken separately.

    The other problem is that when at the beginning means "at what time" or "on what date", but the "at" or "on" meaning disappears after since. So even with the literal meaning of since when, "since what time or date", it is still important to keep the phrase together.
    5. a. Till when should he work? b. When should he work till?
    Till when has a straightforward meaning, not a "rhetorical" one, but the disappearing "at" or "on" is still an issue, so I would keep till when together, though splitting it would not be too bad for a short sentence.
    6. a. Till when will I grow? b. When will I grow till?
    I would say the same thing about 6 that I did about 5 except that 6 is quite an unusual thing to ask. It seems to presume a date or time for something not normally scheduled. For a less literal meaning of when ("under what circumstances" or "by what trigger(s)"), I might ask "When will I stop growing?".
    Question : In common wiht 'since', can't 'till' be split like (b) sentences? ( are (b)'s pattern always incorrect?)
    The prepositions till and since do not lend themselves to being split from their objects. Note that, besides their use as prepositions, they can also act as subordinating conjunctions.
     
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