"the question (of) whether"

ximingxun

New Member
chinese
Hello! Folks. It's been a while.
Recently i got puzzled by this sentence structure like "the question (of) whether there is live in Mars". Can i just think of the sentence without "of" as a apposition clasue introduced by "whether" ,while the sectence with "of" as a objective clause? Moreover,if is there any semantic difference between them?
Thanks in advance.
 
  • ximingxun

    New Member
    chinese
    Please give us a sentence, not a sentence structure. :) It does help us answer your question.
    Yes.I mean, can i think of them the way below:
    In the first sentence "The question of whether there is live on Mars has not been concluded ", the pronoun whether introduces a objective clause.
    In the second sentence "The question whether ther live on Mars has not been concluded", the pronoun whether introduces a apposition clause.
    And do those 2 sentences mean exactly the same?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think they mean exactly the same.
    You might like to compare the google ngram for these phrases: https://books.google.com/ngrams/gra... whether;,c0;.t1;,the question of whether;,c0

    It interesting to see that the version with question of only recently started to be more frequent, if we are to believe the data (which comes from written English).
    I myself prefer this version, but I grew up with it if the dates are correct. The version without of seems to be from The question, namely whether there is life on Mars, has not been answered/resolved (concluded seems unusual).

    The difference is not a grammatical one, but one of style.
     

    ximingxun

    New Member
    chinese
    Thank you for you replying. e2efour. But there is still something that i don't understand.You said "The difference is not a grammatical one, but one of style". Does it mean those 2 sentences are the same in grammar? Please forgive my ignorance,that is what i can not accept. As a language learner,i do think there got to be some difference between with and wthout "of" in grammar or syntax even they might be the same in meaning. Additionally, as to "style", do you mean it is about some kind of idiomatic or habitual expression by different speakers?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The of is optional. How you describe this in grammatical terms is not clear (for example, one description of the question whether is that whether etc. is an "interrogative content clause". You have spoken about a clause in apposition, which sounds reasonable to me.).
    As far as I am concerned, both versions are used and are grammatical. He continued playing the piano normally has the same meaning as He continued to play the piano. If the meaning is the same, it then becomes a question of style.

    Some people might prefer one version to the other and say that one is more grammatical (correct). I don't think this approach is useful in this case.

    For example: the full version of the forum dictionary has the following comment under USAGE:
    "The question whether
    should be used rather than the question of whether or the question as to whether: this leaves open the question whether he acted correctly."

    I have no idea why this comment has been made. It contains no explanation of why one version is better than the other and just sounds arbitrary. Some people prefer the version with of, others prefer the version without of.
     

    ximingxun

    New Member
    chinese
    It is very clear and conprehensive explaintion to me,e2efour,i appreciate that. Unfortunately, it is really frustrating me to run into problems that can not be identified or defferentiated in grammar, because usually it has to be the only way that non-native speaker to learn language. But, thanks anyway.
     

    mink-shin

    Senior Member
    Korean - Korea, Republic of
    Hi.

    This more relaxed approach is not reflected in his written style, and even though Ishan knows he means no harm, his e-mails imply impatience and anger about the situation which makes Ishan worry, and question whether he should have raised the issue in the first place. (Source : Agile Change Management: A Practical Framework for Successful Change ... By Melanie Franklin)

    I'm puzzled as to the two bold words.

    At first time, I thought question was a verb of his e-mails. But then I thought there could be a fair chance that question whether is same with question of whether and that question is object of imply. Then I had started to search some relevant threads and finally came here.

    Now that I've learnt from E2efour's post, I know 'of' between question when this word is a noun and whether is just optional. But I'm not sure if I can apply what I've just learnt to question whether in my quotation box. As far as I know, question can be both a verb and a noun. The fact has made me confused.

    It would be much appreciated if anybody would answer me.

    Thank you.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hi mink-shin.

    In your sentence question is a verb (makes Ishan worry and question). Here question is an ordinary transitive verb and cannot be followed by of.

    As I said, when question is a noun, you can say a/the question (of) whether.
    When there is no whether, you say, for example, I can't do the job. It's a question of time. (here of is needed).

    With the noun, I recommend using question of whether. It just sounds better to me than question whether.
    Example:
    The question of whether schoolchildren should memorise their tables is a controversial one.
     

    mink-shin

    Senior Member
    Korean - Korea, Republic of
    Hi mink-shin.

    In your sentence question is a verb (makes Ishan worry and question). Here question is an ordinary transitive verb and cannot be followed by of.

    As I said, when question is a noun, you can say a/the question (of) whether.
    When there is no whether, you say, for example, I can't do the job. It's a question of time. (here of is needed).

    With the noun, I recommend using question of whether. It just sounds better to me than question whether.
    Example:
    The question of whether schoolchildren should memorise their tables is a controversial one.
    Hi, E2efour.

    I'm glad to have your answer.

    Thank you.
     
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