what it is/is it called?

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Ivan_I

Banned
Russian
1 Look at this object. Do you know what it is called?
2 Look at this object. Do you know what is it called?

I think 1 is correct. What about 2?
 
  • Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    In this context it looks incorrect. Still I wonder if it can ever be correct. For example,

    Do you know what a car is?
    Do you know what is a car?

    Both are correct. So, I am thinking if 2 can be correct in a different context.
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    Not in my brand of English. At worst, no.2 needs some punctuation such as a colon, after "what". At best, it needs deleting.
    I remember it being discussed before.
    1. Do you know what a car is? - Do you know what a car represents/how it looks/what it has to have in order to be deemed a car.
    2. Do you know what is a car? - Do you know which one of these is a car?
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    Keith, but it's obvious that they mean different things.

    Do you know who Jack is? (We both know which Jack is meant. But we want to know not his name but some other attributes of his persona)
    Do you know who is Jack? (Here, we want to know which one of all these people is Jack. In other words, we want to know the person going by Jack)

    But I grant it for a moment that you are right, which one of the two is wrong in your opinion?
     

    anahiseri

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain) and German (Germany)
    What is a car?
    I don't know what a car is. (not a real question! no question mark! Therefore Subject + Verb)
    do you know what a car is ? (Same as before, but it's embedded in the question do you know?
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    What is a car?
    I don't know what a car is. (not a real question! no question mark! Therefore Subject + Verb)
    do you know what a car is ? (Same as before, but it's embedded in the question do you know?
    I have never seen a car in my life, I don't know how it looks. Look at these objects here. Do you know what is a car?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Keith, but it's obvious that they mean different things.
    1. Do you know who Jack is? (We both know which Jack is meant. But we want to know not his name but some other attributes of his persona)
    2. Do you know who is Jack? (Here, we want to know which one of all these people is Jack. In other words, we want to know the person going by Jack)...
    No, it's obvious that no.1 means what you say, but if a native speaker wanted to express the idea in no.2 they would say: "Do you know which one is Jack?... Do you know which of them is Jack?..."
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    No, it's obvious that no.1 means what you say, but if a native speaker wanted to express the idea in no.2 they would say: "Do you know which one is Jack?... Do you know which of them is Jack?..."
    All I can do is take your word for it. But I don't think that my option is grammatically wrong. I suppose it's less idiomatic. The difference between WHICH and WHAT comes down to the choice of something out of a limited set of items and unlimited.

    If we have a limited set of items then WHICH is better of course. But I don't think that WHAT is impossible. Plus you rejected the second option as such at first. What do you think is the best movie?

    Both are CORRECT (according to the native contributors to the thread)
    (1) What do you think is the best movie of all time?
    (2) What do you think the best movie of all time is?


    Hence, these MUST be correct as well.
    Do you know what the best movie of all time is? (Do you know what a car is?)
    Do you know what is the best movie of all time? (Do you know what is a car?)


    I understand that you suggest this:
    Do you know which (one) is the best movie of all time?

    But I think the thread I mentioned allows for my interpretation as well.
     
    Last edited:

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Beware! You can't take one example and then assert "these MUST be correct as well". That may usually work in Russian (though I can think of exemples to the contrary) but it doesn't in English.

    I think the point here is that preferred word-order will vary, depending on many things but especially the length of the sentence. As sentences grow longer, it becomes harder to balance the demands of logic (false friend!), common sense, and style. In your example 2 above, two changes have occurred:
    • The direct question do you know has been replaced by the more complex what (do you think);
    • the single word Jack has been replaced by the six words the best movie of all time. This leaves the little word is alone at the end of the sentence.
    So new principles apply, and I have no hesitation in finding version 1 now preferable.
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    • The direct question do you know has been replaced by the more complex what (do you think);
    • the single word Jack has been replaced by the six words the best movie of all time. This leaves the little word is alone at the end of the sentence.
    Good points Keith! Here is one which doesn't agree with me, though. I don't reject the factor of style but I think in this case it's the least significant factor. The matter is, that they mean different things.

    (1) What do you think is the best movie of all time? (Of all existing movies, which one is the best one?)
    (2) What do you think the best movie of all time is?
    (What are the characteristics you find to be a must for a hypothetical best movie of all time. What should be the best movie in theory?)

    If you still don't agree, have a look at the principle provided by Forero.

    [Who do you think a baptizer is? - You think a baptizer is somebody. Who?

    Who do you think is a baptizer? - You think somebody is a baptizer. Who?]
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Your distinction is illusory. Once you've asked "...do you think... best..." there is no difference between the two cases: they both ask for a personal opinion on cinematic quality, and the answer will be the same (Citizen Kane, of course!).
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    If I may change the noun to something a little more common:

    Who do you think a policeman is? - What function and position in society do you think a policeman holds? (informal) - This would be said after someone had made a statement like "I took my dog to the policeman because it kept being sick." and which thus indicates a misunderstanding of the word "policeman" - the intended word was "vet."

    Who do you think is a policeman? - Which one of those people do you think is a policeman?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Ah, an example which is short and deals with a real distinction! I agree. But I still can't help thinking that most native speakers will express those ideas differently, such as:

    What do you think a policeman is?
    Guess who's joined the police!
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think 1 is correct. What about 2?
    1 Look at this object. Do you know {what it is called}? What is a pronoun = the thing, whose referent is = the name that.

    {what it is called} is a noun clause and the object of “know”

    If you substitute “the name that” into 1, you get: “Do you know the name that it is called?” which, although not idiomatic, is at least grammatically correct.

    However, if you do the same to 2:

    2 Look at this object. Do you know {what is it called}? You get “Look at this object. Do you know the name that is it called? “that is it called” is gibberish: it has an unwarranted inversion of subject (it) and verb (is).

    {what is it called} cannot be a noun clause and therefore cannot be the object of “know” – and yet “know” requires an object. “What is it called?” is a sentence in its own right. It is a question.
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    Ah, an example which is short and deals with a real distinction! I agree. But I still can't help thinking that most native speakers will express those ideas differently, such as:

    What do you think a policeman is?
    Guess who's joined the police!
    Keith, I think there are always at least two domains: the way it would be said and a matter of grammar. I was referring to the latter.
     

    anahiseri

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain) and German (Germany)
    If I may change the noun to something a little more common:

    Who do you think a policeman is? - What function and position in society do you think a policeman holds? (informal) - This would be said after someone had made a statement like "I took my dog to the policeman because it kept being sick." and which thus indicates a misunderstanding of the word "policeman" - the intended word was "vet."

    Who do you think is a policeman? - Which one of those people do you think is a policeman?
    In the second sentence, "do you think" is like an element in brackets:
    Who is a policeman? Subject + verb + whatever it's called -------- Who (do you think) is a policeman?
    This is correct.

    But I admit I don't know how to analyze the first one, although ist sounds right.
    In any case, the element "do you think" cannot be considered an element like in the 2nd sentence:
    Who (do you think) a policeman is? because the words left make no sense.
     

    anahiseri

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain) and German (Germany)
    Who do you think a policeman is?
    I understand this means
    What kind of person do you think a policeman is?
    and it sounds right to me (not native in English but with near-native diploma :)) but as I said before
    I don`t know how to analyze it from the point of view of grammar. No expert grammarian around here?
     
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