Which team, (do) you think, was the best?

loviii

Senior Member
russian
Good day!

An example:
(1) Which team, do you think, was the best?

"Which team was the best?"
is a question with only a main clause.
If we want to add a subordinate clause here we mustn't change the word order of this subordinate:
(2) Which team, you think, was the best?

Why can we say (1)?
Why can't we say (2)?

Thanks!
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Why can we say (1)?
    Because this is basically an inversion of "What do you think? Which team was the best?".
    It's also possible to move the insertion to the end: Which team was the best, do you think?
    Why can't we say (2)?
    Because we don't. :)
    But we also wouldn't say the non-inverted version as "What you think? Which team was the best?".
    I'd ... leave out the commas.
    You can't just leave out the commas.
    Well, you can, and it would still pretty well mean the same, but it would deliberately lose the insertion structure. I think there is a slight shift of emphasis between the versions with and without commas. In the comma-less version more prominence is given to the opinion. In the version with commas, I feel the "do you think" is added as a bit of an afterthought-courtesy, and one might as well just have asked "Which team was the best?".
     

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    Because this is basically an inversion of "What do you think? Which team was the best?".
    It's also possible to move the insertion to the end: Which team was the best, do you think?
    By your logic, correct inversions for:
    What do you think? Where did I go yesterday?
    will be:
    Where, do you think, did I go yesterday?
    Where did I go yesterday, do you think?

    right?

    Can we also say:
    Where did I go, do you think, yesterday?

    Thanks!
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Can we say:
    Where did I go, do you think, yesterday? :cross:
    No, it sounds very odd.
    You can't just leave out the commas.
    Well, you can, and it would still pretty well mean the same, but it would deliberately lose the insertion structure. I think there is a slight shift of emphasis between the versions with and without commas. In the comma-less version more prominence is given to the opinion. In the version with commas, I feel the "do you think" is added as a bit of an afterthought-courtesy, and one might as well just have asked "Which team was the best?".
    This distinction makes perfect sense of course but I'd say that in real life the commas would be left out most of the time.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Type (1) without the commas is best thought of as a question that targets something inside a subordinate clause:

    You think (that) Team X was the best.
    Which team do you think __ was the best?

    In the question, something has been moved in front of the subject, so it requires inversion of subject and auxiliary, so an auxiliary 'do' is needed. This is regular.

    (In the statement 'that' is optional; in the question it can't occur - a phenomenon called the that-trace effect, which is not otherwise relevant here.)
     

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    You think (that) Team X was the best.
    Which team do you think __ was the best?
    By your logic:
    You think (that) I went to the cinema yesterday.
    Where do you think did I go yesterday?

    right?

    Can we also say:
    Where did I go yesterday do you think?
    Where did I go do you think yesterday?


    Thanks!
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, the logic only applies to the main clause. That's where inversion occurs. It doesn't happen in the subordinate clause: 'I went' remains. No positions have changed in the subordinate clause, only in the main clause.

    Where do you think I went __ yesterday?

    These sentences are tricky because what seems to be a parenthetic addition (the 'you think' part or its question equivalent) is actually integrated into the grammar of the main sentence. You can set it off with commas, but it's usually pronounced and written without them. And you can put actually parenthetic versions in various places:

    Where did I go yesterday, do you think?

    The grammar of this is actually a bit harder to explain. The word 'did' is regular. It's inversion in the main clause because 'where' has been moved in front of the subject. Same as in the previous example. But now we have a . . . well, something like a tag question, in that it's not grammatically attached to the main clause. But did it get its 'do' from the integrated version of the sentence? I'm not sure.
     

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    ...
    Where do you think I went __ yesterday?
    ...
    Where did I go yesterday, do you think?
    ...
    As I understood:
    "Where do you think I went yesterday?" is correct.
    "Where do you think did I go yesterday?" is ungrammatical.
    "Where did I go do you think yesterday?" is ungrammatical.
    "Where did I go yesterday, do you think?" is correct.

    Did I understand you right?

    Thanks!
     
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