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Which of the above sentences is correct in regard to the part in boldface and why? Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019 1:33:27 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/4/2012
Posts: 5,454
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If I ask you what is your idea of happiness, you may answer having a lot of money, fame, high social status, and so on.
If I ask you what your idea of happiness is, you may answer having a lot of money, fame, high social status, and so on.

Which of the above sentences is correct in regard to the part in boldface and why?

Thanks.
Mamavoo ‼️
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019 1:49:26 PM

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Location: McKinney, Texas, United States
In my opinion, the second sentence is correct.Maybe that is because I hear it most often.
FounDit
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019 3:39:29 PM

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Koh Elaine wrote:
If I ask you what is your idea of happiness, you may answer having a lot of money, fame, high social status, and so on.
If I ask you what your idea of happiness is, you may answer having a lot of money, fame, high social status, and so on.

Which of the above sentences is correct in regard to the part in boldface and why?

Thanks.


The first sentence has what appears to be quoted speech, and should be punctuated as such.

"If I ask you "What is your idea of happiness?", you may answer that happiness is/involves having a lot of money, fame, high social status, and so on."

The second sentence does not appear to have quoted speech, but I feel it would be improved with the same amendment.

"If I ask you what your idea of happiness is, you may answer that happiness is/involves having a lot of money, fame, high social status, and so on."


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Koh Elaine
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019 4:49:42 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/4/2012
Posts: 5,454
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Many thanks, FounDit.
Wilmar (USA)
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019 5:41:53 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/4/2015
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If I may, because this is similar to a bad habit that many people demonstrate in their spoken speech.

FounDit's very excellent explanation is, well, very excellent.

I would like to say that the reason the first sentence sounds wrong is that you have a complete question inserted into the middle of another sentence. Hence, the whole sentence needs the punctuation suggested by FounDit to salvage it. That works in written language, but not spoken. The 2nd version, without the question, is the natural form of that type of sentence, especially when spoken.
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