mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest
Direct and indirect questions Options
TheParser
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 8:38:04 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2012
Posts: 4,668
Neurons: 22,062
"I find myself asking how committed Europe really is to that goal."

I think that the direct question is: "How committed is Europe to that goal?"

My question: Where should I place the adverb "really" in the direct question?


Thank you,


James
Kami
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 9:37:17 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/12/2009
Posts: 229
Neurons: 687
An adverb describes a verb or an adjective and though an adverb can fit itself at any position in a sentence, it makes very good English when the adverb is placed next to the verb or adjective it describes or immediately after the verb or adjective. So with your sentence, figure out the verb or adjective which you want "really" to describe and put "really" next to the verb or adjective.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 1:05:50 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,427
Neurons: 228,163
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
It does not make sense (to me), really, to put "really" next to the adjective or verb. Maybe it sounds OK to others.

"Really" seems to be describing the whole concept "Europe is committed to that goal".

"How really committed is Europe to that goal?"
"How committed is really Europe to that goal?"

"How committed, really, is Europe to that goal?" - OK, but I prefer:
"How committed is Europe to that goal, really?"
thar
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 1:15:01 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 22,788
Neurons: 92,574
I agree it could go in a variety of places, with a variety of emphases. But, the most natural sentence to me would be

How committed is Europe, really, to that goal?

But there is another problem here.

The simplest question is actually not 'how' at all, it is 'is?'

"Is Europe committed?"
or, with the added emphasis
"Is Europe really committed?"
The answer to that could be yes/no, but far more likely something in the middle, possibly with a long explanation. The trouble is that you cannot easily translate that into an indirect question.
It requires the use of 'whether' - which definitely invites only a yes/no answer. Or 'if' which also suggests yes/no.
I ask if Europe is really committed.

This has the 'really' in the same possition before the verb, as it was in the original question, and retains its meaning as a simple adverb modifying the level of the verb.

But
To allow the middle ground you have to change it in the reported speech - to 'how' - which does allow the description of degree.
How committed is Europe?
But, now you cannot put in the intensifier before the verb, because the 'how' already controls the level. You cannot say
How really committed is Europe.
That makes no sense.
So, you can put 'really' in the sentence, but it goes in as another part of speech, a comma-separated phrase all on its own.

How committed is Europe, really, to this?

Sorry, long answer, but once I started, what seemed simple ended up an interesting exploration. Good question Applause

edit, while I was musing on this, Dragon posted. I am not disagreeing with his positioning, it is another alternative I would also be happy with.

Kami
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 1:27:38 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/12/2009
Posts: 229
Neurons: 687
I'd put it in this standard form:

"How is Europe really committed to that goal?"
thar
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 1:44:19 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 22,788
Neurons: 92,574
Kami wrote:
I'd put it in this standard form:

"How is Europe really committed to that goal?"


Ah, but surely that then changes the meaning, and means 'in what way' -what policies are evidence of this?
how (in what way) is Europe really committed?

not 'how much' - at what level of commitment?
how committed is Europe?
Kami
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 2:21:12 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/12/2009
Posts: 229
Neurons: 687
thar,
My understanding is that the question is asking the how? not the how much? and so the meaning hasn't changed.
leonAzul
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 3:19:31 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,589
Neurons: 31,086
Location: Miami, Florida, United States
As another opinion, I hear it as Drag0nspeaker and thar do. In more traditional grammars, the placement of the adverb is more rigid and limited, which I feel is a form of "hyper-correction". This, I concede, is a matter of style. The use of "really" is intended to direct the question to the level of commitment, not the mechanics of it.

I would ask TheParser, though, how really committed you are to the word "really". As an intensifier, it doesn't add much to the sentence and dilutes the impact of it, to my ear. A more specific adverb such as "genuinely", "sincerely", "thoroughly" or "fully" would at least add a nuance to it and underline the intent of the question.
Ravindra
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013 12:22:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2009
Posts: 733
Neurons: 63,152
Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India
I go with Drag0nspeaker. Please visit:
http://grammar.about.com/od/ab/g/adverbterm.htm

Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

TheParser
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013 5:53:45 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2012
Posts: 4,668
Neurons: 22,062
leonAzul wrote:


I would ask TheParser, though, how really committed you are to the word "really".


Thank you, everyone, for taking the time and effort to share your insightful thoughts with me.

If I were asked to change leon's indirect question to a direct question, I personally would say:

How really committed are you to the word "really"?

(Answer: 100% committed.)


Therefore, I have decided (even though I may be "wrong") to go with: How really committed is Europe to that goal? ("Really," I reckon, modifies "is committed.") I have learned the hard way (having been told very courteously on other language forums to STOP asking what "really" modifies) that when it comes to "really," almost any answer is "correct," for everyone has his/her own idea as to what it modifies in a particular sentence.


James
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013 7:03:40 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,589
Neurons: 31,086
Location: Miami, Florida, United States
TheParser wrote:

How really committed are you to the word "really"?

(Answer: 100% committed.)


Now is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears poncho?

Really?
Whistle
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.