Dear Teachers,

I'm learning Special Interrogative Sentence. In grammar books the authors say the interrogative pronouns (who, whose, which and what) can be used as subject and subject complement in special Interrogative sentences. when the verb "be" is used, I think it's difficult to distinguish between subject and subject complement because they have the same structure. For example:

In "Which is yours?" someone says "which" is the subject.

In "Whose beautiful antiques are these?" someone says "Whose beautiful antiques" is the subject complement. But how to determine a interrogative pronoun is subject or subject complement in Special Interrogative Sentence when "be" is used? They have the same structure:

What (which, whose, who) be ..........

Some examples like the structure:

Which color is this? What book is this? Who are you? What 's your name? What's your hobby? Whose book is this?

The interrogative pronouns are subjects or subject complements? How to distinguish them? Please explain carefully. Thank you.
New Member44
how to determine [if] a interrogative pronoun is subject or subject complement
It's relatively easy, actually, if you just make up an answer to the question (using a complete sentence).

If the answer word ends up in the same place in the answer sentence as the question word in the question sentence (that is, at the beginning), then the question word is a subject.
If the answer word ends up in a different place in the sentence than the beginning, then the question word is a subject complement.

Study the following examples, and note how these two principles apply.

Which [is yours]?
The blue one [is mine].


Underlined items (the question word and its replacement in the answer) are both at the beginning, so which is a subject.
______________

Whose antiques [are these]?
[These are] Julia's antiques.


Underlined items are not both at the beginning, so whose antiques is a subject complement.
______________

Who [is next in line]?
Sam [is next in line].


who is a subject.
______________

What [is an even number]?
[An even number is] a number that can be evenly divided by two.

what
is a subject complement.
______________

What is an example of an even number?
Twenty-six is an example of an even number.

what
is a subject.
___________

I'm guessing that most of these cases turn out to be subject complements.

CJ
Veteran Member51,844
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Dear Teacher,

Thank you! But there is very interesting question:

About your last example, can I answer like this:

An example of an even number is twenty-six.

What do you think of this kind of answer? Still a subject? There sre two sentences:

Chess is my hobby.

My hobby is chess.

The difference between them? Please explain carefully.
There are many ambiguous cases.

Typically, the term to be identified or defined is the subject.

What is your hobby? (Identify your hobby.)
My hobby is chess.

What is an example of an even number? (This doesn't ask to identify or define an example. It asks to give an example.)
Twenty-six is an example of an even number. << This is what the question is asking. We can identify twenty-six as an even number.
An example of an even number is any number that can be divided without remainder by 2. << This is not what the question is asking.

There is sometimes no right answer because both ways are possible.

CJ
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