+1

ex1) The question is whether the rumor is true (OK)

ex2) The question is if the rumor is true (??)


Most people say that the second example is ungrammatical

However, not often, the sentence like it is found

Why is it impossible to use if-clause as a subject complement?

+2

They are right -- it is ungrammatical.

When the interrogative clause is complement to be, only "whether" is permitted.

I can't tell you exactly why "if" is ungrammatical, but suffice to say that it is.

+0
HoonyHowever, not often, the sentence like it is found.

Probably more often than you may think. Here are some examples found online where 'if' acts like 'whether'. It took me less than five minutes to find them.

What remains unknown is if the fields stretch into Lebanon's territorial waters.
Another thought to ponder is if this is a good deal for the Capitals or the NHL.
I think the question is if anybody above the age of 30 is watching MTV anymore.

HoonyMost people say that the second example is ungrammatical

They have a different "ear" for the English language than others, for example, the authors of those sentences above.

HoonyWhy is it impossible to use if-clause as a subject complement?

I don't agree that it is impossible.

CJ

* * *

I got bored this afternoon and continued looking for more examples. Emotion: smile

The question is if he will terrify manager Clint Hurdle with his lack of control.
The question is if Cuban leaders have more reform plans to satisfy those demands.
State law dictates what type of convictions can result in the loss of retirement benefits. One of the factors is if criminal behavior occurs while on duty, Howerton said.
Every time I see my dad, the first thing he asks is if any guys are chasing me.
What you need to know is if the car has been maintained up to this point in time.
What will be interesting to see next is if China demands Google remove that link.
The only real question is if Democrats are in the mood to slit their own throats.
If that is the basis, then no, but if the basis is if they can speak, then yes.
What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well.
The main question I see is if there are enough sources to establish notability yet.
What I need to know is if he wishes to be considered for appointment on 1 January.
The question is if and when Google will use its own clout to promote these things.
The question hanging over the kingdom is if his successor will be a reformer, too.
The thing about Aaron that you don't know is if he can lead the team.
All you really want to know is if the White Sox can win this year.
The next big challenge is if it can fight the big publishers for market share.
What I dont know is if anyone else can implement it as well as Google can.
What isn't clear from your email is if you are seeing a therapist.
The main concern is if we need to build more power plants.
What I want to know is if the paper that Omerbachich wrote is correct.


An indirect question (if for whether) is not the only way an if-clause can be a complement of 'is':

The only way ice cream could be better is if it were a sin.

CJ

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Comments  
Hoonyex1) The question is whether the rumor is true (OK)ex2) The question is if the rumor is true (??)

That's a very interesting question, indeed.

I wonder whether it has something to do with ambiguity of "if". Isn't it that "if the rumor is true" could be taken with some sort of suspension, as a part of the conditional structure, not followed by the main clause of that structure? Emotion: thinking

The restriction applies in several cases, but here we're talking specifically about subordinate interrogatives that are complement to be.

The if and whether that occur in closed subordinate interrogatives are both subordinators, so I don't think that's relevant.

I wish I had a grammatical explanation for this. I'll do some research and post a reply if I find anything of interest.

Edit: I think the reason is that "whether" is invariably a subordinator, whereas "if" can also be a conditional preposition, which is indeed its more common use, so it is not surprising that there should be restrictions on the subordinator use of "if", motivated perhaps by the need to avoid potential ambiguity.



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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
CalifJimI don't agree that it is impossible.
CalifJimI got bored this afternoon and continued looking for more examples. The question is if he will terrify manager Clint Hurdle with his lack of control.The question is if Cuban leaders have more reform plans to satisfy those demands.State law dictates what type of convictions can result in the loss of retirement benefits. One of the factors is if criminal behavior occurs while on duty, Howerton said. Every time I see my dad, the first thing he asks is if any guys are chasing me.

Wow....I'm confused

It seems that most people think if-clause cannot be a subject complement

However, it is obviously true that many sentences using 'if-clause' as a subject complement are found

Which side do we have to be on?

CalifJimAn indirect question (if for whether) is not the only way an if-clause can be a complement of 'is':The only way ice cream could be better is if it were a sin.

In addition, I didn't understand your comment above

Could you explain it once again?

HoonyCalifJimAn indirect question (if for whether) is not the only way an if-clause can be a complement of 'is':The only way ice cream could be better is if it were a sin.

In addition, I didn't understand your comment above
Could you explain it once again?

All the examples I gave you contain an 'if' that can be replaced by 'whether'. In other words, all of those if-clauses are indirect questions.

Except the last one. That's a different pattern. You cannot substitute 'whether' for 'if' in that one. So this is wrong:

*The only way ice cream could be better is whether it were a sin.

It must have 'if':

The only way ice cream could be better is if it were a sin.

CJ

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CalifJim*The only way ice cream could be better is whether it were a sin.
It must have 'if':The only way ice cream could be better is if it were a sin.

I'm really sorry to bother you, CJ

I have one more question

I'd like to know why 'whether' cannot be used in that sentence instead of 'if'

'if it were a sin' is not a noun clause but an adverbial clause?

Most importantly, I can't understand the meaning of the sentence

All those examples are ungrammatical. Subordinate interrogatives don't function as complement to "be"

Why mislead the OP by saying they are grammatically correct when they aren't, at least not in Standard English?

Just because you've read them somewhere doesn't mean they are grammatically correct.

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