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I read a grammar rule in my grammar book which says, "When we report questions constructed with who/what/which+be+complement, be can be put before or after the complement."

Direct: Who's the best player here?

Indirect: She asked me who the best player was.

She asked me who was the best player.

But I'm doubtful about it. Because my other grammar books say we should use who the best player was. May I ask could we really say "She asked me who was the best player.", just as the book says? Please give me your opinion, thank you very much!
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Hi Amy, thank you so much. I think I have some interesting questions...
Yankee I would say that this depends somewhat on how far away from the subject the verb 'be' would land. (That's basically the same idea as "who/what/which+be+complement").

He asked me who was the only president of the United States to have worked as a bartender?

He asked me who the only president of the United States to have worked as a bartender was?
I like the second better. But do you think it only depends on how far it is from the subject? Or does it depend on what the real subject is? Look, I'll make up some specific examples:

The complement is short and is the subject --> (Adolf Hitler), since the answer would be "Hitler was a dictator" and not "A dictator was Hitler".
1 - Her history teacher asked her who was Adolf Hitler. Verb before
2 - Her history teacher asked her who Adolf Hitler was.
Verb after

The complement is long and is the subject --> (that guy I was talking to), since the answer would be "The guy I was talik to was my boyfriend".
1 - Kelly wanted to know who was that guy I was talking to. Verb before
2 - Kelly wanted to know who that guy was (that) I was talking to.
Verb in mid-position
3 - Kelly wanted to know who that guy I was talking to was.
Verb after

The complement is long and the subject can be either the complement (Bush) or the question word (who), since you sould answer either "The real Bush was the one standing" or "The one standing was the real Bush".
1 - I couldn't figure out who was the real Bush among all those doubles. Verb before
2 - I couldn't figure out who the real Bush was among all those doubles.
Verb in mid-position
3 - I couldn't figure out who the real Bush among all those doubles was.
Verb after

The complement is short and the subject can be either the complement (Bush) or the question word (who), since you sould answer either "The real Bush was the one standing" or "The one standing was the real Bush".
1 - There were so many doubles. I couldn't figure out who was the real Bush. They all looked the same! Verb before
2 - There were so many doubles. I couldn't figure out who the real Bush was. They all looked the same!
Verb after

What's your opinion? I wrote those because I think there are two variables to consider: the length of the complement and the actual subject. Also, we should consider the possibility of putting the verb in mid-position.
Sorry is this looks like a mess... it is, LOL, but I feel we are about to find out something important this time. Thanks Emotion: smile
Hi Kooyeen,

I like your analysis. However, when it comes down to the choice between the length of the complement and the actual subject, what do / must we do?
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Hoa ThaiI like your analysis. However, when it comes down to the choice between the length of the complement and the actual subject, what do / must we do?
Hi Hoa,
well, I didn't analize anything in the end... I am just waiting for advice. As for your question... well, I don't know. That's why I'm asking. Emotion: wink I have paid attention to this, and I've realized that I tend to put the verb "to be" first very often, very very often. Like, do you know what's the best way to solve this? - instead of "do you know what the best way is to solve this". I'm afraid we really need some native advice now, Hoa. Emotion: smile
Hi Kooyeen

These two sentences both sound OK to me (in order of preference):
Do you know what the best way to solve this is?
Do you know what's the best way to solve this?

And to me, this one sounds awkward:
Do you know what the best way is to solve this?
Hey Amy, thank you so much! It seems pretty complicated to me in the end... Emotion: crying
I just wanted to ask you if you could also took a quick look at the first post in this page (with the examples in blue), if it isn't too long for you. I tried to write everything as neatly as I could, I hope it isn't messy.

And... if I shortened those examples you said were both ok, would you change your mind?
Do you know what the best solution is?
Do you know what's the best solution?

Thanks again. Emotion: smile
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Kooyeen
Hoa ThaiI like your analysis. However, when it comes down to the choice between the length of the complement and the actual subject, what do / must we do?
Hi Hoa,
well, I didn't analize anything in the end... I am just waiting for advice. As for your question... well, I don't know. That's why I'm asking. Emotion: wink I have paid attention to this, and I've realized thatI tend to put the verb "to be" first very often, very very often.Like, do you know what's the best way to solve this? - instead of "do you know what the best way is to solve this". I'm afraid we really need some native advice now, Hoa. Emotion: smile

Hi Kooyeen,

You could have often put the verb 'to be'first, but not your choice between two sentences in Amy's Abraham Lincoln post.Emotion: smile

I, myself, have a different taste from Amy's. Between Do you know what's the best way to solve this? and Do you know what the best way to solve this is?, I prefer the former when I need to send the message 'There are too many ways to solve this and I am confused, do you know what way is the best?

When I need to convey the message 'I hear he found the best way to help us, do you know what that best way is', I use the latter. It has to do with the context or rather the message the speaker wants to deliver. Maybe that is what you mentioned as subject relation. Of course, the length of the complement might play some role, but how could we rely on that if it might alter the meaning of the intended message? In any event, even when the two messages sound the same to some listeners / readers, it is up to the speakers / writers to stress their points.

I don't think the answer of any native English speaker would satisfy us all. Evidently, Swan is a native, isn't he? And I gather some grammar textbooks that Yoong Liat talked about are authored by native English speakers also. There you go! Emotion: smile

The question for us is: what do we do when two groups of native English speakers / scholars are at odd with each other? I cannot wait to hear your opinion on conditional usages in report speech.Emotion: smile We must open a new topic to do that.

Anyway, I really like to read your examples. They really enrich the discussion. Thanks!
Hoa Thai
I don't think the answer of any native English speaker would satisfy us all. Evidently, Swan is a native, isn't he? Aaargh! Don't mention Swan! Emotion: stick out tongue Seriously, I don't like what he writes, and I even wrote about that in some old posts I think (but you weren't a member yet).I remember people asking here what's the difference between "may" and "might", because they had learned that "may" implies a 70% probability, and "might" a 50% probablility (native speakers don't feel that's true). And then I found out who had been teaching that... that's what Swan says in his grammar! LOL. Anyway, it's not Swan's fault. I have to say that I have never found a really good grammar book in all my life. There's always something missing, confusing, or that depends on some biased point of views the author might have. So I gave up reading grammar books and looking for intolerant "authorities". Emotion: smile

The question for us is: what do we do when two groups of native English speakers / scholars are at odd with each other? I cannot wait to hear your opinion on conditional usages in report speech. We must open a new topic to do that. Nooo! That would be a mess! Emotion: wink I opened some threads about that, actually, and I can tell you that's one of the most confusing things you could ever discuss. Native speakers themselves have trouble explaining why they make certain choices... Anyway, if you want to discuss that, I suggest posting very detailed examples to discuss, with good contexts. Otherwise, you're going to get into trouble like I did... and get a lot of confusing comments Emotion: smile
And if anyone still feels like taking a look at my examples in blue, I'll appreciate it. Or I'll have to open a new thread...
Thanks.
BTW, the sentence I underlined in the quoted text is another example of what I tend to do... or what I almost always do. I put the verb "to be" first and said "I remember people asking what's the difference..."
Why not just take the simplest way and put the verb in the indirect question in the same position it would go in the answer to that question? Instinctively, I believe that's what we native speakers do. True, reversing the order is sometimes heard in native speech, but is so common in the speech of learners that it's almost a mark of not having mastered the language.

The best solution is to ...

I wonder what the best solution is.

The difference is that ...

I don't see what the difference is.
__________

Nothing is the matter.

I don't know what is the matter.

Jake was (the) first to arrive.

I can't remember who was (the) first to arrive.


CJ
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What about the Adverb of place given in the above question?