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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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Viceidol
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!

Is the book written by an American or British writer? If not, you'd better throw away the book because some non-native grammar writers give the wrong information

She asked me who the best player was. (ok)

She asked me who was the best player. (not correct)
That book is Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. Mine is an older edition. The rule is stated at #482.2. Published by Oxford Press.
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ViceidolThat book is Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. Mine is an older edition. The rule is stated at #482.2. Published by Oxford Press.
I read about this long ago. In fact, I've a copy of the book. I've read many other grammar books which contradict what Michael Swan has written.

I don't understand why he differs from other grammarians on the subject.
ViceidolI 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."
Hi,
good question, I'm interested. I would say that's true, but I would take away that "what", so I'd say it's only true for "who" and "which". I'm really not sure, so I guess we will need some natives, but here's what I think:
What is a car? A car is a vehicle. A vehicle is a car.
Which is your sister? My sister is the one dressed in blue. - That one (dressed in blue is my sister).
Who is Bush? Bush is the president of the US. - That one over there (eating a pretzel is Bush).

In those examples, "what" can't be the subject, but "which" and "who" can, instead of "your sister" and "Bush" respectively. The problem is that I think this analysis don't really apply in real everyday English.
I would definitely say "Can you tell me which is the best?" instead "Can you tell me which the best is?"... but how about "I didn't know who the real Bush was among all those doubles" vs "I didn't know who was the real Bush among all those doubles"... If you consider what I said above, both should be equally good, but do natives really say both naturally? I'm afraid we need some advice...

Emotion: smile

Hi Kooyen,

Would the following extract from perfectyourenglish.com help answer the question or create more confusion?

"Wh-questions are reported by using ask (or another verb like ask) + question word + clause. We use normal word order.
  • "What is your name?" he asked me.
  • He asked what my name was.
  • "How old is your mother?" he asked her.
  • He asked her how old her mother was.
When we report questions constructed with who/what/which + be + complement, be can be put before or after the complement.
  • He asked, “What is the matter?”
  • He asked what the matter was.
  • He asked what was the matter."
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Hi Kooyen,

Would the following extract from perfectyourenglish.com help answer the question or create more confusion?

"Wh-questions are reported by using ask (or another verb like ask) + question word + clause. We use normal word order.
  • "What is your name?" he asked me.
  • He asked what my name was.
  • "How old is your mother?" he asked her.
  • He asked her how old her mother was.
When we report questions constructed with who/what/which + be + complement, be can be put before or after the complement.
  • He asked, “What is the matter?”
  • He asked what the matter was.
  • He asked what was the matter."
EDIT: From the explanation, it seems to me the speaker sends a different message for each of the base sentences:
- "She asked me who the best player was" means "I don't know about the best player, please tell me who s/he is."
- "She asked me who was the best player" could mean "Please tell me out of those players, who is the best."
Hoa ThaiHi Kooyen,

Would the following extract from perfectyourenglish.com help answer the question or create more confusion?
Hmm, I'm not sure... Emotion: wink
Apart from the fact that I was once told to say "He asked what was the matter" and not "He asked what the matter was"... for idiomatic reasons, but that's another matter, and maybe not everyone agrees.
The fact is that I don't think that every time you have reported questions with who/what/which + be + complement you can put the verb either after or before, almost at random. I think there's a difference, and it depends on what the speaker consider as the subject. Anyway, that's just what I think, and I think only a native speaker can be helpful at this point... you know I really don't trust the rules grammarians make up in their book, don't you? Well, if you didn't know, now you do. Emotion: wink
Hi Kooyeen

I'd agree that the word order in "He asked what was the matter" has more to do with idiom than anything else.

The verb 'be' doesn't always follow the usual word order that you find in other indirect or reported questions. 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").

Direct:
He asked, "Who was the only president of the United States to have worked as a bartender?"

Indirect:
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?

Which of the two reported questions above do you like better? Emotion: wink

PS
I've heard that the answer to the bartender question is Abraham Lincoln.
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