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Reply to "what + infinitive"

Robby zhu posted:
Can I also view it as a short form of nominal relative clause?
Can I also view it as a short form of nominal relative clause?

(Here is)This is [the thing that you will season the rice with.]
=...what you will season the rice with.
=... what to season the rice with.

No, Robby zhu, you can't correctly view it that way, and your paraphrase is also incorrect. "What to season the rice with" does not mean "what you WILL season the rice with" but rather "What you SHOULD season the rice with."

A phrase consisting of a wh-word complemented by an infinitival clause is invariably an embedded question, not a free (or nominal) relative clause. We can see this by such facts as these:

(1a) I don't know what to season the rice with.
(1b) I don't know with what to season the rice.

(2a) He asked me what to season the rice with.
(2b) He asked me with what to season the rice.

(3a) *He gave me what to season the rice with.
(3b) *He gave me with what to season the rice.

(4a) *I like what to season the rice with.
(4b) *I like with what to season the rice.

Sentences (1a) through (2b) show that the construction in question is licensed by verb that take embedded-question complements ("know," "ask"), and sentences (3a) through (4b) show that the construction is not licensed by verbs that take free (or nominal) relative clause complements.

Notice that we can say such things as "He gave me what they season rice with" and "I like what they season rice with." In those sentences, "what they season rice with" is a free relative clause, and, predictably, pied piping (fronting of the "with"-PP) is not allowed. Pied piping is possible with embedded questions.

(5a) He gave me what they season rice with.
(5b) *He gave me with what they season rice.

(6a) I like what they season rice with.
(6b) *I like with what they season rice.

Last edited by David, Moderator
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