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Hello, everyone,

A) What allow us to get off the ground are studying, practicing, and asking for help.

B) It is studying, practicing, and asking for help what allow us to get off the ground.

These are excerpted from a local grammar book, on which the author says, A) (wh-cleft sentence) can be converted into B) (extraposed construction).

I wonder if a fused relative clause could be extraposed. In relation with this inquiry, I found following references;

1. ‘No extraposition’ (CaGEL by Huddleston, p.1069)

C) a) ‘What she suggests is unreasonable.’

     b) *It is unreasonable what she suggests. (ungrammatical)

Like ordinary NPs, fused relatives do not occur in the extraposition construction.

2. ‘Extraposition of a clausal subject’ (CoGEL by Quirk, p.1392)

But it is worth emphasizing that for clausal subjects (though cf 18.34) the postponed position is more usual than the canonical position before the verb (cf 10.26). Examples are:

D) Type SV: It doesn't matter what you do.

3. 446. preparatory it (1): subject (Practical English Usage by Swan - 3rd edition),

E) p.423, It doesn't interest me what you think.

F) p.424, George made it clear what he wanted.

(Personally I think these ‘what’ in D), E), F) is all fused relatives.)

While CaGEL says ‘no extraposition with fused relative – what’, CoGEL and PEU provide the references which might be understood to be ’extraposition allowed with fused relative’. Thus, I’m confused and really would appreciate if you kindly share your opinions for my two questions below;

1) If a fused relative clause could be extraposed or not?

2) If B) above is grammatically correct or not?

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@deepcosmos posted:

A) What allow us to get off the ground are studying, practicing, and asking for help.

B) It is studying, practicing, and asking for help what allow us to get off the ground.

These are excerpted from a local grammar book, on which the author says, A) (wh-cleft sentence) can be converted into B) (extraposed construction).

Hi, deepcosmos—Sentence (A) is a grammatically incorrect pseudo-cleft; "allow" (plural) should be "allows" (singular), and "are" should be "is."

Unclefted Sentence) Studying, practicing, and asking for help allow us to gett off the ground.

Sentence A-revised) What allows us to get off the ground is studying, practicing, and asking for help.

Sentence (B) is ungrammatical; "what" should be "that":

Sentence B-revised) It is studying, practicing, and asking for help that allow us to get off the round.

@deepcosmos posted:

I wonder if a fused relative clause could be extraposed. In relation with this inquiry, I found following references;

1. ‘No extraposition’ (CaGEL by Huddleston, p.1069)

C) a) ‘What she suggests is unreasonable.’

     b) *It is unreasonable what she suggests. (ungrammatical)

Like ordinary NPs, fused relatives do not occur in the extraposition construction.

2. ‘Extraposition of a clausal subject’ (CoGEL by Quirk, p.1392)

But it is worth emphasizing that for clausal subjects (though cf 18.34) the postponed position is more usual than the canonical position before the verb (cf 10.26). Examples are:

D) Type SV: It doesn't matter what you do.

3. 446. preparatory it (1): subject (Practical English Usage by Swan - 3rd edition),

E) p.423, It doesn't interest me what you think.

F) p.424, George made it clear what he wanted.

(Personally I think these ‘what’ in D), E), F) is all fused relatives.)

While CaGEL says ‘no extraposition with fused relative – what’, CoGEL and PEU provide the references which might be understood to be ’extraposition allowed with fused relative’. Thus, I’m confused and really would appreciate if you kindly share your opinions for my two questions below;

1) If a fused relative clause could be extraposed or not?

2) If B) above is grammatically correct or not?

Again, (B) and (A) are wrong. Fused relative clauses (or free relative clauses) do not extrapose. Embedded questions do. The examples from your post that work contain embedded questions (interrogative clauses), not fused relatives.

Last edited by David, Moderator


Again, (B) and (A) are wrong. Fused relative clauses (or free relative clauses) do not extrapose. Embedded questions do. The examples from your post that work contain embedded questions (interrogative clauses), not fused relatives.

Hi, David, you shed enough light on this issue. Even though I know interrogative clauses can be extraposed, I've been confused by the very factor - the fused relative 'what' construction has all the elements of a 'clause', and to me, as EFL learner, to differentiate the two kinds of "what" has been really hard. I'm convinced now and once again thanking you.

Hi, deepcosmos—Sentence (A) is a grammatically incorrect pseudo-cleft; "allow" (plural) should be "allows" (singular), and "are" should be "is."

Unclefted Sentence) Studying, practicing, and asking for help allow us to gett off the ground.

Sentence A-revised) What allows us to get off the ground is studying, practicing, and asking for help.

Since in a certain context the relative 'what' mean 'the things which", is there no possibility that I could consider "studying, practicing, and asking for help' above a separate concept each?

@deepcosmos posted:

Since in a certain context the relative 'what' mean 'the things which", is there no possibility that I could consider "studying, practicing, and asking for help' above a separate concept each?

In the unclefted sentence that I give above ("Studying, practicing, and asking for help allow us to get off the ground"), the plural verb "allow" shows that I am treating "studying, practicing, and asking for help" as a compound subject the conjuncts of which each denote a separate activity.

However, that does not entitle you to write, "What allow us to get off the ground are studying, practicing, and asking for help." The singular is needed in both positions, but this topic is the biggest headache in subject-verb agreement that I know of (see CGEL, p. 505). Perhaps someone will wish to object.

That said, you could use the plural if you turned the sentence around:

  • Studying, practicing, and asking for help are what allow us to get off the ground.
Last edited by David, Moderator

In the unclefted sentence that I give above ("Studying, practicing, and asking for help allow us to get off the ground"), the plural verb "allow" shows that I am treating "studying, practicing, and asking for help" as a compound subject the conjuncts of which each denote a separate activity.

However, that does not entitle you to write, "What allow us to get off the ground are studying, practicing, and asking for help." The singular is needed in both positions, but this topic is the biggest headache in subject-verb agreement that I know of (see CGEL, p. 505). Perhaps someone will wish to object.

That said, you could use the plural if you turned the sentence around:

  • Studying, practicing, and asking for help are what allow us to get off the ground.

Hi, David, I'm convinced enough. Thanks again.

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