Hello,

In the following question sentence, does "that" work as it is?

Or does the "that" need to be replaced with "why"?

What did experts believe is the reason that the villagers were not killed by the cobras?

Apple

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apple posted:

In the following question sentence, does "that" work as it is?
Or does the "that" need to be replaced with "why"?
What did experts believe is the reason that the villagers were not killed by the cobras?

Hi, Apple,

The sentence is grammatical with "that" or "why"; however, with either one, it is extremely awkward and unnatural, especially because you have not backshifted "is." Here are some natural alternatives:

  • What did experts believe was the reason that/why the villagers were not killed by the cobras?
  • What do experts believe is the reason that/why the villagers were not killed by the cobras?
  • Why, according to experts, were the villagers not killed by the cobras?
  • What did experts believe to be the reason for the villagers' not being killed by the cobras?

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