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I need to explain why this sentence is correct. My explanation didn't seem to satisfy the student. The correct sentence is

I've never eaten this before. Do you know what is in it?

Specifically, it is the "do you know what is in it?" part that is confusing the student. Leave out the 'Do you know..' and it is a straight question, ie "What is in it?" Can anyone grammatically explain why the sentence is correct when we add the "do you know.."?

marked as duplicate by Noah, RegDwigнt Oct 9 '13 at 8:52

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  • 1
    "What is in it?" is a noun phrase, object of the verb know in "Do you know" -- where's the problem? – Kris Oct 9 '13 at 6:52

It might be easier to explain if you turn it into a statement as ‘You know what is in it.’ ‘You know’ is the main clause, and ‘what is in it’ is the dependent clause. In the dependent clause, ‘what’ is the subject, ‘is’ is the verb, and ‘in it’ is a prepositional phrase used as the subject predicative.

  • Don't know about the students but I am confused now. :) – Kris Oct 9 '13 at 6:54
  • At realisations of the direct object (from Aarts, I think) is: Finite Wh-clauses [nominal relative clauses] functioning as Direct Object (48) He knows what she means. (49) He explained who would be in charge of the investigation. (50) I don’t remember why Paul said that. (51) They finally decided where they will send their child to school. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 9 '13 at 7:58

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