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Which of the two following sentences is or are correct?

  1. Excessive logging of forests in the past century has resulted in what becomes known as deforestation.
  2. Excessive logging of forests in the past century has resulted in what known as deforestation.

What is the role of what in these sentences?

2 Answers 2

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  1. Excessive logging of forests in the past century has resulted in [what becomes known as deforestation].

  2. Excessive logging of forests in the past century has resulted in what known as deforestation.

What is the role of WHAT in these sentences?

Your #2 version is ungrammatical.

Your #1 version is fine. The word "what" is the relative word that heads a fused-relative construction. What is happening in your sentence is that the word "what" is doing two functions at once: it is the relative word beginning a relative clause (the stuff inside the brackets), and it is the antecedent for the relative word. That is, your #1 version is similar to:

  • Excessive logging of forests in the past century has resulted in [something which becomes known as deforestation].

In the above example, the antecedent is the word "something", and the word "which" is the relative word that begins the relative clause. But in your version #1, the word "what" has to fulfill both of those functions: it's equivalent to the phrase "something which" in the above example.

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Excessive logging of forests in the past century has resulted in what's known as deforestation.

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  • Please tell me why this sentence has 2 verbs 'has resulted in' and 'is known' but it is still grammatically correct? Since as far as I know WHAT is not a relative pronoun. Thank you very much! May 10, 2014 at 16:38
  • Why do you think that "what" is not a relative pronoun? You should look in a dictionary. May 10, 2014 at 20:01

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