2

"I would like to talk today about what I think is one of the greatest adventures."

In this sentence, is "what I think" is used like this

"I would like to talk today about what, I think, is one of the greatest adventures."

or like this?

"I would like to talk today about what I think is (the thing I think is) one of the greatest adventures."

Any explanations please? Which is correct?

6
  • best to ask on ESL for a great and long answer!
    – Fattie
    Aug 17, 2015 at 2:29
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because would be best asked on ESL
    – Fattie
    Aug 17, 2015 at 2:30
  • Why do you think it is ESL question?
    – koala
    Aug 17, 2015 at 2:31
  • Hm. Can you at least answer this?
    – koala
    Aug 17, 2015 at 2:36
  • so you can answer this. Then do it! Why wait?
    – koala
    Aug 17, 2015 at 2:42

4 Answers 4

1

If you say

I would like to talk today about what, I think, is one of the greatest adventures.

you are implying that it is one of the greatest adventures, with a slight reservation that it's your opinion, in parenthesis.

If you say

I would like to talk today about what I think is one of the greatest adventures.

You are not making such a strong claim for the greatness. This sentence is a more modest introduction, along the lines of "I'd like to talk about one of my favourite adventures".

The first example here makes a general claim about the adventure, which could open a debate with people of a different opinion.

The second sentence is a particularly personal statement, where the only (and pointless) debate to be had is about whether the speaker thinks the adventure is important or not.

The original sentence is just fine as it stands.

0

Your first parsing is most likely.

I can barely guess at what you might mean by your second parsing. The problem is that it tries to equate (what I think) = (adventure), when in fact it makes more sense to say (my thinking) = (adventure), because a thought is a thing but thinking is a process. The "adventure" would lie in how he thinks as well as what he thinks. So one might put that like this:

  • I would like to talk today about what I think. Thinking [about] it is one of the greatest adventures.

However, If you wanted to say that the thought itself was actually the adventure, one might say.

  • I would like to talk today about what I think, which is one of the greatest adventures.

In short: Hardly any native English speaker would be likely to interpret that sentence in any way other than the first.

4
  • 1
    I strongly disagree. The second parsing is the only one that would ever cross my mind if punctuated the way given here. I think you may be misreading the (somewhat confusing) way it was written out. The part in parentheses, “(the thing I think is)”, is supposed to be an alternative, clarifying way of phrasing the preceding words, “what I think is”. In other words, it’s meant to clarify that the second reading is, “I would like to talk about the thing that I believe to be one of our greatest adventures”, rather than, “I would like to talk about what is (I think) one of our greatest adventures”. Aug 23, 2015 at 10:48
  • I see no semantic difference between your two parsings. In any case , he wants to talk about a thing, which he thinks was a great adventure. He's not going to talk about what he thinks. Aug 23, 2015 at 11:09
  • 1
    There’s little semantic difference. There’s also little semantic difference between both of those and “what I believe to be one of the greatest…” and “what to my mind is one of the greatest…”, and dozens of other similar expressions. That doesn’t mean there’s no grammatical difference. And grammatically parsing “I think” as a parenthetical when there are no commas to mark it as such is definitely not the default. Aug 23, 2015 at 11:12
  • I see. It can't be a parenthetical because the sentence cannot stand without it (or wouldn't mean the same without it). Aug 23, 2015 at 11:54
-1

Your first sentence is a straightforward indirect question; the object of talk about is the question shown in brackets. And "I" am answering that question.

I would like to talk today about > (what is one of the greatest adventures).

The parenthetic interjection "I think," is simply a comment, as if you'd said:

I would like to talk today about what, in my opinion, is one of the greatest adventures.

Parallel example, where the original Q is 'What do you want to know?'
Indirect: 'I shall tell you what you want to know.'
+Parenthesis: 'I shall tell you what, according to my understanding, you want to know.'


Your second sentence with no commas, is indirect speech (with ellipsis) inside indirect speech.

Direct Statement:..............."This is one of the greatest adventures."
Indirect Question (inversion): "What do I think is one of the greatest adventures?"
Indirect Statement:"I would like to talk today about 'what I think is 'one of the greatest adventures''."

Parallel example, I shall dispute (what Wikipedia says (is the tallest tower))

2
  • @ koala, The first is the simpler construction (and simpler constructions are usually more expressive). It would be even simpler without " ,I think, " and that would make it even better. Your readers will probably guess that that is what you think.
    – Hugh
    Aug 17, 2015 at 6:41
  • There is no indirect question here. What can be used for indirect questions, but not with this word order. In questions, what is the predicative complement to the subject; here, it’s the subject. Aug 23, 2015 at 11:25
-2

Of the two sentences the one-

I would like to talk today about what, I think, is one of the greatest adventures.

-is correct. In it, "I think" is a parenthetical expression. A parenthetical expression is, we know, a qualifying or amplifying word, phrase or even sentence set off from the rest of the sentence by commas, dashes, brackets but not directly related to what you are saying in a sentence otherwise grammatically complete. You may take it out or just drop it without least hampering the meaning.

In the second sentence of the above paragraph "we know" is parenthetical, as is "I think" in the question..

Let's analyze the sentence:

ABOUT : a preposition('what' its object)

WHAT : a relative pronoun meaning that + which

(Which) IS ONE.....ADVENTURES : Adjective clause qualifying 'that'

If we regard "What" without its derivational meaning (what.........adventures), it becomes a noun clause object of preposition,'about'.

So it may be concluded that in " what I think is one of the greatest " it is "what, I think, is one of the greatest". I think-- a parentheses.

Without the rest of the sentence-- (What I think) is one of the greatest-- can become a good sentence; but that is not in the referred example.

2
  • This is not correct. “That which I think is one of the greatest adventures” is perfectly fine, and a lot more likely than any parenthetical reading when the sentence is punctuated as it is here. Aug 23, 2015 at 10:49
  • @Janus Bahs Jacquet,it seems to me that when I consider this complex sentence with the principal clause,not just the portion referred, I am at a loss to make it meaningful; accordingly I shaped my explanation. Aug 23, 2015 at 16:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.