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  • Why you put yourself in this predicament is beyond me.
  • When you leave for work is of your concern.
  • Where we spend the night depends on the weather.
  • How you finish the project is unimportant.

I feel they are relative adverbs (fused) or free nominal constructions. But I fear I'm completely off.

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    @deadrat No, at least one of these includes an interrogative clause functioning as Subject. Three of them are ambiguous between the a fused relative and an interrogative. A fourth is marginally interpretable as an interrogative clause. Also the OP's question clearly requires an explanation of the difference between the function of the relative word and the function of the clause. Lastly these don't introduce relative clauses, even if we think they are not interrogatives. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 14 '15 at 9:41
  • @deadrat because there's no antecedent - which is why the OP is having trouble deciding what they are. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 14 '15 at 9:41
  • Please see also: English Language Learners – Kris Sep 14 '15 at 10:03
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    @Kris Why? Is the OP a language learner? I didn't think so. I thought they wanted to understand the complicated and ambiguous syntax underpinning these constructions, including the synactic functions of the wh- words within the Subjects. It seems like a good fit for this site and a poor one for ELL. We don't get much call for syntactic analyses of free nominals / fused relatives / interrogative content clauses over there ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 14 '15 at 11:48
  • @Araucaria Well, that's a fair cop, but see Lawler's comment to rogermue's answer at my cite. The clauses concern themselves with the things that adverbs do (time, place, manner) but they act like nouns taking the place of the implied answer to their (embedded) interrogatories ("The place where we spend the night....") – deadrat Sep 14 '15 at 17:55
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Yes you are off the mark.

They are all noun phrases. Each phrase (up to the verb) is the subject of its sentence.

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  • Are you saying that fused relatives aren't noun phrases? (For me they aren't necessarily). I'm pretty certain in your grammmar you consider fused relative constructions as noun phrases. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 14 '15 at 9:21
  • I'm just sayin' what I'm sayin'. I don't have a clue about "fused relative", but I know a dang noun phrase when I see one. And every one of them is the subject of its sentence, no matter what you call it. – Brian Hitchcock Sep 14 '15 at 10:12
  • The OP's asking whether they're "free nominals" or not. Most of them could be interpreted as such. So in a way our OP's not off the mark. That's what I was angling at. I agree that traditional grammars would regard these all as NPs, but it's not quite what the OP's asking about, that's all :) That's not my downvote, btw!!!! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 14 '15 at 10:19
  • Sorry-- missed the "free nominal" in question, and I'm not familiar with the term. Is that what you would call what I have been calling NPs? – Brian Hitchcock Sep 14 '15 at 10:57
  • Thanks for the replies, and yes, it is the lack of an antecedent that is confusing. That is why I felt they were fused, being themselves the 'antecedent'. Or am I mixing concepts? – Artur Reikdal Sep 14 '15 at 11:18

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