When we're asking a question we use a reversed order of words:

Where is he?

When we're stating something we're using the normal order:

I don't know where he is.

But what about one?

It doesn't matter what is correct - if enough people make that mistake it stops being a mistake anymore.

Above I see the reversed order. Or maybe it just appears that way? At the moment of writing this I'm realizing that maybe it's not the case here since it's a verb-adjective pair instead of a verb-noun pair?

But anyway, maybe the alternative is correct then?

It doesn't matter what correct is - if enough people make that mistake it stops being a mistake anymore.

  • 2
    In your context, It doesn't matter what correct is means it's irrelevant how we define the term "correct", whereas It doesn't matter what is correct means it's irrelevant which terms are defined as "correct". They're both valid, but they convey different emphases. Feb 2 '16 at 15:16
  • 1
    Thank you for finding a way to succinctly sum up what I've spent the past hour contemplating how to explain, Fumble. :P Feb 2 '16 at 15:17
  • @FumbleFingers So does one use the reversed order only for the verb-noun pairs?
    – NPS
    Feb 2 '16 at 16:36
  • Unless I'm mistaken NPS, this is an example of copular inversion, which relates specifically to "be" being the finite verb (of which "is" is the third-person singular present form) Feb 2 '16 at 16:39
  • @John: There's some exploration of copular inversion here, pointing out that Where never is heard a discouraging word is in that general area, but not quite an example. I'm not sure, but I think copular inversion might be better illustrated with Who are you? (which is sometimes "inverted" to [And] you are who?). Feb 2 '16 at 17:17

The alternative most certainly isn't correct, and your realization about comparing a verb-adjective to a verb-noun pair is correct.

In the second example, the pair ought to be highlighted as "It doesn't matter what is correct", and the word order is preserved.

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