In an application I am writing, I require the user to state a contact's full name. I have a disagreement with my marketing director regarding the correct wording for when the user doesn't know the full name. I want to help this user and so I am giving him a tip on what to do when the contact's full name is not known. The tip has a title then a body with an explanation of what to do.

My question is, what should be the title of this tip? Is it “Not sure what the contact’s full name is? or “Not sure what is the contact’s full name"?

When is it correct to use either? There is a similar question here but I didn't fully understand it or whether it pertains to my phrase: "I'm not sure what the right way is"


  • 1
    I would suggest "Not sure of the contact's full name?" Jul 24, 2017 at 9:16
  • It's a good option. I think I will use it. Nevertheless, for my understanding, I would still like to know which is correct grammatically (if not both).
    – gulu
    Jul 24, 2017 at 11:40
  • 1
    One of those is ungrammatical: you cannot use inversion when it's not a question. This is a duplicate of the referenced question.
    – tchrist
    Jul 24, 2017 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


Your two examples are acceptable and practically identical. A question mark at the end of each would be fitting.

Taking a step back, their tone is also ever so slightly cute, without getting to the point of action. Shorter would help, as @KateBunting shows. The tone says C'mon, kids, you can do this: "Not that into filling out forms like the one you're in the middle...of? Let's discuss."

Could you say what I'm supposed to do if I'm unsure? In other words, show me rather than ask me: "Enter NONE for contact name if unsure." That's a call to action. User Experience is its own field of study -- Improve the User Experience. (Could use a better example here.)


The linking verb "be" can be put before or after complement, mainly because the "question word" is the subject / argument of the verb "be".

Please also check "indirect speech" - questions constructed with who, what, which + be + complement (Practical English Usage, Oxford University Press, second edition p.504)

What is right, what is wrong? -I am not sure what is right, what is wrong. / I am not sure what right is, what wrong is.

  • Yes, that Swan book is in my opinion the best grammar resource for beginning to intermediate English language learners. Swan's comment that the copula can either precede or follow the complement in such constructions is supported by the respective Google hits for the strings "not sure what is the problem" (3.8 million) and "not sure what the problem is" (1.2 million) - although my third edition of the book does not have the examples you cite, which look odd.
    – Shoe
    Jul 24, 2017 at 15:15

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