I am first language English and currently supporting a Japanese teacher in teaching Japanese students English. I've run across an issue twice where my initial reaction was to call it an error, but it is prolific in their teaching material and I'm starting to doubt myself.

In response to "Which is---?" or "What is ---?" questions the textbook recommends the answer "Answer is." This sounds very wrong to me.

Example. "Which is higher, Mt. Everest or Mt. Fuji?" The textbook gives the answer "Mt. Everest is." I think "Mt. Everest." or "Mt. Everest is higher than Mt. Fuji." are both better, or at least more natural, answers.

"What is the month that comes after July?" "August is." I think it should be "August.", "August comes after July.", "August is the month that comes after July." etc etc.

I'm hoping someone can explain to me why this is wrong. If it's right, I'm looking for someone to tell me why it feels wrong to me. (I'm from the Canadian East-Coast if its a dialect thing. Not a Newfie or anything but I do say aboat.)

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    I can’t help you with explaining why it feels wrong to you, because it feels perfectly normal and natural to me. The complement is deleted because it’s repeated information that’s perfectly gleanable from context and therefore unnecessary. The same thing happens with other verbs as well, of course, except the pro-verbs used there are different. Do cases like “Which one of you broke the window?” — “He did” or “Who ordered the calzone?” — “I did” also feel wrong to you? Jan 18, 2018 at 0:13
  • Welcome to EL&U. I think the answer may be that "[Noun] is." is a sentence. Jan 18, 2018 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


For the question "What is the month that comes after July?", the typical answer is "August", but that is a fragment. The answerer is searching memory to replace the query pronoun, and the full answer is "August is the month that comes after July." We are free to elide as much or as little as we want, so long as the answer is understandable. Failing to omit the verb 'is' wastes some time, but it is grammatically permitted.

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