I have seen some people use the sentence “what is the mind is being debated widely” instead of “what the mind is is being debated widely”.

Their reason is that “what is the mind” is a clause like “A is B”, so it can be used that way.

Is it correct? If so, is the first sentence below as grammatically correct as the second one, which is constructed in a usual form?

  1. He tries to explain what the mind is.
  2. He tries to explain what is the mind.
  • I'm sorry. There is an error in the last question. The correct sequence of the last two sentences is:1. He tries to explain what is the mind. 2. He tries to explain what the mind is.
    – user287279
    Mar 19, 2018 at 17:50
  • It should be 2. "He tries to explain [what the mind is]." The bracketed element is a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question). Unlike main clause interrogatives, these interrogatives do not generally have subject-auxiliary inversion. The meaning can be glossed as "he tries to explain the answer to the question 'What is the mind?' " The same applies to your first example, which should be "[What the mind is] is being debated widely", where the bracketed element is again a subordinate interrogative clause.
    – BillJ
    Mar 19, 2018 at 19:40
  • Thank you very much. After reading your answer, I've done some readings about this clause type and other clause types, and I understand more now. ^^
    – user287279
    Mar 20, 2018 at 2:46


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