1

Do I need to use "is there" or "there is" in the following sentence?

It is natural to ask under which conditions is there a subtype relation between two given arrow types.

If I change "is" to "be" the order is clearly "there be".

3

The correct order in the sentence is “there is”.

The inversion of the subject-verb word order mainly occurs in questions. When interrogative clause is a question on its own, the correct order is “Is there”:

Under which conditions is there a subtype relation between two given arrow types?

When cited as a direct quotation, that inversion order remains:

It is natural to ask: “Under which conditions is there a subtype relation between two given arrow types?”

But when used as a subordinate interrogative clause, the normal subject-verb word order is used:

It is natural to ask under which conditions there is a subtype relation between two given arrow types.

Edit: it’s a subordinate interrogative clause, not a relative clause. Hat tip: BillJ in comment below.

  • Hmm, those suggestions seem to change the meaning, at least in my mind. I might try the following, but wonder whether it becomes more obscure or less. One might ask what conditions are necessary and sufficient that there be a subtype relation between two arrow types. – Jim Newton Oct 2 '18 at 16:58
  • It's not a relative clause. "Under which conditions there is a subtype relation between two given arrow types" is a 'subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question). – BillJ Oct 2 '18 at 17:02
1

The latter is technically correct. The former leans towards colloquial. Both are awkward. Consider changing it to:

It would be logical to ask under which conditions a subtype relation would exist [or: emerge; or: become obvious; or: manifest itself] between two given arrow types.

Or:

It would only be logical to ask under which conditions a subtype relation between two given arrow types would become evident.

Or:

One would be naturally inclined to ask at that point under which conditions a subtype relation between two given arrow types would manifest itself.

1

"Is there" is used in argumentative sentences.

Is there someone over the hill?

"There is" is used in affirmative sentences.

There is a cow over the hill.


So it would be more common to write your phrase like this:

It is natural to ask under which conditions there is a subtype relation between two given arrow types.

  • Welcome to English Language and Usage! You might want to take the site tour and check out the help center, especially the section on writing a good answer. Can you explain why, in this situation, it would be written that way? Can you provide some links to supporting evidence? – Roger Sinasohn Oct 2 '18 at 16:48
  • Hello, Roger! Thanks for the tip. I will have a look at those links to elaborate better my answer. – Leonardo Oct 2 '18 at 16:55
0

It is natural to ask [under which conditions is there / there is a subtype relation between two given arrow types].

The bracketed constituent is a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question). Unlike main clause interrogatives, there is normally no inversion, so “there is” is the correct version.

The meaning can be glossed as:

"It is natural to ask the answer to the question 'Under which conditions is there a subtype relation between two given arrow types?'"

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