A lot of my ESL students have asked me if the following sentence is grammatically correct. They see it as an error because the word think is followed by is.

"What do you think is going on?"

  • This form of question is actually used in an example in CMOS (to demonstrate a totally different point): << CMOS ... Some of the reflection questions included are as follows: ... "What do you think is happening here?” >> (@linguisticturn's answer at What is the proper way to quote multiple questions within ...). Would your students feel as worried about "Who do you think will win?"? "What do you think will happen next?"? May 1 '20 at 13:39
  • It looks fine to me. "What [do you think [ ___ is going on]]? "What" is subject of the embedded clause in inner brackets, and is represented by 'gap'.
    – BillJ
    May 1 '20 at 13:59
  • It's OK as is, but it's ungrammatical if you don't delete the that from the complement of think: *What do you think that is going on? Using an overt that complementizer makes the clause an island; removing it makes it a peninsula. Similarly with *Who do you think that will win? May 1 '20 at 16:00

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