I saw this headline at the Politico web site: "Tucker Carlson’s Exit Shows Who’s the Real Star at Fox". Shouldn't it be "Tucker Carlson’s Exit Shows Who the Real Star at Fox Is"?

I thought that since the second part of the sentence wasn't a question, the verb (is) should come after the subject (who). Does this rule no longer hold? And when did it disappear?


2 Answers 2


In an embedded interrogative clause, the subject-auxiliary inversion does not occur:

(1) It questions whether he is the real star at Fox.
(2) ??It questions whether is he the real star at Fox.
(3) It shows who is the real star at Fox.
(4) It shows who the real star is at Fox.
(5) It shows who the real star at Fox is.

In order for (3)-(5) to work, therefore, the subjects of the embedded clauses should be who, the real star, the real star at Fox, respectively.

This is why you can't say (6) or (7):

(6) ??It shows where is the real star at Fox.
(7) ??It shows who are you.

In the Politico title, the writer simply treated who as the subject of the embedded clause, as in (3), which he certainly can.


There is at least one alternative explanation beyond grammatical correctness: The economics of online publishing.

The proposed revision adds one word and a single character.

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