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I have just been autocorrected as follows:

I wrote: "Please let me know when would be a good time to..."

Correction: "Please let me know when a good time would be to..."

I suppose I can see that both of these are acceptable, but I cannot see that mine is wrong or even that the correction is preferable.

I see mine as having a structure where "a good time to x" forms a noun phrase.

The correction, I suppose has "to x" as an adverbial? Perhaps a simplistic definition.

Am I wrong about either of these? Is mine in fact not a viable noun phrase? Is the correction doing something other than I suggest?

In any case, I prefer mine because I think it benefits from the proximity of "a good time" and "to do something" and where the correction creates distance between these, I think it is poorer for it. Is this valid or jus wishful thinking on my part?

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    I find your version perfectly idiomatic. Oct 23, 2023 at 12:02
  • See my comment under the L:PH answer.
    – Lambie
    Oct 23, 2023 at 13:30
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    This should not be closed as a duplicate of the linked to post. That their post over on the other page is about subject auxiliary inversion, according to @JohnLawler. However, there is no subject auxiliary inversion in this question here. So by definition that answer cannot answer this question. Oct 24, 2023 at 12:51
  • @Araucaria-Him The auxiliary is would and it appears in the subordinate clause. The subject of that clause is a good time and would appears on both sides of it in the examples. The resemblance of the uninverted would to a real question makes it more appropriate pragmatically when actually seeking information. If not subject-aux inversion here, what would you suggest to describe the phenomenon? Oct 24, 2023 at 15:33
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    @Araucaria-Him Posted one! Hope it's not that confusing...
    – user424874
    Oct 25, 2023 at 19:16

3 Answers 3

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(CoGEL § 15.5) Notes [b] In literary style, subject-verb inversion occasionally occurs when the wh-element is the subject complement or an obligatory adverbial, parficularly if the subject is lengthy:

  • She told us how strong was her motivation to engage in research.
  • It took me some time to discover in which village stood the memorial to our fallen comrades.

"When" is the subject complement of "would be": "a good time to… would be < when >". Therefore, the subject "a good time to…" being of that sort that can be called long, the inversion is correct, and even preferable.

  • Please let me know when would be a good time (to collect the bulk of this information). (preferable, to say the least)
  • Please let me know when a good time (to collect the bulk of this information) would be. (sounds somewhat awkward, not "well connected")

CoGEL: A Comprehensive Grammar of the English language

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  • When would be a good time to do [whatever] is a question form. Please let me know when a good time would be to do [whatever]..."= a statement form. The utterance is not literary. Also, the subject is not lengthy.
    – Lambie
    Oct 23, 2023 at 13:28
  • "When would be a good time to do this?" is a question form, but not "when would be a good time to do this", it is not. Compare: "I asked him when would be a good time to do the repairs on the roof of the house and on the old outbuildings." and "He knew when would be a good time to do the repairs on the roof of the house and on the old outbuildings."; the bolded parts are the same in both cases. // The inversion tends to occur particularly if the subject is lengthy. // I agree with you about the stipulation "in literary style"; it seems that literary style is not the sole case.
    – LPH
    Oct 23, 2023 at 16:45
  • Yes, you added a question mark, still When would be a good time to [whatever] ? is a question form. And it is not lengthy.
    – Lambie
    Oct 23, 2023 at 17:08
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"Please let me know when would be a good time to..."

The subordinate interrogative has the main clause interrogative equivalent as "When would be a good time to X?". In this analysis, I take the clause in the subject questioned with When as the subject of the specifying "be". It’s in the usual subject position, before the head verb of the clause. And can be answered by replacing "When" with a PP as in After dinner would be a good time to X.

As noted by others, it is perfectly idiomatic.

"Please let me know when a good time would be to..."

The subordinate interrogative has the main clause interrogative equivalent as When would a good time to X be" where "When" functions as the complement of specifying "be" (Non-subject questioned). Here "When" is in the prenucleus position and can be answered in this format: A good time to X would be __

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I wrote: Please let me know when would be a good time to...

Correction: Please let me know when a good time would be to...

OK, I got it wrong above so I should post a more detailed (and better) answer. I wasn't totally wrong -- subject-auxiliary inversion is still involved, but so are other rules, which I didn't notice.

This OQ uses Please let me know as the matrix clause with the embedded question complement. I've tried it with several others and as long as it's an embedded question, the phenomenon's the same, so I'll continue to use it. On the other hand, "to ..." is an uninspiring infinitive, so let's use to leave, which fits many contexts. And let's put a subject back on the infinitive, just to keep things straight; I'll use us as the subject (again, fitting many contexts), and add the for subject marker to go with the to verb marker of the infinitive complementizer. Viz, with bracketed clauses:

  • [Please let [me know [when would be a good time [for us to leave]]]].

Perfectly grammatical, but irregular. There are two auxiliary verbs (would and be) in the question, and both of them are inverted, instead of just the first one:

  • Please let me know when would a good time be for us to leave

Both of these are not normal embedded questions, which don't invert auxiliaries. Without inversion, we get the following

  • Please let me know when a good time for us to leave would be.

as well as the following, with Extraposition from NP detaching the infinitive

  • Please let me know when a good time would be for us to leave.

from the subject NP a good time for us to leave.

Other possibilities abound; What time (or often just What, with time implicit in a good time), for instance, produces a different cascade of possibilities.

But not all of them are grammatical, or at least regular -- though modals are such a charley foxtrot it's hard to distinguish. For instance, there's only one variant (with would fronted but not be) that allows extraposition it in the question:

  • When would (it) be a good time for us to leave?
  • When would be (*it) a good time for us to leave?
  • When would (*it) a good time for us to leave be?

Though varieties of embedded clauses allow Extraposition:

  • Please let me know when (it) would be a good time for us to leave

This is a fairly sticky, though easily constructed, problem, and it's not surprising that an online free service didn't get it all.

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    Glad I bumped into this answer Nov 4, 2023 at 0:38

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