EDITED: Are the following sentences correct in correctly positioning the linking verb are?

  1. What different devices are used in this type of setting?
  2. What are the different devices that are used in this type of setting?

I am asking this to confirm if they mean the same?

EDITS after @Kris 's comment

  1. What different devices are used in this type of setting?
  2. What are the different devices used in this type of setting?
  • 1
    Why do you think they are not? What has 'linking verb' to do with the examples, and with your question?
    – Kris
    May 21, 2012 at 16:05
  • @ Kris Please see my edits
    – Stat-R
    May 21, 2012 at 16:14
  • You should omit 'that are' in the second sentence for better/ correct comparative parsing.
    – Kris
    May 21, 2012 at 16:47

3 Answers 3


Starting from the assumption that both sentences are grammatically correct, I've got the gut feeling that they mean something slightly different.

What different devices are used... ? makes me think that the person is asking what devices may be used other than devices previously mentioned.

What are the different devices that are used... ? on the other hand could just mean that the person knows that different (i.e. various) devices are used in that type of setting, and would like to be given a list of them.

  • +1, in the first sentence, it is unclear as to whether different is a synonym for other or various. Presumably, though, this would not really be an issue if given context.
    – Cameron
    May 21, 2012 at 17:19
  • @Cameron. You're right as to the matter being unclear. I feel that "different" in the first sentence is synonymous to "other", whereas "various" would be the synonym in the second usage. However, you're right again in saying that the context would make things easier.
    – Paola
    May 21, 2012 at 17:38

Yes, these questions are correct!


Per OP's Edit-2:

I think the two sentences are grammatically correct and identical.

If there is a difference in meaning, it is due to the status of the word 'different' and not the position of the verb. (I strongly suspect the definite article to be the culprit.)

As others have already stated, in the first case, the word 'different' becomes rather precariously positioned: it could be understood as either 'various' as intended, or as 'other'.

The first sentence's construction being thus ambiguous, it may be avoided.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.