44

The use of seem to is usually a hedge, or a softener. The examples above are suggesting that the person feels they should be able to do something but cannot find the right way to do it successfully. The same person wouldn't say, "I can't seem to speak Korean" because they have no reasonable expectation that they should be able to speak Korean.


19

"I can't seem to" expresses the idea of repeatedly trying without success. You don't want to flatly admit that you can't as long as you keep trying, but you're closer to failure so it seems you can't, while you still hope to succeed. It's often used as a commentary on ongoing attempts: I just can't seem to get this jar open! The expression is somewhat ...


9

I understand your dilemma, but putting is before the benefit is not a good idea. In an indirect question, there is no subject-verb inversion: Normal: you were here (subject, finite verb). Direct question: she asked: "where were you?" (finite verb, subject). Indirect question: she asked where you were (subject, finite verb). In speech, you can't hear ...


8

All three versions occur, though they don't falute the same. (c) is the canonic source, with simple Wh-fronting, leaving is at the end of the sentence: does anyone know [the task for the afternoon is what]? ==> does anyone know [what the task for the afternoon is]? (b) is a further variation on (c), with the prepositional phrase for the afternoon, ...


6

You're right about the first sentence. Your cousin could be right, too, but he should write the sentence this way: Tell me: why should I marry you?


6

I’ve often wondered about this myself, Meysam. ‘To be unable to seem’ is a strange state to be in. Of course, what speakers who use this construction (and I am of their number) are saying is ‘It seems that I can’t . . .’ That’s what would be used in formal writing. For example, we’d expect an economist writing in a serious publication to say ‘It seems that ...


5

Grammatically speaking, the last two examples are quite different. In the first example, what substitutes the predicative The wisdom behind education is something. What is the wisdom behind education? (question is about the predicative) I don't know what the wisdom behind education is. <-- correct I don't know what is the wisdom behind ...


4

The distinction is important, particularly in psychotherapy... "I can't" is final and definitive, as has been suggested by several answers. In other words, "I cannot and never will be able to..." "I can't seem to" is alternatively expressed as "I can't, yet," or "I can't, at the moment." In other words, it allows for the possibility that a given thing ...


4

The difference between embedded and non-embedded questions is that, while normal Wh-questions must undergo Subject-Auxiliary Inversion, in certain cases, -- though, note, only in those cases; we'll return to this point later -- What did the man eat? **What the man ate?* embedded Wh-questions normally don't in these cases. I don't know what the man ate. ...


4

I'm having a lot of trouble seeing the problem here. The fact that you are using a verb of identity makes no difference, except to allow for another acceptable way of phrasing the sentences. (And by the way, you could construct similar reversals even in the case of transitive verbs, if you wanted to, by using the passive voice, thus: "Koalas are liked by ...


3

Do you know what the good things are [to do around here]?" Do you know what the good things to do around here are?" The Original Poster's second example (#2 above) might be considered to be the canonical version of the sentence. This is the version where all the phrases are in their normal positions. The embedded interrogative clause in the sentence is ...


3

Both formulations can be used. Tell me what your opinion on this matter is is a straightforward prompt which invites the other person to say what they think. In its written form, the variant wording requires some additional punctuation to clarify the fact that it is actually a question: Tell me: what is your opinion on this matter?


3

Some style guides recommend refraining from using colons after verbs, so if there is going to a pedant reading your text, it might be better to say “My question is [ the following | thus | this ]: why is ice so slippery?”. That actually sounds better to me anyways, but there's nothing wrong with what you had. No comma doesn't work because of the inverted ...


2

The correct formulation is what my idea is. It's called a "noun clause" or a "content clause." The other order is used for asking questions. It could be used in a direct quotation (e.g., People ask me, "What is your idea?" Notice, however, the change in pronouns.


2

The "seem to" implies that you have made attempts but failed. "Can't seem to X" also suggests that you would like to succeed at X.


2

There's an inconsistency in the preamble. One has to be very careful when converting a quote structure to a report structure: The book doesn't say, "What's the wisdom behind education?" Changing this to an indirect question becomes the following: The book doesn't ask what the wisdom behind education is. This conversion largely preserves sense, but even ...


2

You seem to be very confused. Grammatically, "I don't know what your name is." and "I don't know what is wrong with you." are not questions. Of course, if I say, "I don't know xxx." in a situation where it is normal for somebody to tell me xxx, then the statement functions as a question, but that's a matter of context and usage, not grammar. Simple ...


2

The sentence She asked the teacher what should she do. Is not written or spoken by a native speaker I assume. I would guess what is meant is: She asked the teacher what she should do. And that sentence does indeed mean: She asked the teacher: "What should I do?"


2

Which embodiments the underlined preferred embodiments refer to is/are unclear. Looking at this sentence it might be easy to think that the subject of the verb BE, which heads the predicate is embodiments or perhaps preferred embodiments. However, the sentence has the following structure: X is unclear. We can see straight away from the sentence above that ...


2

The basic structure is "I don't know [who the first man [that ... ] was]" But the long subject inside the subordinate clause may trigger extraposition, whereby it is moved behind the short VP 'was': I don't know who was the first man that ... . However, I would use a different extraposition, and move only the embedded relative clause: I don't know ...


2

Asking 'what is it exactly you do do? Is a way of differentiating from 'what you don't do'. (Or indeed, whether you do anything at all!) Example: 'I am a plumber, but I don't fix pipes, water heaters or baths!' Reply 'what is it exactly you do do?' 'Well I only do radiators actually. And only on Wednesdays. If I'm not busy!'


2

From most of the examples in this link, keeping or omitting a comma would suffice. ludwig search Also, it could be said that the latter clause (and why a calling card was left behind) is a dependent clause, thus it would be best to omit the comma.


1

Your question is an indirect question in any context I can think of. As such, it takes a period. I don't believe there is ambiguity in your example. You can try different intonations, and it doesn't sound right as a direct question. I don't know what you want from me. The direct question form of this is: What do you want from me?


1

I believe this is what is referred to as an "embedded direct question", and I would not use the question mark. When I read it with the question mark, it connotes to me that the person is pondering whether if they themselves are wondering. From Garammar-monster.com: I wonder whether Anne is going to the party. (Embedded direct question: Is Anne going to the ...


1

In a real question you have inversion of subject and verb as in Can you help me, Do you like him. Normal sentence order only if the question word (who, what) is a nominative (subject case) as in: Who called? What's up. --- When you build in a question sentence into another sentence (dependent question clause) then you have normal sentence order. He asked how ...


1

There are direct questions, indirect questions, and embedded questions, and accepted practices vary between them. Jim asked, “Should quotation marks be used?” “Should quotation marks be used?” asked Jim. Jim asked whether quotation marks should be used. Jim’s question is, should question marks be used? Note carefully the differing conventions of ...


1

John M Landsberg answer is perfectly correct and it's clear the OP has accepted it. Normally I would leave alone and move on but this time, I think both John M Landsberg and the OP have veered from the original request. "Is this 3-part rule I have been using wrong for be sentences?" In fact David John Welsh ends his detailed question with: Incidentally,...


1

In the English Language there are times when you say something that means exactly what the words mean, and then other times when what you say actually means something else entirely. This latter approach is called being "sarcastic" (sarcasm) and it seems to be more prevalent on the East Coast of the US although this vernacular of sarcasm is very common in all ...


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