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I got this sentence from a Primary 5 student's worksheet.

According to this passage, this creature can be found where?

Some of the parents think that the sentence should be "..., where can this creature be found?" One of the teachers said that "where" can be put at the end of the sentence, too.

All of us, the parents and the teacher, are non-native English speakers. Please enlighten us.

p/s : I had posted this question in English Language & Usage, and was reffered to here.

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3 Answers 3

According to this passage, this creature can be found where?

This is grammatically acceptable/correct. It is common and acceptable for certain types of quiz questions to end with a wh-word (where, who, when, etc.).

English questions are often formed with a wh-word (who, what, when, where, etc.). The wh-word -- or more generally, the wh-phrase -- is occasionally found at the end of the sentence (just as in the OP example, above). However, the wh-phrase is usually "moved" to the beginning of the sentence, which is called "wh-fronting", also known as wh-movement:

  • This creature can be found where? (Ok in certain quiz and other question types.)
  • Where can this creature be found? (Usually questions are formed by wh-movement to the beginning of the sentence.)

What is wh-movement?

When the wh-word is in the same location as it's corresponding declarative sentence, this is called "wh in situ" (aka "canonical position" aka "canonical theta position"). The following shows the relationship between the declarative sentence, wh in-situ, and wh-movement via a series of transformations:

  • Example #1: Declarative, wh-in-situ, and wh-movement.
    You have a dog. (1. Declarative statement.)
    You have a dog? (2. Declarative yes/no question.)
    You have a what? 3. Canonical wh-word position, aka wh in-situ.)
    What do you have? (4. Typical wh-movement of wh-word to the front.)
    .

  • Example 2: Declarative, wh-in-situ, and wh-movement.
    Your dog is in the yard. (1. Declarative statement.)
    Your dog is in the yard? (2. Declarative yes/no question.)
    Your dog is where? (3. Canonical wh-word position, aka wh in-situ.)
    Where is your dog? (4. Wh-movement)


Exceptions to wh-movement (aka wh in-situ).

  • Example 3: Surprise.

    "Hi mom. I thought I'd give you a call to tell you I love you."
    "Oh that's so sweet darling!"
    "And to let you know I cut off all my hair."
    "You did WHAT!?"

  • Example 4: Two wh-words constrains wh-movement.

    Wife: "Darling, where did you put the mrphmnm?"
    Husband: "Where did I put the what?"

    Example 5: An echo question; wh-in-situ parallels a declarative sentence and identifies the word-in-question.

    "I took your mrphmm."
    "You took my what?"


Quiz Questions!

And to finally answer your question, wh in situ will also be found in certain types of quiz questions! One scenario is when the author is asking for a very specific answer, exactly like the OP's question. Here are a couple of additional references:

Thanks for asking a great question! Let us know if this helps!

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You have a dog? Is okay and is known as declarative question. The OP's question is not declarative by any means. Sorry. –  Maulik V May 18 at 11:59
    
Yes, this is the right answer. –  snailplane May 18 at 17:38
    
let us continue this discussion in chat –  snailplane May 18 at 19:05

In the phrase:

According to this passage, this creature can be found where?

I think it is OK to say it this way, because it is referring to the passage on the worksheet that probably said something like:

This creature (probably named) can be found in California.

so the question follows the same structure.

Without the passage reference, you would more likely say:

Where can this creature be found?

other than for emphasis as Codeswitcher wrote.

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1  
I think you unintentionally doubled can in the last sentence. –  Fantasier May 18 at 4:19
    
@Fantasier Oops. Thanks I fixed it. –  user3169 May 18 at 5:00

I suspect it's not technically correct, and it's certainly not formal, but it is quite idiomatic. Indeed, it is often used for emphasis to express incredulity (astonishment or indignance): the phrase "you found it where?" (in quotes) gets 504k hits, most of the top ones having multiple question marks or interrobangs.

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