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Either due to a dent in the continuum, or as a result of my continued efforts to develop a fully functional temporal flux capacitor, yesterday a question was asked which quoted almost exactly a sentence I had spoken to my own son just a day earlier:

I won't do that no matter what are the circumstances.

I had a conversation with my son which went like this:

Son: So I put it on the card. I don't have any cash under those circumstances.
Father: I wouldn't do that, no matter what are the circumstances!

In commentary on the cited question (not in my answer) I maintained that this construction was grammatically correct, if unusual, while another commenter averred that it was simply wrong.

Since the commentary includes references to things "sounding right/wrong," and given my own exhortation that the questioner not disregard that criterion out of hand, I would like an answer to the following question and, if that answer is negative, to its corollary:

  • Is the sentence I won't do that no matter what are the circumstances justifiable from a grammatical perspective?
  • Why does it "sound right" (although certainly more than a little twee) to me?
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    Consider "no matter what" phrases, such as "I will not ignore you, no matter what." The phrase after that, "are the circumstances" makes no sense. So I don't think transposition will work for your example (results might be context sensitive). As of 1(a), it sound wrong to me. – user3169 Aug 28 '16 at 5:12
  • No matter sounds like a comparative here, to me... – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '16 at 5:33
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    @Cardinal I think you are correct. I don't think there is anything wrong with this sentence - I won't do that no matter what the circumstances are. – Man_From_India Aug 28 '16 at 6:10
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    no matter what the circumstances (full stop) or no matter what the circumstances may be. I will recognize you no matter what are you wearing???? Really? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 28 '16 at 10:23
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    The salient interpretation is that this is an exhaustive conditional construction, with "no matter" as head of the adjunct with the subordinate interrogative what clause as complement. But subject-auxiliary inversion is not required so it should be "no matter what the circumstances are". The meaning is I wouldn't do that if the circumstances are 'x', or if they are 'y' or if they are 'z' and so on. It follows that whatever the circumstances are, I wouldn't do the referent of 'that'. Hence the term 'exhaustive conditional'. – BillJ Aug 28 '16 at 13:20
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Your sentence

No matter what are the circumstances

sounds awkward since interrogative + be is usually the form of a question.
Your sentence is slightly ambiguous since it might be parsed as

No matter, what are the circumstances?

who is that person?
where is the store?
when was the incident?

However, the idiomatic phrase you are using

no matter what

no matter who
no matter where
no matter when

is used to mean "always" or "anyone" or "anytime", which then leaves

no matter what, the circumstances are
no matter who, that person is
no matter where, the store is
no matter when, the incident was

which are the commonly used statements.

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    I think you've got it wrong. It's awkward because of the subject-auxiliary inversion, which is not required. It's not a 'superlative' but an 'exhaustive conditional' construction, with "no matter" as head of the adjunct with the subordinate interrogative what clause as complement. The meaning is 'I wouldn't do that if the circumstances are x, and I wouldn't do that if the circumstances are y, and so on. It follows that I wouldn't do that under x, y, or any other possible circumstances. Can you see the conditional meaning? – BillJ Aug 28 '16 at 13:05
  • I see the conditional and "no matter what" emphasises "always", maybe superlative wasn't the right word. – Peter Aug 28 '16 at 13:12
  • What is a "commonly statement?" – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jun 12 '17 at 3:45

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