Given Sentence:

Girls who are tall usually long to be dainty and small, and vice versa; plump girls with rosy round faces would love to be pale and delicate; slender girls with very white skin hate their pale and colourless look.


What do dainty and small girls want to be?

Possible Answer:

  1. Dainty and small girls want to be tall.[adjective complement]

  2. Dainty and small girls want to be tall girls.[noun complement]

Which will be appropriate answer for this type of "What" question, "adjective" or "noun"?

  • Either response is fine. It's just as syntactically valid to say I want to be happy when I grow up as it is to say I want to be a doctor when I grow up. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 8 '16 at 14:41
  • 5
    Where did you find these sentences? The subject matter here makes me cringe. – J.R. Dec 8 '16 at 15:52
  • 1
    @J.R. Yes you have to wonder if English-language programs shouldn't include a mandatory introductory cultural orientation. – Andrew Dec 8 '16 at 16:58
  • 1
    @Andrew - I suppose it might be from a curriculum that was developed 50 or 60 years ago, and just hasn't been updated with the times. If not, though, someone could use a sensibility slap. – J.R. Dec 8 '16 at 18:21
  • @J.R. Sad to say but there are parts of the United States where this might still be a reasonable thing to say in casual conversation, or even teach in the classroom. But it's not something I would suggest English learners use anywhere. – Andrew Dec 8 '16 at 18:36

Both make sense and are grammatical, but in practice you would use answer (1). You don't need "girls" to be repeated as it is unambiguous.

If, however, you wanted to express that dainty and small girls actually wanted to be tall giraffes, then you would need to include the noun at the end.

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