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From these two questions, which one sounds better, and if both are correct, is there any difference in their meaning?

(1) Is building a solar-powered drone feasible?

(2) Is it feasible to build a solar-powered drone?

For my ear, the first one is a bit strange, but I am not a native speaker, so I need some advice.

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    Both are idiomatic, and say the same thing. But I think 2 is less likely to be misunderstood. The problem with putting the main verb at the end of the sentence is that it delays comprehension, and seems to call for more attentiveness on the part of the listener. Number 2 gets straight to the point. – WS2 May 5 '17 at 11:48
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    Absolutely idiomatic to form a question in that manner. Is working on an oil rig dangerous? Is snorkeling fun? Will taking the 8:30 train be faster than driving into the city? – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 5 '17 at 13:09
  • @WS2: The main verb is the very first word in both cases :) – psmears May 5 '17 at 16:12
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    I agree that both are idiomatic, but I'll second the preference for #2. In this specific case, I also noticed that as I am reading the sentence and read get to the word "building" there's a (VERY) brief moment of ambiguity where I'm not sure if you are using it as a noun. The rest of the sentence makes it clear, but in version 2 I never have a moment's doubt about my understanding. – A C May 5 '17 at 16:12
  • @psmears Point taken. You are right. I should have said the compliment to the main verb. But I still think it is the important key to comprehension. – WS2 May 5 '17 at 18:10
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They both seem correct to me. On the sounding strange part, the first sentence is often used in chemistry:

Is the formation of [compound] from [compound] feasible?

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(1) Is building a solar-powered drone feasible?

(2) Is it feasible to build a solar-powered drone?

These are quite different constructions with (2) belonging in the information packaging domain as an extraposed construction.

Nevertheless, there is generally a preference for sentences where the subordinate clause is located at the end of the sentence rather than the beginning. It's because subordinate clauses tend to be heavier (longer and structurally more complex) than noun phrases, and there is generally a preference for placing heavier material at the end of the sentence where it’s easier to process.

  • Does it mean the second sentence is easier to understand and thus preferable? – olegst May 5 '17 at 13:47
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    @olegst Yes, I would definitely say it is. – BillJ May 5 '17 at 13:55

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