Which phrase is correct and why and when?

  1. What is inside.
  2. What inside is.

Edit Here is the context:

We have got a little black box. We do not know
(a) what is inside.
(b) what inside is.

Which one is correct?

I know SVOMPT rule (Subject, Verb, Object, adverbs of Manner, adverbs of Place and adverbs of Time). I think the 1st phrase is correct.

  • 2
    I don't know what that acronym stands for. Could you give us some context in which you'd use that phrase? I also don't see what the British English dialect has got to do with this, so feel free to edit that tag out as well while you're at it.
    – user3395
    May 22, 2017 at 13:42
  • 1
    Neither correct or incorrect. Also, what is inside? The question does not make sense as written. What is inside is broken. What inside is depends on how you look at it. See?? Both can "work".
    – Lambie
    May 22, 2017 at 15:24
  • @userr2684291 SVOMPT - Subject, Verb, Object, adverbs of Manner, adverbs of Place and adverbs of Time. May 22, 2017 at 15:26
  • 3
    I don't think learners know how difficult it is to answer a question like this. I don't generally go around talking in three-word fragments. When you provide no context, there's a good chance I'll have no idea what to tell you.
    – J.R.
    May 22, 2017 at 15:52
  • 1
    Don't leave three comments! Edit your question and make it more clear. In fact, when asked for more details, always edit your question, so people reading your question for the first time won't need to dig through the comments to figure out what you're asking.
    – J.R.
    May 24, 2017 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


To be is a copular verb and therefore the "object" would actually be a predicate nominative or subject complement.

What is inside

We are asking or about to tell what is inside of something.

What inside is

We are asking or about to tell what inside is, as in what is the nature or definition of inside as a concept.


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