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I can't tell where I need to put the verb are/is in question sentences.

For example:

Do you know how many feet are in one mile?

It sounds completely odd to my ears but I know it's right. I'd like to put the word 'are' at the end of the sentence and say:

Do you know how many feet in one mile are?

And the reason for this is this construction:

Do you know how many feet one mile is?

I'm not sure if this is grammatically right (might be American slang) but it feels and sounds right. When I change the position of the word 'is', however, and say

Do you know how many feet is one mile?

it sounds wrong. What am I missing here? If I structure the sentence with the word 'are' and say 'Do you know how many feet are in one mile' it's right but when I want to restructure the sentence and use the word 'is' I have to say 'Do you know how many feet in one mile is?' WHat am I missing here???

To further illustrate my problem let's look at this sentence:

Do you know where my book is?

This sounds right and so does this one:

Do you know where my books are?

Now, if I change the structure of this sentence and say

Do you know where are my books?

it sounds completely wrong. But if this is wrong why is it right to say

Do you know how many feet are in one mile

and wrong to say

Do you know how many feet in one mile are?

Again, if I were to structure it with 'is' it would sound right

Do you know how many feet one mile is?

  • Look at similar examples, "Do you know how many people are in the boat?" or "Can you tell me how many minutes are there in an hour?" – SovereignSun Jun 29 '17 at 6:46
  • With your 'books' example, "Do you know where my books are?" and "Do you know whose books are on the table?" – SovereignSun Jun 29 '17 at 6:48
  • I can't click on it. How can I find the threads? – Chris Jun 29 '17 at 19:33
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The main difference between these is that these phrases contain only one thing: the subject - my book(s) - and so it takes the nominative case (although there is usually no difference between cases in English).

Do you know where my book is?
Do you know where my books are?

Whereas the phrase:

Do you know how many feet are in one mile?

contains two things: subject and object - feet and mile.

Asking the main question by itself for each case would be written:

Where is my book?
Where are my books?
How many feet are in one mile?

In each case the phrase is led by a Question Word (Where, How, What, Why, Who, When, etc.).

When these questions are rewritten with a main clause and subordinate clause, the formation can change depending on the construction.

You can consider that the original question is being constructed from two separate questions. i.e.

Where is my book? Do you know?
Where are my books? Do you know?

to

Do you know(,) where my book is?
Do you know(,) where my books are?

NB: The comma in parentheses (,) denotes the separate clauses.

In this construction, the (conjugated) verb goes to the end of the clause.

In questions with subject and object, we usually don't change the word order when we combine the clauses.

How many feet are in one mile? Do you know?

becomes

Do you know(,) how many feet are in one mile?

The formulation

Do you know how many feet one mile is?

may be heard in spoken English but this is grammatically incorrect, as is

How many feet one mile is?

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