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  1. What did she say was the best performance she ever did?

(What is the grammar pattern or formula for this kind of question? What specific topic should be discussed for this?)

  1. Who do you think that woman is?

(What is the grammar pattern or formula for this kind of question? What specific topic should be discussed for this?)

The story behind it is that by nature I guess the structure of the questions are correct but my friend is asking if the two questions have the same pattern or there is something that should be changed. For example, Who do you think is that woman? I want to explain the concept/pattern structure of the sentence.

  • This is a decent question. Not sure why it's gotten close-votes. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 1 '17 at 10:10
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo - I think it might get a better reception of the OP explained where these came from. It currently seems like a copy-and-paste from a homework assignment. The community doesn't mind helping with homework questions, of course, but we appreciate being told the full situation up front. – J.R. Sep 1 '17 at 10:12
  • What is the greater ill, @J.R., anonymous unexplained downvotes and closevotes, or a learner asking for the name given to the construction so that he or she might read further about it? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 1 '17 at 10:14
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo - I was just trying to give our new user some hints as to how to write questions that will be better received. In my mind, this is less about "which is the greater ill" and more about how we can continually improve. But I appreciate you lauding the question at its root level. – J.R. Sep 1 '17 at 10:16
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    I'm sorry. Yes this is my first time. The story behind it is that by nature I guess the structure of the questions are correct but my friend is asking if the two questions have the same pattern or should it be changed. For example, Who do you think is that woman? I want to explain the concept/pattern structure of the sentence. I would really appreciate it. Thanks. – Aldrine Sep 1 '17 at 12:16
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If I understand your example correctly, you're looking at the difference between subject and complement.

Who do you think that woman is? 
Who do you think is that woman? 

We should be able to turn these question back into statement form.  We just go through the question-forming rules backwards.

We can move "who" from the front of the clause to whatever place it seems to make sense.  Since it's an unanswered question and we don't really know what "who" represents, I'll just use a placeholder:

do you think that woman is [???] 
do you think [???] is that woman?

Next, we can move the auxiliary in front of the verb that it governs:

you do think that woman is [???] 
you do think that [???] is that woman 

If we suspect that we don't need "do" in the statement, we can simply drop it:

You think that woman is [???]. 
You think that [???] is that woman. 

 

To my native speaker's ear, it is more natural for the unknown -- the heart of the question -- to be the complement rather than the subject.  If I'm answering in full sentences, I'm more likely to say, for example, "I think that that woman is the president" rather than "I think that the president is that woman".

The subordinate clause is copular.  The subject of such a clause represents that which possesses a state.*  The complement represents the state so possessed.  Questions about either are logically and grammatically possible, but questions about the latter tend to make more sense. 

_______________ 

* I still don't have a good label for this semantic role.  I opened a question on ELU, but the good people there can't seem to tell the difference between that which possess a state and that which undergoes action without change.  Until I get a better answer to that question, I can't offer a better answer to this one. 

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