One of my friends is going to take her language exam next week and since I successfully passed mine, she asked me to say some words about her letter and correct the errors if there's any.

She wrote the sentence

I believe that why people choose to enter this type of competition is an interesting question.

Is this grammatically correct? I would rather say

I believe that the question of why people choose...

Which one do you think is better?

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    It's hard to say which is better when the second example is a mere fragment. – J.R. Jan 21 '18 at 18:31

The sentence is grammatically correct but would definitely improved by simply deleting 'that'. There's no reason to add 'the question of'. That is telling readers something they'll learn anyway as soon as they see the word 'why'.
For style, I would want to move 'interesting question' closer to 'I believe'. That is the point of this sentence, isn't it? I'd say: "I believe it is an interesting question, why people choose to enter this competition."


I prefer yours. I'm assuming that you would go on to end it to produce something something like:

I believe that the question of why people choose to enter this type of competition is an interesting one.

And I'd be equally happy with an "as to" form, such as:

I believe that the question as to why people choose to enter this type of competition is an interesting one.

I suspect the reason I prefer those over your friend's is that I'm vaguely uneasy with the fact that the text implies that it contains a portion that is a question when in fact that is not strictly true.

Consider: the overall form is as follows:

I believe that [SOMETHING] is an interesting question

where [SOMETHING] represents the text fragment, 'why people choose to enter this type of competition'. The problem is, that text fragment is not a question. Contrast your friend's offering with the following:

I believe that, "Why do people enter this type of competition?" is an interesting question.

In that case, the text fragment actually is a question, and so my unease is resolved. However, the resolution is done inelegantly, by brute force of typography. Yours is more subtle, which is why I'd go that route myself.

All that said, I don't think your friend is strictly wrong. I'm not a language examiner, but I'd be surprised if they were to lose marks for their form.

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