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The Guardian has recently published an interview with Kurt Volker, who stated that:

“We can have a conversation with Ukraine like we would with any other country about what do they need.

Source

Why is he using inversion?

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    It's an error -- there should be no inversion: "...about what they need". The italicised element is a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question). The meaning is “We can have a conversation with Ukraine like we would with any other country about the answer to the question 'What do they need?'"
    – BillJ
    Sep 1, 2018 at 16:23
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    This is a transcription of a conversation - so the interviewee may have been speaking stream-of-consciousness or less formally, and thus dropped that 'do' in. Or perhaps intended that to be an interior quotation - "We can have a conversation ... about 'what do they need?'"
    – John Feltz
    Sep 1, 2018 at 16:40

1 Answer 1

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This sound like something that happens occasionally in conversation. In spoken conversion though, it would come across more naturally.

Think of it like this: “We can have a conversation with Ukraine like we would with any other country about X.” Where X is the question "what do they need?".

In other words, "we can have a conversation with them about the question: what do they need?"

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