Where do you think you are going?

Where do you think is the best place?

Why are the word orders in the main clauses different while they are both the same "Where + do you think + main clause"-structure? In other words, why

Where do you think are you going?

Where do you think the best place is?

are wrong?

  • @JasonBassford Could you elaborate it more please? I saw some other places that some of them said "Where do you think are you going" actually wrong.
    – dolco
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 20:13
  • My apologies. I had not paid close enough attention to the third sentence, which is indeed wrong. The others are fine. Commented May 16, 2019 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


The difference is the syntactic role of the entity which where represents.

In the first sentence, where represents a locative complement of the verb GO. Recast the question as an assertion, replacing where with there, and the sentence would be

You think | you are going there.

In the second sentence, where represents the subject of the verb BE. The assertion version would be

You think | there is the best place.

Turn these back into questions—remove the theres and put the interrogative at the front, with auxiliary inversion and do-support—and you end up with the correct versions of your sentences.

  • I thought "where you are going" is almost always an ungrammatical interrogative form, though making a perfect subordinate clause. Are you talking about changing the intonation when reading the statement out loud? I mean turning a usual declarative statement into an interrogative one using rising intonation?
    – Cardinal
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 22:44
  • 1
    @Cardinal But in your sentence you don't ask "Where are you going?"--you "Where do you think you are going?" We only invert with do-support once, in the main clause. Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:50
  • I don't think where is the subject. I'd only say Where are the best places to live in NY?, not Where is the best places to live in NY?.
    – JK2
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 4:10
  • @JK2 But OP asks "Where do you think is the best place?", singular. Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 13:17
  • @StoneyBonhiatus Yes, but the plural sentences are a test to disprove that "where" is "the subject of the verb BE".
    – JK2
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 2:14

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