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Yeah. There's an investigation being opened. And I haven't heard officially, but the French media is saying that there is, you know, there was renovation going on near the roof by the ceiling. There was a lot of scaffolding there. And they say that's where the fire broke out. And there was so much, you know, wood and timber in there hundreds of years old. And they say it was, you know, dried and cured and waxed. And it may have been that wood along the ceiling where the fire started. But we'll find out, Ailsa.

The above quote is in NPR new about the fire on The Spire of Notre Dame Cathedral. As for the bold sentence in the paragraph, I wonder if it is correct to rewrite it to "And it may have been that the wood along the ceiling is where the fire started." ?

In my opinion, the rewrite sentence is not grammatical, since if we replace 'it' with "that wood along the ceiling is where the fire started", the sentence will be "That wood along the ceiling is where the fire started may have been.", and this doesn't make any sense to me. So I don't think my previous rewrite is correct.

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Remember that live (As it happens) speech, even among professional journalists, may seem ungrammatical when written down, yet be understood perfectly by the audience.

As written speech, you would likely change the sentence from this:

And it may have been that wood along the ceiling where the fire started.

to this:

  1. It may have been that [particular group of] wood [beams] along the ceiling [was] where the fire started.

Your rewrite:

  1. "And it may have been that the wood along the ceiling is where the fire started."

is correct, because you can say this:

  1. Where the fire started is along the ceiling.

Your suggestion is just an inversion of that simple sentence (3).

  1. Along the ceiling is where the fire started.

Or

  1. The wood is where the fire started.
  • But, what does 'it' here represent? In the original sentence, 'where the fire started', in my opinion, is the actual subject of the sentence. Is that right? – Henry Wang Aug 21 at 12:51

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