"What does the man suggest is the best solution?" Could somebody explain the grammatical structure of this sentence to me like talking to a toddler...?

([what does the man suggest] itself is a question and yet, its function is clearly a subject.. I guess I think it is a correct sentence but cannot explain why exactly;;)

  • "What is the best solution (in the opinion of the man who is giving advice)?" Dec 3, 2019 at 15:12
  • I don't believe that what does the man suggest is the subject, on both syntactic and semantic grounds. In fact, I don't think it is even a constituent. What is a fused relative, but I can't work out the actual structure. I bet CGEL discusses cases like this, but I can't afford a copy.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 3, 2019 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Well, not quite toddler level. I don't remember how to explain grammar to a toddler. I have enough trouble explaining it to me.

Consider a possible answer to the question.

The man suggests calling a tow truck is the best solution.

The man is doing a suggestion. The man is the subject. His action is to suggest.

The thing he is suggesting is that "calling a tow truck" and "best solution" are the same. That is, he is suggesting that it is true that "calling a tow truck is the best solution."

So the object is another sentence: Calling a tow truck is the best solution.

So let's look at the original question.

What does the man suggest is the best solution?

It is asking for some such sentence as the tow truck sentence. So the subject is "the man." The action is "does suggest." And the object is "What is the best solution?"

  • The man is making a suggestion not doing one...
    – Lambie
    Jun 3, 2023 at 14:47

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