2

This is from a textbook for ESL students.

At the information desk, a lady asks, "Where is the restroom?" A man says, "It's just behind you. Do you see where the sign is?"

Is this sentence structure "Do you see where the sign is?" the same as, for example,

"Do you know where the restroom is?"

If I take this sentence as a relative clause, does it work?

3

Forming a question

Let's form a question. We'll perform four basic steps.

  1. First, let's start with a declarative clause:

    The restroom is here.

  2. Next, let's turn it into an interrogative clause. We'll do this by putting the interrogative word where in, replacing here:

    The restroom is where?

  3. Next, we need to move the interrogative phrase containing where to the front. In this example, that phrase is just the word where by itself:

    [ where the restroom is ]

  4. And finally, we'll make it into a main clause question using Subject-Auxiliary Inversion. Our subject is the restroom, and our auxiliary is is, so we'll just switch those two around:

    Where is the restroom?

And we're done! Those are the basic steps. They can be a little bit different for other sentences, and I've written up some more examples over here, but for this question we're going to ignore those details and move on. We've got ourselves a question!


Interrogative content clauses

Not every interrogative clause is an entire sentence by itself. Sometimes we use an interrogative clause as part of a larger sentence. When we do, we follow the same steps, except we don't perform Subject-Auxiliary Inversion. Let's take a look:

  1. We'll start with our interrogative clause from step 3 above:

    [ where the restroom is ]

  2. We can use this as part of a larger sentence as a content clause:

    I don't know [ where the restroom is ] .

  3. And that larger sentence can be a question, too:

    Do you know [ where the restroom is ] ?

  4. And we can use your other example the same way, because it has the same structure:

    Do you see [ where the sign is ] ?

Okay, let's move on!


Content clauses and relative clauses

Subordinate clauses can be relative, but not all of them are. The name for a basic type of subordinate clause without any special function (relative or comparative) is "content clause", and that's the name I've used so far.

But you could use a clause like this as a relative if you wanted to. For example:

I went to the school [ where the sign is ] .

Here, "where the sign is" is a relative clause modifying the head noun "school". But there's no such relationship in the other examples, so we have no reason to call them relative clauses. That's why I used the term "content clause" instead earlier.

In short, your examples have the same structure as one other, but they're not relatives. They're interrogative content clauses.

1

I think the answer of where it is is finished in the very first clause it's just behind you. The speaker further instructs that it's the place with some sign. I'm not sure whether it serves as a relative clause.

To answer your first question -whether the former structure is the same as the latter in your example, I'd say it's not the same. As I said, this is answered just behind you

The relative clause what I think could be something like -

Where's the restroom ~ it's over there, the room with a lady's sign.

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.