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for questions which a dictionary cannot answer asking the meaning of a particular expression.

This is the definition of the tag expressions on this site, and as far as I am aware, which a dictionary cannot answer and asking the meaning of a particular expression are both modifiers to questions.

But, could the introduction also be changed to one of the following alternatives?

for questions which a dictionary cannot answer that ask the meaning of a particular expression

for questions asking the meaning of a particular expression which a dictionary cannot answer

for questions that ask the meaning of a particular expression which a dictionary cannot answer

And finally, my second question is, does any of the alternatives sound unnatural?

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  • I've edited your question. Notice that there's no point in highlighting a whole sentence. Please, mark just the part of the sentence that you have problems with or that are more relevant. Also I've included the specific tag, expressions, to add context to your question.
    – RubioRic
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 9:59
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    @RubioRic thanks for revealing which tag it was, I added that as a tag, so readers can see for themselves. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 10:00
  • the verb "to ask" should be followed by the preposition (about) or (for) when you are inquiring about something......without the preposition , "to ask" in this case would mean "to request" , so you can say "I asked a question" (= I requested the answer) but you should say "I asked for/about the meaning" (= I inquired about the meaning)
    – Mohammad
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 10:28
  • @RubioRic Thank you for improving my question.
    – Sam
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 22:42

1 Answer 1

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Yes, that clause could be rephrased in any of those ways and mean the same thing. All of the alternatives you propose sound fairly natural, and I'd even say all of them actually sound more natural (and are more grammatically correct) than the original version, which I have to admit is really not phrased very well.

As Moha pointed out, technically, to be grammatically correct, it should be "ask for the meaning" (you want somebody to give you the meaning) or "ask about the meaning" (you are asking a question related to the meaning) instead of "ask the meaning" (which is something that is wrong in the original version as well), but in reality many people will leave out the "for" when saying things like "ask the meaning" all the time, so it actually doesn't sound particularly unnatural or confusing (especially in casual speech).

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  • I'm pretty surprised that the alternatives sound more natural than the original one. Thank you very much.
    – Sam
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 12:48

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