What is different between these two sentences?

We look into different types of chairs to narrow down what are the best ergonomic chairs.

We look into different types of chairs to narrow down what the best ergonomic chairs are.

Are both sentences grammatically correct?

  • "Narrow down" is used incorrectly in both sentences to mean "decide". You need "which", not "what". You don't need to use "chairs" twice! These would be more idiomatic: "...to narrow them down to the most ergonomic." Or "...to decide which are the most ergonomic." Where did you find these sentences? Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 3:32
  • Actually this is a good question, when you start to get involved in it you realise it is reasonably complexed. The "look at" is used in both the sense of narrowing down the number of types of chair available and also to find which is the most ergonomic. Take 1; narrow the field; Take 2 find the Best option
    – Brad
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 11:28
  • Strictly speaking, only the second version is "correct" (the first version features "subject/verb inversion", which should only be used in the context of an actual question being asked). The entire text between initial we and the actual "wh- clause" (what...) could be replaced by just the single-word verb investigate (or even decide) - this doesn't affect the syntax in any way, but it might help readers see what the real choices are here. Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 12:36

1 Answer 1


I would suggest that there are few basic mistakes to your sentences

The investigation took place in the past;


We look into Holes; we look at pictures

Looked at

Narrow down what? I suspect you are trying to reduce the number of items so we can more easily make a choice. However when we use narrow down like this it does not sound quite right. What we want is a result but what we are using to describe a result is the action use to obtain said result. So lets analyse this We have a list we want to reduce (narrow down) the number, of chairs on the list so we end up with a short list of chairs.


What are? hmm! Which or what? Which is used for a limited number of choices. What is used for an unlimited number of choices. Well we have reduced the number of choices (narrow down) Therefore I will go with which

However both what and which are used to ask a question, what is the question we are asking?

Possibly the combination of narrow down and what are are being used to mean find?

Find which

Best ergonomic; This does not sound correct so let us have a look at what ergonomic means?

"relating to the design of furniture or equipment which makes it comfortable and effective for people who use it": Ref ergonomic

Best comfortable and effective? no this is definitely incorrect lets try

most comfortable and effective; Yes that is OK so we can use

most ergonomic;

Then we get rid of the clutter we do not need to mention chairs twice in one sentence.

So now we can assemble our sentence

We looked at different types of chairs and shortlisted the most ergonomic. No that's is not what we want to say.We looked at different types of chairs and shortlisted which are the most ergonomic Hmm! still not correct.

Now we get to what I think is the correct, sentence.

*We looked at and shortlisted, different types of chairs to find which are the most ergonomic.

  • 1
    The present tense could be used if the article/film or whatever is actually comparing the chairs. Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 7:42
  • @KateBunting Agreed but even then the sentence does not sound correct. It would more likely to be looking if present tense. If used in an investigative sense then "into" could also be used. We are looking into but the narrow down then throws things off course again.
    – Brad
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 8:55

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