I wonder what he is.
(Random House Dictionary's #2, not from the linked online-version but from its paper version)

I suppose the sentence would mean ‘I wonder what sort [type] of person he is’ as Mister StoneyB says. But the Korean translating version of the dictionary interprets it as: ‘I wonder what job he does’ or ‘I wonder from where he comes’. Could the translating version’s interpretation be proper?


1 Answer 1


It depends, really, on the context.

John says he's a constant volunteer at the soup kitchen, but he makes very cruel jokes about poor people. I wonder what he is.

He's very knowledgeable about New Historicist literary theory, but he dresses like a man making seven figures. I wonder what he is.

He looks Oriental, but he speaks with a German accent. I wonder what he is.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's Superman! --no, he just fell out of the sky. I wonder what he is - or was.

  • Is "no, it he just fell out of the sky", "no, it (is) he just fell out of the sky"?
    – Listenever
    Jul 13, 2014 at 0:56
  • @Listenever Oops. You are now qualified to teach English 101 to college freshmen! Jul 13, 2014 at 1:38

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