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Do you think it is okay to use "based on" at the beginning of a sentence? For example saying sentences like:

  • Based on what empirical evidence do you say that?
  • Based on what order did you put the songs on the album?
  • Based on what information did you believe that I was lying?

My gut feeling says questions starting with "based on" might be wrong. Can they be used by native English speakers?

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    It's grammatically correct, but rather formal. Your first sentence is fine (it sounds like an academic discussion), but the other two don't sound very natural (unless the person accused of lying was being deliberately formal to show they were offended). Nov 19, 2021 at 10:35
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    Based on his prior experiences, he doubted he'd be able to jump the alligator. Based on does not have to be formal at all. Nov 22, 2021 at 20:10

2 Answers 2

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Convert them all into their respective answers:

  • I say that (whatever "that" is) based on this empirical evidence: ...
  • I put the songs on the album based on this order: ...
  • I believed you were lying based on this information: ...

So they're all grammatically correct, but worded... strangely, especially the second one (it makes it seem like the order of songs on one album is based on the order of songs on another album).

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Here's what I think.

Yes you can use Based on what or Based on at the beginning of a sentence.

For example

Based on what he said, I decided not to go to the party.

Based on my experience, I have found it's best to ask a doctor for medical advice.

However I think there is a grammatical problem here when trying to use this construction with a question form. It's hard to pin it down though, however native English speakers will experinece these as being "odd" or "strange", somehow incomplete.

The problem here is with the order of the verbs. The auxiliary verb "do/did", as in "do/did you", is used in an inverted form which we use to form questions, but after that we expect there to be a main verb which should technically be "base" in your examples. However, you have put the main verb at the beginning of the question, when it should be after "you". Then what follows after that should be a noun or a noun phrase.

Here's how I would attempt to fix them, by changing the structure.

  1. On what empirical evidenced did you base your statement?

  2. On what order did you base the sequence of songs on the album?

  3. On what information did you base your belief that I was lying?

*Note: These are quite formal, and I think No. 2 might just be too formal for this subject/context. It might be better to change this completely, something simpler perhaps, a more direct question.

How did you choose the order of the songs on the album?

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