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1a: Nobody knows what will happen next.

1b: Nobody knows things that will happen next.

1c: Nobody knows that which will happen next.

2a: I asked her what kind of music she liked.

2b: I asked her the kind of music that she liked.

Do the above sentences sound natural? Do 1a, 1b and 1c have the same meaning? Do 2a and 2b have the same meaning?

Thank you very much!

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Do the [below] sentences sound natural?

1a: Nobody knows what will happen next.

This sounds unequivocally natural.

1b: Nobody knows things that will happen next.

This does not sound natural; to sound natural, add the definite article "the" before the word "things".

1c: Nobody knows that which will happen next.

Although this sentence may be grammatically correct, the use of the demonstrative word "that" along with the definitive word "which" is redundant and thus overqualifies the object of the sentence. As a result, this sentence sounds rather unnatural.

2a: I asked her what kind of music she liked.

This sentence genuinely sounds natural.

2b: I asked her the kind of music that she liked.

Sounds exceedingly unnatural, due to the lack of a question word "what", which should preeced the word "kind", and replace the word "the", instead.


Do [1(a/b/c)] have the same meaning?

No, none of the sentences above (1a/b/c) have the same meaning as another: each sentence uses slightly different grammar upon introducing the object of the sentence.

Do [2(a/b)] have the same meaning?

Yes, semantically, both of the sentences above (2a/b) have the same meaning, likely because of their grammatical similarities.


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1a. Sounds natural.
1b. Does not sound natural.
1c. Definitely not!
2a. Sounds alright.
2b. doesn't sound right.

The first three may have the same reason however, grammatically speaking, only 1a suffices. for the last two, again only the first one makes sense grammatically so only use 1a and 2a.

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    1c. Sounds like the kind of thing a cartoonish villain would say, "Soon I will release my minions upon the Earth! No one knows that which will happen next!" I like it better than 1b, personally, but neither really sound natural. – Jason Patterson Nov 3 '14 at 18:49
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This answer is specifically about examples 2a and 2b:

It is conventional in conversational English pair the phrase "ask [direct object]" with a preposition, such as "about":

I asked her about the kind of music that she liked.

However, this subtly changes the meaning of the sentence. To make the sentence sound more natural without changing its meaning, remove the direct object ("her").

I asked the kind of music that she liked.

The biggest exception is when a question word (who, what, when, where, why, how) is used immediately after "ask," as in example 2a:

I asked her what kind of music she liked.

That question word is a clue that what follows is not simply the topic of the question, but a restatement of the question itself. Example 2a could be rewritten as:

I asked her: "What kind of music do you like?"

Your original phrasing is more flexible, though, because it doesn't have to specify the exact words that were used.

You could also use the same trick that I mentioned before by removing the direct object:

I asked what kind of music she liked.

Removing the direct object might remove some context, but additional context will be required no matter what construction you use. Despite having a direct object, example 2a could mean

I asked (a woman) what kind of music (that same woman) liked.

or

I asked (a woman) what kind of music (a different woman) liked.

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