Does the different word order make any difference in the two questions below? Are they both grammatical?

Is Maria her name?


Is her name Maria?

1 Answer 1


The meanings are identical, and both are grammatically correct. However, the context may differ.

If the speaker had just heard the word "Maria," and wondered if that might be the name of the one in question, that first phrasing is more likely, i.e. "Is 'Maria' her name?"

If the speaker is unsure of her name, but is guessing that it might be Maria, that second phrasing is more likely, i.e. "Is her name 'Maria'?" This second phrasing is also far more common among English speakers, likely in part because the context of the first phrasing is less frequently encountered.

However, either phrasing would be grammatically acceptable in either situation. In the end, it's a matter of the speaker's emphasis: whether on "Maria" (as in the first example) or on "name" (as in the second example).

  • I think you're right about the context of doubt vs some degree of confidence, but the order could easily be the opposite of what you're suggesting here by an intonation evoking confidence or an intonation evoking doubt. Aug 23, 2023 at 10:33

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